Friday, 27 September 2013

Retrospective: Touch My Katamari (Vita)

Waiting on the Eurogamer expo to finish up and then I can begin to scour on various websites for some information. Hopefully there's some Niche/Jrpg titles going to be making there way to the EU and I'll drop some news onto the blog. So today I'm going to carry on with the retrospectives. I do enjoy these and hopefully you guys are piqued into trying one every now and again. So what's in store for today? I'm going to look at Touch My Katamari for the Vita. With it currently sitting on the EU's PS+ service, it may interest you if you have a Vita...
 Story (Wikipedia)
One day, a boy asks his Dad "Who is more awesome, the King of All Cosmos or his principal?". When the dad is trying to make up his mind, the mom says they are both equally awesome. The king overhears the conversation. Shocked, he becomes a train wreck. Somewhere else, a slacker named Goro, who puts off studying for video games, television and the Internet, sees a news broadcast telling of the King's apparent depression. Goro believes that this is his moment to start his life anew, so he runs off to make a new lifestyle for himself.
 Never played a Katamari game before? This entry in the series carries on with its staple gameplay from previous entries, there's little different. The player is tasked with rolling a sticky ball, a Katamari, around levels filled with objects. Objects stick to the ball causing it to get bigger, The bigger the size the bigger the objects that can be picked up by your Katamari. Most 'quests' in the game involve you having to reach a certain size within the allotted time with bonus points being awarded for targeting specific objects in each level. As you would expect from a portable release, the time limit's and targets for each level are reduced compared to the console releases to keep the game more bite-sized. There are numerous other quest types too, like making your Katamari as big as possible while only picking up a set amount of objects, but most don't deviate from the norm. That's probably the main issue for those coming back to the series. It features levels & scenario's that you've no doubt played before as veteran. The game kinda feels like a re-run if I'm honest. For newcomers though, or those like me who have only played 1 or 2 previous entries, the game feels good to play and its obviously been refined. Controls can either be touchscreen or dual analogue too. I went with dual analogues myself, but I use the rear touchpad to shape my Katamari. This is pretty much the only standout addition. Using the touchpad/screen you can make your Katamari longer (to fit under low structures) or taller (to fit between small gaps). Its quite a useful addition. Completing levels nets you candy, the games currency, and the higher your score the more candy you get. You spend candy in the shop to unlock extras. There's also extra characters to unlock by seeking them out in the levels. While the game itself is relatively short, the bonus extras will keep you grinding for that candy!
Id say the graphics with Touch My Katamari are obviously stylised this way. Sure the character models are blocky, textures are flat & devoid of detail and the game as a whole is lacking the sheen of modern titles. But I think that's intentional. Even on the Xbox360 the game was styled the same way, although a tad more detailed (obvious given the hardware compared to a portable platform) The smaller screen and with it being OLED makes everything look sharper & more colourful than you would expect once the games in motion. Framerate is pretty much rock solid too but a little AA would've gone a long way. It has a distinctly colourful & Japanese style that probably makes it a little too quirky for most though. I like it. The soundtrack is also another good aspect. As you would expect its littered with all manner of catchy J-pop songs which supplement the visual style perfectly. While most reviewers have stated the soundtrack isn't as good as other entries in the series, I still found it to be very good! As long as you like a stylised presentation, you'll be quite pleased with Touch My Katamari.
Id recommend if you have a Vita & are in the EU that you consider a 3 month PS+ to give this a go. While the game can be had for around £8/£10 preowned the extra couple of £'s (3 month PS+ costs £11.99 [€14.99/$17.99] would net you a few months of extra games to play too (Street Fighter X Tekken is also available for Vita currently). Ive been enjoying Katamari again since I downloaded it, its been played more than EDF 2017 & Persona 4! Then again I haven't played one since the launch of Beautiful Katamari on the Xbox360 so Ive been away a while. I may be keeping an eye out for Katamari Forever on Ps3 too for some big screen action but that's tough to find these days. While it is short, it is enjoyable but I doubt if the series has never appealed to you or you haven't enjoyed it before, this one wont change your mind.

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