Review by UltimaterializerX

Reviewed: 01/03/05 | Updated: 07/06/05

Not all too well-done, but it's INHUMANLY addictive and fun as hell to play.

In a time filled with overexpensive titles for your new gaming consoles, it's always fun to take a nice breather and play one of those crappy cheap titles that you'll likely play through once and never touch again. Katamari Damacy is perfect for this type of case.

Katamari Damacy is a puzzle game, and a damned addictive one at that. The King of All Cosmos has destroyed all of the stars by accident, and it's your job to get them back. How do you do it? Simple. The King sends you, his son The Prince, to the planet Earth with a slew of little balls called katamaris. You are to roll them around, pick up as much junk as you can in a set time limit, then bring the katamari to The King. The King then takes your katamari and sends it into the sky as a star, and in the levels in which you must find certain items, he releases the katamari into the sky as a constellation. Your goal is to restore the sky to its former glory.

The game starts out relatively small and simple. You are put into small levels with small katamaris and small size quotas. To reach your relative size quotas, you must roll your katamari around a three dimensional environment that takes place from the third person perspective. Through various rolling and turning techniques, you'll not only be able to pick things up from off the ground, but your katamari will grow in size as well. As the katamari grows larger, you will be able to pick up larger items, even fishing boats, skyscrapers, and monster trucks. The beauty of it all is that oftentimes your katamari's size starts out barely large enough to pick up a thumb tack, but eventually grow large enough to suck in humans, buildings, and satellite towers. It's pretty damned hilarious, and you absolutely have to see it for yourself at least once.

The problem here is that this is all the gameplay has to offer. Every level involves starting out with a tiny katamari, then gradually making it larger until you feel like you're in the setting of The Blob. Even worse is the fact that the levels are all timed. By the time you have your katamari large enough to be able to suck in nearly anything at will, the level is oftentimes over and you cannot enjoy the full beauty of the game.

If that weren't bad enough, Katamari Damacy tries to tell a secondary story between each level of the game. After completing a main level, you'll see a family speaking among themselves in the most idiotic of fashions, complete with some of the worst voice acting you'll ever hear. You'll also see a mother refuse to listen to a word her kids say, not to mention some rather poor graphics. This game's graphics are no where near the capabilities possible on the Playstation 2, and even though there are no obvious glitches in the game, the graphics --- or lack thereof --- are a bore to look at. The sprites are very badly done, and the animation is poor as well. The humans walk more like penguins, and some animals sprites don't even move at all; they simply glide along.

The music is nothing to shake a stick at, either. It's unique in that cats being slammed against walls not only counts as the game's vocals during the music, but the instrumentals as well. The sound effects when picking up items is equally annoying, and worst yet are what some of the people say when you pick them up. It ranges from horribly voiced complains to horribly voiced, undecipherable gibberish.

Still, Katamari Damacy is not only good for an occasional taste of random insanity, but very affordable as well. As this review is being written, the game is selling for all of $19.99 in most stores, and will likely sell for less in the upcoming months as used copies become available. The game isn't all that well-done, but it's a good bargain regardless. If you like random, stupid things, this game is worth a shot. Even if you don't like it, you haven't lost much in the way of funds, plus you may find yourself able to ignore the various annoyances within the game and wind up having a great time with it. Katamari Damacy's sole function is random insanity and to serve as a proof that near-perfect gameplay can trump everything else regardless of how bad it is. Gameplay isn't necessarily the end-all be-all quality of whether or not a game is good, but Katamari Damacy comes as close to proving this as any other game out there. One can argue that nearly every facet of the game outside of its gameplay is absolutely terrible, yet it manages to be a good game regardless. The music is quite bad despite a couple of decent tracks, and though the graphics help to enhance what the actual point of the game is, they're nothing special outside of the scenery and the environment it helps set up. Yet despite this, the game manages to be very fun to play. In the end, isn't that the entire point of a video game in the first place?

It's addictive beyond words despite its drawbacks; it's a shame that the game doesn't explore its full potential.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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