Developed by Now Production
Published by Namco
Played on: PS3
Also available on: PS2 and IOS
When the King of All Cosmos goes on a drunken joyride through the solar system, he manages to destroy all of the stars, constellations, and even the moon. With the people of Earth wondering what happened to their beloved stars, the King of All Cosmos sends the young prince, standing at 1 centimeter tall, to recreate the stars by amassing junk, using an incredibly adhesive ball known as a Katamari. Having to create 10 centimeter to 300 meter balls of stuff, our 1 centimeter hero has a lot of work to do.
Katamari Damacy is a third-person puzzler in which the goal is to roll around your katamari and pick up progressively bigger objects until you reach the desired diameter that the King of All Cosmos has requested for the next star. The player starts out small with a 1 centimeter katamari, and can only pick up tiny bits of food and trash. But as time goes on, the player’s katamari will slowly get bigger, being able to pick up small animals, clothing, plants and many other common household items. Eventually the katamari will grow so big that you’ll be able to pick up entire buildings. But this isn’t as easy as it may sound. Each of the nine levels has a different time limit and starting size for the katamari. The player has to prioritize growth by picking up certain objects that will allow them to grow the katamari to the desired size requested by the King of All Cosmos, which is measured in the diameter of the katamari.
As the player’s katamari slowly gets bigger, they will be able to access new parts of the map. This once again plays into the strategy of growing the katamari, as continuing to pick up items in the current area may have advantages over accessing the new part of the map. Speaking of which, the maps in Katamari Damacy have an ingenious design, taking advantage of all of the game’s mechanics. The areas are very vibrant and active, with large open spaces that allow the player to roll their katamari no matter the size. Whether it be someone’s house or a street market, the environments offered in the game keep up with the game’s overall laid back and fun tone. But even with the cheery attitude of the stages, they have many dangers. Your katamari will be under constant threat from ravenous mice, mean dogs, and careless drivers. This adds even more to the overall strategy, as avoiding these threats means that the player will have to take more time to complete the needed diameter size. But taking the risk and heading to the area with those threats can allow the player to find the much needed items to grow their katamari to the king’s liking.
My only problem with the levels is how they constantly repeat. The player will start somewhere small, like someone’s kitchen. Then the next level will the the whole house, followed by the street, then the neighborhood, then the town, then the neighboring town. Once you get to the later levels, all the stages re-link and you just roll through everything you gobbled up in the last stage. This is a minor issue, but I would have liked to see the developers flex more of their creative muscle and create even more diverse environments to roll through.
In addition to remaking the stars, the player can also take on the challenge of remaking certain constellations. This requires the player to pick up certain objects in various levels, such as having to pick up a bear to remake Ursa Major, or picking up as many crabs as they can in five minutes to make Cancer. I didn’t find these to be nearly as fun as the main levels because they didn’t allow for as much freedom. But I did like how they created new environments for most of the constellation levels, with each one fitting the desired object needed to create the constellation, such as being at a beach house to make Cancer or being in the forest to make Ursa Major. Unlike the star missions these are not mandatory to complete the game. They slowly unlock as you progress through the regular story mode.
Graphically the game looks great, even with it’s PS2 era visuals. The burst of color and excitement the game provides really shows off it’s visual beauty. And adding to the upbeat atmosphere is the catchy soundtrack, with tracks made specially for the game, this J-pop soundtrack never fails to get you tapping along as you play. Much of the experience of Katamari Damacy comes from it’s relaxed and humorous atmosphere, which the developers have gotten right. I point this out because most games that try to be all happy with no conflict tend to be boring. But Katamari Damacy bucks the trend and is able to stay entertaining while also being lighthearted.
In conclusion, Katamari Damacy was an enjoyable experience. Even though the game only took me about 4 hours to beat, which means creating all the stars and most of the constellations, I had fun with it the entire time. The game’s seemingly simple design and gameplay proved to be very engaging, and managed to never frustrate me no matter how many times the clock ran out and my katamari was still feeble and small. With varied stages, a great soundtrack, and a colorful artstyle, Katamari Damacy is not only proof that games without conflict and simple mechanics can still prove to be supremely enjoyable, but that this game is timeless.
I am giving Katamari Damacy a 9 out of 10
Simple yet fun gameplay
Colorful and vibrant levels
The levels are strung together and repeat at the end
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