Katamari Damacy REROLL Xbox One Review

November 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Xbox One, Reviews & Features, Xbox

Publisher: Bandai Namco  Developer: Monkeycraft  Genre: Puzzle

Players: 1  Age Rating: 3+  Other console/handheld formats: Switch, PS4

Katamari Damacy REROLL is undoubtedly weird. It’s quirky. It’s out there. It’s a bit crazy. It’s colourful, vibrant, and never at any point even leans anywhere close to taking itself even vaguely seriously. And I bloody love it for every last one of these things.

Lets get the facts out of the way first. This is an absolutely barebones remake of sorts. The simplistic art style wasn’t exactly dripping in detail back when it first made an appearance on the PS2. Which was absolutely fair considering you can essentially hoover up entire levels worth of items on a console that now packs the sort of technology you’d expect to find in a bedside lamp. But now it feels somewhat archaic, if still delightfully stylish. The edges are smoother, but nothing more. There are no added bonus levels, no brand new features, no real added extras of any kind. So do keep in mind that what you’re getting here is the chance to play a mildly polished PS2 game on a more modern console. Although you do get the pleasing feel of constantly dropping achievements as they’re of the ‘reward for completing level’ sort.

What you do get however is the same absolutely insane package some of us had the pleasure to first enjoy over 15 years ago. You play as a tiny little Prince, going from level to level rolling your sticky Katamari ball picking up ‘stuff’ in order to hit a certain size or collection of a particular item before the included time limit ends. You’ll generally begin stages picking up tiny items – although later stages you will start with a heftier initial limit – and ending with indiscriminately rolling up anything from fruit, to sushi, to tall buisnessmen, to lamp posts, to etc…

That hefty Katamari can grow to pretty incredible sizes. Yes, those are buildings.

These limits to item type, time, and size are all set by your father. Who just happens to be an astonishingly huge space king sporting almost unnervingly tight trousers. Who speaks in record scratches. And takes all the credit for your hard work while consistently berating you. And while this goes on, between levels there’s a story of sorts featuring a Japanese family trying to watch their father fly to the moon. The moon which has disappeared. Which you’re tasked with replacing by rolling up huge amounts of the aforementioned ‘stuff’ on earth. If all this sounds a bit bloody odd then that’s because it entirely is.

Alright so behind it’s bright and colourfully childlike exterior, it does contain a somewhat mildly awkward control system that despite my many years with the series I still never managed to feel I was entirely at grips with. Controls are almost entirely using the analogue sticks and although the included tutorial does do its level best to get you up to speed, it still takes a few rounds before you’ll really feel like you’re getting to a point where you can zip through levels and areas with ease.

Although maybe that’s the point? There are times when you actively won’t feel in control, and you’ll be struggling to pick up all those glorious bits of earth clutter you’re eager to roll over. Not because the controls are tricky, but because you’ve somehow managed to pick up a sumo wrestler who’s poking out at an awkward angle making you struggle to keep things in hand. So while it’s mildly annoying for a few brief seconds here and there, it doesn’t ever feel truly unfair.

Each level does play out in the same vaguely puzzling style. Initially you’ll be grabbing at tiny little items, and avoiding anything hefty that’ll only cause you to bash up against it/them and lose you a few precious inches. Over time however as your Katamari grows you’ll open up the entire level, going back to old areas to pick up all those things/people you couldn’t comprehend snatching before. And the challenge will drift quickly from deft controls required, to essentially seeing just how quickly you can wind through living rooms/streets to add every last possible item to your Katamari.

The Prince casually whistling a quirky tune as he chases a flailing businessman who isn’t too keen at becoming part of a replacement star.

It being a puzzle game with quite strict rules, there are moments of frustration when an item you’d entirely expect to be able to easily roll over and take away with you mysteriously acts like an immovable object. And when you find yourself able to take an entire car away with you, but annoyingly bounce off a garbage bin less than half the size, you’d be forgiven for the sort of exclamation you wouldn’t feel suits Katamari Damacy REROLL and its childlike presentation.

Special mention does have to go to the soundtrack. It’s just as quirkily Japanese as you’d expect, and it simply fits the entire game absolutely perfectly. I’m still humming parts hours after my last shot at rolling enough items to make the next star. And I’m already eager to finish this paragraph so I can go back and grab another half hour seeing if I can improve a score on one of the early levels. Yes the entire game can be completed in an afternoon, but there’s more than enough reason and temptation to dip in time and time again to improve your scores and simply enjoy the delights of what is just an incredibly happy game. And with the world as it is right now, a little happiness is definitely what’s needed.