I absolutely adore quirky Japanese games. They make up a large portion of my personal gaming library. Some of my all-time favorites are the Katamari games from Keita Takahashi. Why rolling around collecting items in a giant ball is so damn satisfying is beyond me, but ever since I have been hooked on his colorful creations. Which is why Wattam has been front and center on my radar ever since it was announced.
Get Stains Out with Kaboom!
Wattam opens with a very lonely Mayor. Sad and in dire need of a friend, he explores his surroundings until he finds that he isn’t alone. Beginning with spring and running through all four seasons, the Mayor helps his companions and learns the truth of what caused them all to be separated in the first place.
The controls in Wattam are very simple: you can hold hands with your friends using the Square and Circle buttons, climb up walls and on top of friends just by walking up to them, and use the special Kaboom hidden under the Mayor’s bowler with Square. Only the Mayor can wear the bowler; when another character picks it up, it will immediately explode. Every single one of your friends loves to Kaboom, and new friends will often ask for Kaboom when you first meet them. Kaboom all the time. Trust me.
Connection is the most important lesson I gathered from playing Wattam. The more connections the Mayor has, the more he can progress. When he helps those in need, it benefits everyone in his circle. And making sure to use your friends is crucial to getting through each quest. Every companion can be selected, no matter how big or small, some with unique abilities you need to exploit. For example, trees can eat others and turn them into fruit. When I am not using the Mayor, you’ll catch me running around with either the mouth or the toilet for reasons I want you to discover on your own.
Once friends have been transformed, you can always turn them back with a well-placed Kaboom and then do it all over again. A lot of the joy I get in Wattam is in transforming my friends from one form to another and listening to their happy giggles and hysterical laughter. It’s hard to be in a sour mood playing Wattam; everything is so cheerful and positive that it turns every frown upside down.
Friendship is Magic
Even though not all characters speak the same language, they understand one another without issue. English, Russian, Korean, and Japanese are all present in Wattam‘s speech bubbles. The voices are mostly gibberish so subtitles and visual cues will aid you through each quest. I appreciate the story’s linear nature while allowing me to procrastinate without penalty. And when I missed directions at the start of a quest when interrupted by a phone call, a quick restart of the game reminded me what I was to do next.
Wattam isn’t a terribly long game, for which I am super grateful. With so many epic games this holiday season, it is refreshing to have a shorter, lighter game to break up those long, heavy sessions. It takes about five or six hours to hit the credits if you stick to pushing through the story. And once you “finish” the game, you’ll head on back to the universe to Kaboom and play to your heart’s content. There is definitely more to do, too, as I look at my trophy list and see that there are still a dozen or so left for me to collect.
Refreshingly light-hearted, brief, and full of good vibes, Wattam is the kind of game that everyone can easily settle down with. It’s a magical experience centered on friendships and connection, finding out how each unique skill can help everybody out, despite all being different sizes, shapes, and colors. There’s a simple joy that comes from playing Wattam, a feeling that many other games just can’t match. Wattam is a delightful, fun, and uplifting game filled with laughter, teamwork, and all the things that make your heart feel warm and fuzzy.
Wattam review code provided by publisher. Version 1.00 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.
You can pre-purchase Wattam digitally right now for the discounted price of $16.99 (back to its regular price of $19.99 on Dec 17). If you prefer physical copies, iam8bit will be shipping them in Q2 2020. There are three variant covers to choose from at $29.99, complete with instruction manuals and a special chance to get some original art from Takahashi-san.