Review by The President

Reviewed: 03/07/05

Enjoyable, but with a few flaws.

Sometimes, a game that was never supposed to leave Japan somehow does. There are some games that are just so strange, so quirky, and so unmistakably Japanese, you wonder how anything like it could be acceptable to American audiences. Yet, here I see Katamari Damacy in my Playstation 2, and I enjoy playing it. I love the game’s style and quirkiness. Rolling up stuff has never been this much fun. Though there are a few fundamental flaws with the game, there is no reason for anyone not to enjoy it.

The story of Katamari Damacy (meaning clump soul/star, a fitting name for this game) is that the King of All Cosmos has been a little clumsy in taking care for the cosmos. In fact, he broke all the stars. Yes, every star, every constellation is gone from Earth’s night sky. But fear not! For the King has summoned his Little Prince to fix everything. Well, how does he do that? With his katamari, of course. The Prince must find his way around Earth, picking up everything he can find, to make new stars in the sky. The more he picks up, the brighter and bigger the stars are, and if he picks up them up fast enough, it becomes a shooting star.

The main selling point of Katamari Damacy is that there is no other game out like it on the market. The goal of most stages is to clump everything in the stage on to your katamari in a certain time limit. An example would be that you start out at 10 centimeters, and in ten minutes, you must make the ball at least one meter in diameter. Other stages tell you to collect as many of a certain object (like crabs, women or crowns) or just find the largest of a certain object and pick it up. Despite the simplistic nature of the game, it turns out to be really run looking for objects to run over and collect. But, the game then becomes a challenge because you are rolling a ball. It will not stop on a dime if you do not put in any force to stop it. If you end up tumbling down a hill, then you will not be able to stop your katamari until its momentum is gone.

You need to be big to collect the big things, and if you try to pick them up when you are small, the katamari will be bounced back. Just to make your collecting job difficult, a few other items that you just collected could be broken off. So you must choose when to collect certain objects at the right time, so to not waste any time in bumping off something you could collect if you just had another centimeter added to your katamari.

No buttons need to be pressed to play the game. In fact, all you use is the two analog sticks to control your katamari. If you move them up and down rapidly, then you can get a speed boost. If you press them in, the Prince jumps from one side of the katamari to the other. Just using the two sticks, the game really gives a feeling that you really are controlling a huge ball. And rolling this ball is fun to do.

Graphically, everything looks very strange and unique, just like everything else in the game. In the beginning of each level, you see small items, like candies or thumbtacks, and continuously, your view gets bigger and bigger, until your katamari can pick up whole skyscrapers and then you can see how large the world is. On a technical standpoint, it is a marvel (just having so many items that could be picked up, and still seen in the katamari minutes later) but most people would say the game is pretty ugly. Many of the colors in the game and dull and drab with every few objects standing out, but that fits with the style of the game. Everything was made so when it is picked up on the katamari, it forms and melds together. Many of the complex items, like pets, fishes, and people that can be picked up look more like movable Legos than what they were maid to represent. While this may have been an aesthetic sacrifice, it also gives the game a look and style that is all its own. All of the characters in this game are original and funny, but everyone is overshadowed by The King of All Cosmos. Sporting a sassy cape and tight blue and maroon spandex ensemble, the King is not afraid to show a little bling, with a gold belt, crown, and necklace. He is also very large, and talks in turntable scratches. He is what Katamari Damacy is all about.

No matter how stupid you think rolling around a ball is, it automatically becomes better when you add an amazing soundtrack. Katamari Damacy features an eclectic soundtrack, with J-Pop, Hip-Hop, Jazz, and even a Japanese children’s choir. Every song is the game fits with its style. When rolling up animals, you hear them scream, and some random objects make squeals for no real reason.

To beat all of the stages in the game, it usually takes about five or six hours, but that is just scratching the surface. There seems to be a thousand different items that you can collect and catalog. There is a collection system that tells you every item that you found, and where you found it, and a little bit about it. There is also a multiplayer mode, where you can play as the Prince or one of his look-alike cousins. While the environments in the duel may be a little boring, it is fun to see who can collect the most. The biggest problem with Katamari Damacy is that collecting things can get boring after a while, because of the lack of new environments (there is a small house, a city, and then the world.) If there were a few more places to see and more things to do there, this game would be one of the best PS2 titles.

If there were a few more games out with as much style as Katamari Damacy, people would stop complaining about the decaying of the industry.
However, the game is not perfect, and it shows. Hopefully, the sequel can be even better.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

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