We’d love nothing more than to get a brand new Katamari game from Bandai Namco. Alas, we don’t think it’s going to happen. Outside of a few iOS and Android releases, the last truly new Katamari game came out in 2011, exclusively on PS Vita. 12 years later, we’ve all but lost hope of getting a modernised entry into the ridiculous but incredible game series about rolling stuff up. And so, thank god for the remasters. 2018 brought Katamari Damacy REROLL, and now we have the tongue-tying We Love Katamari REROLL+ Royal Reverie.
A remaster of the 2005 We Love Katamari which released on PS2, there’s a good chance you’ll fondly remember much of We Love Katamari REROLL+. Many of the stages found here also appeared in 2009’s Katamari Forever on PS3, itself a collection of pre-existing levels. If you’re lucky, it might be so long ago since you played that jumping in to REROLL+ feels like a new experience. But even if it doesn’t, it still feels wonderful to be back.
If you’re – somehow – not acquainted with Katamari, let’s try to break it down. You play as The Prince, a tiny creature of the Cosmos, tasked by his father (The King of All Cosmos, naturally) to gather items from around the world. Not just in any old fashion, though: by rolling them up onto a sticky Katamari ball. A tiny Katamari might only be able to roll up tiny items like paperclips and candy. But the more you roll up, the bigger your Katamari becomes. Some levels allow your Katamari to grow so big, you can roll up entire cities.
We Love Katamari REROLL+ Royal Reverie eases you in gently, by starting you off in a small bedroom. There, your Katamari will grow no more than to a diameter of 20cm as you roll up pushpins, stationary and maybe the odd snail. As you move through the game, each new level presents you with a different challenge. Perhaps you’ll need to get your Katamari to a certain size, or roll up certain types of item. Where the previous game, Katamari Damacy, focused on simply making your Katamari as big as possible, We Love Katamari throws in some additional challenges for you.
One level sets your ball alight on a barbeque, and tasks you with keeping the flame burning while you get large enough to pick up a pile of firewood. Fail to move quickly enough or, god forbid, fall into the nearby river, and it’s game over. Another sees you roll up fireflies to make your Katamari as bright as possible, and one more replaces your Katamari with a Sumo wrestler who needs to bulk up by rolling into as much food as possible.
Whether these more varied level types appeal to you will depend on your personal taste. They’re fun enough, but we prefer the simplicity of being allowed to make a Katamari as large as possible. Thankfully, there are still plenty of levels that allow for that. There’s no denying the joy of starting off as a tiny ball that eventually encompasses entire towns and cities.
Happily, We Love Katamari REROLL+ Royal Reverie also includes a couple of multiplayer modes so you can play locally with a friend. A second controller can be connected to allow someone to play all campaign levels with you – but it’s likely not what you think. You’ll both control the same Katamari, and so you’ll need to co-ordinate your stick movements if you want to successfully move around. It’s much easier said than done: Katamari’s controls are notoriously awkward at the best of times, and so trying to co-ordinate with another person is an exercise in stress and anxiety.
We had a much better time jumping into the game’s Battle mode, which provides a head-to-head splitscreen experience. You’ll both be thrown into the same environment, where you’re tasked to pick up as many specific items as possible. The player with the most wins. The only grumble we have here is that the levels seem to be randomised and limited: you’re simply thrown into a scenario without being given any choice.
It goes without saying that the development team has done a great job in modernising We Love Katamari. Its visuals might not be cutting-edge, but it looks great: its colourful worlds and quirky items look more appealing than ever. There’s a bunch of brand new content added, too. The additional “Past Arc” story introduces some new stages focused around the King, and an Eternal Mode allows you to roll around as a Katamari without any time limitations. If you’re playing on PS5, you’ll also benefit from haptic feedback on the DualSense controller.
It’s not the same as getting a brand new game, but when it comes to Katamari, we’ll take whatever we can get. We Love Katamari REROLL+ Royal Reverie is just as delightful as the original, and it’s clear a lot of work has been done to make this 18-year-old game look just as good as ever. Some of its more random levels aren’t quite as enjoyable as they should be, but as a full package, this is Katamari at its best.