Katamari Damacy Review

  • Developer: Namco
  • Publisher: Namco
  • Platform: PlayStation 2
  • Release Date: 21 September 2004 (NA)
  • MSRP: $9.99 (PSN)

Getting Started

Japan is responsible for some really weird things.  Japanese games can be weird from a Western perspective.  This is where Katamari Damacy comes in.  Katamari is as weird as it gets.  Full of humor and strange charm, Katamari is a lot of fun.  Katamari was a surprise hit spawning several sequels.  What genre would this game even be?  I don’t know how to classify it.  You just play with balls and roll things.  Let’s get this review rolling!

Story

King of All Cosmos

One day, the King of All Cosmos accidentally destroys all the stars and the Moon in a drunken stupor.  Hey, it happens, sometimes you just have too much to drink and destroy the entire Cosmos.  No biggie.  He then commands his son, the Prince, to rebuild the Cosmos.  To do this, the Prince must roll up objects with a Katamari, an extremely sticky ball.  In between all this, cutscenes follow around the Hoshino family.  The children notice the stars and Moon have disappeared, but their mother doesn’t believe them.  They go see their father’s space shuttle launch, but the trip is cancelled because the Moon is gone.  Every cutscene involving the Hoshino family is bizarre and will leave you saying WTF!?  Did that just happen?  Katamari is delightfully surreal.

Gameplay

Hands up, hands down.  What you gonna do now?  Keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’.  Katamari is very simple, role up as many objects as possible within the given time limit.  The Katamari moves through tilting the control sticks.  Direction and speed are both controlled by the sticks.  Reading a description of the game, one would think this game is boring.  That is definitely not the case.  The idea is simple and brilliantly executed.  You have to slowly gather objects.  Start out small and gradually get bigger, until you’re rolling up entire cities and tentacle monsters.  I can still hear the people screaming in my sleep.  With how cute this game is, its easy to forget you’ve murdered countless people and animals.

Katamari Rolling

Each level you are putting together stars, constellation, and the Moon.  Every levl has a time limit and target size.  The further you progress, the more difficult it becomes.  I didn’t figure out how to go faster until near the end of the game.  If you’re not an idiot like me, it won’t be that challenging.  Learning the map will be very important.  Certain parts of the map are gated off until you reach a specific size.  Manage your time wisely.  Some levels will require you to collect specific objects, like crabs or girls.

Katamari has little things that add to the charm.  The King of All Cosmos has humorous dialogue.  He is particularly sarcastic and mean to the Prince.  The King will give you backhanded compliments and utters total non-sense.  You can collect new costumes for the Prince to wear, like a guitar or a crown.  These costumes are found throughout the levels, encouraging you to go back to ones you’ve already played.  Then there’s little details like when you go into water.  The Prince puts on goggles and a snorkel.  Its adorable.  The weird charm of this game is endearing.

Katamari Big Roll

Graphics

Katamari has a very toy-like world.  Everything looks like its made of blocks and paper.  Humans and animals look like dolls.  As a PS2 game it looks good. The simple art style lends itself to aging gracefully.  The graphics are somewhat reminiscent of Wind Waker.  Compard to games like God of War or Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Katamari looks better in the present day.  Bandai Namco should consider an HD collection of all the Katamari Games.

Sound

Katamari uses a soundtrack of mostly corky J-Pop songs.  The music is very infectious and fits well with the bizarre gameplay.  I’ve listened to “Lonely Rolling Star” constantly since I first heard it.  I don’t care if anyone judges me for it.  The song is so good.  There is some voice acting, like the horrifying screams of people getting rolled up by the Prince.  The cutscene voice acting is somewhat wooden, but it seems intentional.  It adds to the weirdness.  Like you’ve stumbled into some surreal dimension.

Final Thoughts

Katamari Damacy may seem simple and camp, but it’s a very enjoyable experience.  There’s something relaxing about rolling things up.  Perhaps the light and corky music helps create that relaxing atmosphere.  I would recommend this game to my stoner friends.  They’d probably get a kick out of this surreal game.  Katamari keeps things simple and worked well in its favor.  There’s not much to think about while playing it.  Just keep on rolling.  With not having to concentrate hard on the game, your mind is free to wander wherever it takes you.  Maybe you could solve the mysteries of the Universe or figure out any existential crisis you may be having.  Katamari is short and sweet yet satisfying to finish.  Everything about this game is bizarre and charming.  Katamari Damacy should be part of anyone PlayStation 2 collection.

8.5/10

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