Me & My Katamari PSP Review
In September 2004 the Americans got one of the weirdest games ever to grace the Playstation 2 system. That game was known as Katamari Damacy. Katamari Damacy involved the player rolling up objects throughout the levels to meet a certain bulk of items before the timer ran out. It became a cult hit with people, especially those who liked their games with a Japanese twist. Everything about the game was unique and imaginative. It had a fantastic soundtrack, a strange yet distinctive artistic style, and a simple yet addictive gameplay. It was the new drug on the block. A year later it spawned a sequel; We Love Katamari, a title that may sound somewhat big headed, but it dared to speak the truth – who doesn’t love Katamari?
So now we have the arrival of Me & My Katamari for the PSP. It’s the first time the franchise has hit the handheld market and it’s also the first time the series creator Keita Takahashi hasn’t been involved. This doesn’t affect the gameplay though, making it just as identical as its predecessors.
The King is a Crazy One!
The stories in Katamari revolve around the Prince and his family. This time The King of All Cosmos has decided that the royal family needs to take a long earned vacation, their destination? Hot beaches on planet Earth. Now people who have played the games will know that The King of All Cosmos isn’t exactly the most cautious type, last time he managed to destroy the whole star system when he was intoxicated. This time he’s caused a huge tsunami that has annihilated the surrounding islands. After realising what he’s done (only because of a turtle explaining the disaster to him) the King sends out his trustworthy son, the Prince to sort out the problems.
As the Prince, your job is to patch up all your fathers’ damages. This requires rolling your Katamari around the levels and picking up everything that will stick to you. The Katamari will grow in size as objects attach to it, as you progress further you gain the ability to add bigger objects; nothing is safe from a world dominating Katamari. The levels consist of making a Katamari big enough to satisfy the animal wanting it. You’ll be asked by the critter before you are fired off into The King of All Cosmos’ groin area (Just don’t ask, it’s crazy and has me worried as well – just look at the size of that thing!) to start off on your challenge.
Same But yet Not Quite
Moving to the PSP handheld hasn’t affected the core gameplay mechanics; it has however jammed in loading times while playing during levels. The console versions would play through the level with no interruption when your Katamari was growing in size. This is not the case anymore. If the stage requires you to reach a certain height and then entail you to become even larger the game will load midlevel for a few seconds. They aren’t huge loading times or anything, typically around 5-6 seconds, but you certainly notice it if you’ve played the originals.
The big question on everyone’s mind was how is Katamari Damacy going to work on a system which only has one analogue control? The home versions would use both the left and right analogue sticks to control the movement of the Katamari, kind of like your standard tank controls. The PSP replaces the analogue movement with the D-Pad and the face buttons. It’s still played in the same way, pressing triangle and up will make your Katamari move forward and so on. The controls are kind of awkward at first; it seems a tad harder to turn more precisely to where you want to go. As time goes on you do become accustomed to the buttons, and it becomes second nature. I don’t know if it’s just me though, but playing the game actually made my hands hurt. It could be because you are constantly holding down the d-pad and face buttons. I guess this is down to the design of the PSP, rather than the game fault.
One thing that has passed on to the PSP flawlessly is the graphical style. The frame rate on the other hand hasn’t come across as well. Being a large Katamari makes the game more susceptible to slowdown. The series is known for its crazy presentation and it’s all here. The bright widescreen on the PSP brings out the attractive vivid display on offer. Katamari’s art design comes across as an unrealistic simple blocky game that if looked straight at would appear to be for kids. The game can be played by anyone though; the game’s basic control design and twisted sense of humour has been a hit with the fans of any age group.
Mum Said Recycling is Good – She Was Half Right.
Recycling can be a problem within games if used too much and there’s some of that bogging down Me & My Katamari. As you progress throughout the course of the game you’ll notice the levels are reused a lot. It doesn’t include nearly as much difference in the level design as it did back on the Playstation 2. After you hit past the half way point of the game you will have basically seen all the areas. On the other hand the game does reuse the extraordinary soundtrack from the past two games, you can now freak out to ‘Katamari on the Rocks’ whilst on the move.
Multiplayer was never a strong aspect of Katamari and it has come across the same here. The multiplayer allows up to four players in an all for one roll-em up, where you’re given a time limit and the biggest one at the end wins. It all just feels tacked on and isn’t worth the time to play. Using the same gameplay mechanics for multiplayer just doesn’t feel right.
As a PSP game goes, Katamari is certainly one of a kind and if you have never played any of the games you might want to go check it out, although I’d advise to really go play one of the games on the Playstation 2 so you get to fully experience the Katamari cocktail. Fans will certainly find something here – something that they have already experienced before and will probably love all the same, but past the story and little new things here and there, you are basically playing Katamari Damacy that’s been diced into pieces to fit onto a handheld, and that problem is what has turned Katamari from a great game on the console to a decent, but limited PSP game.
Katamari is a great game on the PlayStation 2, but is a bit limited on the PSP.
7.9 out of 10