Touch My Katamari
It starts out with a small, very sticky ball. We start rolling it. The ball picks up speed and a few candies, tacks and an eraser stick onto it.
More and more items are rolled up. Cups, toy cars, table tennis rackets. The katamari grows. We grow too large for the children's bedroom and continue out on to the front yard, and into the suburbs, further inland and onto another continent until finally we're off into space. It's a colourful and crazy ride.
The somewhat dodgy sounding title Touch My Katamari gives us a hint of what has changed since the last time we rolled up katamaris. The touch screen and rear touch pad are used to control the little hero as he rolls his katamari. The controls are very intuitive, and the very responsive touch controls can be used to control the entire game.
Personally, I prefer not to place my fingers on the screen while rolling, and there is a perfect solution as you can use the rear touch pad in combination with the analogue sticks instead. The analogues work much like the controls in previous Katamari titles and the touch pad is used to squeeze or stretch the katamari, and double tap to bounce it. It takes a while to get used to controls, and you need to master the bounce in order to keep up the flow, and avoid some rather disturbing camera dropouts.
If you've ever played a Katamari game you know how addictive it is and the same can be said of Touch My Katamari. You're rewarded with beautiful and diverse worlds to roll across. It's simply a pleasure to roll through the game, pick up litter along the way and grow your katamari. It's absolute nonsense for the most part, yet strangely compelling.
There are special objectives to complete: build a katamari with only 50 parts and make it as large as possible, or just build a katamari as large as possible within a given time limit. And while it's nothing new, it doesn't feel old for a minute. Thanks in part to the wonderful Japanese soundtrack, the game transports you to a parallel dimension where everything revolves around rolling things up and collect items. A dimension both strange and wonderful.
What really elevates the Katamari experience is the exaggerated and twisted design. The story is told with bright colours and completely nonsensical cutscenes that you can't help but smile at. It can be compared to classic Nintendo concepts as there is something that feels just right about the design, sound and atmosphere of the game.
While the graphics are technically impressive, they don't really reach the level of Playstation 3 and the visual improvements over the last couple of games, Katamari Forever, and Beautiful Katamari are marginal.
The Playstation Store is integrated as a shopping mall. You can buy candy tokens in order to improve your candy score at the end of each level. In turn you can use the sweets to buy decorative items for you katamari rolling hero. Online leaderboards also provide us with some much needed additional motivation, and the Near feature can be set to automatically exchange data and high scores with nearby Vita players.
The biggest criticism of Touch My Katamari is that it's just more of what we all know and love. We've played this game several times before. But on the upside the experience still feels fresh and manages to entertain. However, it does detract somewhat from the final score and even if this is my favourite game from the launch line up it still stops short of scoring a nine. But don't worry about the score too much, if you love katamaris this one is for you!
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