Really not that bad.
Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you know about the game Katamari Damacy, the quirky little game where you roll a ball around and pick up stuff. Released late last year was the sequel to the game, We Love Katamari, which included more levels, more things to do, a different between-level system, and new gameplay styles. These games are all well and good, but are both released on the PS2, so they were not very portable. Namco solved this problem by releasing Me & My Katamari for the PSP.
Me & My Katamari isn't as big of a game as We Love Katamari, and it isn't quite the same as Katamari Damacy, but what it is is portable. You can now take the Katamari experience anywhere you want to go, provided you own a PSP. The game does provide everything you would expect from a game in the Katamari line, with a few caveats, but we will get to those in a minute. First, the plot.
The King of All Cosmos, his lovely wife (it says she's lovely, and who I am to argue) The Queen of All Cosmos, and the diminutive Price of All Cosmos come down to earth for a nice seaside vacation, and, unfortunately, the King's little swimming vacation has caused a tidal wave which has destroyed various islands, likely killed thousands, and sent property values through the floor, but, hey, criminal negligence is funny, right? Anyway, once again, you play as the Prince (or one of his cousins), and you're forced to clean up the King's mess. Various animals will come to your island and ask you to use your katamari magic and create an island for them to live on. The King, of course, is all to happy to have you do the job, and so he sends you off to collect “cool” things, or “warm” things, or “hard” things, etc.
Some people may be looking at the PSP, and wondering how you are able to control a katamari on a system with only one analog stick, and the answer to that is simple, you don't use the analog stick at all. To control the katamari, you use the directional buttons, and the face buttons, in a way that most PSP first-person shooters operate. It's a little strange to get used to at first, but after an hour or so you'll be controlling the katamari just about as well as you can control it with two analog sticks. Other than the strangeness of the controls, there is not much else with how the game is played that is much different from any of the previous games in the series.
The graphics, however, have been tuned down a bit to fit on the PSP's processor. The graphics for the previous Katamari games are already fairly simplistic, however, in this game, they have had to fudge a little to allow the game to play in a consistent manner. For one thing, many things in the levels are repeated over and over again, as if they could only use a certain number of objects, so they made due with what they could. Another fairly major thing is that the game includes a mid-level load for most levels, and, during that load, all of the small items which you had been rolling up will be taken out of the game, and only the larger things of your new size will remain. This sometimes means that you can be in the middle of rolling up a large portion of small items, and have them suddenly all disappear after a loading screen. A third thing is that the various locations in the game seem to be repeated over and over again, so it seems like you're constantly playing the same five or six levels over and over again, which can be a little disapointing.
One thing that they have not compromised in the game is the soundtrack. Often known for its eclectic soundtrack, the Katamari games are nothing without them. The mix of strange Japanese pop songs, all around the central Katamari song theme often keeps the player just as entertained as the gameplay itself, and this game, with 37 different tracks, does not disappoint. Certainly, many of these are from the previous two games, but many of them are not. Also included is a music player mode, so you will be able to listen to any of the songs on the go with the PSP, if you're into that sort of thing.
The game also includes a wi-fi connect mode, where you are able to play with up to 4 people, each, of course, needing their own copy of the game. It's only ad-hoc, so you won't be able to play it across the internet, but it's fun if you have friends who are also into this sort of thing. The gameplay of the multiplayer levels is about the same as the previous competitive multiplayer additions to the series. Sadly, there's no multiplayer co-op in the game, such as was included in We Love Katamari, but I suppose we'll just have to learn to cope.
With it's lack of environments, and the limited number of objects to pick up, the game can feel a little repetitive, and definitely is not as good as the previous games in the series, but that has more to do with shrinking the game down to be playable on the PSP than it does to problems with gameplay, or game design. Me & My Katamari is a good game that fans of the Katamari games will enjoy, however it's not necessarily the game to get new players interested in the series. And, as it is reportedly the last game in the series, Katamari fans should enjoy this last hurah of one of the most innovative gaming series this decade.
Rating: 4 katamaris out of 5