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December 2023

We Love Katamari ReRoll + Royal Reverie

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Bandai Namco Games
Release Date: June 2, 2023


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PC Review - 'We Love Katamari Reroll + Royal Reverie'

by Cody Medellin on Aug. 16, 2023 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

We Love Katamari ReRoll + Royal Reverie brings the offbeat and inventive Katamari DamacyY franchise back to current and new-gen platforms, where players can experience a faithful yet updated version of the original game.

The original Katamari Damacy was released in 2004 and became a huge sleeper hit in Japan and North America. The quirkiness and playful nature of the game overcame the lack of promotion about the title, and once Namco saw how it became so big with such a miniscule budget, it quickly ordered a sequel, which came out in all regions in 2005. Late 2018 saw the release of Katamari Damacy Reroll, a remastered version of the PS2 favorite that eventually hit all other platforms. Fans would have to wait much longer for a remastered version of the sequel, We Love Katamari Reroll + Royal Reverie.

There are two different stories being told, and they're not as off-the-wall as what was in the first game. The first deals with the aftermath of Katamari Damacy, where the prince's deeds — and the video game based on them — garnered a legion of fans for The King of All Cosmos. As the adoration and requests continued to pour in, the king decided that the fans need satisfaction and charged the prince with using the powers of the Katamari to fulfill those requests. The second story being told is of the king's upbringing by a stern and demanding father who pushes him to strive for success or nothing at all. It makes for great backstory but is tonally different from the rest of the game; depending on your outlook, it can either be seen as dour — or great for understanding the king.

The core gameplay follows the exact same blueprint as before: Players control a ball called a katamari that can automatically pick up anything in its path. Anything smaller than the katamari can be picked up, and anything the same size or larger will be unaffected when you try to run it over. Larger mobile objects will knock you around or knock loose objects you've gathered and make your katamari shrink. The more objects you pick up, the larger the katamari becomes, allowing you to pick up even more objects, including ones that were a hindrance only a few moments prior. Each stage gives you a time limit to reach a particular katamari size, and while you can reach that limit before time expires, you can make the katamari even larger in the remaining time. Much like the katamari itself, the stages start off small, like the interiors of small houses, but the settings get bigger as you progress — to the point where you get to run over entire cities.

Like before, the concept's appeal is that anything and everything can stick to a katamari. Random bricks and coins might be what you start off with, but it doesn't take long before you start rolling up school supplies, furniture, people, cars, and animals. Thanks to their shapes, getting certain things stuck to the katamari means that you'll be challenged with rolling along something that is no longer spherical. It's hilarious to see the katamari hobble along because a piece of a fence is sticking out.

Requests from fans are what make the game feel like a more thought-out version of the original. One stage asks you to roll around a sumo wrestler that takes on katamari-like properties, all in the name of getting big enough to knock his opponent out of the ring. Another asks you to keep running over flaming objects so you can eventually light up a campfire, while a different level asks for a bunch of fireflies to be caught so that someone can read in the dark. They'll remind you heavily of the constellation levels in the first game but with much more variety thanks to the different objectives and environments. For those seeking a challenge, there are still levels that require you to only get one copy of a certain object, and it has to be of a certain size; it can be a real hair-pulling challenge at times, since you'll never be able to determine the object size by sight alone. There's also a good chance of you accidentally rolling up the wrong target due to how ridiculously large your katamari gets.

The only disappointment that some players may have is with the Royal Reverie section, which is being touted as brand-new levels and challenges for the game. You play as a younger King of All Cosmos instead of the prince, but the mechanics remain the same as you use your katamari to complete objectives. The presence of new things would be welcome if any of this were new. Instead, these are existing levels from the main game, only with different challenges attached. They remain as tough as some of the challenge levels that were already in the main game, but they don't feel like they complement the main game too well. It's great that the new team tried to add something, but most players would be fine with not exploring this segment.

Much like the first remake, this one feels like a cleaned-up version of the original PS2 iteration rather than something completely redone. That might not seem like much praise initially, but looking at it from the context of the original's blocky look with pastel colors and the most basic of textures, any improvements besides an increase in resolution and removal of jagged lines would've destroyed an art style that still looks as inviting as it did all those years ago. It bucked the trend of going for more rounded characters and a move to realism. The game moves at a very high frame rate, which is one change that's always welcome in remasters. The sound remains just as offbeat and catchy as ever, as just about every song becomes an earworm; the effects complement the medley quite nicely.

Steam Deck users will be pleased to know that the game runs on the device without a hitch. There aren't many graphical settings in the game, and it only hits a 1280x720 resolution instead of the Deck's full 800p, but it easily hits 60fps with no degradation in the graphics. The brighter color palette really pops, and the only oddity is screen blurring during the loading screens as text flies out of the king's mouth. Battery life averages around four hours on a full charge, which is plenty of time to take on a good chunk of the game before a recharge is needed.

We Love Katamari Reroll + Royal Reverie is just as magical as the games that came before it. The core mechanics remain just as charming and fun as before, while the more varied environments and requests give the concept some more depth. The Royal Reverie part may be disappointing, but it doesn't take away from the main experience that still does a great job of making everyone smile. Just like that first game, it's a classic and deserves a place in everyone's gaming library.

Score: 9.0/10

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