Katamari Damacy Reroll Review — Ballin’ with the Prince of All Cosmos
Katamari Damacy Reroll brings the wildly original PS2 game into the modern era, with a true remaster perfect for the Nintendo Switch.
It’s been 14 years since the King of All Cosmos destroyed all of the stars and moon in his drunken stupor. More importantly, it’s been that long since The Prince of All Cosmos came down with a Katamari to roll everything on Earth up (and I mean everything) to rebuild the moon and stars for one unforgettable game. With Katamari Damacy Reroll, players can relive the experience from the original PS2 game that trailblazed its own genre.
In a world of far too many games that play it safe by following close to something that came before it, Katamari Damacy came out of left field and gave us something memorable. To this day, I rarely see anything come even close to being as head-scratching and unique. It’s hard to really give this a genre, in fact. An Incremental-arcade game perhaps? I’m not sure, but whatever genre it is…Katamari Damacy sure made a damn entertaining one.
Now fast forward to Katamari Damacy Reroll for the Nintendo Switch, which is an HD remaster of the first Katamari entry. The game has you play as The Prince of All Cosmos, son of the king who destroys the moon and stars after a night drinking. He assigns you the task of rebuilding the cosmos with a Katamari: a ball that sticks to everything that it rolls over. You collect stars that range from 5 meters, picking up small household objects, to picking up literal cities and islands. And other than some small, humorous cutscenes featuring a family living in parallel to the Prince’s story — that’s pretty much it on the story until the end of the game.
Some levels require you to hit a certain size after a specific time limit or perhaps pick up specific items, such as crabs for the Cancer constellation. This gameplay is truly in a league of its own and I have yet to see anything come close to Katamari. There’s something satisfying when you collect small objects that eventually pile up and progress enough to pick up cars and people — almost becoming like a Kaiju.
The remaster, of course, updates the visuals for the current generation, brings new motion control options, and some slight audio changes. Other than that, Katamari Damacy Reroll is true to the original game with content. With levels that can take you only roughly up to 15 minutes to beat, Reroll works so well as a handheld game. I found myself getting through levels more often in between appointments or during my downtime. Probably at most, it took me about 5 hours to complete the entire game.
The brevity Katamari Damacy Reroll may work to its advantage, however. Each level feels pretty distinct from one another, even if some take place technically on the same map. You’ll go from picking up stuff in a specific house for a level to a later level having you pick up that entire house and village. With this satisfying sense of scale, I find myself even now revisiting some of my favorite levels when I feel like going on a roll.
I will say one thing that doesn’t entirely work for this remake is the motion control option. I found myself struggling to rotate around using the two Joy-Con, even with the simplest of movements. Luckily Reroll retains the original two-stick controls of the original as the preset so I was able to jump right in like old times. Perhaps, however, this motion control layout might suit better for first-time players who aren’t too accustomed to the original controls.
Also, some slight tweaks from the original were made related to the audio. I noticed one of the first levels of the game has a different song instead of the techno track Wanda Wanda and was replaced for a different loop track. Now, I personally was not a fan of this track, but, I could see this being an issue for fans who wanted an authentic experience.
Another adjustment with the audio is the dialogue during the short cutscenes with the family. In the original Katamari Damacy there was a laughable English dub track used for the family. However, in Reroll, that’s all replaced with what I’m assuming is the original Japanese voice track. It’s not necessarily an issue, but it is a shame we don’t get an option to flip it back to the original dub.
Overall though, none of the charm Katamari is known for is lost in this HD remaster. Many times, nostalgia seems to carry a remake far too many times in this day and age. But Katamari Damacy Reroll proves its uniqueness still holds up to this day. From its quirkiness in its aesthetic to its unique level design and progression, Reroll kept me entertained from start to finish while holding a polish that you should expect from a remaster.
Though the game comes at a price of $30, which seems like a hard sell for a game with technically five hours of gameplay; I would still recommend buying this game. Katamari Damacy was one of those games from the PS2 I was always hoping for an official remake of on this generation of consoles. And with a Switch port nonetheless, Katamari Damacy Reroll is probably the best case scenario for making such a special and niche series so accessible. This game is a great buy for any fan who wants to dive back in the series or even someone who always wanted to know what the hell it’s all about.