I’ve played and loved every single Katamari game, and that means only one thing: I’ll have to get the provocatively titled Touch My Katamari when it launches alongside the PlayStation Vita on February 22. This new iteration will boast several firsts for the franchise, the most obvious being the touch controls thanks to the Vita’s front and rear touchpads. But another “first” involves the gameplay; players will be able to actually stretch the katamari.
That’s right, you can stretch it vertically or horizontally by using the rear touchpad. When playing, you will come across certain areas that are inaccessible unless you change the shape of your sticky ball; by moving your index fingers closer together or farther apart on the pad, the katamri stretches. This can be helpful when getting into tight spaces, like squeezing in between walls and rolling beneath low-hanging obstacles. Veteran fans will begin to mull over the possibilities…
See, by making it wider, you can pick up more stuff on the ground, but if you’ve got stuff above you, you might want to make it taller. Obviously, it’ll depend on the particular environment, which means this stretching option isn’t just a gimmick. No, it definitely changes the way we play. Fans may remember that in all past installments, the only barriers involved katamari size; i.e., you have to make the katamari 3 meters or larger to enter a certain space. I imagine those same restrictions will return.
In addition to stretching your supernaturally sticky ball, there’s the general control, which is handled by the front touchpad. Basically, it shouldn’t be much different than using the two analog sticks: both thumbs handle movement; use your left thumb to move left and your right to move right. Simple. For those who aren’t familiar, Katamari was always like this. You didn’t control the camera; both analogs were used for direct control— left for left, right for right.
Moving both thumbs up will allow you to travel forward, while pulling in opposite directions will turn the little Prince around (a very useful reversal). Therefore, regardless of the control you choose to utilize, this should be easily recognizable for all long-time followers like myself. Toss in the game-changing ability to stretch the sphere, and you should have a fantastically entertaining Vita launch title. Make sure to touch your Katamari after snagging Sony’s new portable in February.
12/19/2011 Ben Dutka