Nothing could be simpler than rolling up a ball of junk. But somehow, with that basic concept, the Katamari series has become a bona-fide phenomenon. It's a pure burst of bright personality in a world dominated by gunmetal grey. It's also a hell of a lot of fun. Surprisingly, perhaps, it also translates well to the PSP.
This is unexpected because the control of the two PS2 games in the series revolves entirely around the use of the two analog sticks on the face of the controller. As you've no doubt noticed by now, the PSP has but one meager nub. So how does Me & My Katamari work? You use the D-pad and the four face buttons to navigate, with a little help from the L and R buttons on top of the unit.
Shockingly, this isn't the problem with the game. These controls work better than you'd ever expect, and though they're inevitably clumsy, you won't have any problems navigating the large and inviting levels the team has created.
No, if there's a problem with Me & My Katamari, it's that it feels far too much like a rehash of the previous two games. This is the third Katamari game in a year and a half; if you've played either of the other two games before, you've very much been here and done this, though this is obviously the first time you've been able to do it on PSP. From the visuals, to the gameplay, to the music, to the skewed sense of humor - it's all been done before, and a little better, in the full-sized games.
But, yes, Katamari is irresistible and, ultimately, irrepressible. Regardless of the existence of two other nearly identical games, there's something so satisfying about collecting hundreds of unique and colorful items in a Dadaist Lego-block Japan that it's hard to put Me & My Katamari down. The fact of the matter is, even if this game is an utter rehash, it's also a rehash of one of the most distinctively creative games we've ever seen.
It also works fabulously well on the PSP. The loading times are kept manageable, the controls function, and the brief escapades into junk-collecting last less than ten minutes a pop. It's perfect to play if you only have a few minutes to kill, but works in longer sessions, too. Somehow, they've managed to squeeze these detailed levels into the PSP, but they run almost as smoothly as on the PS2. Certainly the game is always playable, no matter how many blocky Japanese children, overturned toys and messy bedrooms are thrown onto the screen.
Also included is an Ad Hoc local wireless mode which pits up to four players against each other to collect the most treasure on a beach. This is as simple as can be, and consequently, not that much fun in the long run. The fact that there's a game-killing item or two hidden in the sand (you're pretty much an automatic winner if you happen to find one) doesn't improve matters much. This mode is a fun little throw-away, but nothing more.
Is this game worth buying and playing? Certainly. If you've already rolled your way through the previous two, though, it's going to seem terribly redundant. Factor in the cost of the game - $40 compared to the all-round superior We Love Katamari's $30 price tag - and it seems a bit silly. But Me & My Katamari is better than expectations would dictate. When taken on its own, its quality is what counts in the end. If you love the personality and the gameplay of the series, you'll find it all here. And if you've never played a Katamari game before, you're in for a wonderful surprise.