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Forevermore we shall mark this day in history as the day the katamari became fully self-aware. Touch My Katamari for Vita is aware that despite how delightful rolling random objects into sticky balls can be for hours on end, the Katamari series has been feeling a little stale as of late. To freshen in up, Touch My Katamari uses the Vita's back touchpad to allow you to stretch and squish your katamari into various advantageous shapes, thereby putting a new spin, if you will, on the classic katamari gameplay.
Above: Wait for it…
But before we get to how the new features work, let's back up for a second and talk about how this katamari reinvention began. Our demo began with the opening cutscene, full of gorgeously colorful art and typical katamari style, where the King of All Cosmos eavesdropped on a young boy having a conversation with his parents. When asked who was cooler – the King or his school principal – the youngster had some difficulty, ultimately professing them to be of comparable coolness. As cool as a principal? Truly, this must be rock bottom.
To reclaim his status as the hippest dude in the universe, the King of All Cosmos sets out to create a fresh new Katamari game to convert all the people into #1 Katamari fans again. The overworld map is located on the King's tubular head, and each stage is represented by a person who needs to be convinced that Katamari is still cool. All the dialogue is goofy and self aware, and despite the King's newly humbled position, he still dishes out the harsh love when grading your performance on each level.
We started with a young lady's level, an area full of girly accoutrement and the usual katamari randomness. To change the shape of the katamari, we first swiped our fingers from the center of the back touchpad to the edges, forming a rolling pin shape. With greater surface area touching the ground, we were able to accumulate objects more quickly, covering areas in a single pass that would have taken several rolls to clean up as a regular sphere.
Double tapping the back of the Vita returns the katamari to normal shape, which still comes in handy quite often – in the levels we played, there was no need to reshape the katamari if we didn't feel like it. Making the opposite motion by swiping our fingers inward toward the center of the back touchpad, the katamari squished up into a tall wheel form This way, we were able to zoom up and down ramps much faster and squeeze into narrow alleys to collect extra stuff.
Aside from the Vita-specific features, Touch My Katamari still very much feels like a traditional Katamari game, which is great news if you're a fan of that aesthetic and general silliness like we are. The dual analog sticks on the Vita work perfectly for controlling the katamari too, unlike the single stick woes of Me & My Katamari for PSP. We're definitely excited to see what surprises we'll be able to roll up when Touch My Katamari releases at Vita's launch – look for our full review then.