The Katamari franchise has been one of those games that you always hear fans of weird PS2 games talk about, but ever since consoles rolled into the seventh generation and beyond, the series had fallen off in popularity. Bandai Namco, however, has been looking to bring the series back to its glory days, first with a remaster of the first game in the franchise—Katamari Damacy—all the way back in 2018, and now with a remaster of its follow-up—We Love Katamari.
Dubbed We Love Katamari REROLL + Royal Reverie, the remaster not only brings the classic back with a fresh coat of paint, but also brings with it some new content. How well does the PS2 classic hold up in this day and age, you might wonder, and that’s exactly what we’re here to discuss in this review.
"While the story is largely just an excuse to get you into the rather excellent gameplay, We Love Katamari REROLL features some rather clever meta-commentary."
Much like its predecessor, We Love Katamari is a strange game where you essentially try and roll up every single item in a level into a giant ball in order to make it into a new celestial body. The sequel’s premise essentially picks up from the events of the first game, which had the King of All Cosmos somehow destroying every single star in the universe, and enlisting his son—referred to as the Prince—into helping him repopulate the night sky. In We Love Katamari, the King of All Cosmos realizes that he should capitalize on the success of Katamari Damacy, and enlists the Prince yet again to fill up even more of the night sky with new celestial objects.
While the story is largely just an excuse to get you into the rather excellent gameplay, We Love Katamari REROLL features some rather clever meta-commentary, but completing the game’s various levels also gives us a look at the childhood life of the King, and how he eventually grew into the insane ruler of the Cosmos that we know today. We Love Katamari REROLL + Royal Reverie also brings with it a few new levels that go further into the King’s backstory, if you’re into that sort of thing, but honestly, even without the storyline, additional levels for a Katamari game would always be welcome.
"Even without the storyline, additional levels for a Katamari game would always be welcome."
When it comes to gameplay, We Love Katamari REROLL + Royal Reverie plays almost entirely like its predecessor. Rather than having direct control of the Prince and the Katamari he uses to roll things up, you instead have to think of both analogue sticks on your controller as controlling individual sides of the Prince’s body. Push the left stick forward and the prince will start rolling with his left hand, and likewise for the right stick. Moving forward is done by pushing both sticks forward, and any turns you might have to make will involve you pulling the stick on the side you want to turn to back.
While it might sound awkward when you first hear about it, and it will be quite awkward to play with for your first few levels as well, the controls ultimately start making sense in a strange way. The dual-analogue movement starts feeling incredibly intuitive, especially in the context of the item-finding and navigation puzzles that We Love Katamari’s levels can quite often devolve into.
Each level will start you off small—around the size of an eraser. Your Katamari will grow as you roll it into similarly-sized objects. If something’s too big, you’ll bounce right off it. As you grow your Katamari, you’ll start needing bigger and bigger objects to roll up. For example, an early level might have you start out with grabbing erasers, staple pins, and matchsticks, and after a minute of rolling, you’ll start grabbing bigger objects like crabs, flowers, and pencils. Get big enough and you can roll entire humans, their houses, and even their neighborhoods up into your Katamari.
Speaking of levels, there are several of them, and they aren’t as breezy as you’d imagine for such a bright, cheerful and colorful game. You’re given a strict time limit and a minimum size to which you need to grow your Katamari, and your first attempt at any level is quite likely to end in failure. Much like Katamari Damacy, We Love Katamari REROLL + Royal Reverie relies on you actually understanding the level, and figuring out more efficient routes through subsequent attempts.
"We Love Katamari REROLL + Royal Reverie relies on you actually understanding the level, and figuring out more efficient routes through subsequent attempts."
The general gameplay loop in We Love Katamari REROLL + Royal Reverie feels like a refinement over the original Katamari Damacy in quite a few ways. Levels feel better thought out, and routes look more intuitive, gradually guiding you into grabbing appropriately-sized items up into your ever-growing mass of random objects. Despite—or perhaps because of—the simple gameplay loop, it’s quite easy to end up spending hours on any level of We Love Katamari in an effort to get the best possible score you can get.
Visually, much like Katamari Damacy REROLL, We Love Katamari REROLL + Royal Reverie feels like an acid trip in all the best ways. The game never really takes anything seriously, and just about every character you meet in the story or its various levels look like insane caricatures of what a person might look like. The King of All Cosmos himself has an absolutely absurd design with proportions that make no sense, and the Prince being so tiny just adds on top of the already-absurd aesthetic.
When it comes to the visuals in levels, everything seems to have been designed with the idea of things being understandable and legible at a glance. You’re never going to be confused about the object you’re rolling the Katamari into, and the flat color palette adds quite well to this aspect of the game.
Of course, the soundtrack and sound effects for We Love Katamari REROLL + Royal Reverie are also absolutely insane, with the soundtrack featuring quite a few incredibly-catchy songs that will end up haunting your dreams and staying with you forever. Characters never really talk using any understandable language, and instead just generally make sounds that get subtitled for you. Just about every bit of the audio/visual side of the game adds on to the surreality of the game as a whole.
"The soundtrack and sound effects for We Love Katamari REROLL + Royal Reverie are also absolutely insane."
One of the most under-appreciated aspects of the franchise is just how much fun it can be with another player. Sure, We Love Katamari REROLL + Royal Reverie features an absolutely hilarious local co-op mode that has each player trying to roll the same Katamari, but in case you only have a single controller, even just an evening of passing the controller between you and your buddies can be a great time. Once you get the hang of the controls, the objectives are instantly obvious, and the time limit in each level means that no one really ends up hogging the controller for too long.
If it hasn’t already become obvious, we absolutely adore the insanity that is We Love Katamari REROLL + Royal Reverie. It has addictive gameplay with clever level design that just begs you to keep trying to get better scores, as well as a hilarious story that gives us a glimpse into how the mind of the King of All Cosmos might work. All of this is capped off by an incredible soundtrack and fun visuals, making We Love Katamari an easy game to recommend.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 5.
Delightful visuals; Fun soundtrack; Hilarious story; Addictive gameplay.
Might be too weird for some players.