|By Zach Patterson||Friday, 8 Oct 2004|
Katamari Damacy is one game you would never believe would make it to America. It’s bizarre premise, action puzzle game play, and overall wacky story usually equals an exclusive Japanese release. However, it made it over here, music and wackiness intact, and for the price of a budget game no less.
The game’s idea is simple: roll over everything in the world to make your Katamari ball bigger. You usually start out very tiny and are asked by the King of All Cosmos to make your ball a certain size or collect certain items. The puzzle part of it comes from determining what is equally your size that you can pick up without running into an object too big and losing precious diameter to your clump of clutter. You must also try to keep the bal as round as possible, or it becomes very difficult to move and go over terrain. As you pick up small things, you can soon pick up bigger things like legos and mice. Soon you can collect dogs and cats, then fences and people, then eventually buildings, monsters, and entire cities.
Sound crazy? It is. The game has a bit of a world domination idea that just really appeals to your dark side. Running over school children and listening to them scream as their legs flail in the Katamari is hilarious. The entire game is such a guilty pleasure that it makes you appreciate all the little details the developer put into it. Every item is labeled and inventoried, every item has a unique sound when picked up, and everything in the environment reacts to you in some way. For example, mice will initially attack you and send you flying, but as you grow, they will run for their lives as you roll them up.
Another great thing is the King. He is the center of the story, and you are his prince. He is so wacky and bizarre that you can’t help but love him. The story revolves around him getting drunk and knocking all the stars out of the sky, for which the prince must roll balls of clutter to restore as stars. Very odd, but it works. In between the King’s talks are a small family on Earth who keeps seeing the stars return (I feel it! I feel the Cosmos!) which have an odd square like appearance, looking more like lego people than anything else.
You use the two analog sticks exclusively to move your Katamari, with a few minor exceptions like jumping and first person view. The result is a great controlling clump that is, as pointed out by many, comparable to a nimble, mobile tank.
The graphics aren’t going to impress much in the beginning, but it is the scale of this game that is so amazing. The world is interconnected so that the place you start in the game eventually is rolled up into the Katamari entirely. As you get bigger and bigger, you will realize, wow, I just rolled up the island I started on when I was only 1cm. The game’s grand scale, colorful graphics, and definite art style make it a great looking game.
I can’t end this review either without talking about the music. The music is some of the best seen on the Playstation 2. It now ranks with Rez and Vib Ribbon and Samba De Amigo as one of my favorite musical games of the last few years. It has a basic chorus that you hear in many different ways throughout the game. Sometimes it involves just a single voice, or sometimes it is an action packed pop song like something out of Vib Ribbon.
Overall, this game is just fantastic. It isn’t particularly long, but it is full of challenge and replay value. And once you beat it, you will want to go back and get better percentages on the levels and just to simply play it again. It isn’t perfect (the camera at times obscures your view, but nothing really bad) and the idea definitely need to expand further in the sequel (when and if it comes out). But for 20 dollars, you cannot buy a better game on the Playstation 2 right now.