Katamari Damacy REROLL Review
Katamari Damacy REROLL on PC
The Katamari experience isn’t one that’s easily explained. One minute you’re collecting small fruits like apples and oranges, and the next you’re rolling over cows and people, basking in the delight of hearing their terrified screams as you continue rolling. Don’t think about it. Don’t question it. Just keep rolling. Katamari Damacy is a good game for sane people, I promise.
Katamari Damacy REROLL is an HD remaster of the 2004 PS2 cult classic. After the King of All Cosmos accidentally wipes out all the stars and celestial bodies in space, he tasks the little prince with using a magic ball called a Katamari to gather up junk on Earth and roll it into a big enough replacement star. Players take control of the cute, lovable prince, and you start rolling.
REROLL is largely the same game as the one you’d find on the PS2. The iconic art and graphical styles are intact, right down to the mid-mission cutscenes with the somewhat unsettling doll-like human characters. The game looks much crisper than you’d remember, though, with improved lighting effects to help enhance the game’s vibrancy and make it pop. Katamari Damacy REROLL is a beautiful cartoonish game, and its art style retains that timeless quality.
Purists will also be glad to know that the original control scheme has been kept intact, though newcomers will have the option to switch to a slightly easier control scheme if they wish. This is a bit of a divisive point for me, as Katamari Damacy’s weird controls have always been regarded as a key part of the game’s charm. Using both analog sticks, you’ll have to tilt towards a single direction for the prince to roll in, but that means that camera controls are usually compromised in some way.
The easier control scheme doesn’t fare much better either, as the right stick can only be tilted up or down for you to look left and right, which feels weird to say the least. You’ll never feel like you’re in control of this massive ball of junk you’re rolling around, but maybe that’s the point. If you stick with it for long enough, you will eventually get used to how the Katamari handles.
And that’s the core gameplay mechanic of Katamari Damacy REROLL. The game consists of nine main story stages, where you simply have to roll the magical ball around to collect random items. The more you collect, the bigger the ball of junk grows, and in turn, you’ll be able to start collecting bigger items. And before you know it, you’re rolling over buildings and skyscrapers and thunder gods. Things get wild.
Truly, I was surprised at the sheer sense of scale in REROLL. As you get into the later stages, the King’s demands become more challenging, especially when you’re tasked with creating a star larger than 10 meters in diameter. You’ll always start small, collecting whatever knick-knacks you can find, but the game gives you this sense of empowerment and progress as you slowly start rolling the Katamari into a much larger ball.
The earlier stages feature rather small and compact maps, but things really start to open up later on. The final few stages take place on the same map, but as the King’s tasks get increasingly more difficult, more parts of the map will open up, giving you access to bigger things to roll and exponentially increase the size of the Katamari.
That’s not to say that REROLL is completely devoid of any issues. There were more than a few instances when my Katamari had gotten stuck on some debris, like between two buildings or right in the middle of a rainbow or something, and it felt impossible to dislodge it. Thankfully, I never had to restart the stage to get out of that situation, but it required some finagling on my analog sticks to finally get the Katamari out. Smoother controls would certainly have been appreciated, particularly for series newcomers.
Outside of the main stages, there are optional challenges that you can undertake to restore specific star constellations in the sky. The Gemini challenge, for instance, requires you to roll up pairs or twins of people and objects, while the Pisces challenge tasks you with rolling up crabs. All the while, your mission objectives are condescendingly handed out by the King of All Cosmos, whose dialogue is so silly and over the top that you can’t help but crack a smile.
The music is largely unchanged as well, and that’s another key aspect of what’s made Katamari Damacy so beloved over the years. The soundtrack is wonderfully varied between boppy and more mellow tracks, making this one of the easiest games you can just chill with on a lazy weekday night. There’s something special about sitting on the constellations menu, listening to the dreamy and subtly melancholic Katamari Stars, as the little prince looks up at the endless cosmic expanse above him.
Right up to the end credits, I was enthralled by everything Katamari Damacy REROLL had to offer. I’d never quite appreciated how small our world truly was, compared to everything that’s still out there in the unknown. Yet the game could also properly depict how big our world could seem, depending on how you were looking at it. That sense of scale in REROLL is remarkable, and the gradual progression of the prince’s view on the world is easily the strongest part of this game.
The final sequence has you do a victory lap over the entirety of Earth, revisiting the countries and continents you’d rolled over in the game. The camera pans out slowly, revealing its place in the universe. It keeps zooming out, and the little prince keeps rolling. Once I’d gotten over the fact that I had rolled a bunch of live humans and animals into a ball and shot them into space, it was honestly kind of a profound moment. I think.
Katamari Damacy REROLL is a condensed, but immensely enjoyable experience. The controls are the main roadblock for sure, but they’re not quite enough to detract from just how fun this game is. REROLL is a simple port of a simple game, refreshed for a newer audience, while also keeping all its charms and quirks intact. There’s no better way to roll.