Review by beastiecube

Reviewed: 05/04/05

One of the most original games in recent memory

Katamari Damacy

Gameplay: 10/10

Visuals: 9/10

Sound: 10/10

Ingenuity: 10/10

Replay Value: 7/10

Everyone once in a while a game comes around that really catches you off guard with its wackiness and outright strange presentation. Today in our world Grand Theft Autos, Half Life 2s, and Virtua Fighters it’s sometimes easy to forget that quirky titles such as this one even exist. While game shelves are currently flooded with ultra-violent games, Katamari Damacy is truly a breath of fresh air.

The plot is very strange. Your drunken father (King of All Cosmos) destroyed all the stars in the sky, and naturally it's your job to fix it! A Katamari (a strange ball that everything sticks to) is presented to the Prince, and he must collect objects on Earth with it to make new stars. At first you can only collect small objects (push pins, erasers, etc) but as it grows you can pick up huge objects like sperm whales, stadiums, even the clouds from the sky. Think of it like rolling a snowball down a hill. It starts tiny, but as it gathers more and more snow on it, it can pick up bigger things. The characters in this game are simply awesome. The King of All Cosmos is suave, cool, hip and generally a bad ass. He always refers to himself with the royal “we” and constantly talks smack about the Prince. If Samuel L. Jackson was a strange Japanese video game character, he would be the King of All Cosmos.

The control and gameplay is so simple that anyone can pick up a controller and start playing immediately without feeling lost. You move the Katamari by pushing both control sticks in the direction you want to go. If you move just the left stick, it changes the position of the Prince around the Katamari. That’s pretty much all you need to know in order to play the game. Everyone from my fifty year old mom to my four year old neighbor can play this game.

The objective of most levels is to get your Katamari to a certain size before the time runs out. The level design is nothing short of wonderful. There are literally thousands of different objects to pick up and as you grow the camera pans out seamlessly so you can always see everything around you. Since there are so many objects in each level, there are dozens of different paths and strategies you can take to finish the objective. Each level is worth several play throughs. As your Katamari gets larger you’ll begin to see more and more items and gain access to new areas of the level. In other levels the King will tell you to pick up only certain types of items so he can create certain stars. For example, he tells you to pick up as many crowns as you can so he can make the Corona Borealis constellation. The more crowns you pick up, the happier the King will be. If you don’t get enough, he’ll chew you out and you’ll lose the level.

Perhaps the first thing you’ll notice when you pop in the game for the first time (besides the insanely strange opening sequence featuring rainbows, giant mushrooms, and the King flying through space) is the unique visual style of the game. The world looks very bright and cartoony with blocky characters and buildings. But it’s not a bad PSOne blocky. It makes the levels look extremely lively and memorable with colorful pastels littering the environment. It really compliments the fun and simplistic nature of the gameplay while creating a unique world that the gamer can truly enjoy. The character designers were on the ball for this game. The Prince and the King of All Cosmos are very strange and stick in the players head (believe me, the King’s massive pants bulge will haunt your dreams for years to come).

The music in Katamari Damacy is honestly the greatest of any video game in recent times. Each track was created solely for the game and features relaxing lounge style vocals. It’s upbeat, fun, catchy, and extremely awesome. If anything sets the mood of this game it’s the music. Each track is far beyond the quality you would expect in a video game. Honestly, it could be commercially released and receive critical acclaim. It’s the best original video game music since Zelda. After playing the game extensively the songs never got old or annoying. In no time you’ll find yourself humming or even singing along to your favorite tracks. I personally ordered the soundtrack online because I liked it so much (Check out the “Que Sera Sera” song!).

What makes the game so refreshing is that no other game has ever done anything like this before. Games have been around for a very long time and it doesn’t look like they’ll be going anywhere anytime soon. In a day where most developers stick to the same old tried and true formula of games, it’s great to see a company trying something completely new. Other developers take notice: Gamers want a new experience! You can only eat steak so many times before you get tired of it. Don’t be afraid to try something new.

Replay value is pretty decent, but the main game is just too short! I loved every second of it but I wish that there were more levels. You can go through the game a single time in an afternoon if you really want to. However, each level is worth going through more than once and there are thousands and thousands of items to collect if you want to complete the Prince’s item collection. There are also Royal Presents from the King hidden in almost every level that you can collect and customize the Prince with. They range from a guitar he can wear on his back to a wrestling championship belt. You can also collect the Prince’s royal cousins hidden through out the game to unlock them in multiplayer. The two player mode is fun (you race to see who can build the largest Katamari), but it would be a lot better with more modes and online play.

At a $20 price tag, there is no reason at all to not add this gem to your PS2 collection. There are few flaws and it makes for an overall wonderful experience especially if you’re tired of doing the same old thing in every game. If you want something to hold you over for a few weeks until the next big release or are just seeking out a refreshing game then Katamari Damacy is definitely worth getting. The soundtrack is awesome, the graphics are great, and the gameplay is fun for the hardcore and non-gamers a like. Remember to keep your eyes peeled for the sequel “We Love Katamari" set for a PS2 release this year along with the portable Katamari Damacy DS.

Final Score (Not an Average): 93%

Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

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