PS2 REVIEW: KATAMARI DAMACY

I would describe Katamari Damacy as a deliriously, delicious, surreal dream. It's a totally unique game, the likes of which have never been seen. It would have made a better arcade game give the rather short length of the gameplay but at twenty bucks, owing it isn't much of an issue.

So what the heck is this game all about? Before I get to that, let me also relate that the game is incredibly easy to learn and operate but it manages to present a very addicting challenge. It's the kind of game that can be enjoyed by anyone from technophobes that have trouble operating a microwave oven to game developers. I'm certain reviewers will admire the brilliant, simplistic concept. I do, mainly because I am simple. Did I just say that? Brilliant!

So you finally want to know what the game is all about? I'm not quite ready to disclose that yet. Allow me to build it up a bit more since you probably won't be knocked out when I finally explain it - if I ever do get around to it. You really have to experience it first hand - because I'm a terrible writer and not very descriptive. Did I just say that? My office must be possessed by the late, great, J.D. Salinger. What? He's not dead yet? Who would know?

Katamari Damacy is a strange name for a strange game which is made all the stranger by incongruent cutscenes, zany characters and a storyline that makes us wonder what exactly the developer was smoking when he came up with this one. The bizarre sense of humor will appeal to virtually everyone regardless of whether they like the insanity comedy of Monty Python or the inane fodder of any current sitcom. This game exudes personality and quirkiness like there's no tomorrow - which brings me to the premise.

All the stars in the sky have been destroyed. There will be no tomorrow unless they're all replaced. It seems that the King of all Cosmo has been on a bender of epic proportions and has smashed all the stars in the sky during the festivities. He sends down his son to collect items from our planet so that they can be used to rebuild the stars. There is only one way to collect such things and that is with the Katamari. It's a sticky force that makes objects stick to it. Like a snowball rolling downhill, the Katamari grows bigger and bigger as it collects items. You start out collecting tiny things like cookies and spiders and eventually you'll be snagging Ferris wheels and entire islands to appease your careless, drunken, pop.

It couldn't be simpler to operate the controls. All you have to do is move the Katamari ball around with the analog stick like Pac-Man. The bigger it gets, the larger the items that it can pick up. At times you'll pick up items by making contact with them on the side which will throw the balance of the ball off making it wobbly and more difficult to control. It's a realistic principal of physics that gives the game a touch of realism. You have a time limit to beat, and many sharp turns to make, so you want as much control of the ball as possible. To that end you'll want to collect most items in the center.

Collectible items include cars, spiders, food, heavy machinery, animals, dinosaurs, buildings, circus apparatuses and of course human beings - just to name a few. They all make interesting sounds as they become a permanent part of the collection.

There are different levels but the objective remains the same. The environment grows in proportion to your collecting. You might begin in a bedroom but soon you'll be rumbling through the center of town like Godzilla.

The graphics get better as the game progresses. There's always more stuff to collect, and while there may be a lack of detail there's no shortage of items to roll over.

The tunes are pure arcade gold. They're quirky, bubbly and memorable. The soundtrack is responsible for driving that good-time feeling home. It's impossible to play Katamari Damacy for any length of time and be in a bad mood. It's not a long lasting game but thankfully there is a two-player mode which extends the replay value.

Katamari Damacy should be recognized for its originality. Just when I think I've seen and played it all, along comes a sucker punch right to the old, fun basket. You absolutely have to play this game at least once in your life. Then you'll know what the hell I'm talking about - even though technically I'm not really talking. So does that mean you're not really listening? Hello…? Hello….? Anybody in there?

System: PS2
Dev: Namco
Pub: Namco
Released: Sept 2004
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.0
GRAPHICS
3.5
CONTROL
5.0
MUSIC/FX
4.5
VALUE
2.5