PS Vita
3.5 stars
Amazon
99.99
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Overall Grade
3.5 stars

(click linked text below to jump to related section of the review)

The Game Itself
3.5 Stars
The Video: Sizing Up the Picture
4 Stars
The Audio: Rating the Sound
4.5 Stars
Replay Factor
2.5 Stars

Touch My Katamari

Street Date:
February 22nd, 2012
Reviewed by:
Review Date:1
February 29th, 2012
Game Release Year:
2012
Platform:
PS Vita
Publisher:
Namco Bandai Games
Developer:
Namco Bandai Games
ESRB Rating:
E10+ (Everyone 10 and older)

Introduction

When Katamari Damacy first hit the scene in the US, it was a truly unique title. Even in the world of bizarre and off the wall Japanese games, Katamari Damacy, with its quirky characters and striking art style, stood out from the pack. And even though the gameplay was incredibly simple, rolling a sticky ball picking up random objects, it was also completely addictive. However, subsequent entries in the series saw the developers running to the well too many times, and innovation was in short supply. Until now. With the release of the PS Vita and it's dual touch inputs, Katamari may have a new lease on life.

The Game Itself: Our Reviewer's Take

But let's not get too excited. The innovation we're talking about here is actually rather minuscule. Specifically, you can pinch to zoom on either the Vita screen or back touch pad to change the shape of your Katamari. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Let's start with the basics, like every other title in the series, Touch My Katamari features a tiny green man known as the Prince, who is the son of the King of All Cosmos. The King is the one who demands that the Prince roll up objects using a sticky ball known as a katamari so that the King can turn these collections into new stars.

As the game begins, the King has become blase. One cheeky person even wonders whether his son's school principal is cooler than the King. This disturbing change of public opinion sends the King into a self-conscious tizzy, and he sends the Prince off to make katamaris at the request of different fans. The idea is cute and self-referential, a knowing nod by the developers that the series had gotten stale. And, to their credit, Touch My Katamari is the best title in a long time, maybe since the original.

The basic gameplay has not changed. You still push a katamari around an environment, which can range from a single bedroom to a whole city, picking up objects to make as big of a ball as you can. The big change comes with the aforementioned new gaming mechanic, which lets you change the shape of your katamari. Pinch your fingers in towards each other, and your katamari shoots up and thins out, looking like a big pizza pie being rolled on its side. Spread your fingers apart, and the katamari flattens out and elongates, looking like a baseball bat or bowling pin. While this may not seem like a big deal, it is literally the most innovation the Katamari series has ever seen. And to the game's credit, it's actually a very useful addition. Widening your katamari to roll up a whole slew of objects makes it that much easier to grow your ball, and slimming it down allows you to get in and out of tight spaces, which becomes ever more important as your katamari picks up more and more. And the rear touch pad is perfect for this kind of input, since your fingers are naturally touching it anyway, and you don't have to stop rolling to touch the screen in order to activate the change.

Most of the levels are your standard hit a certain measurement within a certain timeframe, and these remain as fun and challenging as they ever were. When you see a level offers you five or eight or ten minutes to reach your goal, your first thought is that you can easily hit that with time to spare. Instead, you'll be shocked when the King warns you that you have less than a minute and still have so much left to roll up. Other modes include things like rolling up foods and having to hit a certain calorie count (stay away from that junk food!) or rolling up every single item in a room in the quickest amount of time. These challenges help keep things varied, but it can't quite relieve the sting of realizing that there aren't that many unique arenas, and the game doesn't have the same spectacular climax that its predecessors do.

In fact, Touch My Katamari is rather short, although the developers have tried to extend its life beyond the basic levels. Mainly they do this by awarding the player with candies. The bigger a katamari, the more candies you get for it. You can exchange these candies for clothing for the Prince or the King. Every so often, the King will request specific items and give you a few days to buy it for him (isn't he generous?). Once you have the item, the king will model it for you in his most ostentatious style. However, these pleasures are fleeting, and it's not worth taking the time to play the same levels over and over for the collectibles.

The Video: Sizing Up the Picture

Touch My Katamari retains the unique art style that is a hallmark of the series. Bright, vivid colors and blocky constructions dominate. The color scheme leaps off the Vita's gorgeous screen, and the hardware has no problems rendering the simple objects. Every few levels the game treats you to an animated episode in the life of a Japanese man whose life is affected by the Prince, and those also look great, even if the content is ultimately annoying. Touch My Katamari isn't graphically intensive enough to even make the Vita break a sweat, but what is there looks good.

The Audio: Rating the Sound

Another touchstone of the Katamari series is the great selection of head-bopping songs that they get to litter the soundtrack. Touch My Katamari is no exception. The songs make the levels fly by in no time, and if you collect enough candies you can unlock the tracks to listen to as you wish, which you will definitely want to do.

Replay Factor

As mentioned before, the game does try to encourage playing levels again for bigger katamaris and more candies, but with only twelve environments to choose from, the desire to play them over and over again wanes quickly.

Final Thoughts

Touch My Katamari does manage to breath new life into a long-ailing series. A seemingly small change leads to big gameplay results. The graphics pop, the songs are catchy, and the Vita's dual analog sticks mean that this plays just like the big boy console versions. Unfortunately, with only a limited amount of levels to play, Touch My Katamari may best be enjoyed as a rental.

Tech Specs:

  • Cartridge
  • Download Size: 660 MB

Video Resolution/Codec

  • 1Q HD

Audio Formats

  • Stereo

Motion Controls

  • No

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Amazon
99.99
In Stock. Buy Now»