[Review] We ♥ Katamari Reroll + Royal Reverie

Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Developer: MONKEYCRAFT Co. Ltd.
Platform: PC
Also on: Playstation 4, Playstation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch
Release date: June 1, 2023
Review date: July 17, 2023

2004 was a great year for gaming, pumping out hits like Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Half-Life 2, and Halo 2 (Half-Life 2 was way better than Halo 2 by the way, just saying), but out of nowhere came Katamari Damacy for Playstation 2, one of the most original and creative games ever made. It spawned a series spanning multiple consoles, but not before releasing a second game for PS2, We ♥ Katamari. And with the original game getting a remaster in 2018, it was only a matter of time before the sequel got one of its own, and given 2023 is the year of the redo, what better time than now?

If you’re unfamiliar with Katamari Damacy, you’re lying. It’s not a massive franchise, but it’s so unique that just seeing it once is enough for it to live rent-free in your gamer brain for the rest of your life. But in case you really aren’t, the premise is simple – you, the prince and son of the King of All Cosmos, are tasked with rolling up a ball, called a katamari, that picks up objects when you roll into them, making the ball bigger, allowing you to pick up more objects to get even bigger, and so on. You’ll usually start rolling household objects before moving on to people and even cars and buildings.

Every stage has a goal – in the first game it was usually just to make your katamari a certain size in a fixed amount of time. We ♥ Katamari added many new goals, in the form of granting requests by Earth citizens infatuated with Katamary Damacy thanks to the first game, adding a lot of much-needed variety to justify being a sequel. These range from rolling up as many animals as you can in a zoo, to rolling up flammable objects to make the biggest campfire, to rolling around a sumo wrestler so he’s big enough to compete, to rolling up as many tires as you can with a speedy katamari on a race course. These work well enough and are fun to replay to beat your old high score, but I would have liked to have seen more strict goals – the people making requests seem content with just about anything. And although I prefer the soundtrack of the first Katamari, We ♥ Katamari's soundtrack is just as good as it always was, providing just the right mood for each level.

Your mileage with We ♥ Katamari will vary depending on how much you want out of it. It only takes around 5-6 hours to reach the end credits, but there are plenty of optional missions and hidden collectibles to find to satiate completionists. As well, We ♥ Katamari Reroll contains a new series of missions, which is the “Royal Reverie” part of the title – throughout the game, cutscenes play showing different parts of the King’s life, and as a kid, his dad was a hardass, a stark contrast from the apathetic father the King would become. Royal Reverie puts you in the roll of the King when he was a kid, and although these missions do add a little bit more to the game, it’s really not much, reusing the levels of missions from the base game but with new goals.

Visually, We ♥ Katamari had a very basic, low-detail art style, likely due to the amount of objects that would be on screen at once, but it’s a style that has held up over time, and the Reroll edition is more or less the same, just in HD. Added to Reroll is a new graphics setting called Gorgeous, on by default, which, aside from more vibrant colors and more detailed water, I couldn’t tell much of a difference between it and the original “Usual Stuff” setting, but it’s nice to have both. I can’t speak for consoles, but I played the PC version exclusively on Steam Deck, and it’s pretty much perfect on it, running at a mostly solid 60 frames per second. The Deck is a great fit for Katamari thanks to its use of dual analog sticks and the Deck’s sticks being symmetrical, just like the PS2 it was made for. Reroll includes an updated control scheme making use of a single stick, allowing you to move the camera with the right stick, which is awesome, but I wish there was a way to pull the camera out a little bit, particularly when your katamari is still small. Also, no online for the multiplayer modes is a little lame.

We ♥ Katamari Reroll + Royal Reverie is a faithful remaster of a game that still holds up remarkably well, and I recommend it for both fans of the original Katamari and the original PS2 games, as well as those who have not played it before. Personally I think the first Katamari Reroll is a better jumping-on point for the series compared to We ♥ Katamari if only because playing the sequel might make playing the original feel archaic in comparison. Still, it’s hard not to ♥ We ♥ Katamari.