We Love Katamari Reroll and The Simple Joy of Cosmic Ball-Rolling

    A love letter to an amazing sequel.

    We Love Katamari: Reroll + Royal Reverie has somewhat silently released between The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom, Street Fighter 6, and Final Fantasy XVI; some of the biggest games of the year (and let’s face it, probably the decade). While this doesn’t bode well for the remastered sequel to Katamari Damacy, We Love Katamari: Reroll + Royal Reverie has many areas worth discussing.

    We Love Katamari: Reroll+Royal Reverie – A Sequel About Sequels

    We Love Katamari is a very self-aware sequel to a very self-aware game. The game centers around the ever-charming and ever-sarcastic King of All Cosmos caving in to fan demand for more Katamari. He then leaves the Prince of All Cosmos, the player, to do his work for him. The game almost sets you up for disappointment. The somewhat noble quest of restoring the solar system in the first game is replaced by simply fulfilling fan requests.

    We Love Katamari uses this setup to mask its true brilliance. What starts as fairly familiar territory, with fans tasking the player with making their titular Katamari grow to a certain size very quickly becomes something entirely different. Without changing the mechanics or the tone of Katamari Damacy, We Love Katamari makes itself the perfect iterative sequel by putting the gameplay formula into new context. While there were a bunch of different level objectives in the first game, The sequel fleshes out this concept by baking different objectives and vibes into its level design and game feel.

    Making the Familiar Different

    We Love Katamari Gameplay

    We Love Katamari builds upon its predecessor in the sheer variety and quantity of its levels. while the first game only has a few levels that are recontextualized for different goals, We Love Katamari hides its hand to start with. The game quickly moves past the initial image of a sequel that’s more of the same as more fans come into the hub area. They start having stranger and more specific requests. This leads to all sorts of insane level designs. These include simple setting shifts like a school and a messy bedroom but soon progress into more surreal areas. You soon move to a lake full of every kind of fish imaginable, mermaids and scuba-diving dogs, a fantasy world filled with gnomes and fairies, and even a high-speed racetrack.

    The fun of these new settings comes in how they affect gameplay in small but substantial ways. This can be as simple as a shift in the physics system in the underwater level or as game-changing as the fire mechanic in the camp level, where you have to keep rolling up flammable materials and avoid bodies of water or the fire on your Katamari will go out.

    We Love Katamari’s Perfect Approach to Difficulty

    While this can seem difficult, the great thing about We Love Katamari is that the game is only as difficult as you want it to be. The standard goals for each level are simple enough to achieve casually, but there is a hidden challenge in trying to go for a high score in each level. The campfire level is the perfect example of this. What could be a quick dash to the finish line can very easily become a challenge plucked from the deepest, most depraved corner of the human mind where a single mistake can snowball to a complete disaster minutes later.

    What’s the reward for challenging yourself? There’s no tangible reward for getting a high score on every level, as most unlockables such as new cosmetics and playable cousins are hidden in each level as a side objective and don’t contribute to the score you get at the end. This ultimately allows players to get as much mileage as they want out of the game without missing out on any content. So, why would anyone actually go for completion? For fan approval of course!  If you do the bare minimum, many fans feel disappointed and you get a passive-aggressive comment from the eternally judgemental King of All Cosmos. It’s the game’s delightfully weird writing that keeps you going, waiting for the next joke.

    It’s Katamari, Just Roll With It

    We Love Katamari King and Queen

    We Love Katamari is one of those “No thoughts, only vibes” games that allows it to do whatever it wants with its world and tone.  One second you’re rolling up dominoes and ants and the next you’re watching the King of All Cosmos’ tragic backstory. Anything goes in both the level design and the story. Because the game doesn’t take itself seriously and immediately establishes itself as something weird due to the expectations of fans of the first game, it can experiment and dig deeper into its own absurdity.

    This is where the aforementioned goofy fantasy levels and the sheer amount of odd items for you to roll up come in. Yet, despite all the lobsters in backyards, collectible cousins and general visual chaos, the game just lets you switch your brain off and relax. Maybe that’s partially due to the soundtrack, which is an equally weird mix of jazz, techno, pop and a bunch of other stuff. Every track just gets the memo with this game, but they all interpret that memo differently. This results in a soundtrack that is simultaneously chaotic, mellow, relaxing and energetic without ever feeling out of place.

    The Unique Co-op Mode of We Love Katamari

    We Love Katamari Co-Op

    We Love Katamari’s couch co-op mode is another aspect that makes the game stand out. The Versus mode from Katamari Damacy returns as it was, where you and another player fight to grow the biggest Katamari in the time limit, but We Love Katamari spices things up by allowing you and a friend to tackle every level of the game together. It does this by giving each player one side of the Katamari and forcing you to work together to achieve the goal.

    What starts as directionless fumbling where you barely scrape through every level slowly morphs into the closest experience mankind will ever get to living that one episode of Evangelion with the synchronized fight. I played through the game with my brother and after a certain point we didn’t even need to tell each other when to turn or flip around, both of us just knew exactly what the other was thinking at any given point. Overcoming that massive initial hurdle opened up that relaxing side of the game for both of us.

    A Love Letter to an Amazing Sequel

    I think that leads me to what I really love about We Love Katamari. It’s a game that is so well tuned, artistically realized and unabashedly itself that despite presenting itself as an untidy mess, hides an expertly crafted gameplay experience that is bolstered by its writing and visuals. Its ability to be as difficult as you want it to be, then rewarding dedicated players who take the time to master the controls with a more relaxing experience works in a way that I haven’t really seen anywhere else but its own prequel.

    Even as a sequel, We Love Katamari stands out on its own because of its never-ending fountain of creative ideas that build upon the game’s core identity without losing its character to outside influence, whether that be from its publisher Bandai Namco or even unreasonable fan demands. If you don’t have the time or money to pick up We Love Katamari in this stacked year for video games, continue to keep an eye on it since it might just become one of your new favorites.

    We Love Katamari Reroll + Royal Reverie is out now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, and PC via Steam.

    Mazen Haggag
    Mazen Haggag
    Mazen is an aspiring writer who spends way too much time playing video games. He has a passion for storytelling and actively looks for weird and unusual PS2 games. He also dislikes talking about himself in the third person.

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