App Reviewed on: iPhone SE
User Interface Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
When Katamari Damacy first came out on the Playstation 2 in 2004, it became an instant cult classic. Its crazy premise, eclectic soundtrack, and oddly satisfying gameplay make it a game brimming with charm that’s hard to deny or resist. With the release of Amazing Katamari Damacy, Namco seemed hopeful that it could recreate magic of the first game and distill it into a mobile package, and it almost works. Amazing Katamari Damacy serves up heaping doses of Katamari nostalgia in an endless runner that’s actually kind of interesting, but the game’s constant serving of ads and some dubious gameplay decisions make for a less than ideal experience.
In Amazing Katamari Damacy, you once again play as the Prince of all Cosmos who is tasked with rolling up objects using a Katamari—a ball that can pick up anything that is smaller than it. This time though, instead of freely roaming areas and trying to grow your Katamari that way, the game takes the form of an endless runner.
The Prince runs behind the Katamari he is pushing automatically, and you swipe from left to right to move the Prince in order to pick objects up and avoid obstacles. The object of each run is to get as far as possible while picking up as many objects as possible to increase your high score.
Although Amazing Katamari Damacy sounds like a pretty run-of-the mill runner, there are actually aspects to it that make it unique and appropriately Katamari-like. For instance, there are times when you can grow your Katamari to a size that is larger than the obstacles around you, allowing you to just roll them up instead of having to dodge them.
It also helps that Amazing Katamari Damacy heavily features music from the original Katamari Damacy, which is one of the best video game soundtracks of all time. This, combined with the game’s faithful visual treatment, make for a pretty big nostalgia trip. If you have any fond memories of the classic PS2 game, or even if the subsequent releases, Amazing Katamari Damacy is pretty capable of giving you some of the same warm and fuzzy feelings you got when playing those other releases for the first time.
Amazing Katamari Damacy does a surprisingly good job of translating the Katamari Damacy formula into a new game type, but then it mucks the whole thing up by surrounding it with a pretty miserable monetization scheme. The game serves up ads constantly and prompts you to buy things every time you launch it, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Buying gems, the in-game currency, simply gives you more attempts at continues, but it doesn’t get rid of ads, which is super annoying.
If that weren’t enough, aspects of Amazing Katamari Damacy’s action also seems designed around making a runner that encourages people to spend money. For example, most objects in the game you can run into without instantly creating a game over. There are also “black hole” obstacles everywhere in the game though, and these are objects that instantly end your run if you touch them. Whenever your run ends, you can pay gems or watch an ad to continue playing, and 90% of the time your runs will end because of some really tricky “black hole” arrangements on the screen that are virtually impossible to avoid.
The bottom line
Amazing Katamari Damacy is a really frustrating experience. On the one hand, it’s a runner that puts an appropriately Katamari-like spin on the genre, all while being faithful to the series’ look and feel. On the other though, it’s a game that’s constantly hitting you up for money and forcing you to watch ads in the most annoying way possible. If you have strong nostalgia for Katamari Damacy, you might be able to put up with Amazing Katamari Damacy’s shenanigans to enjoy what’s here, but you likely won’t feel the need to stick around for long.