This just in! The moon has disappeared from the sky, taking numerous stars and stellar bodies with it! Sightings of an enormous bearded man who may or may not have a Christmas cracker for a head are arriving in droves! Social media is ablaze with talk of a cluster of household items steadily rolling around a small Japanese prefecture and gaining size, with some even saying they've spotted live humans caught in it's path! Three words keep cropping up alongside these reports, the mysterious term "Katamari Damacy REROLL". What could it all mean?
Literally translated as "clump spirit", you'd be forgiven for reading that and having no idea what Katamari Damacy could possibly be about, much as the series has enjoyed over a decade of cult success on Sony's consoles since it's inception and later release on Xbox 360. In the most basic of terms, you roll a sticky ball into various household objects in order to hit a target size set for you by The King Of All Cosmos. Who's he? That's a tough question considering he's kind of in charge of everything but doesn't quite explain how or why at any point. All you really need to know is that The King has managed to destroy a lot of the galaxy and needs you to gather up balls of varying sizes in order to replace them. It all makes sense now, right?
Using either your keyboard or XInput compatible controller, you'll be steering The King's inexplicably diminutive offspring, The Prince, and are expected to prove yourself almost immediately after turning on the game, with the big man guiding you through a quick tutorial focused on the rather unusual control setup Katamari Damacy uses. You see, you'll only really be using the analogue sticks if you use a controller, pushing both forward to move forward, one forward and one back to turn left or right and so on. After a few moments, you'll be rolling, quick turning and speed dashing to The King's satisfaction and thus the game truly begins.
Stages begin on a tiny scale, with The Prince rolling over table tops and kitchen floors to various items from day to day life in Japan like coins or takoyaki, slowly growing big enough to gather up large objects. It's like a micro-scale trip into another culture, seeing little differences from the ground upward, literally. As you progress through stages you'll move from the confines of the house and out into the city where it's located, absorbing things like house plants and televisions until you're just about the size of a human being. And then you absorb them too and grow large enough to start rolling up entire cities. You'll have to take care though, as hitting things that are bigger than you or clashing with a wall will knock a few items away and shrink your ball momentarily. A shrunken ball is a terrible thing, I'm sure you'll agree.
All the while, a stunningly diverse and suitably silly soundtrack punctuates your quest to restore the galaxy to glory. Genres range from the kind of electronica that video games so often use, right through to samba and smooth jazz. One track in particular, Que Sera Sera, is a brilliantly silly song that's sung in English, unlike the rest of the soundtrack, and it gives a glimpse into what's being said on the other tracks. In short - everyone is rolling around in some way shape or form and it's wonderful. I'm not one to disagree given I've been humming a few of the tunes for the last few days, they're seriously catchy.
The PC port I've been playing has been close to a perfect, with my only real technical gripe being a lack graphics options available before launching the game or being thrown into the brief tutorial and first level. Katamari Damacy REROLL isn't the most graphically demanding game by any stretch, with level design being based on and ultimately limited by it's original release on PS2 over a decade ago. The upshot of this is that it allows even low end systems sporting the likes of i3 processors and integrated graphics to run the game reasonably well.
The only other issue I faced, and this is a very personal problem, was familiarity and too much practice with the series. I cut my teeth on the fourth entry, the slightly more complex and far more detailed Beautiful Katamari, and absolutely tore through Katamari Damacy REROLL in a little over four hours, often reaching targets within minutes of starting a stage and then facing a few more minutes of trying to collect absolutely everything on the level. If you're seasoned in the art of Katamari rolling, the challenges set here just aren't hard enough. Still though, it was lovely to experience the game that started it all, it's music and endlessly quirky humour.
Rolling onto PC and Switch now, Katamari Damacy REROLL is a great introduction to a long running series for those who've yet to play and a lovely look back to the starting point for those in the know. With it's tempting low price and equally low system requirements, you'd be a fool to pass this joyous game up. You certainly don't want to anger The King by ignoring his demands, right?...