There are moments in life that we’ll remember forever, and some of those times were tied to special experiences with things like books, movies and video games. In my thirty years of gaming I’ve played many great to exceptional games, but only a select amount could ever be deemed seminal. One such title would surely be Katamari Damacy for Sony’s PlayStation 2, which had a huge impact on not only me but my close friends as well.
Back then we still got a lot of our gaming information from magazines, as opposed to websites like Eggplante. I had a subscription to Nintendo Power, then followed it up with regular purchases (and perhaps even a yearly subscription or two) to the PlayStation Magazine. I’d read those things from cover to cover, and first heard about a lot of big games that way. I can’t recall if it was me who saw Katamari Damacy in one such magazine, or if it was my friend who did and told me, but either way we did everything we rushed to find a copy afterwards.
Thankfully the small, independent video game store that had recently opened in my hometown had a copy, and if I remember correctly it was only $30. I miss that store, and those days.
After buying the disc it hardly left my PlayStation 2, which was rare because I rented a lot of games back then. Katamari Damacy was just so new, unique and addicting that it was hard to pull away from whenever I had a controller in my hand. It felt like it was all we ever played at the time.
If you weren’t lucky enough to experience this series, or play it for the first time when it released, now is your chance to do so thanks to Katamari Damacy REROLL, which has thankfully brought the seminal classic to modern consoles.
So, what is Katamari Damacy anyways? Well, it’s a unique and creative little title that tasks you with rolling a sticky ball. If you haven’t played the original or its sequels that last sentence probably doesn’t sound fun to you. The reason these titles were so enjoyable, though, is because it wasn’t just about rolling a ball. The urge to play and replay came from the scores and objectives attached. You see, what started as a little green ball eventually became massive, and large enough to roll up Earth’s biggest items. Each level upped the scale until there was nothing left.
Things began innocently enough, in a small location like a person’s home. There, you’d begin by rolling over the smallest items around. Things like stamps, hairpins, erasers and the like. Then, as your ball (which could be compared to a snowball, which increases in size as it’s rolled around a yard) starts to become bigger, larger items will begin to stick to it. Eventually, you’ll be rolling over top of animals, trees, people, homes and buildings.
It’s a weird concept, I know, and it’s made even stranger by the surreal story. One that pertains to a diminutive prince who must right the mistake of his father (the King of All Cosmos), who stupidly destroyed the stars, the constellations and the moon. You can do this by reaching the required size in each stage, and then sending what you’ve rolled up into space. Things become addictive because there are always different routes to take through every available environment, and getting better scores (well, sizes) becomes rewarding.
The other big appeal of this particular IP is just how relaxing it is. Sure, it can get hectic when the timer gets low and you still have lots to collect, but the general gameplay loop is pretty ‘chill.’ There’s little in the way of twitch gameplay, and it’s simply fun to roll the ball around and see how well you can do. Some very colourful and strange visuals and musical melodies also help.
Of course, there are also hidden special objects to find, and objectives that ask you to roll over certain things. In one such instance, you’ll have to add a pair of twins to your ball in order to build a specific constellation, while another will be all about crabs. It’s oddities like this that make the game stand out so much, even with such an original premise and style of gameplay.
Katamari Damacy REROLL doesn’t reinvent things, and is thankfully a faithful restoration of one of gaming’s best. It takes the original PlayStation 2 version, boosts the resolution and makes the insanely colourful art direction pop even more than it did a few generations ago when we were almost all using standard definition TVs. This bump to modern high definition really suits what was always a beautiful and surreal experience, and makes revisiting it an absolute treat.
If you’ve never played Katamari Damacy you won’t want to miss Katamari Damacy REROLL, because you’ll find that there’s simply nothing like it. On the other hand, those who played and loved the original or its sequels don’t need me to tell them why they should play this remaster.
I’m so happy that it’s back.
This review is based on the Xbox One version of the game, which we were provided.
- Incredibly charming, unique, immersive and replayable
- One of the best games ever made
- An example of how to do a remaster well
- The campaign is short
- It may be a bit too weird for some
- The odd controls take time to get used to