One of the biggest selling points of video games is that there’s so many different types to enjoy. Whether you prefer racers, shooters, fighting games, world-spanning adventures or puzzles you can curl up on the couch to play, there’s a bit of something for everyone to enjoy. Outside of that though, there’s a select few games that defy classification. The concepts and influences on display in these games often make them worth playing alone, but when a game like that is actually compelling and thoroughly enjoyable, you know you’ve hit all-timer material. The Katamari series is that example, and it’s utterly bewildering to experience.
Trying to box the Katamari series into one particular genre or another is a fool’s errand, but the best broad description is that it’s a cozy game. It contains all the hallmarks of a traditional cozy game, in the sense that Katamari has chilled vibes, catchy music, loveable characters and a gameplay loop about cultivation. The key difference is that instead of cultivating the land to grow your crops, you’re cultivating the land for every object possible so you can grow your katamari to gargantuan proportions.
Playing as the Prince of the Cosmos, or one of his many unlockable cousins, you’re sent down to Earth by your dad to create a new celestial body, which is done by rolling around a Katamari and having random objects stick to it. It’s a silly concept, but the gameplay loop is what makes the Katamari series so compelling, as the more objects you roll up, the bigger you become which also means you can roll up bigger objects. It’s this steady loop of growth that leads to the ridiculous spectacles that Katamari has become known for, as you bear down on Japan like a spherical kaiju.
You’d think a premise like that would get old eventually, but the Katamari series is so absorbing that you’ll find yourself coming back to it again and again. The short, mission based structure and simplistic gameplay make Katamari a quick and easy gaming fix, something to enjoy when you’re looking to relax without sinking five hours into what your Baldur’s Gate 3 character is going to look like. Some of the best games in the world can be quite overwhelming for some people, so Katamari’s unabashed simplicity is often a breath of fresh air.
Still, that simplicity doesn’t mean that the series hasn’t played around with its formula in the past. All three mainline games (Katamari Damacy, We Love Katamari and Beautiful Katamari) have introduced level concepts that are more than just “become massive”. Whether it’s rolling up items of a specific type, trying to hit a certain size target or finding the biggest version of one particular item, the changes in mission structure are enough to keep the action fresh across all three games.
However, it’s perhaps the most recent release, We Love Katamari Reroll+ Royal Reverie, the upgraded re-release of the original PS2 game, that perhaps serves as the highlight to the whole series. The mission variety is on point, the spectacle is incredible, as you go from rolling up household goods to entire continents and even the planets themselves, and the additional levels where you play as the King are a nice little bonus for players who have invested a lot of time into the series. It’s just fun to see the coolest himbo in the cosmos as a dweeby little kid, honestly.
Even if there is a definitive highlight to the series, the mainline Katamari series has no bad games. Katamari Damacy Reroll, We Love Katamari Reroll+ Royal Reverie and the Xbox 360 exclusive Beautiful Katamari are all incredible games in their own right. Put all three together, and you’ve got arguably one of the most delightful trilogies of games ever made.
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