Release Date: March 21, 2006
The good news is that Me & My Katamari is, in all the ways that count, a portable Katamari Damacy.
That means that it's unquestionably one of the most addictive, funny, colorful, and distinctive games out there. From the J-pop-on-crack music to the bizarre cubist world it creates, Me & My Katamari will never and could never be mistaken for anything else on the market today.
The bad news is that this is, in all the ways that count, a portable Katamari Damacy.
The Prince is on vacation, which means he's going to have to do some more recreational rolling. This time, he'll be ruthlessly rolling up all manner of items to provide habitats for homeless animals; once you've assembled the katamari du jour, the King of All Cosmos – decked out in attractive and crotch-emphasizing summer wear – will use his Royal Puff to transform the katamari into a brand-new island.
On paper, this doesn't differ wildly from We Love Katamari on the PS2. The level design is still vast and imaginative, leading you from the size of an uppity dust mote to an all-consuming juggernaut that can roll up mountains and weather patterns. The music is still a catchy blend of J-pop and lounge tunes, which gets stuck in your head and doesn't go away for days at a time. (Trust me on this one.) The movies and cut scenes are still done in the series' notable and characteristic cubist/surrealist style, combining cartoony yet square humans with the relentless weirdness that is the King of All Cosmos, the baddest damn man to ever have a giant battery for a head.
The problem, simply, is the controls.
Me & My Katamari – and only now do I note the questionable grammar of the game's title; I've been on the Internet too long – is yet another game in a long-running tradition on the PSP. It's got a great soundtrack, amazing graphics, and as much as if not more gameplay than its cousins on a tabletop console, but it has control issues practically from the moment you hit the start button.
This may just be me. I'll freely admit to that. That said, Me & My Katamari attempts to make up for the PSP's lack of a second analogue stick by making the face buttons do the same thing the right thumbstick would do if you were playing this on the PS2. You press Up and Triangle to move forward, and so on.
The problem, simply enough, is that the D-pad or the little nipply thumb bit on the left side of the PSP are naturally more sensitive and useful than the face buttons are. It's almost impossible to play Me & My Katamari without the Prince developing a bizarre drunken stagger, veering constantly to the right or left as you play. As Me & My Katamari retains the occasionally-unforgiving time limits of the original game, this can lead to a lot of frustrating retries.
It's for that reason, and that reason alone, that I can't really recommend this game to anyone. Me & My Katamari has all the imagination, great music, and level design you could want, but it's yet another game on a long list of quality titles that, at the end of the day, is simply on the wrong hardware.
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