There are certain games that stand out against the passing of time as coming close to answering that colossal question ‘are video games art?’, and one is 2004’s Katamari Damacy, a colourful and enjoyable romp that looks as unique now as it did then. So, cue excitement when a recent Nintendo Direct confirmed a Nintendo Switch port of the absurd physics rolling puzzler.
The basic narrative of Katamari Damacy is to fulfil a wish from the King Of All Cosmos to help him repair the universe after he wipes it out during a binge drinking session. Taking on the role of the King’s son, the player is sent to Earth with a ‘katamari’ to collect sufficient materials to rebuild the stars and other celestial bodies. If you think this is a slightly insane premise, the craziness doesn’t really stop there.
Rolling is the order of the day here. The katamari itself is a magical ball that causes anything smaller than itself to be stuck to it, increasing its size and allowing larger objects to be caught up. So the player, as the Prince, has to roll the katamari around the various Earth based levels picking up various types of food, objects and even animals to meet objectives or just create the biggest katamari possible.
In the demo I played at the Bandai Namco event, there was only one level, taking place in a dining room with a massive array of objects to pick up. You had four minutes to grow your katamari to 10cm, which sounds quite low but is a lot harder to get to than you would think. As the objects in the room are initially items like drawing pins, screws and orange slices, it does take a while and a lot of these items to make a decently sized katamari.
If you succeed in that mission before the time runs out, the King challenges you to create the biggest katamari you can, meaning you can move onto objects like biscuits, matchboxes and (if you grow the ball big enough) a mouse. This is where the game descended into chaos for me as I started just running around rolling up absolutely everything I could, growing the katamari to a borderline silly size.
The problem with a demo is that you only have a certain amount of time with the games, and this meant that the controls were still somewhat lost on me even after a little time with the game. Katamari Damacy does feel slightly like a relic in this area, as it feels quite clunky and cumbersome by modern control standards. It does make sense from a conceptual perspective, as it would be difficult to move an object that large, but it’s still frustrating.
Visually, however, Katamari Damacy Reroll is fantastic. The art style has aged incredibly well, looking great on the Switch now it has been beautifully updated to high definition. The colourful and blocky visuals match the insanity of the gameplay so well, with the Prince being tiny and adorable and the King is impressive but also ridiculous. The sense of perspective is still incredible too, giving a great idea of scale from the diminutive Prince’s viewpoint.
In short, Katamari Damacy Reroll is shaping up to be a fantastic addition to the already great library on the Switch. The game itself is a good fit for the console on pretty much every level, especially the ability to take all the silly rolling collectathon on the go. I was already interested in the game, owing to a certain amount of nostalgia for the original, but having played it on the Switch I’m very excited to start rolling again.
Katamari Damacy Reroll is coming to Nintendo Switch and Windows on December 7th 2018. Have you played the original game? Are you excited for this remaster? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter, and check back for more coverage of this and other Japanese titles.
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