Katamari Damacy

-Namco (2004)

 

 

Summary

A little man learns a valuable lesson about bigger being better under the watchful eye of his flamboyant father.

My Thoughts

The opening movie says it all. You wonít believe or even be able to understand what the heck is going on. Pandas creepily dance, ducks sing, and rainbows blast from nowhere while an upbeat Japanese song plays. This is only the beginning to the vast insanity of Katamari Damacy. One night, the King of All Cosmos gets drunk off his ass and crashes around the galaxy, knocking out all the stars from the sky. As the Prince, it is your job to go to Earth and roll up everything you can to replace the stars and constellations. The katamari, a high powered gravity ball, is what the Prince will use to collect everything.

The King of all Cosmos is a very eccentric being. He wears bright colors and a hat that is wider than him. He also wears incredibly tight tights so that everyone can get an extremely good idea about the size of his giant wang. The Kingís voice is phonated through the sounds of a record scratching. You can get a good feel of the Kingís eccentric character through the scratching, his speech, and the many hearts he uses when praising your big katamari. And praise he will. Or scold, if the Princeís katamari is miniscule and insignificant.

The Prince is a tiny creature and starts off collecting little items like paperclips, pills, tacks and the like. As the katamari becomes bigger the Prince can roll over bigger items like dishes, cats, people, and trees. Eventually the katamari will become so big that houses, cruise ships, skyscrapers, and even giant octopi will be no problem. When he gets his Katamari so immensely huge, the Prince will be able to collect the countries of the Earth itself, leaving the world a barren ball of water.

Most of the stages give the Prince a set amount of time to reach the size needed by the King of all Cosmos. If the Princeís reaches the size before the timer is up he just keeps on rolling and makes it bigger and bigger until the time finally does expire. In Katamari Damacy it is all about the size of your katamari and the bigger, the better. There are other stages that require just one of a certain object to make a constellation. These are the tricky stages because the Prince needs to collect the biggest cow he can. He needs to roll up enough other items to collect the big cow, but itís difficult because as the katamari become bigger, it is a little more difficult to see the small cow objects. The Prince will inadvertently roll over a small cow and the stage will end. The Prince can always go back and try again.

If the Prince meets certain conditions during a stage, he is rewarded with a royal present. He can wear the presents, such as a scarf or headphones, to pep-up his appearance to the Earthlings when rolling by. There is also a list of every object that the Prince has collected during his journeys and that list is monstrous. Finding every single item and animal in the game makes for quite the task.

Controlling the katamari is as simple as could be. Through the use of the two analog sticks the katamari can be easily maneuvered over whatever may be in its path. Everything that gets stuck to the katamari affects how it rolls. If a long light post is on the right side, the katamari will roll accordingly with an appropriate bump. It is easy to adjust to the extra baggage and it never becomes overly difficult to keep the katamari in motion.

The graphics are not up to the current graphical quality standards of the PS2 by any means. They appear to be on par with games that were released during the early days of the PS2. Even though everything has a blocky look to it, itís all stylized that way on purpose. Everything the Prince collects retains its presence and motions in the ever increasing ball of crap. After successfully completing a stage, another piece of the strange story about some kids going to see their dad is revealed. The visuals for these cinemas keep with the blocky style. The voice acting in these parts is also intentionally bad which helps make it so hilarious. To match the rest of the game, the music is some of the most unique and bizarre stuff youíll ever hear and has wide variety of genres. There is Japanese pop, techno, jazz and the Katamari theme sung by children to name a few. The best of the bunch is the opening where a lone Japanese guy hums the Katamari theme. Itís sure to get stuck in your head for days.

The gameís biggest drawback is its length. Itís all over way too quickly. On the plus side it gives you plenty of time to go back and find every object or collect a bigger cow to make up for the tiny insignificant cow you accidentally rolled over before. The two-player mode is also a little lacking. Each player chooses the Prince or one of his many oddly shaped friends. Each player then tries to make the biggest katamari in a small enclosed bowl. If one player is quicker at getting their Katamari bigger then they can collect the other player as part of the katamari. Itís fun, but there needed to be more and bigger arenas. Itís really a shame that there isnít a co-op/competitive mode to roll around the world.        

Katamari Damacy packs a lot of pleasure into its big ball rolling simplicity. Itís also a bargain at a mere twenty clams. Pick this up and have one of the strangest and most unique game experiences out there.

Score: 9.0        

-Shawn

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