Me And My Katamari - PSP - Review
Me and My Katamari opens with the King of All Cosmos once again frolicking around and accidentally destroying all sorts of stuff. While resting on Earth from his previous exertions, putting the stars and planets back in the sky, the King manages to whip up a tidal wave that wipes out an entire island chain. This act leaves many animals homeless and they petition the Prince to ask the King for assistance on their behalf. As usual the King puts his son to work rolling a Katamari. The King then magically creates an island for the animals from the Prince’s creation.
What exactly is a Katamari? Honestly I’m not really sure what it is, but it looks like a round ball covered in bumps. So what do you do with it? The King sends the Prince and a Katamari to an area and then sets a time limit for rolling and a desired Katamari size. For example, the Prince may start with a Katamari that is one meter across that he must expand to five meters in less than six minutes. To grow the Katamari the Prince must roll the Katamari and pick up the items that litter the area. If an item is smaller than the Katamari it will stick to it. By rolling up lots of items onto the Katamari, the Katamari grows and the Prince can roll up larger items. If the Prince rolls up enough objects to reach the desired size under the time limit the King rewards the Prince by converting the Katamari into an island home for the Prince’s animal friends.
The hallmark of the Katamari series has been the intuitiveness of the control setup. Anybody can pick up a Dual Shock controller and have the Prince zooming around via the analog sticks in no time on the PS2. Unfortunately, the PSP only has one analog nub so the developers at Namco had to compromise. Rolling the Katamari requires use of the D-pad, the face buttons, and the shoulder triggers at the same time. To roll forward you’ll push up combined with the triangle button. Moving right or left is accomplished via right plus circle and left plus square. Rolling backwards is done by pushing down and X. The triggers allow the Prince to make a slow turn in the appropriate direction. The revised control setup takes a bit of the magic away but it’s the closest you’ll get to the original setup with the PSP’s controls.
Even though the focus has been moved to fixing up Earth instead outer space, Me and My Katamari boasts many of the features found in the PS2 games. The King has left presents for the Prince in every level once again. After finding a present it can be equipped on the Prince to change his look. The Royal Cousins introduced in We “Heart” Katamari also return. During the Prince’s adventures he’ll bump into his cousins from time to time. If he can roll them up with the Katamari they become selectable characters and can be sent to roll the Katamari while the Prince takes a well-deserved break.
As each game before it has, Me and My Katamari brings a new feature to the series. For the first time players can participate in wireless multiplayer Katamari battles. Supporting up to four players on an ad-hoc network, no Internet play unfortunately, the multiplayer portion of the game let’s players battle for points by rolling up items with their Katamari. Every item in the area has a different point value and the player with the most points wins when time runs out. Along with the multiplayer battles, players can also trade objects in their collection and presents while wirelessly connected.
|Review Scoring Details for Me And My Katamari|
It’s classic Katamari action without the classic controls. While the PSP control scheme is serviceable it takes some getting used to. If you’ve already played both PS2 games to death, the game play on the PSP is more of the same. Rolling the Katamari is still a lot of fun but the novelty is starting to wear off just a bit.
Me and My Katamari’s presentation is right on par with the console titles, but the actual gameplay graphics take a bit of a hit. Gameplay still features the blocky art style of the PS2 games. Unfortunately the lower resolution means lots of jagged edges that take away from the crisp and clean style of the original. Besides the jaggies, the game also has occasional pop-in issues and brief framerate hiccups.
Naa, nanananana na na Na na Na na na na… Now it’s stuck in your head too! The quirky music featured in Katamari titles is one of the cornerstones of the series. Fans will be happy to hear that Me and My Katamari features a whole list of music tracks from it’s PS2 brethren along with a few new tunes.
After getting through the initial learning curve with the revamped PSP controls, Me and My Katamari is relatively easy to finish. The real challenge comes from trying to better your scores to win the King of All Cosmos’s approval.
Me and My Katamari brings the unique game play of the Katamari Damacy series to a handheld system. Instead of a being a port of the PS2 game, it’s a brand new adventure for everyone’s favorite dysfunctional royal family. Players will assist the Prince in rolling up Katamari’s that can be used to rebuild islands for animals that were displaced after the King’s antics.
Wireless play for four is the name of the game. While it’s great to have more than two players in multiplayer for the first time, there are no options beyond the standard “roll for points” game mode. The ability to trade presents and objects is a nice touch, but overall the wireless play is lacking compared to the single player experience.
I have a funny feeling hardcore fans of the Prince are going to dismiss this game simply because of the control scheme. I’d like to assure those fans that while it is a bit awkward at first; having a handheld Katamari game outweighs the controls compromise. While Me and My Katamari plays identically to its predecessors the ability to roll things up while you’re on the go makes up for the lack of change in the basic gameplay. It’s nice to have a PSP title that, while borrowing from its PS2 roots, isn’t a straight port.