Nor does it help that the levels are noticeably less expansive than they used to be, and that there is an awful lot of repetition this time around. A covering of snow or night-time and day-time variants doesn’t really disguise the fact that you’ve already conquered the same environment two or three times already, and this becomes particularly annoying when the game bundles two or three together into one mega mission. It’s a bit like a lazy episode of a US sitcom where everyone reminisces so they can drag several clips together on the cheap. You enjoy it, but you still feel slightly shortchanged by the whole experiences.
All the same, it’s a tribute to Me and My Katamari’s sheer winning charm that these two issues – major as they are – aren’t a deal-breaker. You learn to work around the controls, and the game’s sweet, innocent feel and simple, surreal pleasures – how many other games have you collecting tasty morcels for a gourmet crab? – soon have you in their grip once again. Maybe the missions seem less imaginative at first, but a trip to the nearby Volcano island soon sorts that out with specialist missions that don’t just involve enlarging the katamari, but also collecting the right kind of things. For a highlight, check out the gorilla with astronaut ambitions: he’s built a huge space rocket, but forgotten all about the fuel. Can you find him enough energy in time for lift-off?
And while the game isn’t huge, the fun of Katamari was never in the completion, but in playing until you hit perfection, aced every mission and grabbed every collectible. That holds true here, and there are further attractions in the shape of a four-player ad-hoc wireless mode (though it’s a shame there’s no online play).
So, bottled joy in PSP form? Maybe not, but Me and My Katamari is still a game that’s guaranteed to keep you smiling on the move. It’s not an essential, by any means, but it is a title that we Katamari fans can buy safe in the knowledge that the vibrant, magical, faintly crazed spirit of the series remains intact. While I perhaps might have hoped for something better, this certainly isn’t the crushing disappointment that I feared.
If it suffers sharply from a flawed control scheme and repeated levels, Me and My Katamari still has enough of the Katamari charm and joi de vivre to get by. Hardly unmissable, but definitely not unlovable.