Katamari Damacy Reroll is a dizzying little experience. For me, and quite a few others, if Google is to be believed, this was a touch more literal a description than we would have liked, the game inducing some very unpleasant bouts of motion sickness during prolonged play.
However, when I could stomach to play Reroll I was gifted with an odd, frustrating and utterly charming game that sixteen years after its initial launch still holds that spark that made it beloved in the first place.
A pretty barebones remaster and some truly annoying quirks aside, Reroll is a fascinating ride.
Katamari Damacy Reroll Review
It’s not quite right to say that Reroll has a plot, more so a loosely connected series of events and one belligerent father figure at its core. You play as The Prince, son of said father, the King of All Cosmos, who tasks you with essentially cleaning up the galaxy after him and the boys get a little too wasted one night. Turns out, while he and his mates were reliving their heyday, they destroyed the stars themselves and now you’ll need to travel to Earth to collect everyday objects to burn up and replace them.
While all of this is going on high above their heads, you’ll also follow along with the adventures of a family in between missions. The core story beats between the Prince and his dad were amusing connective tissue but I was living for these often brief moments where I could check back in with the young brother and sister who were trying to convince their mother to care about the galaxy collapsing.
Look, it’s hardly Shakespeare but he is historically overrated anyway and Reroll doesn’t exactly need pathos to make rolling the titular Katamari fun. Once old mate sends the Prince to Earth you’ll be rolling around a magical orb that gathers items of increasing size and mass in an attempt to rebuild the stars. You’ll begin with minor objects like thumbtacks and erasers but the game accelerates in the blink of an eye and soon you’ll be carting around benches, dogs, cars and eventually entire cityscapes. The escalation is equal parts amusing and horrifying as the little Prince just obliterates communities in his attempt to fix dad’s mistakes.
Reroll has a pretty solid collection of levels and challenges for you to explore, even if the overall list is a little shorter than some would like. Every day homes give way to small towns and eventually coastal cities as the Prince makes his way across the globe, each time needing to grow the Katamari to a larger and larger scale. These core missions are paired with special challenge runs linked to specific constellations too, like needing to collect a bunch of crabs to repair Cancer and so on.
Technically speaking these levels aren’t hugely challenging in and of themselves. The time limits on each can sometimes cut it a little too fine for my liking but overall you’ll have a pretty cruisy time getting the requirements for each done. Assuming you can get a grasp on the game’s unwieldy control scheme. It’s difficult to explain exactly how Reroll feels but pushing the Katamari around requires both analogue sticks to do so, leaving camera control adrift and turning relegated to inorganic button combinations. I never completely adjusted to this and frankly, it sapped a lot of the fun I was having with the game’s weird world and ideas.
There is a “simplified” control scheme option that somewhat mitigates the issues here but still refuses to hand over precise control to the player. I see the value in a unique control scheme for such a simple premise, requiring finesse and patience to get the most out of it, but this remaster could have served as a means to give the game a more accessible option. If only because when I was able to grasp what Reroll needed from me, the game I was rewarded with was genuinely delightful.
Aesthetically speaking the whole thing is a technicoloured ordeal that blends blocky cartoonish animations and fittingly cosmic imagery. The entire art direction is bloody delightful and goes a long way to making Reroll still feel fresh all these years later. In terms of the remaster, again, minor changes to overall quality but the camera issues mentioned earlier still reveal some small clipping and texture problems. Granted, the whole thing is such a cacophony of colour and noise that these things really don’t matter much in the long run.
Partly because what makes Reroll special can’t be touched by lacklustre porting or clumsy controls. It’s a game about a vibe more than anything else and even at my most frustrated with it, I was still somewhat entertained. The soundtrack alone has more Moxy and personality than half the major titles we’ve seen this year, packed full of tunes that I’m still humming to myself now.
It is also worth noting that the game did give me some fairly unpleasant bouts of motion sickness. Playing for longer than an hour would often trigger this and had this purely been my experience I wouldn’t deem it worth mentioning. However, Steam forums and even other press outlets have written about Reroll specifically causing this kind of nausea and while it doesn’t impact my opinion of the game it is a warning well worth knowing about before you play.
It’s a shame that Katamari Damacy Reroll refuses to get out of its own rolling way at times with a control scheme that does impact the vibe the game is striving for. When, or if, you’re able to get past these clunky controls you’ll still find something unique and amusing to enjoy. Still, I can’t help but feel like you could get the best parts out of the experience through a Let’s Play and a Spotify subscription.
Katamari Damacy Reroll was reviewed on PlayStation 4 using a digital code provided by the publisher.