The King: has some odd ideas.
Having appeared on most major consoles over the past few years, it was no surprise to see Katamari on the launch line-up for Vita. It actually make s a lot of sense as a handheld game, with each level providing a nice bite-sized challenge for those on the go, and the PSP version was actually one of the best versions you could find for that very reason.
As oddball left-field Japanese gaming goes, Katamari is up there with the best of them. Roll a katamari around the level, pick up smaller objects to make it larger (and therefore capable of sticking to even larger objects) and you'd expect to get maybe 5 minutes of entertainment out of it. But somehow Katamari is manages to take a bizarre concept and make it both addictive and satisfying.
There are some clever touches that make the puzzles more engaging, like the ability to change the shape of your katamari using the touch controls, which sounds simple enough but becomes important later on. This is really the only innovation the game makes to the series, but it makes enough of a difference to be notable.
The story (such as it is) is driven by the "King", who is having serious confidence issues. Rather than spend money on a shrink, he sends his son to Earth to collect more random objects to be transformed into stars (far more sensible). Intertwined with this insanity, we have a side-story involving obsessed anime -fan who needs to get his life back on track. It makes absolutely no difference to the game itself, but it is strangely compelling.
What we have here is simply portable Katamari in HD. True, the VIta adds the ability to control the game via touchscreen, and that's novel for what it is, but the game has always been best served by twin-stick controls, and given the Vita has the hardware to handle this, it's probably best played traditionally.
The music is as bonkers as it ever was, and the stylised characters are well represented; that said, there's nothing to stretch the Vita here, which could hurt Katamari as it vies for attention against a glitzier, louder launch line-up.
For those Katamari veterans looking for a quality, portable collecta-thon, this is for you. For those new to the franchise, this is an excellent time to jump in and get to experience Japanese game design at its weirdest, and will probably still entertain long after you've finished unearthing ancient artifacts...