You know that scene in A Clockwork Orange where Malcolm McDowell is strapped to a chair and watches that trippy video with his eyes wired open? That’s kind of how I felt watching the opening cutscene to Katamari Damacy REROLL. Rainbows and cows fill the screen, sending you on an acid trip you can’t escape from. Did I play the original? Honestly, I can’t remember. I feel like my mind was wiped and we are approaching the end of days. How do you come up with something as bizarre or as fever-inducing as this? Once I’d finally grabbed my bearings, albeit for a brief moment, I dived into the nitty-gritty of rebuilding stars out of earthly possessions and became addicted all over again.
Turns out, did play Katamari Damacy back in the day, and everything came flooding back. It was one of those games where the box art intrigued me more than anything I’d seen. We didn’t have YouTube back in the early naughties, so you either read about it in a magazine, or took a chance on it thanks to the way it looked on the cover. The premise is simple, if not completely bonkers. The King of All Cosmos has been an idiot and destroyed every star, so in order to put the fiery balls of light back in the sky, he asks you – his son – to gather objects from Earth by rolling them up into a ball with the help of katamaris.
Even now as I write this, the theme music is ingrained in my brain. I can see myself rolling the katamari around, trying to increase its size by rolling over a large amount of objects. Before each level, you’re told how big the katamari needs to be, and what the time limit will be for you to complete your task. It starts off fairly small, but as you go further you’re creating huge balls with houses instead of watering cans. If you reach the target size, you can still continue until the end of the timer to try and get a bigger katamari.
Katamari Damacy REROLL features a simple concept at its core, but the physics of rolling the katamari around are diverse enough to keep you hooked. You use both analogue sticks to turn, climb, roll, and make your way around the maps. Momentum plays an important roll in collecting new materials to make you katamari bigger. At first, you can only collect items smaller than the katamari, but as it gets bigger, the screen flashes white, and new objects can be picked up. It can take a while to get used to the controls, and even after playing for a good few hours, the game throws new challenges at you to keep you changing the way you attack each level.
Whilst many levels have you collecting a whole manner of objects, certain Constellation levels require one particular thing. For example, Cancer has you rolling over crabs of differing sizes, and when it becomes bigger, you’re left with something from your nightmares as crabs move and vibrate in your katamari, and hundreds of legs flail around. There’s enough variety in the level designs to keep you pushing on, and even now it has some of the most well-designed levels for a puzzle game.
Whilst Katamari Damacy REROLL has been updated with HD visuals, it still looks like it belongs on the PlayStation 2. It doesn’t look bad by any means, but the animation and movement of the camera do stop this from appealing to the masses. When you get in a tight spot, or get stuck behind a large object, it can be hard to see where you are going, and with both analogue sticks required to move the katamari, you’re left without a clear option to see the bigger picture.
Katamari Damacy REROLL is a great puzzler, with one of the weirdest concepts of all time. It still holds up on today’s consoles, but the visuals are a far cry from what you may be used to on modern systems. Despite the awkward camera angles, I had loads of fun tazzing around various locations trying to pick up a whole manner of things before the timer runs out, and the cutscenes are the right kind of stupid for me to get a good laugh or two out of.
Physics are interesting
Entire concept is brilliant
Awkward camera angles
Visuals aren't the best