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Me & My Katamari Review

Though a few technical concessions have been made to fit the game onto a PSP, the charm of the series still shines brightly.

The Good

  • The king of all cosmos  
  • Translates dual-analog control to the PSP well  
  • Fun and eclectic soundtrack  
  • Unique, psychedelic visual style.

The Bad

  • Interrupts levels with load times  
  • Limited number of levels  
  • Many songs recycled from previous Katamari games.

The King of All Cosmos, that epic personification of eccentric, intergalactic royalty, brings his uniquely articulate brand of white-hot crazy to the PSP with Me and My Katamari. As a portable interpolation of Katamari Damacy, Me and My pretty much makes good, even in spite of a few technical compromises. The biggest hindrance to Me and My Katamari is its modest number of levels, even when considering the game's relatively short play time.

When he's not out getting drunk with the stars or embarking on an intergalactic ego trip, the quirky and charismatic King of All Cosmos likes to take it easy. At the beginning of Me and My Katamari, the King and the rest of the royal family go for beach-blanket fun, splashing about in the ocean. Unfortunately for the inhabitants of a chain of small islands nearby, the King gets a little too rambunctious, causing a tidal wave that wipes the islands off the map. Perhaps out of benevolence, but more likely because of his need to be liked by everyone, the King makes amends by sending his son, the Prince, out to collect matter out of which to create new islands. This is, as they say, where you come in. The opening cinematic sequence for Me and My establishes the delightfully irreverent and mildly insane tone that the series is best known for, though the game is pretty lean on cinematic sequences through the rest of the game, which is a little disappointing.

As the Prince, your job as matter collector is aided by a katamari, which looks something like a colorful, round, nubby chew toy. You collect various objects simply by rolling over them, though right off the bat your katamari will be too small to roll over most objects. In order to go on to bigger and better things, you'll first need to roll over the smaller stuff, which will slowly but surely increase the size of your katamari. Each level presents you with a time limit and a size requirement that you'll have to meet before said time limit runs out; additionally, you're given requests by the former inhabitants of the islands to roll up specific kinds of items. They'll want you to focus on picking up fast items, cold items, sweet items, beautiful items, and so on. How you fulfill these additional requests will affect your score at the end of a level, though it's not necessary to overanalyze the items you're rolling up, and more often than not you'll satisfy the island inhabitants without any extra effort.

In its PlayStation 2 incarnations, the Katamari series has used both analog sticks for control, letting you move the katamari kind of like a tank. Since there aren't two analog sticks on the PSP, Me and My makes do by letting you use the D pad as the left stick and the four face buttons as the right stick. It's not perfect, as it loses some of the finesse that you got from the true analog controls, but it works well enough, and after an initial reacclimation, the different controls are virtually transparent.

While it might not have as many wonderful cinematic sequences as the Katamari games for the PS2, Me and My nails the overall look and feel of the series almost perfectly. The environments, which start you off inside a tiny room in a tiny Japanese home and eventually reaches the scope of a decent-sized metropolis, feature purposely blocky designs and a random selection and placement of items, both common and exotic, and often straight-up imaginary. The game has an incredible color palette of bright primaries and subdued pastels, and its unique sense of design saturates everything from status screens to the bear that walks around wearing a T-shirt that says "bear" on it. Though it's pretty much status quo for the series, Me and My Katamari is a pretty weird-looking PSP game. While it almost perfectly captures the Katamari style, Me and My makes a few technical sacrifices in the form of midlevel load times, which are never more than a few seconds long but still disrupt the flow of the game. During these loads the game also kind of fudges the scale of the katamari to its surroundings, making the ball itself bigger while shedding much of the complicated geometry of the items stuck to it.

Me and My Katamari's sound design matches suit, providing a catchy and eclectic soundtrack for the surreal action. A lot of the music is identical to that found in past Katamari games, which makes it an easy fit, though it would have been nice if the game featured a little more original music. What's there is good, ranging from smoky lounge music to bleepy Japanese pop songs, and there are a few new interpolations of old Katamari songs. Though the soundtrack is largely dominant, it's regularly punctuated with the confused, panicky cries of people and animals that you pick up with your katamari, which can be hysterical.

If you know what you're doing, you can play through Me and My Katamari in just a few hours, and it feels slightly shorter than its predecessors. Part of the sense of brevity can probably be attributed to the fact that there just aren't that many different environments in Me and My, and they get recycled often, so that by the time you get to the end, you've pretty much had your fill. If you're looking for a reason to go back, there are gifts from the King hidden throughout the game that you can pick up and then outfit the Prince with, as well as a small army of cousins that you can pick up and then choose to play as. There's also a pretty simple multiplayer mode, in which up to four players, each with their own copy of the game, can play a competitive game in which everyone tries to collect more items while knocking items off the other players' katamaris. Or, for the less competitive, you can exchange royal gifts with the other players.

The paltry number of levels in Me and My Katamari proves to be its biggest shortcoming, as the game otherwise does a pretty phenomenal job of re-creating the Katamari Damacy experience on the PSP. This is pretty much a must-have for fans of the series, and though it's not an ideal initiation for those new to the series, the game's refreshing aesthetic, fun and simple gameplay, and its unhinged sense of humor is unlike anything else on the PSP.

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