If ever there was a game to polarise opinion, it's Katamari Damacy. Its colourful visuals and quirky soundtrack have an almost universal appeal, but people are often surprised when they play the game for the first time. Underneath the simple looking game is a control scheme that takes a while to master, leaving many people totally baffled. Me & My Katamari on the PSP is apparently the last game in the series, and while it's an entertaining handheld game, its controls take even longer to master and you'll be finished in no time at all.
On the PlayStation 2 both analogue sticks had to be used in tandem to control the Prince as he rolled up huge katamaris, and after the initial few levels everything clicked into place. With control issues out of the way, it was nearly impossible to not be taken in by the sheer brilliance of the levels. Who wouldn't enjoy rolling around a ball so large that it can roll up giant squid, ancient monuments, volcanoes and other ridiculously sized objects? One look at the single-analogue PSP, though, and doubts over Me & My Katamari on the PSP quickly enter your mind.
It's sad, but Me & My Katamari simply isn't as much fun as the two PlayStation 2 games. Instead of the two analogue sticks, you use the d-pad and face buttons, and while it's a system that can be worked with, it never becomes second nature. While you might have rolled around like an idiot for 30 minutes the first time you played the series on the PlayStation 2, you'll be making mistakes in the PSP game for much longer. I'd wager that newcomers to the series may have fewer problems taking to the control system, if only because they won't have the previous controls hard coded into their minds.
Control issues are doubly sad, as the game itself has lost none of the quirkiness exhibited in the previous two games. The King of All Cosmos and the Prince decide to visit Earth for a holiday, but unfortunately the presence of the King causes a huge tsunami, wiping out the nearby island. With creatures now homeless, the prince must roll up katamaris to create new islands for the creatures to live on. This is all wrapped up with the insane conversations that the series is known for, with much of it either being pure comedy gold or the ravings of a mad man, depending on how you look at it.
Gameplay remains largely unchanged from the PlayStation 2 games, with the basic idea of each level being to roll up a katamari of a certain size. Early levels require nothing more than a few minutes rolling, but later on your katamari will grow huge, and it's here that things become hugely entertaining. Technically the PSP handles the scale of the levels well, and the simple, but clean visuals look great on its screen. There are a few camera issues though, and the Katamari doesn't appear to look as detailed as in the PlayStation 2 games.
When people talk about Katamari Damacy, it's almost inevitable that the soundtrack is highlighted as one of the game's greatest features. We Love Katamari also had a brilliantly mad accompanying set of tunes, with fans literally going crazy over it. Me & My Katamari includes a collection of tunes found in previous games, which is great for continuity, but a few more original tunes would have been a bonus. You'll also hear the, often random, sounds from the people and animals in the levels, which have also become a staple for the series.
Aside from the controls, the biggest disappointment with Me & My Katamari is the brevity of it. If the controls don't cause you too many problems you'll breeze through the game in a few short hours. The relatively few different environments also makes replaying levels somewhat of a chore, even though there are plenty of items and cousins to collect. A four-player local wireless battle mode might add some value if you've got friends with copies of the game, but a longer experience would have been much preferred.
Anyone who hasn't been taken in by the series' charm already won't find anything here to alter their opinion. The shortness of the experience is very disappointing, especially as this is the last game in the series, and the lack of original music simply adds to the feeling that Me & My Katamari simply isn't the game it could have been. Fans should check it out, but don't expect any long-term enjoyment.