Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Review: PS Vita and Touch My Katamari

Videogames are a huge part of my life. From my early beginnings of mashing buttons frantically on the SNES to the heady heights of frantically mashing buttons on the PS3, I've always enjoyed marathon sessions behind a console. I suppose I could be labelled a casual gamer, in that I am not down for boring first person shooters or pooping my pants playing survival horror. I much prefer my games to have bright colours, awesome music and a cartoony style. Some of my favourite franchises are Kingdom Hearts, Harvest Moon, Little Big Planet and of course, Katamari Damacy. My boyfriend is a huge videogame nerd, as in he works in the industry and everything, so when he messaged me a couple of weeks ago to tell me he'd bought a PS Vita and the new Katamari game, I practically tossed my cookies from excitement!
(visual representation of my mental state at that moment)
 Lemme give you the run-down on Katamari if you've never played it before. So the world is the world we know now, except stuff like bearcows and pegicorns and stuff exist, and all of the land is ruled over by a royal family, the head of who is The King Of All Cosmos. You are his son, the Prince, who is hard worked and generally under-appreciated by his family. But you don't mind, you're kinda chill about the whole thing. In fact, you're a mute, it seems. So every game has some situation that leads to the Prince having to build katamaris for the King to turn into stars. A katamari is a sticky ball that you use to roll up objects on Earth, ranging from tiny ants to skyscrapers, to whole continents to planets and even the whole universe! The bigger your katamari gets, the more outrageous things you can pick up. You are then sent back to the king who assesses your efforts (he is not easily pleased) and the game carries on like this until it's finished.

The beauty of Katamari Damacy comes from its simple concept. I cannot tell you why it is so satisfying to roll up screaming people running away from your ball of doom, but it just IS. The creators know this and so the game hasn't changed much since it was first released. The graphics are still awesome with a chalky sort of colour that makes it soothing on the eyes, and a lot of focus goes into the music, where a whole song is recorded for each level (here is my favourite song).
 Touch My Katamari was one of the games launched with the PS Vita and was the game I was most excited about playing. I love the PS3 game Katamari Forever, so I was super stoked to try this one out. Firstly, it's a great game. Nothing much has changed, you are given the option to still the same controls as usual and you still have the jumping feature which I always found useful. 
There are some slight alterations thought. You can make you katamari stretch into a sausage shape or a erm, tall sausage shape to help you collect lots of things at once by using the touch pad. You don't  HAVE to use this, but I found it pretty neat. However, more down to the design of the Vita itself, it can be hard to stretch into the shape, especially with the time limits, and sometimes because there is a second touch screen on the back of the console it does it when you don't want it too!
Another flaw that was annoying was that some items in the distance didn't show up until you were super close to them, which is annoying when you're trying to plan your best route to roll up small things first. I think my biggest problem with this game was that it was incredibly short. Perhaps I was spoiled by Katamari Forever, but I expected more than the number of levels I was given, and within a weekend I had completed the game on normal and eternal modes. Of course, there is limited space on such a small bit of machinery, but Katamari is such an addiction that I was craving more by the time I had finished. Luckily, the replay value of this game is enormous and I still have to complete the games on drive mode, collect all of the 'curios' and presents. You can "buy" new levels with "fan damacys" but they are hard to come by and seemingly appear at random so it is slow-going!
Overall, the game is as charming and fun as ever and I will probably be buying new Katamari games until the day I die. The dialogue in this game is probably the funniest out of all of them, the King is priceless! It is worth the money just for that, the songs and the awesome graphics alone and even though it is a short game I can see myself replaying it over and over again! If you are put off by it looking like a kid's game I can assure you it is not, and that you will have the most fun ever playing it!!

And now I shall write a little about the Vita. I didn't get to have a proper nose around it seeing as I was only with my bf for the weekend, but I'll tell you what I did and didn't like about it anyway. Okay so firstly, from what I can gather, the Vita hasn't performed well at all in the sales, but I think this might be because there hasn't been much buzz about it? I don't think I've seen even one advert for it anywhere. I feel a bit sorry for it because it's like, a billion times better than the PSP. I'll let you in on a secret, I'm kinda a Nintendo girl. My boyfriend is a PlayStation man through and through, but I don't think I'll ever stop lovin' Nintendo. What I like most about Nintendo consoles is that they just seem so solid. I feel like I could throw my GameCube down a flight of stairs and it would still work. I've still got my N64 up and running as we speak and my DS has survived moving house three times. 
The Vita makes me nervous. It feels so delicate and technical, it has sticking out analogue sticks for christsakes, and I'm always positive I'm going to break it whenever I touch it. Unlike the DS, it doesn't protect itself by folding the screens away, it just sits there open to the elements in your bag or whatever, with a kind of flimsy leather case. The Vita is also expensive, retailing at around £200 with expensive games, which is quite steep.

Saying this though, the Vita has some great changes from the PSP which made me fall a little in love with it. For one, Sony have finally, grudgingly, stopped using mini discs. The amount of noise those discs used to make was phenomenal, but now that they've switched to cartridges there's nothing but sweet, sweet silence and much faster loading and saving times. The introduction to touch pads is neat, but I feel like the extra one on the back is unnecessary and annoying, why would you want a touch pad where your hands rest when you're holding it?!  The wi-fi is much, much better than Nintendo, and I know Nintendo have this whole "consoles are for gaming only" thing going on, but being able to access the internet and watch films and stuff (I believe Netflix is coming to the Vita) is a huge convenience, especially when the screen is so lovely and clear.

Overall, I don't think I'm ready to switch to Vita and toss out my DS, but for serious gamers and tech-heads the Vita is a great "piece of kit" (that's what techincal people say, isn't it?)


  1. The King of All Cosmos3/4/12 19:50

    We are honoured by your KIND REVIEW. However, we feel you didn't mention the games MOST HANDSOME STAR nearly enough. Maybe you were afraid we would BLUSH AT YOUR COMPLIMENTS... it is okay, we see through your DIPLOMATIC WORDS

    1. this would be even better if you could make rainbow sparkly text show up!!


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