Oh man, this game. What a gem, and I’ve only recently gotten around to playing it.
For the uninitiated, Katamari Damacy is a game for the PlayStation 2. Came out in 2004, out of no other than Japan. As you’d expect, it’s absolutely bonkers. To say the game’s crazy would be an understatement. You play as the Prince, son of the King of All Cosmos. As the Prince, you roll around a sticky ball, picking up objects smaller than you to grow bigger in size, eventually “building” a star. Why? The King, while under influence, destroyed all the stars in the sky, and now he wants you to clean up his mess. Kind of a douche move, but at least he leaves presents for you scattered on Earth!
So you got to make stars by rolling things up with a “Katamari”. Sounds easy, right? Well, it isn’t. At least not at first. The control scheme is a bit odd in that it uses both analog sticks for movement, instead of the traditional “left is moving, right is looking”. Though a bit counter intuitive, it’ll quickly grow on you as the quirkiness of it seems like it blends into the game.
You follow a more or less linear path through “levels” which are essentially a bunch of challenges. For example, “make a 2m large Katamari in 6 minutes” or “collect lots of crabs to make the cancer star sign”. The same couple of stages are re-used throughout the challenges, but that’s no big deal. You start at different sizes and in different areas, and each challenge fills the stage with different objects, so re-using stages is something they can easily get away with. Not that you notice, because you’re just having so much fun rolling up things and becoming super big and it all just feels so satisfying!
Because of the PlayStation’s graphical limitations, they had to resort to low-poly models for all the objects you can roll up (which is practically everything). (And remember, objects actually get stuck on your ball, they don’t merge!) This results in a quite charming style, slightly reminiscent of the older 3D games. I find it really fun to take a good look at the models they used under Collection. Yes, the game keeps track of what you’ve rolled up! There’s hundreds, if not thousands of different objects for you to discover, ranging from food, to animals, toys, humans, buildings, and mountains! And guess what, every item has a short little text written for it. That’s a lot of words!
Don’t even get me started on the soundtrack. It’s just that good. When you boot up the game, on the loading screens this is what plays. It’s not the best indicator as to the style of the soundtrack, but it comes pretty close. In-game tunes are peppy, unique and fun, with that way too catchy “na-na-na” always in there somewhere. Brilliantly made, it fits perfectly into an inherently silly game.
A silly game indeed. If you haven’t been able to deduce so yet, Katamari Damacy is a pretty hilarious piece of work. The game is in on its own joke, and plays around with that a lot. Very little things make sense (there were cats with crowns sitting on top of each other, crabs wielding scissors and some guy doing a human flag, spinning) and there’s always something surprising to roll up right around the corner. The world feels very dynamic, even though it’s you changing in size. There’s always plenty to roll up strewn about everywhere and before you know it you’ll be chasing children with your balls out.
Katamary Damacy is great. Also check out the Game Grumps run of it, it’s hilarious. Or just search for normal gameplay footage if you want something more vanilla. I rate this game 9/10 “would buy”. Shame it’s too old for that.