After the immense success of Katamari Damacy, The King of All Cosmos deems fit to send his miniature son back to the planet earth to grant the requests of fans of the original game. This bizarre fourth-wall destroying plot serves to kick off a suitably bizarre game: We Love Katamari.
Following on from the original Katamari Damacy getting a remaster in the form of Katamari Damacy Reroll it’s now the sequel We Love Katamari’s turn. But rather than a simple remake like the original game, Bandai Namco has opted to pull a Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury, giving us We Love Katamari REROLL + Royal Reverie, with the latter being a brand new mode focusing on the youthful days of everyone's favourite omnipotent drunk, the King of All Cosmos.
We Love Katamari was released one year after the original game and is the only sequel in the entire Katamari Damacy series to feature involvement from series creator Keita Takahashi (also known for the equally bizarre Wattam and Noby Noby Boy). And barring the soundtrack (which is still excellent to be fair), We Love Katamari is a step up from Katamari Damacy in just about every way.
The original Katamari Damacy is a quite simple game when you get down to it; a lot of the stages follow the format of “make the biggest ball in the allotted time”, and it’s a great time for it. We Love Katamari still has these types of levels, but plays with the central mechanics of rolling a Katamari to the next level with unique mission design. You’ll run around a small overworld meeting with ‘Fans’ of the original Katamari Damacy, and each fan will have a request for you, with the King of All Cosmos launching you into the level to satiate his ego.
One level you are collecting fireflies so that a guy can study in the dark easier, next you’ll be collecting items to raise money for a fundraiser to get strawberries for the Red Pandas so they don’t turn into normal Pandas, while another will have you rolling around a comparatively small Sumo wrestler, collecting food to bulk him up for a match with the local Yokozuna. Some missions require speed, some will require you to avoid certain items, while others see you grow your Katamari to an exact size without any size indicator to help you. There was nothing wrong with Katamari Damacy’s mission design in a bubble, but We Love Katamari is a huge step up.
We Love Katamari is a deceptively long game; while you can hit credits within three or so hours, the journey is far from over. Some fans have multiple levels, which are typically a variation of the original but with a new twist. Levels requiring you to get your Katamari to a size before time runs out become how fast can you get the Katamari to that size; others, like the aforementioned exact size mission, jumps from 20cm to 2m for an extra challenge.
During each level you can find a present and at least one Cousin – which can be used as a playable character – hidden in the environment. However, the final levels of the game require unlocking all of the Cousins, which can be a hell of a grind if you haven’t been paying attention as you go along. Sometimes Cousins won’t show up until previous Cousins have been collected making replays necessary (which when some levels last 17 minutes and have four Cousins, it’s a bit much). You don’t need to unlock this final level to have a good time with We Love Katamari, but if you want to see everything expect a grind.
The original We Love Katamari has cutscenes spliced into the story telling the tale of the King of All Cosmos’ youth, his relationship with his own father, and how he met the Queen of all Cosmos. These are still a part of the main game in We Love Katamari REROLL, however the King’s childhood serves as the backdrop to the brand new Royal Reverie content.
Royal Reverie unlocks throughout the game and consists of five new levels placing you in the shoes of a young King of All Cosmos. These can be accessed by the Bamboo Sword of Memories which appears on the map. These stages roughly go along with the existing backstory cutscenes, such as a Boxing stage.
We had hoped there would be more to talk about with the new Royal Reverie mode but it just consists of five new stages, none of which are particularly long. Don’t get us wrong, five new Katamari stages is still great, especially when they each bring their own unique gimmicks to the game (such as the aforementioned Boxing stage), but for something that warrants an entire subtitle, we hoped there would be more to it.
Technically it’s solid, and if you played Katamari Damacy REROLL you’ll know what to expect here: the game runs great, the artstyle transfers well to the new engine (once again with the designs more closely representing Keita Takahashi’s original artwork – like in the first REROLL).
Like with any Katamari title, the soundtrack is great – even if it doesn’t quite live up to the first game's incredible music. The good news is there's extra DLC (which is also included in the Digital Deluxe edition) featuring tracks from the original Katamari Damacy, as well as later titles like the PS3’s Katamari Forever and the Xbox 360 exclusive Beautiful Katamari. So, you can enjoy listening to Katamari on the Rocks and Lonely Rolling Star at your own leisure.
We Love Katamari REROLL + Royal Reverie is the best version of what is generally considered the best Katamari title. That being said, if you own the original and are looking to buy it just for the Royal Reverie content, its extremely short runtime makes it hard to recommend for that alone. However, for anyone who hasn’t played this weird and wonderful game (or series) it’s a definite recommendation – and a game with an extremely fitting name.