Pros: One of the most original and entertaining titles to date.
Cons: The game can be completed in under five hours.
The brains at Namco have cranked out something truly unique in the video
game world. Katamari Damacy is kind of a hard game to explain because on
paper it just make that much sense. However, once you have the
controller in hand and you're playing the game you'll get hooked to it
fast. The star of Katamari Damacy is the Prince of All Cosmos. His
father known as the King of All Cosmos knocked all of the stars out of
the sky and is too lazy to make new ones. Instead he drafts his tiny son
to make new stars. Making stars isn't an easy task. The miniature prince
has to roll a sticky ball around to gather objects from the junk planet,
also known as Earth.
Collecting stuff is as simple as rolling the two
analog sticks. Tilting the left and right sticks straight up rolls your
ball forward, tilting the both of the sticks backwards moves the ball
back. You can turn the around ball by sliding the sticks back and forth.
The prince can also do a quick turn by pressing the L3 and R3 buttons.
You can also do a dash attack to cover long distances by rapidly moving
the analog sticks back and forth. Even though the control scheme is
intuitive, the controls do take a little while to get used to. When the
katamari (the clump ball) touches objects around its size it picks them
up. A little katamari can only pick up small things like pushpins, dice,
pieces of candy and ants. As you continue to pick up small objects the
katamari grows and the scale of the world changes. A larger katamari can
pick up larger objects that a smaller katamari would just ignore like
TVs, chairs, penguins, cows and even people. Eventually you'll be able
to make a katamari large enough to snag buildings, oil tankers, "Gigantorman"
and even entire islands.
The goal of many of the stages is to make the largest katamari
possible in the given time limit. Earlier stages demand that you make a
katamari about 20 centimeters, but eventually you'll have to roll a
katamari as large as 300 meters. Even if you complete the required size
within the time limit you're allowed to make your katamari grow even
larger, until the time runs out and you need to return back to deep
space. Other levels have you rebuild consolations like Gemini, Virgo and
Cancer. These have you collect specific items instead of just making a
large katamari. The Gemini level has you collect twins (pairs of items),
the Virgo level asks you to stick as many women as you can and the
Cancer level asks you to snag crabs. These other levels are a nice
change of pace and can be a challenge for players to find all of the
Even though it's awesome to watch your once tiny katamari grow to
pick up drawbridges and giant squids, there are only a few levels to
play. A player can easily complete all of the levels in four or five
hours. Namco does offer some challenges for players to replay the game.
For example all of the levels can be replayed so you can try and make a
larger katamari or try to collect more hidden items for the
constellations. You can even collect different types of items to make
different kinds of stars, which has a little more variation. Another
challenge is for players to find all of the hidden royal presents that
the King just forgot to bring back to give to the Prince. These royal
presents can be equipped to change the way the Prince looks. You can
equip him with a sumo wrestler belt, a crown or an electric guitar. One
last challenge that Namco has for players is for them to collect all of
the thousand plus objects found in the game. You can play through the
game a couple of times and still not find rare items like the queen ant
or the Siamese cat. These challenges help deafen the blow of the low
number of levels featured in the game.
Another problem that some gamers may have with Katamari Damacy are
the in game graphics. All of the stuff in the game is blocky. You have
people who look like they belong in the first Virtua Fighter game,
squarish cows and flattened out crocodiles. However, it's meant to be
that way. Like it or not, that's the graphical style of the game. The
game's main graphical feat is managing to change your perception of the
world as the ball grows. When you're rolling around a small katamari
dogs look like giants. As the ball of junk grows the dogs that were once
big, look tiny and easily attach to your katamari. In later levels where
your katamari grows hundreds of meters high the scope accurately changes
to represent that.
Complementing Katamari Damacy's excellent gameplay is an equally awesome
soundtrack. The wide array of music featured in the game should please
everyone. Some of the songs sound like Las Vegas lounge songs, while
others sound like jazzy beats. Also in the soundtrack are a number of
songs in Japanese, which isn't too common in American releases. The
original score is definitely different from games of this genre, even
games in general, but its amazingly well done.
Katamari Damacy is something that all gamers should give a try. It is
a huge surprise that Namco has decided to release this bizarre but fun
game in North America. It's definitely a nice treat and at an attractive
$20 price point it's worth the money.
The Japanese game can be played without understanding much Japanese,
but you'll miss out on the game's excellent sense of humor.
Namco has decided to release Katamari Damacy in the US at a price
much cheaper than the Japanese release.
It may sound weird, but Katamari Damacy is one of the most fun to play
games this year.