When launching a console, it's always important to have games that showcase the new hardware. In the case of the PlayStation Vita, most games being released around the time of the launch are using the unit's features to various degrees, and Namco Bandai is doing just that with Touch My Katamari. Not only can you play the game using touch controls, but you can also stretch your katamari vertically or horizontally, which opens the door to some really interesting gameplay choices.
Touch controls make a lot of sense for the Katamari series because it has always been about interaction. The front touch screen lets you control the katamari ball the same way you would when playing with two analog sticks in the console games. Your left thumb controls left movements, and your right controls the right side. Moving both thumbs up on the screen causes the katamari to travel forward, while pressing in opposite directions turns the katamari around.
The big new addition to the controls is the ability to adjust the length of your katamari, which is done by using the pad on the back of the Vita. In Touch My Katamari, there are areas in each stage where the katamari's spherical shape won't fit. By pulling your index fingers on the back pad closer or farther apart, you can adjust its length. Pulling your fingers farther apart will cause the katamari to flatten like a pancake, which allows for easier travel under desks, chairs, and other low-hanging objects. Conversely, if you move your fingers closer together, the Katamari will become thinner, allowing you to get behind objects that are close to the wall or other tight spots.
Because you can now elongate the katamari, in some cases you may want to keep it flat to cover more surface area. On top of that, being long and tall can help the katamari reach higher spots that were previously inaccessible. During our time with the game, we tended to lean toward keeping our katamari in a shape other than the normal sphere because it allowed us to grab more objects in less time. Thankfully, though, the levels we got to play around with are designed in such a way that you will need to change shapes to reach certain areas.
The use of touch controls is extremely easy to grasp, and the new stretching ability gives the series something fresh and different. For those who fell in love with the Katamari series back in the day but feel that it has lost its way since then, you may want to consider Touch My Katamari when it's available during the PlayStation Vita's launch.