Namco Bandai will never be able to make a Katamari game as good as the ones lead by series creator, Keita Takahashi. Takahashi was the lead designer for the original Katamari Damacy and its sequel, We Love Katamari. Since then, unfortunately, the series hasn’t been quite as stellar.
It’s still good, mind you, but it’s not as good as it once was. Namco Bandai have taken to releasing the game in various forms on every platform they can (Nintendo’s devices are the only ones without an entry). The franchise feels a bit milked, and the content has become a little formulaic.
Odds are, you’re either tired of Katamari or you’re ready for more. Touch My Katamari is a formulaic entry in the series, so remember that if you’re looking at picking it up.
Okay, so why are we so quick to call this game the “best portable Katamari?” It comes down to the analog sticks on the PS Vita. The game features touchscreen controls, but you can play it all the way through without using them even once. That’s what I wound up doing after fooling with the optional control scheme for around an hour. I went back to the analog sticks, the way the game was meant to be played.
Because of the sticks, rolling feels perfectly natural. Control is a big portion of the Katamari franchise, and while Touch My Katamari’s name suggests the worst control method, the software itself sports the best.
The most useful of the touch control features is the pinching and stretching of the Katamari itself. You can do so by making those gestures on the device’s rear touch panel. Pinching will make your Katamari thin for tall objects or narrow gaps, while stretching will make your Katamari wide and flat for bigger area coverage or low entries. It works; it's not a necessary addition, but it works.
All told, you’ll be able to beat every level this game has to offer after around an hour of rolling. That sounds pathetic, and it’s honestly a reason why the game’s score sees a small drop from what it could be, but you are encouraged to replay levels a few times more to earn candy for unlocks. Those replays feel fine, but the fact that the content repeats so often is a major downer. The King hints at DLC down the line, but the King’s musings are pretty far from confirmation.
The aforementioned candy is earned for beating levels, playing the game on a daily basis and pleasing the King when he asks for something. Earning them is basically like earning in-game currency. You’ll spend it to unlock stuff like costume pieces for the King and songs from the music clerk. It’s a way to keep gamers playing.
The King offers candy tickets every so often, and these double and triple your candy awards when you use them. When you run out of tickets, you’ll be told that you can buy more from the PS Store. We don’t recommend it, just keep playing the game.
As far as launch games for the PS Vita go, Touch My Katamari stands tall among the best. It’s a strong entry in the series, albeit a short one, and it rocks some of the smoothest portable controls we’ve seen in a while. Ding it for its longevity, love it for its style and buy it because it’s Katamari.
…or don’t. We get that this series has worn thin for some, so keep that in mind if you’re considering it.
Full Disclosure: CraveOnline was sent a review copy of Touch My Katamari with our bundle of PS Vita games. Before starting our review, we completed each of the game’s levels, unlocked a bunch of costumes and songs, tried all of the control methods and revisited our favorite levels several times.