|past years||2020: #3, 2019: #3|
A long time ago I played a level or two of the japanese version of Katamari Damacy on the PS2. And I had major fun. I didn't know much about it, but the feeling of strangeness and the fun of rolling up stuff, it got over well. So I was always aware that this game might be nice. But it never found it's way to europe. I considered one of the sequels, but never made the jump. Well, Namco ported the original as Reroll for Switch and PC (later followed by PS4 and Xbox One).
The gameplay is quite simple. You roll that Katamari through a level and everything you roll over and that is smaller than the Katamari sticks to it, letting it grow in the process. So that you can roll up bigger things. And that's it basically. In the normal levels you are tasked to reach a certain size within the time limit, other levels have different objectives (like rolling up as many twins as possible). The challenge is in meeting the goal in the time limit. You have to plan a path along items, that are just the right size. To small and your Katamari doesn't grow much and you fail the time limit. To big and you can't roll it up, wasting time and failing the time limit.
As simple as this gameplay loop is, as satisfying it is. Especially if you grow a lot in the same level. There is something strangely enjoyable in starting with rolling up telephones and cabbages, grow into a Katamari that rolls up trees and houses and end up rolling rainbows, volcanoes and entire islands. All at the same level. You can see where you started, but instead of rolling up the cabbages there, you instead roll up the whole field now. This feels just so great.
People in the level ignore the Katamari as long as it is small. But once you start rolling up humans they flee in horror and policeman shooting at it (completely useless though). Everything living you roll up still moves at the Katamari, wriggling to get free. As horrible as this is, it looks kinda funny.
The story is, well extremely strange. The King of all Cosmos (who always adresses himself as we), has drunkenly destroyed the stars. You play the little prince, his son, and as he sired you, you are indebted to him (his words) and has to fix his mess. So you roll up big Katamaris, replacing the destroyed stars. The King is kind of a dick, but the prince is nevertheless happy and works tirelessly.
I should also mention the music. It is music I would normally not like very much. But it matches the quirky style of the game so well, it just clicks and makes playing a level even more enjoyable. Yes, the whole game is a strange mix, but it just works. I think everyone should try it out. If you own a Switch, there is a free demo of the game on the eshop. You should give it a try.
A near perfect game.