Impressions: Katamari Damacy Reroll

Katamari Damacy Reroll is the remaster of the 2004 game Katamari Damacy. If you aren’t aware of the franchise, Katamari Damacy and later follow-ups are strange games from Japan that gained a rather large fanbase when released in America. The games follow the antics of the King of all Cosmos as he does various things to destroy the stars and planets and then force his son, the Prince, to replace them. Reroll was first released in 2018 for the Switch and then slowly started coming out on other systems and was recently added to Game Pass.

Reroll is almost exactly the same as the original, just with updated graphics and a bit of spit and polish to the gameplay. The story for this game is that the King of all Cosmos gets drunk and smashes many of the stars and the moon. To make up for this mistake, the Prince must roll a ball around Earth so that things will get stuck to it and it will slowly grow. After this, the King will then be able to turn the ball into whatever star or constellation you are assigned to do. The game ends with the last mission being to roll up stuff for the moon. In the background, you also follow a family as they are going to watch their father take off for a moon flight, which he can’t take because of the missing moon. Also, disturbingly the family lives in the town that you eventually roll up when making the moon, so you know… that’s a thing.

Katamari Damacy is strange. The games are purposely surreal with the over-the-top plot, the strange idea of the Katamari itself, crazy music, and scenes to go along with it. The games are pretty tongue-in-cheek about certain zany aspects of Japanese culture, but not in a cruel way. It is the surreal quality that really appealed to a lot of American fans and eventually made the games popular here, although it did take some time. The first game experienced pretty “eh” sales in both Japan and America, but was very well received by American critics and got a bit of a cult following. – one I am proud to say I was part of lol – But after a slow start, the sequels eventually started to do well, and for a time, the franchise, while not a worldwide bestseller, did start to sell a decent amount.

Although zany, surreal, and fun, the games aren’t perfect. The original did suffer a little with controls that were at times clunky, which is not great for a game where all you do is roll around a ball to pick things up. Reroll, for the most part, fixes that with really smooth controls. However, there are still some of the issues that the original suffered, especially in comparison to the later games. The environments in this game are limited, so you will see the same areas repeatedly. Later games put more effort into having the Prince “travel” to different locations to create more variety. This entry in the franchise also suffers a lot in that there is little room for error in the pace at which you grow your Katamari. There is an extremely limited number of things on each map, so if you grow too fast, you might not be able to pick everything up and find yourself stuck in the odd position where you are too big to go back and grab more but too small for any of the new stuff you should be able to grab. It can be seen as adding challenge, but it really feels more like a blip in gameplay, and one I think they should have fixed for the remaster.

There is also the matter of length. The game is short, although I find this to be something that can be seen as positive or negative. Personally, I liked loading the game up, doing one or two missions, then closing it down. It was a nice little break in my day for only about an hour at a time. I also think that being on the shorter side serves the gameplay well because no matter how fun it is at first, eventually, you realize you are doing the same thing over and over. It is especially noteworthy in this game because, as I said, there are such limited map types. Others might be more disappointed by this and wishing for more gameplay.

I do like the updated graphics; the game looks excellent. And I love that they kept the silly humor, the surreal parts of the game, and the insane but amazing soundtrack. It felt nice to be transported back to the time when I first picked up this odd game and fell in love.

I would like to see some of the later entries get the same treatment, however. We Love Katamari, the sequel, addressed a lot of the issues I had with the game originally and have with Reroll. I was also a rather big fan of Beautiful Katamari for the 360. Both could use the control polish that Reroll brought to Katamari Damacy.

So bottom line? If you enjoy the surreal and have Game Pass, there is no reason not to give this game a try or replay if you have already played Katamari Damacy in the past. It is worth the visit just for how crazy it is and a pretty fun, slightly challenging game. If you don’t have Game Pass, it’s dropped in price quite a bit and is on a variety of systems, so I honestly think it is still worth it. If the surreal is not for you, this game might be a bit much, however. I am really glad I got to play it and am hopeful we’ll see either more remasters or possibly a new entry to the franchise someday.

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