Wattam creator Keita Takahashi is a lot like Hideo Kojima. Both create games that can considered pure nonsense, though they exist at entirely opposite ends of the spectrum when comparing Katamari Damacy to Metal Gear or Death Stranding. Instead of being pretentious or self-indulgent, Takahashi’s creations ooze whimsical joy from every pore and Wattam is no different.
Best known for gifting humanity with the sublimely silly Katamari series, Takahashi went on to make 2009’s Noby Noby Boy which – it’s fair to say – was just as bonkers. Wattam carries that torch, though has a slightly more traditional game structure. However, as it quickly starts to unspool in your hands, you’ll still find yourself with a whacky Takahashi playground to frolic within.
Wattam is a game about the power of friendship. You start by playing as the Mayor, a lonely green cube wearing a bowler hat, but isn’t long before you encounter other characters, most of whom are items of food or household objects that have had a smiley face slapped on them.
As soon as they are introduced into your growing play area, you can directly control them. Aside from being bigger or smaller, faster or slower, there isn’t much separating the various characters from a pure gameplay perspective, however the way they mill around and the fact each one of them has a nametag somehow imbues them with personality.
It often feels as though Wattam simply wants you to mess around, finding your own fun in its vibrantly eccentric sandbox. That said, there’s a faint story thread to follow, feeding you small dollops of exposition here and there, explaining why everyone here was separated in the first place. In order to push the story forward you’ll need to complete simple tasks such as stacking your citizens to create a tower, forming a circle by holding hands, or finding a specific character based on clues.
It shouldn’t take you more than a few hours to wrap up the main game though, as touched on before, Wattam fully expects you to keep poking around. Even without a narrative stick and carrot, you may feel compelled to carry on given just how joyous it is to roam this colourful dreamland.
As with Katamari and Noby Noby Boy, the controls are a tiny bit unwieldy though you’ll only be performing very basic actions. Although Wattam will likely attract an older niche hungry for their latest Takahashi hit, this would be a perfect game to put in front of young gamers.
Finally, it’s hard to ignore just how aesthetically pleasing this game is, using bold shapes and colours to great effect. What really ties it all together is the soundtrack – a soothing soft jazz that seemingly mutates as you play.