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Me and My Katamari

01 Jun 2006

Reviewers promise to you, the reader. This is a game about rolling a ball. And it is on a handheld format. As a burgeoning videogame journalist, clawing desperately to gain credibility, I shall endeavour to avoid juvenile jokes about balls in the palm of your hand. The premise of the Katamari series of games is brilliant in its simplicity.  Roll a ball around, collecting random items in order to get a larger ball.  That’s about all there is to it, and like most simple game concepts it proves to be an addictive and compelling formula. Written words can only fail to convey the surreal and intoxicating mood of this game.  The surreal gameplay, disturbingly up-beat soundtrack and colourful, stylised graphics combine to deliver one of the most unique experiences to be found in the realm of videogames. The ridiculous yet charming plot of Me and my… sees players taking on the role of the prince of all cosmos, attempting to make amends for his fathers indiscretion (while on holiday his rambunctious behaviour caused a tidal wave that wiped out a chain of tiny islands). In order to do this, players roll a Katamari ball around, collecting all sorts of items in order to replace the islands. The game has a central ‘hub’ island where you get to run around changing options, looking at your accomplishments thus far and visiting any cousins that you may have unlocked.  It is here that you will find the prior inhabitants of the wiped out islands, and talking to them will start a level. By and large you will be charged with building your Katamari up to a certain size within a time limit, although sometimes you have to use some discretion, and roll up certain items (on one stage you have to roll up the most expensive items you can find). The core mechanic of the gameplay remains the same for the entire game, yet somehow it manages to always feel compelling and fresh.Only some minor technical issues hold Me and My Katamari back from true greatness, the most obvious being the compromised control scheme.  Players used to the control scheme of the PS2 Katamari games will initially struggle with the less than ideal control setup of this edition, where the D-pad and four face buttons take on the role of the dual shock’s analogue sticks.  However with perseverance the controls become “not quite ideal” as opposed to the “eating custard with chopsticks while riding a rollercoaster” frustration that one initially feels. If you are a fan of the Katamari games then this is a no brainer to add to your portable collection – however if you are new to the escapades of the prince then you might want to check out the PS2 incarnation first.  

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