Your father, the King of All Cosmos, accidentally destroyed all the stars in the sky and now it is your duty as the prince to fix what he messed up by putting them back. Armed with your katamari you have to roll around the planet Earth picking up everything in your path to create a big clump of stuff that your father will use to restore the stars in the sky.Yes, Katamari Damacy’s story is messed up just like the stars in the sky, but someone has to restore them and who better than you. If you enjoyed games that make you roll around balls like Marble Madness, Super Monkey Ball, and Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg then Katamari Damacy is the game for you. And, even if you have never played any of those games then you should still pick up (no pun intended) Katamari Damacy, because it is a game that combines simple controls, addictive game play, and a weird and quirky theme that just works. When have you ever played a game that lets you roll around picking up ants, dice, candy, apples, tires, fish, people, cows, trees, cars, trucks, buildings, boats, skyscrapers, a Godzilla look-a-like, baseball stadiums, and a whole lot more to create a big ball of stuff that sucks up everything in it’s path? I am guessing never and I think I am right.
Collecting all these things with your katamari is easy, since Katamari Damacy’s controls are simple and intuitive. The game only uses the two analog sticks and pressing them both in the same direction moves you in that direction or if you push them in opposite directions you turn left or right. This control scheme is similar to Virtual-On if you have ever played it in the arcade or on the PlayStation 2. Then, by pressing the left and right analog sticks down at the same time you can have your pint-sized prince jump over the katamari to do a quick 180 degree turn. You never touch the X, O, triangle, and square buttons except to move the dialog boxes along or to select menu options. All of the in-game control is done with the two analog sticks and this makes the game great for beginner and experienced gamers a like.
Katamari Damacy’s graphics are simple like the controls but fit the game perfectly and I don’t think they could have chosen a better graphic style to go along with the theme of the game. You start off picking up small items like thumbtacks, candy, and socks and then move up to bigger things like chickens, cars, and buildings all while moving around in the same world. The progression from smaller items to bigger ones is smooth and as you start picking up bigger items the camera zooms out, so that your katamari is always around the same size on the screen. It is a neat effect and also gives you a sense of size as your clump of stuff grows. Knowing that there is fruit, beach balls, and other small items in the center of the big ball of stuff that now contains skyscrapers, baseball stadiums, cargo ships, and more is pretty cool. The graphic detail and frame rate stays consistent throughout this transition from small katamari to huge world destroying ball of Earth’s objects and the transition is seamless. The idea behind the game is kind of messed up, since you wrap people, cows, and everything else into a package that is sent into space to become a star or constellation but it is a whole lot of fun.
The music also fits the game perfectly and adds to the quirkiness of the whole package. You can definitely tell that this game has Japanese influences and it is a breath of fresh air compared to the standard hip-hop or rock music I have been hearing in a lot of games lately. The music is relaxing and works perfectly to put you in a surreal world while you destroy everything in your path. The music just feels right and I wouldn’t be surprised if you aren’t humming it to yourself when you are not playing the game.
The sound effects also fit well with the weird theme of the game and there are some amusing noises certain objects in the game make. Pick up a bell and it dings, a cow and it moos, pick up different humans and they scream things, boats blow their horns, and skyscrapers have people screaming and mobile phones ring. All of these sounds fit perfectly with the game and are funny to hear as you mow a path of destruction.
Katamari Damacy also features a multiplayer mode where you and a friend can compete to try to make the biggest clump of stuff in a three minute period. You can also pick each other up and the person that gets picked up has to move their analog stick back and forth to try and get away. This multiplayer mode is also fun but probably won’t hold your interest as long as the single player game.
Speaking of the single-player mode, it isn’t that long but it is fun while it last. You can replay the game again and again until you collect all the items in your collection and retrieve all the hidden presents in the game that your tiny prince can wear while you play. The game might not take you forty plus hours to beat but you should enjoy it the whole time you play the game. I would say it took me about ten hours to beat, but I did not collect everything in my collection nor did I get all the special hidden presents in the levels.
Katamari Damacy definitely has Japanese influences and it was refreshing to play. I am happy that Namco had the courage to bring the game out over here in the United States, since a lot of these games never make it Stateside. Katamari Damacy is only $19.99 and I definitely recommend buying it or at least renting it to experience a game that is creative, different, and not another one of the “me too” games that a lot of companies have been putting out lately. And if you like it tell all your friends to buy it also, so we can show Namco and the other video game companies out there that we want more original and creative games instead of more Grand Theft Auto copies.
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