Since Katamari Damacy was released on the PlayStation 2 in 2004, the Prince and the King of the Cosmos have become Namco staples. With a truly unique gameplay concept, catchy music, and an aesthetic entirely its own, the Katamari series has won the hearts of its fans over and over again. The latest release in the series, Touch My Katamari finally brings the game to a portable device properly, and, for the first time in the series, allows you to manipulate your Katamari.
The story of Touch My Katamari is a familiar one; once again the King of the Cosmos is being overly dramatic, and is in need of an ego boost. In order to rally his fans he has sent the Prince to impress everyone with his Katamari rolling skills in the hopes that he can create new planets to impress everyone. Alongside the King's storyline is the tale of Goro, a slacker who has decided to demonstrate his devotion to the King by turning his life around. The series' over-the-top humor and familiar characters all return, making the vast majority of Touch My like a warm safety blanket for fans of the series.
Along with the recognizable story comes all of the standard game modes that test your Katamari rolling skills. Play within a set time frame to create either the biggest Katamari possible or one that is composed of specific items. Candy serves as a reward for a job well done, and the delicious delights are Touch My's currency. Collect enough and you can unlock music, modes, and attire for both the Prince and the King.
While there isn't much new on the story front, the gameplay finally receives a much-needed update. The franchise defining dual-analog rolling mechanic makes its first appearance on a portable, however the development team did throw one new ingredient into the formula to take advantage of the Vita's hardware: you can now use the rear touch screen to stretch and squish your Katamari for a limited time. This update actually changes how you play the game, since an oblong Katamari is likely to cover more area than a round one. There's no more rolling back and forth to pick up rows of paperclips, you can get them all in one shot now.
While the rear touchscreen should offer something new for fans to tinker with, that's about all they are going to get. Outside of some added Near functionality, and the ability to decorate the King, a lot of this game (particularly the gameplay) feels rehashed from previous releases. You'll start out in the same messy bedroom, and proceed to a very familiar street, which turns into a standard world's worth of items to roll up. Everything looks great on the Vita, but if you've dabbled with the series in the past, you've likely seen and played most of it before.
When Me & My Katamari was released on the PSP back in 2006 it was the first title in the Katamari series to appear on a portable. Unfortunately, that platform didn't include two analog sticks, making it difficult for that release to replicate the unique control scheme of the franchise's console releases. The developers wrestled with the controls, and somewhat made it work, but it wasn’t nearly as smooth as the PlayStation 2's controller. Since then, the series has struggled with how to port the game to handhelds, with everything from motion controls to 2D interpretations, but none of them ever really brought the true Katamari feeling to gamers on the go. Touch My Katamari is the first game to truly do that. While the game doesn't offer a whole lot that's new, newcomers and fans looking for more from the series should be satisfied.