Katamari Damacy Review (PS2)

 

A, bizarre, charming and unique game unlike any other

 

Like any entertainment medium, videogames can sometimes be considered more than just entertainment, but works of art.  Katamari Damacy is definitely among those.

Katamari Damacy is the main reason I bought a PS2. For me, this is the killer app for the system without a doubt. All you need to do is play it for five minutes to understand why this is a must-have title in your collection. The game isn’t for everyone, but if you’re open minded to the bizarre and imaginative, you won’t be disappointing with the offerings in this title.

Story

The ruler of the universe, The King of all Cosmos, has accidentally destroyed all the stars in the sky, and tasks his son to rebuild them out of things found on Earth…ah hell, just watch this video.

Graphics

Katamari Damacy has extremely primitive graphics, even for PS2 standards. Everything in the game is blocky with low polygon counts. However, the game makes up for this with cel shading and off-the-wall art direction where the characters are blocky on purpose. Every stage is populated with hundreds of items to roll up, so the low polygon count begins to make sense after you’ve rolled up a few hundred objects. Luckily, Katamari Damacy is able to maintain a rock steady framerate throughout the entire game. It might not be technologically pretty, but Katamari Damacy is one of the most artistic games out there that isn’t designed solely to be artistic.

Audio

The music in Katamari Damacy is unlike anything you’d expect.

copypasta from wikipedia:

“Its eclectic composition featured elements of traditional electronic video game music, as well as heavy jazz and samba influences. Most of the tracks were composed by Yu Miyake, and many feature vocals from popular J-pop singers and anime voice actors.”

Thankfully, Namco kept the entirely original oddball Japanese soundtrack completely intact for the US release where they could have easily replaced it with lifeless American dance, pop or rap music. Go Namco.

As I usually try to do, here is a sample of one of the songs from Katamary Damacy. Enjoy

Gameplay

Katamari Damacy revolves around rolling around a large highly adhesive ball called a Katamari. Any object that is smaller than the Katamari will stick to it, increasing its mass. The more objects stick to the Katamari, the larger it will grow, allowing you to pick up larger and larger objects in every stage. Don’t be surprised when at first you’ll be picking up thumbtacks and eventually you’ll pick up people, cars, buildings and beyond. Once your Katamari is sufficiently large enough, the King of all Cosmos will turn your hard work into a new star.It just doesn’t get any weirder than that.

The real charm of Katamari is the vast variety of objects you’ll be able to pick up. Some are  uniquely Japanese such as picking up Yen, Japanese candies, foods, household items and more, while other objects like random animals are just fun to pick up. The game even keeps a record of every object you’ve collected in the game, giving hardcore completionists reason to redo levels over and over to complete their index. Gotta roll ’em all?

Control

The controls of Katamari take a little getting used to at first. This is one of the few games out there that requires both analog sticks to be used at the same time that isn’t a first person shooter. Unlike any other game I can think of, the left analog stick alone doesn’t do much; you need to press both sticks to accomplish much of anything.

The basic concept is that each stick represents one hand of the prince as he rolls the Katamari; pressing both sticks forward is your best best to get it to move, while both sticks to the upper left or upper right will turn the Katamari in that direction. If you need to turn around, press both sticks in for the L3 and R3 buttons to do a 180 degree turn. Don’t worry if this sounds complicated; the game has a really wonderful tutorial stage that will teach you everything you need to know about the controls. Soon enough you’ll be rolling like a pro.

Frustration

As there is really no way to die, the only enemy you have is time itself. You’re clocked with a certian amount of time to complete your Katamari. If you don’t reach the size goal in time, you lose, and have to restart. This will happen to new players a lot, but once you get some experience in, this will rarely be an issue.

Availability and Price

Katamari Damacy was successful worldwide, but is somewhat difficult to find nowadays. If you spot it, you can usually pick it up for around $15 or so. It is only for the Playstation 2 and backwards compatible Playstation 3’s.

Audience

The people who will find the most enjoyment out of Katamari Damacy are those who love all things Japanese and quirky. On the other hand, Katamari Damacy is simple enough to be played by just about anyone. There’s also nothing objectionable in the game and no violence at all, making it suitable for young children as well as adults.

History

Katamari Damacy originally was a creative arts project created by Keita Takahashi, a student attending the game design school Namco Digital Hollywood Game Laboratory, similar to Nintendo’s Project DigiPen.

Seeing promise in the project, Namco gave the green light for Takahashi and an incredibly sparse team of only nine others to start work on a commercial version. Incidentally, Katamari Damacy was developed for around 85 million yen, or less than just $1 million US., several fold less than the cost of the average current videogame development.

Interestingly enough, Katamari Damacy was not originally intended to be the first game starring the Prince of all Cosmos. Keita Takahashi had also developed a racing game in which the Prince would control a boy in a go-cart that would have the ability to run over large objects and collect them to form new ones.

Although they liked the concept, Namco ultimately decided to cancel the project on accounts that it would be too similar to Katamari Damacy.

Overall
Good

-One of the most unique videogames in existance.

-Fast paced gameplay

-Exceptional Original Soundtrack (OST)

-Extremely amusing bizarre cutscenes

-Very high replay value

Bad

-Might be a little too Japanese for some

-Time based missions aren’t very newbie friendly as there is no adjustment for difficulty

-Not a technical visual masterpiece; it’s an artistic masterpiece

Conclusion

There’s a reason why after only playing this game once I had to go out and buy an entire system just to play it. This is one of the best games on the PS2 bar none. You owe it to yourself to play Katamari and fall in love with everything it has to offer. Highly recommended.

Data

Platform: PlayStation 2

Genre: Action Puzzle

Release Date: September 22, 2004

Developer: Namco

Publisher: Namco

Also from the developer: Noby Noby Boy, Soul Calibur 2, Pac-Man, etc

ERSB Rating: E

Buy or skip: Buy

Bonus Content

Katamari is fun to play, but can you imagine what the people in Katamari think about the Prince? Probably something like this. Art by Barry J. Kelly.

Enjoy the game while you can. When the stars suddenly grow dim, it’s only a matter of time until the Katamari is coming for you and everyone you know.

Advertisements

2 Responses to “Katamari Damacy Review (PS2)”

  1. Awesome review. Pity it never came out in Europe. Is the new ps3 one any good? Worth picking up?

  2. Thanks! most appreciate.
    My blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: