We Love Katamari on the PS2 remains one of my gaming highlights of the year. Other games have kept me glued to the screen for longer periods, or dazzled harder with their technical genius or visual virtuosity, but We Love Katamari manages one thing that they can’t: every time I finish a session, I feel substantially happier than when I started. It’s as close as games get to bottled joy.
So the prospect of a PSP version both intrigued and alarmed. Done right, Me and My Katamari was a potential portable classic. After all, the relatively simple gameplay and deliberately flat, brightly-coloured visual style is a much better match for Sony’s little wonder than the likes of S.O.C.O.M. or Splinter Cell. Done wrong, however, it might tarnish the Katamari name, becoming the black sheep of the Katamari family overnight. So, could Namco get it together in mobile form?
In many respects, the answer is a resounding yes. From its ludicrous song and dance opening sequence to those signature quirky easy-listening and oddball hip-hop tunes to the distinctive angular aesthetic, Me and My Katamari is almost indistinguishable from We Love Katamari. What’s more, the premise is every bit as wonderfully silly.
You may remember that, last time around, the mighty-chinned King of All Cosmos was besieged by requests from eager fans. Fulfilling these wishes required his son, The Prince, to push a ball around a series of levels. As the ball rolled over smaller objects, they stuck to it, making the ball – the katamari – bigger. The bigger the ball got, the larger the objects it could pick up, meaning that by the end of some levels The Prince would be rolling up whole buildings, whole cities or even whole planets. The aim of most levels? Simply, build a ball so big in so many minutes, or face your father’s wrath.
Well, after all that the royal family deserved a break, so Me and My Katamari has a tropical beach holiday theme. Sadly, there’s no rest for The Prince. As the opening scenes make clear, the king’s energetic holiday watersports (please, keep your filthy mind out of it – we’re talking Katamari here) have caused an environmental catastrophe, causing local islands to disappear and leaving the local animal population homeless. One by one they await The Prince on his island, each demanding some form of recompense.