Review by wolverinefan

Reviewed: 08/10/07

It's different but worth trying out

Katamari Damacy is the much loved quirky title from Japan. I didn't buy into the hype and it just didn’t appeal to me at all. It seemed silly and after playing a demo the controls just didn't sit well with me. Well, last fall I went back home for my sister’s wedding and some how ended up in a friend’s apartment playing We Love Katamari. And I was addicted. I just had to try out the original game since my friend said it was much better and I think he just said that because I couldn’t stop playing his game even though I had to leave for a wonderful 8 hour drive shortly after that. Well, for some reason this first game is kind of rare these days but I was able to get it on-line for $10. How is the game? Is it cult classic or not? Should you hunt down a copy? Is it worth paying over the MSRP for this game? Read on!

Some how the King of Cosmos and wiped all of the stars out of the sky. So it's up to his son the prince to bring them all back by collecting random Earth items and then tossing them into space once they have reached a certain size. Besides that there is a family and their father is heading off to space in a shuttle. The plot isn't really there but it's a cute story wrapped in with the game play. I also enjoyed the cut scenes with the family as it created a cause and effect feel for the entire game which was nice. Just don’t go into this game expecting an epic RPG story or anything because it’s very simple in its story telling.

The graphics in the game are very cartoon like and rather blocky as well. Nothing wrong with that and the game is full of little and big items. Everything looks real in a cartoon kind of way. It won't amaze anyone with it's graphics but they get the job done. The detail to some of the items is rather amusing. Characters might be carrying each other or riding a bike or pushing themselves on a board. It all seems kind of random, as does everything in this game, but it really adds to the silliness of the game.

Sound in the music will either drive you insane or fill you with joy. No voice work that I remember unless the family talks but I don't remember. The King and Prince use a made up language to talk. The sound effects are horns and splashes and roars from monsters. Little noises that the objects or whatever would make. Not overly detailed but it got the job done. The music is what could make or break the game for some. It’s cheerful children’s music. It's nothing amazing or anything but it's very happy and totally has a Japanese feel to it. I really found it added to the game and made it rather relaxing. I do think though that the sequel had slightly better music as I found it more enjoyable but my friend argued and said he likes the music in this one better. So I guess it all depends on how you like your music.

Oh the control. This is the worst part of the game. It's not that it's hard to understand or anything. You need to use both analog sticks to move around. The problem is that it isn't something that feels natural and one analog stick sort of turns while the other goes forward but then they both do what the other is suppose to do but by the end it finally started to feel natural. But it really makes the game unfriendly for some. It almost took me the entire game to get the hag of the control and if I stopped playing for a day or two I’d be back at being frustrated with trying to get the controls down again.

I know that this is just going to sound really silly but the main goal of this game is to walk around with a ball (it's size depends on the level) and roll into stuff that is smaller than it. As you roll around the area you collect bigger and bigger things as you go. Each level has a time limit and a size that you need to be. I never ran into a problem with it until the final stage which I just found to be hard. It also requires some common sense when you’re rolling your ball around. Your ball must be larger than the item and while sometimes it can be a bit odd that you can pick up one item but not another, it does stay pretty true to that idea.

The creators took some liberties with that idea too. They enlarge certain items or do other things to make items bigger. Sometimes you’ll see a human riding on the shoulders of another human. Because of the size of them you can’t knock them apart until you’re a lot bigger than a normal, despite it just being two humans. They continue with that idea as you go on and in the later levels there is a giant octopus riding a cargo ship. You would normally be able to take the ship but because the octopus is on it then you can’t until you can pick that up.

One problem I have with the actual game play is that every level is kind of the same. You quickly tire of the house but thankfully you then enter the world. It starts off with a little area and then the next thing you know you're rolling around the world picking up humans, trees, houses and then finally you start picking up monsters and islands. It’s just kind of boring to see the same setting and while the game starts off on the small side and you do venture out to larger pastures, it gets tiresome because you still have brief moments back in those areas. It does help you learn the areas but again that makes the game easier than it should be. I only had trouble on the final stage because suddenly an entire playing field I had never seen before was available to me and I had no idea what items I could pick up at the sizes I was.

So the game play itself is unique and once you finish a stage the star is named for what ever type of item you collected the most of. If it's a veggie star it will have some plant name. Or if its food based it could have a junk food name. Stuff like that so no one will have exactly the same game because even the names seem randomly generated. I did find that my last few stars were very Veggie based due to plant life since that is the biggest and easiest thing to pick up by the end of the game but they didn’t have the same name which was nice.

The game itself is short. It offer 9 or so normal levels and then 10 or so other levels which have you collecting different items based on the zodiac signs. It's a nice change of pace though and can really break of the other levels. Some of the Zodiac levels have you collecting twins or just crabs or whatever. It fits with the Zodiac sign itself so that was a neat little touch. I did find that I was getting bored with the normal missions about half way through the game but it was a nice change of pace to do these other missions. It didn’t really fix my problem but it was a slight change of pace. I think this game is best played in small spurts.

I would recommend Katamari Damacy as a game that everyone needs to have played at least once. It’s a unique experience that is worth trying out. You're either going to fall in love with this game or think it's horrible due to it's controls. If it had some smoother control scheme then maybe it would be just that much better and it would really be more accessible to the average gamer. I am interested in how the Wii version of the new game will work. It may just be the best yet. Sadly this original game is kind of hard to find but you can always fall back onto the sequel or even the PSP title if you dare.

Story - 6/10
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 8/10
Control - 6/10
Game Play - 10/10
Replay value - 6/10

Final Score - 8/10

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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