Katamari Damacy brought eccentricity to the PlayStation 2 back in 2004. Over time, the bonkers concept of rolling around a ball to collect random objects became a sleeper hit. The next 14 years saw a raft of Katamari games come out across many different platforms, but it’s been nine years since one of those landed on a PlayStation platform. Katamari Damacy Reroll is a remake of the title that started it all, and it’ll definitely tide us over until a new console game is forthcoming.
The King of All Cosmos is one of those narcissistic characters you either love or hate. Right now he’s been naughty. Completely naughty. In a substance-fuelled rampage (drink or drugs, we’re never told), he destroyed all of the stars in the Solar System. Showing little remorse for his enjoyable destruction, he’s chosen to repair the damage solely because everybody is irate with him. The person responsible for fixing his mess? His tiny son, the Prince, who owes his very existence to the King and now needs to pay off his debt.
Katamari Damacy Reroll Review – The Stars are Missing
The Prince is armed with a katamari. Translated from Japanese as “mass” or “lump,” it’s an accurate description for the bumpy ball that glues itself to any small object it rolls over. By picking up these objects, the katamari gradually gets bigger until it can be used to recreate one of the missing celestial bodies in the cosmos.
Each level is filled with stuff that makes my chaotic house look spartan in comparison. There’s very little floor space that doesn’t have something to be picked up. At first the pee-wee Prince can only roll up tiny objects like drawing pins and dice. Eventually the katamari gets so big players will be rolling up entire buildings and even small islands. Despite the sheer number of objects strewn throughout the level, they’re laid out in such a way to guide players along an optimal path from small objects to larger ones, something that’s especially useful in the larger levels.
As the cosmos is being recreated, there’s also a strange side-story about the Hoshino family. The two children have noticed the stars are missing, but their mother doesn’t believe them. As they travel across the country to watch their astronaut father fly to the moon, more peculiar events start happening. At first this story seems completely unrelated, but its relevance to the overall narrative finally becomes apparent near the end. Not that there is much overall narrative aside from recreating the cosmos. Each level begins with a bizarre conversation with the King, in which he’ll pick a seemingly random country to talk about before berating the Prince on his measly effort so far.
Most of the levels simply task the Prince with building a katamari of a certain size before time runs out. Earlier levels are quite short, beginning at just four minutes long, while later levels clock in at around 15-20 minutes. Certain areas of the world are reused several times, but this isn’t a bad thing. The changing size requirements of the katamari means that objects that were obstacles in earlier levels, like people, now become items that can be rolled up in later levels. The levels always feel fresh even if there is something familiar about them.
Katamari Damacy Reroll Review – Picking Up Litter the Easy Way
Other levels, especially those that create a specific constellation, involve picking up certain objects. Recreating Gemini means picking up as many sets of twins as possible, and not just humans. I didn’t know bowling pins could have older and younger brothers, but you learn something new every day. In contrast, creating Taurus merely involves rolling up the largest cow possible. Unfortunately it’s far too easy to end the level accidentally. It turns out that cow coloured traffic cones count. There are many other similar objects that would have the same result and it’s difficult to explore these levels properly. My record was finishing Ursa Major in 0.2 seconds as I couldn’t avoid the bear cub heading towards me.
Thanks to its simple objectives, the game is short. It’s longevity comes in trying to collect every single object that exists in the game. There’s over 1400 objects to find. Unfortunately, while later games had an Eternal mode where the time limits were removed, very few levels had it in the first game. You’ll always be battling the timer to find everything. There are also Royal Presents to collect, allowing players to customize their costume. Strangely, only one present can be worn at once. Even though the scarf, apron and guitar are worn on different parts of the body, you have to pick between them.
As a PlayStation 2 remake, developer Monkeycraft has stayed true to the original. This is both good and bad. The art style would have suited a PlayStation 4 game anyway, but the graphics look far better than before. The world is still filled with objects that are rather angular, but they’re not as blurry and pixelated as before. The whole world is also brighter and more vibrant.
The graphics are the only aspect of the game that’s really changed. Although it’s generally a relaxing experience, the controls can be extremely frustrating. Both joysticks are used for movement and camera rotation. I had far too many arguments with the camera as I’m trying to rotate it while the katamari rolls off the edge of a ledge. Strangely, the Nintendo Switch version of the game is far friendlier in this respect, with the camera rotating easily. It’s as if the sensitivity on the PS4 version isn’t quite right, but there’s no way of adjusting it. Sometimes it’s easier just to roll blind until you hit something that stops you.
Katamari Damacy Reroll Review – A Faithful Remake
Object collision also remains inconsistent. Items that look like they should be too big can be picked up with ease, while an object half its size still can’t be collected. There were also problems rolling up small ledges that a giant katamari should manage with ease, instead inexplicably causing it to grind to a halt. Each time there’s a decent collision, objects fly off the katamari and it shrinks in size. There’s nothing more frustrating than becoming tightly wedged and the only way out being to shed a significant number of objects before the katamari moves again.
Despite this, Katamari Damacy Reroll is a faithful remake even if it keeps the rough with the smooth. All issues were ones also found in the original game, so they’re not exactly the fault of Monkeycraft. Fans of the franchise will have a blast replaying the game that started it all. Those who are new to the franchise might get a little frustrated with some of the dated design issues like the controls, but it’s a great place to start for anyone who’s curious about the strange ball-rolling world of the King of All Cosmos.
Katamari Damacy Reroll review code provided by publisher. Reviewed on PS4. For more information, please read our Review Policy.