Game Review: Katamari Damacy Reroll (Switch)

A few days before Christmas I was looking through my album full of PS2 games reminiscing when I realized one of my favorite game discs, the original Katamari Damacy, was missing….and I searched all over my house and could not find it. Sad face!!

Then as if the gaming gods heard my sorrow, I went onto the Nintendo eshop and there it was… Katamari Damacy Reroll… the original game remastered into HD on the Nintendo Switch. A Royal Rainbow and Red Pandas appeared and I was dancing along with the King of All The Cosmos to the theme song… “Na Na Na Na Na…”

Ok not seriously….but what are the odds!! I was hyped! Luckily I had just been gifted some Nintendo Shop dollars so there was no need to wait…I had to have it!!

Now for those who have no idea what Katamari Damacy is (and why I am so excited), let me give you the basics of the game and gameplay.

Katamari Damacy is the original game in a series of ten games developed by Namco between 2004 and 2018. In it, the King of All The Cosmos has been out recklessly playing among the stars, and in his carelessness has destroyed all the constellations, planets and shattered the Moon. The only things left in the great Kingdom (the universe) is the Planet Earth, a Mushroom Planet of The Cosmo Cousins and a special planet dedicated to the King’s son, The Prince.

This special planet for The Prince is the hub for your gameplay, allowing you to save your data, view your progress, turn vibration on and off, change music, and enable wearable items (such as a hat or scarf) found within your game journey (called presents – and are literally found in the game as wrapped gift boxes).

As tasked by The King of All The Cosmos, The Prince must restore the universe by rebuilding the constellations, planets and lastly the moon. In order to do this, the Prince is sent to Earth through various levels to roll up items scattered around using a sticky ball like item called a katamari. This magical ball will continuously grow as you roll up more items.

The Katamari is rolled/controlled using two analog sticks simultaneously. You can move in direct forward and backwards motions. You can push the sticks in opposite directions to have the roll move forward while rotating the Prince around the katamari to essentially change directions. You can press both sticks in and it will allow the Prince to hop over to the other side of the Katamari for a quick change of rolling direction. You even can super flip the sticks causing the Prince to move in a sudden burst of speed. This all takes a lot of quick thoughts and skills, because of hazards you could potentially run into and also the katamari gets harder and harder to manipulate as it gets larger.

All items, things as small as a piece of chalk to the size of a building or a mountain are determined to be worth a certain measurement of mm/cm/m which will increase in count as you add to your katamari roll up.

There is a catch though, you cannot roll up items that are larger than your katamari (so like you are big enough to pick up a strawberry but not a jar of jam until you grow the katamari), and if you slam into walls, or other items that are in the way (and too big) items will break off causing your katamari size to shrink.

And if that isn’t enough, when you are still small, humans, animals and vehicles alike will chase after your Katamari to smack it and sending it speeding right into a wall (most of the time). Eventually you will get your revenge on them, I promise. Make sure to roll up those cops who think shooting at the katamari will help…hahaha!

Each level has a different goal and the requirements to pass a level becomes increasingly difficult as you advance in the game. When rolling for a new planet, you are given a size and time requirement for completion. When rolling for a constellation, you are given a task to roll up as many of an item related to the constellation – so like twins of items to make Gemini or girls to make Virgo.

There are two constellations that are the most frustrating to make, Taurus (cow) and Ursa Major (bear). Each requires you to collect only one of the related item, and only the biggest and best! Issue is, while you roll carefully to try to avoid the tiny ones, you somehow roll around a corner and there it is! Damn cow pylon and teddy bear!!

Regardless of if there is a size requirement or a item type requirement you roll until the timer is gone. Sometimes if you have refined your skills that means your required 10cm katamari could potentially be a 35cm katamari.

After the level is completed, the King of All The Cosmos will return to fetch the Prince and your katamari with his Royal Rainbow.

If you have met the criteria, the King will comment on the size and the contents of the katamari. Sometimes he is pleased, but usually it’s creative criticism, like “oh its nice but I would have made it bigger”… yeah ok you go down to Earth and do it yourself then! He will then release it into the sky and the planets will get a unique name based on what is most contained in the katamari (such as Flower Planet or Aqua Planet). I have found that I have not had a repeat name of a planet thus far though my playing of the game. Constellations will just form their star shape.

Now, if you didn’t quite meet the required criteria, the King will rain thunder and lightning upon the Prince, along with scolding and angry disappointment. It’s quite frightening, and you can’t hep but feel bad for the Prince cause he is just trying so hard.

Ultimately you will roll up 9 new planets and 7 constellations on your journey to make the moon. This is the very last object that you will make, allowing you to essentially roll up all things in the world, land and sky. You have 21 minutes to get to a 300m size katamari…. I made it to 920m and essentially ran out of things to roll up before the end of the timer! But then again I am a super fan so I have some dedicated practice under my belt.

Within the game, as you restore a planet or constellation to the universe you will experience a short cut scene that is part of a in game story. You follow the Hoshino family, who the patriarch is a astronaut who was hoping to visit the moon but couldn’t due to The King of All The Cosmos destroying it. His daughter Michiru is gifted and can “sense” the return of the constellations to the sky.

If you are someone who rather dive into some couch competitive rolling, this game also has that available. Just hand a Joy Con to your friend and you each will play horizontal mode. Through the Mushroom Planet of The Cosmo Cousins, you and a friend can select any of the cousins of the Prince and play in a split screen head to head battle to roll up the best katamari within the time limit. You even play within the same location, thus you can slam against your friends katamari to knock things off and one can essentially roll up the other one if their katamari is bigger…. is that fair or just smart??

So now, what makes Katamari Damacy Reroll so epic?? The game is essentially the exact same game from 2004, there is no extra planets to be made and no extra storyline. Which in general is great because the intent was to simply revitalize the game, not reinvent it.

The difference in the game comes strongly through in the form of the updated HD graphics. All the visuals are smoother and more defined. The buildings have more detail of color and finer details such as windows, the fireworks are more vivid…the people look less like pixel boxes.

The other noticeable difference is that the Nintendo Joy Con gyro feature is utilized in this game. It is handy that you either could tilt the Joy Cons in either direction to make the Prince and katamari move, or just use the thumb sticks, it is noticeable that a feature found in Katamari Forever, where you could make the Prince hop or roll the katamari at a super speed, the Joy Cons are utilized to do just that. Fling them both up in the air and the Prince will grab onto the katamari and make it hop over walls that are just slightly too high to roll up against, or shake them wildly and the Prince will roll the katamari at a super fast reckless rate (which leaves lots of chance for you to actually just slam into something and lose items off the katamari). I chose to play with the Joy Cons attached to the main unit, or with the controller adapter as I could not handle playing with both hands held parallel for the entire level as I rolled around. I did however test out the gyro features of the Joy Cons after passing the game and the feature is a neat way to integrate the updated hardware to the game.

I still find though, the game really draws you in to be dedicated and focused, and as a result you put all your energy into rolling. Unfortunately, just like all Katamari games, if you don’t take needed breaks, your wrists and hands will cramp up hardcore. For some of the rolls, you will spend 10-20 mins holding your hands in the same position, sometimes only making slight adjustments when you get yourself stuck and this can stiffen you up. Even worse when you almost meet that size goal and the timer runs out…you naturally got to try again immediately and show that King who’s the boss!!

While it was nostalgic to play the original game again, it was very difficult to go back to the simplistic ways that the series started with. Some of the unique add-ons that were added through each new game in the series added some depth and further challenges that I enjoyed, such as the challenge to find and roll up all the cousins rather than just having them, or unique level graphics like wood grain or colored pencils.

Overall, I think for the fans and for all of the new gamers who haven’t played Katamari Danacy in any form, this game is absolutely worth every cent spent. It has a huge replay-ability to it as you will always want to make a planet or constellation bigger if you can. The gameplay can be taken lightly as a casual boring Sunday type play, or it can be taken on head-on with intensity and skill. However you roll…just have fun!

And don’t forget to roll up Canada in the end credits!

Katamari Damacy Reroll is now available on Nintendo Switch and Steam.

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Roll and Roll Again

A rebooted nostalgic game that has been improved to meet the HD graphics and simplistic gaming needs of todays gamers. Fun, creative and weird but still an endless amount of fun. How big of a katamari can you roll??

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