We Love Katamari Reroll+ Royal Reverie Review – Let The Good Times Roll (Again)
Katamari Damacy was, and still is, a magnificent hallmark in gaming. It’s an experience both absurd and joyful, and represents the best of what that video games can do that no other entertainment medium can offer: a tactile, interactive experience.
That’s some high praise for a game about you rolling up a ball that collects various objects that grows ever so larger over time. But really, it’s an amazing example of making a video game as a video game in mind.
Turns out, what was supposed to be a one-and-done video game became a whole series of sequels, with We Love Katamari being the immediate follow-up.
And after the success of the Katamari Damacy remaster, Katamari Damacy Reroll, it’s an obvious thing for publisher Bandai Namco had to do: remaster We Love Katamari.
We Love Katamari Reroll+ Royal Reverie adds a little bit of extra content here and there, but what matters most is if the game people loved back in 2005 is as fun in this 2023 remaster. It is fun, it still has its few design quirks that makes it feel like a product of its time, but that just makes this remaster ever the more faithful. It’s worth another roll.
The vibrant universe of Katamari Damacy was already preserved in a loving manner in the first game’s remaster, so it’s good to know that Bandai Namco has kept the streak going with We Love Katamari. The 2D artwork as well as the polygonal 3D models remain their charming selves while looking sharp at HD resolution.
On the note of the preservation, a few of its quirks that are tied to loading screens remain here as well. Sure, modern consoles and PC can load up new levels real quick, but the many gags that you see in the loading screens- both the start-of-level ones where the King Of All Cosmos’s head leaves a trail of letters and symbols, and the in-level transitions when the Katamari embiggens and the King suddenly is in a tizzy and start talking about wanting to be a red panda- are intact. Just that loading times should be really, really fast now.
You cannot not talk about the Katamari Damacy series without not mentioning its soundtrack. And for We Love Katamari, it’s another collection of bangers that transcends language barriers. We Love Katamari’s theme song, Katamari On The Swing, is still swinging strong with its jazz vibes, though this game’s Katamari On The Rocks gets a silly acapella rendition. Not that acapella is silly, but the folks performing the song sure had fun goofing off while doing it. Houston is another banger in the soundtrack. Though I’m not sure I vibe with the hoity-toity regal orchestra that defines Royal Katamari Academy. So that’s one dud from a solid 14-song album.
I usually don’t recommend DLCs in a review, but the Katamari Damacy Sound Pack is actually a decent pickup, especially if you’re a fan of the game series’ music. There’s plenty of songs from the original game as well- 25 to be exact.
There’s no voice acting in this game. But there voice clips of human voices that sound rough and compressed. And it’s fine. Screams of children, the elderly and humans in nature are funnier when they are low-res. Having it remastered in crisp full audio will just make this a cosmic horror game. And you do roll up sentient beings into this giant ball occasionally.
We Love Katamari continues right after Katamari Damacy started. The world is saved as all the stars seen from the Earth is back where it used to be. And everyone in the world is now playing Katamari Damacy and are big fans of the game and the King Of All Cosmos. Turns out there’s plenty of the solar system that needs to be filled out- most of the planets are gone still- so it’s your job as the Little Prince or his many cousins and second cousins to roll up more Katamari that are big enough to be hanged up in the sky as planets and stars. And help any of the fans’ request to roll up things together, because they love Katamari and you must keep it rolling.
If you think the whole premise of Katamari Damacy is weird, well We Love Katamari goes a bit more by going meta. The many fans you encounter can’t stop talking about how good Katamari Damacy is, so much that it feels weird that the sequel is putting the predecessor this high up on a pedestal. And then ribs that same game calling it not fun and a copycat in other instances.
We Love Katamari talks so much about Katamari Damacy, enough for me to do a double take thinking I was playing Katamari Damacy. But no, this is We Love Katamari Reroll+ Royal Reverie.
For the uninitiated, We Love Katamari plays like Katamari Damacy, where generally the goal is to roll your Katamari around and collect objects- which ranges from tiny lizards in a garden to kaiju lizards that attack cities-to grow it to a particular size, usually under the duress of a time limit. Fail and you will witness the wrath of the King scolding you for your incompetence. Pass, and you still get passive-aggressive comments about how you could’ve done better. A product of its time.
The controls are weird and it’s the best thing about the game. You will need to wrangle both analog sticks on the controller to roll a ball. Push both sticks to go forward, tilt them in the same direction to gently turn, and tilt them in the opposite direction to relatively quickly turn. Click the sticks to do a Leon S. Kennedy-esque 180-degrees turn.
It makes sense when you imagine you rolling up a Katamari with your own two hands. Or for a less absurdist example, think of it as you pushing a trolley cart and how your wrist moves to turn and strafe it around. It’s not conventional, but it’s such a brilliant and intuitive control scheme, giving you a tactile feel of rolling a ball.
We Love Katamari does feel like Katamari Damacy again, but there are interesting changes, mostly from the level structure. The original game has an ever-increasing power creep where you start rolling tiny erasers and pins before the metaphorical snowball that is the Katamari grows ever bigger to roll up entire countries.
In We Love Katamari, what was optional side missions are part of the main game’s levels. So you will get requests where you roll up a literal snowball to make a giant snowman head, help a sumo wrestler get bigger by rolling him as a Katamari and feed him food that’s conveniently lying around town and round up students in a school by… rolling them up in a Katamari. Don’t worry about the screaming, those are screams of joy. Everyone loves Katamari.
So it’s all about level gimmicks. And the level gimmicks are cool. One level has you go on a racetrack and the Katamari is continuously on a rolling stone, it can’t stop and won’t stop for anything. Another has you go rolling in the deep… blue pond. An underwater level. There are a few others that turn the mindless act of rolling a ball around into a thinking person’s game. I didn’t pay attention to one of the level’s brief thinking it was another normal level only for it to end just as the Katamari gently rolls forward. Trolling in 2005.
The main gameplay loop is barely changed, which is fine. But the gameplay scale itself is much bigger than its predecessor. The one level where you grow your Katamari from itty-bitty ball measured in the centimetres into a building and island gobbling monstrosity feels more detailed, more played out and really hammer home the epicness of this 17-minute journey.
The main campaign of We Love Katamari can be completed in less than 5 hours. It’s a short game, similar to Katamari Damacy. But really, if you keep rolling things up for 10 hours I think the novelty of it all breaks apart, so this length is just nice.
But should you do want to keep playing, there are plenty more levels this time around. And I’m not talking about the extra levels available for talking to the fans you helped out previously. The Royal Reverie in We Love Katamari Reroll+ Royal Reverie is for the extra levels where you play as the King when he was a little Prince, rolling up Katamari in even tougher conditions. It’s a challenge for the expert rollers out there, but the levels themselves don’t feel inspiring enough for the casual player to curiously put time into it.
The remaster also adds the ability to play DLC songs and a photo mode which adds new collectables to snap pictures of. The way the photo mode works is a bit wonky. You first need to unlock it by collecting a present. Then equipping it, taking up the body slot of the Prince’s customisation. And then you need to hit L1/left bumper from any part of the level and then another button to enter Photo Mode. It’s all quirky and weird, which I guess fits the charm of the game. But there are definitely better ways to make the Photo Mode less awkward but still quirky. At least the camera movements reflect the settings of your normal camera movements- meaning that if you have y-axis inverted in the settings, the Photo Mode reflects that.
On consoles, there is a multiplayer mode which is neat.
I am part of the “we” in We Love Katamari. I never played the games in its heydays but always heard how silly it was. But now in an age where games exist solely to be a video game and not trying to replicate cinema or books or whatever other medium of entertainment, I’ve grown to respect this series. It’s unapologetically a video game. And the main joy that you get from it is not from hearing from afar how silly it is. But actually playing it and experiencing first hand.
It’s no surprise I do enjoy my time with We Love Katamari, just as I did with Katamari Damacy. Rolling around town is still fun, the presentation mostly holds up, and the music is still banging. Maybe not as strong as the first game, but there are indeed good songs to roll around a giant ball to in the soundtrack.
We Love Katamari Reroll+ Royal Reverie is another decent remaster of another game in the Katamari Damacy series. The sequel tries its best to up the ante with more things to roll, and more gimmick levels that challenge you in handling a spherical rolling object in interesting ways.
The new levels help bring out a bit more content of this otherwise light and short experience and are nice bonus additions.
If you love Katarmari Damacy, both the original and the remaster, you will love We Love Katamari. It’s more of the same, but the core gameplay is so unique that it’s still worth playing if you have a specific itch of rolling an ever-growing snowball from a ball that can roll up a lizard to grow big enough to roll up a kaiju-sized lizard.
Played on PS5. Review code provided by the reviewer.