If this was the first Katamari game I played, I might think better of it. I was worried when I heard the brain behind katamari was leaving. This game has always stayed with the basic concept of rolling up items, but it simply doesn't get old (to me at least). After playing this game, I have to say it can get old. At least when it is a complete regression of what previous Katamari games have offered. This game simply lacks the content of all the other games.
It seems that Namco figured if they threw in a few touch controls that would be enough innovation. The problem is the touch controls in this game are really just a gimmick and I avoided using them like the plague. The front touch screen on the Vita is nothing short of amazing. Not only is it super sensitive but can read multiple touches. I can't really say the same for the back touch pad. I have to say that I hope developers simply forget it's there and don't use it at all. Changing shapes would be nice if it worked better, but I wish I could just map the shape change to another button. Fortunately they included the more recent additions to the controls such as Jump and the turbo boost. It's good to see they didn't go backwards on this.
The magic of previous Katamari's, for me at least, was the massive amount of items (and the music, which I'll talk about later). I'm talking about everything from the things you can roll up, the accessories for the Prince and the massive number of Cousins. I spent hours trying to collect each and every cousin on all previous iterations. Namco has cut the number of cousins dramatically; they just aren't a focus of this game (I think there is around a dozen in this game, vs. 50+ in Katamari Forever). It is also sad that the type of items to roll up is not as diverse in previous games. The good news is you can actually get accessories for the king, but they are purchased not acquired; just like your accessories. This doesn't give much incentive to replay the levels in search of secret areas.
The Premise is interesting and the King is as awesome (and crazy) as always. He looks super creepy with the graphics on the Vita. He is a mix between cartoon caricature and hyper-realism. His pant bulge and androgynous dress is the thing of nightmares (I mean this in the most respectful way)!!! His dialogue is as quirky as ever, and the punishment for failure is severe (for the Prince at least). There is however no island / hub worlds layout. You simply choose the levels by running on the king's head like a treadmill and stopping on different characters for the missions. The PSP Katamari had it right with the islands; this is definitely a step backward!
The later levels were extremely disappointing! I know it seems like beating a dead horse to have you roll up the Universe on the last level every time, but there is nothing more thrilling than rolling that Giant katamari, sucking up the Earth, Planets and Sun. You really don't get that thrill here. The largest level was relatively small. The sad thing is that I actually ran out of things to roll up with 4 minutes left on the clock. I just rolled around with nothing to do, I never had this problem in previous iterations. You just never really get to roll up mass amounts of items. With the computing power of the Vita, I expect a lot better!
The music is solid in this game, but I wouldn't expect anything less. Katamari has always had great music. This soundtrack seems to be more dup step and techno music. Nothing as catchy as older songs, but unique in their own right. You just won't get these stuck in your head, like some of the bizarre songs from the previous entries. All in all though, it pretty good, I can't complain too much.
The graphics are beautiful. The colors are super vibrant on the Vita. You'll think you licked a poisonous treefrog when the king's rainbow hits the screen. The vita is a marvel and the OLED screen is simply amazing. This game really shows off the OLED's capabilities with colors!
I think Namco just slapped together some of all the Katamari games and really didn't spend time perfecting it. They tried to add something new by making requirements on what had to be collected on every level, but this gets old really fast! This just doesn't feel like a real Katamari experience. I don't think they have to reinvent the wheel, but they shouldn't go backwards. I expect a Katamari game with tons of cousins, tons of outfits, huge levels that get larger and larger in scale, a unique hub world of some type and lots and lots of crazy things to pick up. You'll miss levels like the supermarket where there are thousands of items to suck up. You'll never really move past the initial tediousness of rolling up enough items to allow you to really accumulate mass items. It just never really goes anywhere. I Hope that Keita Takahashi's departure isn't the nail in the coffin for this series.
If you've never played a Katamari game and don't plan on picking up Katamari Forever (Which I think is the overall best Katamari) or older entries, this game is for you. If you have played previous entries, this will be disappointing. This game isn't more of the same, it is less than that. In almost every regard this is a step backwards, the crappy touch controls add nothing to this. The PSP Katamari games had much more content, so I don't know what happened here, must have been a rush job. I just hope that there will be another Katamari game that utilizes more of the Vita's power. Here's hoping at least!