Katamari Damacy

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US box art.

Katamari Damacy is a maze traversal game developed and published by Namco on 2004-03-18 for the PlayStation 2. In 2012, it was ported to the PlayStation 3, and, in 2018, it was remastered as Katamri Damacy: Reroll for several more platforms. In the game, you play as the two-centimeter-tall Prince of the Cosmos. The King of the Cosmos inadvertently destroyed the stars and the moon one day, and has tasked you with recreating them. You do this by rolling around a ball called a katamari which has strange properties. Any object smaller than the katamari will stick to it, making the katamari bigger, which allows even bigger things to stick to it. You begin with a tiny katamari which can only pick up thumb tacks and paperclips, but, as it grows, you're able to pick up larger things like shoes, dogs, people, cars, trees, buildings, and, eventually the very ground itself.

Personal

I remember seeing fan art of the Prince and a katamari showing up on a graphic designer's blog that I frequented not too long after the game was released in the USA, but not really knowing what it was. Awhile later, I remember watching my friend play, I believe, We Love Katamari, and thinking it was interesting. Years later, I found the game's soundtrack and enjoyed the "Katamari on the Rocks ~ Main Theme." I had meant to play the game for awhile, but, lacking a PS2 or a computer that could emulate it, I never did. When I saw the remastered "Reroll" version for sale on Steam, I bought it and played it intermittently over the next couple days. I beat it on 2021-01-31 earning all the achievements except for two and have unlocked all the eternal levels.

Status

I own the Reroll version on Steam and have beaten it.

Review

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6 4 7 7 5

Best Version: Windows

— This section contains spoilers! —

Good

  • The art style is interesting. The boxy characters were no doubt necessary limitations, but they look wonderful, and the design choice for what to include was really clever. Giant squids, martial artists rolling in circles, Kiki, and so many others. The bizarre cut-scenes, strange looking people of the Cosmos with their quirky fashion sense, it's all just something fresh and interesting.
  • The change in scale is wonderful. It's just very captivating to go from picking up thumbtacks to skyscrapers.
  • The music, although spanning a dozen genres, still sounds cohesive for a game this strange, and I'm so thankful they didn't use yet another boring orchestral score.
  • The huge variety of items to collect is really impressive. Most of them aren't animated, but it didn't bother me.
  • The ending, where you roll up the countries of the Earth, is a fun treat.
  • Although people criticize the game for being too short and too repetitive, I found it to be a nice length. It ended before I got bored, and, considering it initially sold with a discounted price tag, it seems worth the cost.
  • I like how the Price is always displayed in the lower right corner of the screen showing what he's doing when he becomes too small to see. I especially like that he puts on a snorkeling mask when he goes underwater.

Bad

  • I like that the designers tried for a little variety by having stages where you're trying to avoid certain things and estimate your katamari's size, but ultimately, I found these stages far less enjoyable. It's extremely difficult to avoid the myriad objects that end your run in the Taurus and Ursa Major stages, many of which you can't even tell at first glance they will end the level, and it's especially frustrating when a car knocks you into one. The Polaris level which requires you to estimate the right size isn't as annoying, but you really just need to do the same thing again and again until you get good at estimating, which isn't that exciting.
  • I would have liked just a bit more variation in the maps. Although the items you roll over change each time, the game only really has three maps that just get recycled over and over again.
  • As you get further into the game, the levels get particularly long, reaching 20 minutes. If the player does poorly, they will have wasted the entire 20 minutes with nothing to show for it but stardust. If the game instituted a check point system, requiring the player to meet certain milestones in order to continue, players who are struggling wouldn't have to wait the full 20 minutes to know they have no chance of success.
  • Rather than have the tutorial rapidly gloss over all possible controls in a few seconds, which guarantees you're going to forget them, the game should teach you a new moves after each stage so you can learn in steps.
  • I love how dismissive the King of the Cosmos is, but the game recycles the same jokes too frequently.
  • I wish there were a single stage where you started at the smallest size and went to the largest size.
  • In the Steam release, achievements are gained, not for doing anything special in the game, but merely for finishing each stage. This hardly feels like an achievement.

Ugly

  • Nothing.

Media

Box Art

All regions used this same art with only minor changes to the layout. It shows a giant katamari ball being rolled in the distance while cows peacefully graze in a pasture. Since this game is pretty unique, it doesn't entirely illuminate what the game will be about, but it certainly gets across the point that this game is going to be unusual.

Documentation

Videos

Longplay - PS2.

Titles

Language Native Transliteration Translation
Chinese (Simplified) 块魂 Kuài Hún Clump Spirit
English Katamari Damacy
Japanese 塊魂 Katamari Tamashi Clump Spirit

Links

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