Bliss in game form <3
Without exaggeration, I have spent more time playing Katamari Damacy and its subsequent sequels more than any other franchise. When gamers look back at the titles that have gotten them through hard times, I’d say the one that kept my spirits up long enough to fight another day was We Love Katamari — one day I’ll get those million roses! And while I’m pretty sad that we haven’t had a new Katamari game grace consoles since 2011’s Katamari Forever (which was like the clip show of Katamari games, albeit a good one), I jumped for joy when Katamari Damacy REROLL was first announced for Switch and PC, wishing it would be ported to its true home on a Playstation console while still buying both versions. So of course I’m stoked to see Katamari Damacy REROLL finally arrive on PS4, where it absolutely belongs.
Katamari Damacy’s original release in 2004 generally left gamers with two reactions: confusion and delight. The brainchild of kid-at-heart Keita Takahashi (Noby Noby Boy, Wattam), Katamari Damacy was positively received due to its pure fun mentality that is as inviting as it is absurd. 16 years later, Katamari Damacy REROLL has launched on PS4; developed/ported by Monkeycraft and published by Bandai Namco, Katamari Damacy REROLL is exactly how gamers originally played the title 1.5 decades later — and I do mean, for better or worse, it is exactly how gamers originally played it.
For the uninitiated, players take on the role of The Prince, who must return the stars to their natural order after their father, The King of All Cosmos, destroyed them after an epic bender one fateful night. To do this, The Prince is gifted a Katamari, a “sticky ball” of sorts, that can roll up anything it touches — as long as those items are smaller than the Katamari, that is. The King of All Cosmos will instruct the petite prince to get the Katamari to a certain size or to collect a specific type of item so that it can be released into the sky and turned into a star or constellation. If it sounds absurd, that’s okay — there’s no logic required in order to enjoy the craziness of Katamari. Just sit back, listen to the seriously glorious soundtrack, and roll to your heart’s (and your dad’s) content.
As for the veterans, I’m both tremendously pleased and slightly frustrated to announce that the only noticeable difference is really the graphics update. Everything is a lot less pixelated than its PS2 counterpart and a whole lot brighter to boot. For those who started and ended with the original, this change may register more than those of us who religiously played Katamari Forever, as these original levels were already remastered for that version. Again, for the veterans, I daresay it’s as bright and colorful as we remember it in our mind’s eye, as the original release was actually a lot more muted than memory might serve.
As for everything else, it’s exactly the same, which can be frustrating for those of us who have stuck with the franchise through the years. Katamari’s controls improved greatly between releases, with Katamari Forever’s intuitive “hop” feature being tied to the motion sensors on the PS3 controller, so I was sad to see that revert back to the original without the ability to choose superior controls. Additionally, the game is still as unforgiving as it was 16 years ago — if a rat or human taps you off course, you’re likely to lose a lot of circumference as items fly off the Katamari. Having put way more hours into We Love Katamari and Katamari Forever overall, I forgot how punishing the original could be. Coupled with the outdated loading screens still popping up despite the levels already loading in their entirety, a surprising number of quality of life updates implemented in later releases were not included in this port. And while it frustrated me to readjust to the grandfather of all Katamaris after playing the sequels for so long, remaster purists can rest easy knowing this was a practically kept the same as the original aside from a graphics update.
Is staying true to the roots at all costs a negative? That’s hard to say and entirely subjective, so I’d reckon it’s up to individual players to decide. One thing I know for sure is that as I’m writing this review, I’m watching as my husband, who had eagerly been watching me play, rolls up everything in sight to some soothing bossa nova (with some shrieks and screams mixed in). I’m grinning ear to ear as I tell him all about how I discovered this game back in middle school at a PS2 kiosk in GameStop and how this franchise got me through some dark days in high school. I am instantly transported to the bedroom of my youth, the nostalgia hitting me so hard my eyes are weepy. Sure, the controls could be better and the fake load screens are a bit of an annoyance, but that’s okay — it’s the best version of Katamari Damacy to date, and it’s finally home on a Playstation console. 2020 may have been a terrible year, but right now, here in this moment, life is good.
Seriously, if you’re a Katamari Damacy fan, you don’t need me to tell you twice that this is a must-buy. And for newcomers wondering what the commotion is about, why not pick up Katamari Damacy REROLL on the most intuitive console for it — the PS4? For half the price of a AAA game, I guarantee it’s easy to put in Skyrim-level hours into this unrelentingly silly, delightfully absurd title. Don’t disappoint your dad, aka The King of All Cosmos (in fact, do so at your own peril…) — roll up Katamari Damacy REROLL on your PS4 ASAP.
Final Verdict: 4.5/5
Available on: PC, Switch, XBox One, PS4 (reviewed); Publisher: Bandai Namco; Developer: Monkeycraft; Players: 1-2; Released: November 20, 2020; MSRP: $29.99
Editor’s note: This review is based on a retail copy of Katamari Damacy REROLL provided by the publisher.