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March 2023

Katamari Damacy

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Release Date: Nov. 20, 2020

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PS4 Review - 'Katamari Damacy Reroll'

by Andreas Salmen on Feb. 10, 2021 @ 12:30 a.m. PST

In Katamari Damacy ReRoll, you start off with a small katamari, but with every level he completes, the katamari can quickly grow from playing cards and people to ocean liners and entire stadiums!

Buy Katamari Damacy Reroll

Katamari Damacy used to be a niche but renowned franchise, but it has been dormant for a while — until Katamari Damacy Reroll for the PS4. It's a direct port of the original PS2 game, which can be considered one of the classics of that era. Reroll doesn't add anything remarkable to the series's formula, but it's a great reminder of how strangely satisfying Katamari can be, even after all this time.

To review the basics, players take on the role of a tiny and colorful prince. Our father, The King of all Kosmos, has displaced the stars in the universe and requires us to create new stars by rolling objects into a ball. Similar to rolling a snowball that progressively gets bigger, we accumulate mass by rolling over and collecting objects within a stage. Once certain conditions are met, we complete the level, and our rolled-up up abomination of a star is shot into the sky until all stars are restored to their former glory. It's a simple premise wrapped in visual stimuli that is relentless and a lot of fun to experience, since Katamari is not concerned with making things difficult. Most levels can feel cathartic if you aren't struggling to master the movement controls.

In each level, we start with a plain ball that is roughly the size of the prince (a couple of centimeters). There are only a few rules to consider: If something is smaller than your rolling sticky trap, it sticks and contributes to the growth of the new star. There are some human and animal encounters, and they may attack you. Bumping into them or solid objects usually knocks off a few items from your spherical death trap. In the earliest levels, we roll up small office utensils until we eventually reach a size where mice and large LEGO bricks are feasible victims. Eventually, we clean out the kitchen and the garden of anything that is not nailed down.

The further we progress, the larger the levels become in scale. We start by rolling up debris on the city streets until we're rolling up tall buildings. It's a satisfying exercise and shows how well the clever game design accommodates changes in item size and scope. It's fun to bump into seemingly insurmountable hurdles at the beginning of a level only to completely demolish them a few moments later.

If you played Katamari Damacy during its original release, Reroll will not hold any surprises aside from a resolution bump. The stages are the same and amount to approximately six hours of playtime. While it's underwhelming that there are no new additions, the classic stages mix up the pace and are a lot of fun to play. While some areas ask you to create stars with larger diameters than the previous one, some stages mix it up. For example, the game may hide the actual diameter from you, and you need to guess when the desired size is reached. Bonus stages also have you reconstructing the Gemini signs by rolling up the appropriate objects, like a load of crabs to create a Cancer sign. Other times, you may only need to roll up one specific objects, but you may choose to roll up specific objects at a certain time, so this can become a slalom parkour by avoiding the objects you don't want to collect yet.

Between the changing stages, mission goals, and collectibles, Reroll provides a good amount of variety that utilizes its simple gameplay philosophy. Part of that is how most of the gameplay is rewarding in and of itself and not necessarily tied to high scores or difficult goal criteria. You'll rarely fail a level, but if you do, you'll likely complete it in the second try, which is what makes it a relaxing experience.

Katamari's distinctive art style and presentation do a lot of the heavy lifting. The blocky graphics look good enough in modern resolutions and run as well as expected. Levels have little animated interludes that follow a family whose kids noticed that the stars have disappeared and are keeping track of your progress as the night sky recovers. The King of Cosmos addresses you with oddly worded sentences that look like they've been run through Google Translate multiple times, and the same goes for the odd but wholesome interludes. It still makes sense, but it alludes to a few family-themed topics if you want to interpret what's going on; sometimes it's best to disengage the brain and enjoy the experience. Not only do the levels look and play well, but the classic musical score is equally addicting. The songs are simple, irresistible anthems of happiness that will stay in your brain for days. It's truly a joyride, but that shouldn't be news if you've played one of the previous entries. Katamari is alive and well in this remaster.

The controls are likely the title's biggest issue. The twin-stick control scheme eventually becomes second nature, but the road to mastering it isn't smooth. Moving sticks in different directions to control the camera is neither quick nor easy, and you'll often bump into scenery or enemies, and that'll cost you precious objects. There are some handy shortcuts, such as turning 180 degrees in one move, but it's a bit tricky. There are further nitpicks that are partially connected to the control scheme. Navigating small spaces can be a hassle because you frequently get stuck and lose a lot of your diameter when you continuously bump into walls.

The visual design language is also not perfect. Since objects can be of different heights and widths, it can be tricky to judge if an object can be rolled up based on your size — especially at the beginning, when you aren't good enough at figuring out whether objects are small enough to roll up. All of these are small gripes that, in conjunction with the fact that Katamari Damacy Reroll doesn't offer any real additions to the game, make the remaster tougher to sell. When you sell a game from 2004 for $30, I'd expect some extra content to sink my teeth into.

Katamari Damacy Reroll is as good as you remember. While this remaster doesn't add any meaningful content, the core gameplay and stages remain addictive and fun. It's a relaxing and unique puzzle game with some outstanding colorful visuals and an incredible soundtrack. If that's what you're after, you can't go wrong with Katamari.

Score: 8.0/10

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