Review by FalloutX

Reviewed: 10/20/04

Cheap and fun. Period.

Some people who look at my reviews tend to notice a trend. I tend to score the games I review fairly high. There's a reason for that: I usually just review the games that I enjoy. I should probably change that, but I do. Besides all that, this would be the first quirky Japanese game - aside from maybe Animal Crossing - that I've ever reviewed. But, like I said, I review the games I like. And oh yeah, I like this. Not to mention that it's only $20 ($14.99 with the Best Buy Gamer's Gift Card w/coupon on the back).

Now, first, what is Katamari Damacy? Well, it's simple. It's a game where you, as the Prince of all Cosmos, must travel to Earth to gather up... anything... into a giant sticky ball which then the King of all Cosmos will turn into a star. But, why must you do this? Well, it turns out the King of all Cosmos got a little silly one night and destroyed all the stars in the sky. So, now it's your job to make them again. By using your sticky ball, you can travel around and literally pick up whatever you want. Get big enough and you can wipe the entire ground clean, all the way down to the water (which, however, you cannot pick up). It's a bizarre little game full of weird people and things to pick up all to the tune of quirky Japanese tunes.

For those of you who haven't read my reviews before, there are five main points I use to deliver my score. At the end of the five sections, there's one final overall rating I give which is, of course, not an average of the first five. So, read on, and let's get it on!

FIVE POINT SCORING:
GRAPHICS
GAMEPLAY
SOUND
PRESENTATION
VALUE

GRAPHICS: 6/10

If you buy this game for the graphics, you'll be sorely disappointed. There is no detail, the figures are awful, etc, etc. The graphics aren't substantially detailed mainly because of the sheer volume of objects and landscape. If they tried to render every object with detail, the game would easily slow down to a crash. But, like I said, you don't want to get this game for it's graphical appeal. It has some neat points, though. There's lots of colors, lots of interesting objects, and massive, expansive environments to explore and collect in. So, it's no DOOM 3, but it's still nice to look at.

GAMEPLAY: 10/10

And this is what makes Katamari Damacy one of the most fun games you'll ever play. KD's gameplay mechanic is incredibly simple: roll the giant ball around, pick up stuff, repeat. And can the controls get any simpler? Within the game, you only have TWO things to use. The joysticks. That's it. No buttons, no mashing, no complex combos, just move the joysticks in the direction you want the Katamari to go. How can you beat it? With this in mind, it's pretty easy to tell that Katamari Damacy falls into the context of the desperately simple game, but it's one of those simple games that's incredibly fun and you just can't put down because of that. Since it's so simple and so fun, you'll spend most of the time doing one of two things. You'll either be trying to get your Katamari as big as possible or you'll be looking at all the stuff you're collecting.

Speaking of what you can collect, there is a remarkably massive volume of things you can pick up. From the main menu, you can also review your entire collection and really see the variety within. It's an enormous amount of content and detail, considering it's just a quirky little game.

Now, the length of the game is nothing. You can beat this game in one sitting, if you're willing to through all the timed stages. From creating regular stars to creating major constellations and the Moon itself, you'll still have plenty of fun, but the variety is limited. Regardless of what you're collecting, you still have to roll around and make your katamari big. The size and time limit is determined by the stage, but it's still the same basic principle. That's why this game also features a 2-player competition mode, which should prove to extend the game's lifecycle for a while. Also, you can unlock Eternal Modes in single-player mode. These modes allow you as much time as you want to roll as big a Katamari as you possibly can. It's fun, but wears thin after so long.

SOUND: 9/10

This game is full of really fun sounds. For starters, there's an abundance of great Japanese music (and one song with English lyrics) as the theme song and playing in the background as you're gathering goodies. In addition, many of the things you'll pick up - especially when you get larger - all have their own sounds. From people screaming when they're stuck to your Katamari to meowing cats, barking dogs, beeping cars and trucks, and mooing cows. Some of these sound effects, however, are a little lacking. Sometimes the sounds are a little off on certain things you'll gather and general sound effects of just moving the katamari around are strange. It's not necessarily enough to really distract from the fun of the game, but it's noticeable.

PRESENTATION: 10/10

Every single thing about this game screams "QUIRKY JAPANESE VIDEO GAME!". From the strange opening sequence to the Engrish used in multiple descriptions as well as the poorly acted voice-overs, everything works together to deliver a really fun package in a game definitely worth $20. The menu system is also innovative, too. You take the little Prince around your home planet, walking over a number of various options to either save your game, view the stars, view your collection of objects, etc. From there, you can also soar to two other planets. The first one is, of course, Earth. This is the single-player section. The next planet over is the two-player area. From here, you and a friend can choose which character you take into competition mode, and there's a lot of characters - little relatives to the Prince - that you can choose from. You can only use the Prince, however, in single-player mode.

VALUE: 10/10

While I probably wouldn't spend more than $20 on this game, it's really worth every penny. It's a lot of fun with a good amount of replay value, and it's unique. There's really no game like it out there, at all. It's hard to have this much fun for only $20 - without digging into the Greatest Hits titles - for so long. It's an incredibly unique title and undoubtedly just a great time.

OVERALL (not an average): 10/10

Katamari Damacy takes an incredibly simple gameplay mechanic and turns it into a remarkably fun little game. This isn't one of the most remarkable titles you'll ever play, but it's fun. That's it. It's just fun. Like many other games of this type, you can get it cheap and have a great time playing it for as long as it lasts and not regret it. Even if you only get a few months of gameplay out of it, it's still only a $20 game. So, if you're not desperately saving for Halo 2, GTA: San Andreas, Half-Life 2, or any of the other hot (and definitely expensive) titles on their way out, it's worth the $20 to get this title before it becomes hard to find. So, go, get it now. It's fun. Got it?

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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