Katamari Damacy

Katamari Damacy
Katamari Damacy Cover
Platform Katamari Damacy
Genre Crazy Ball-rolling Action
MtAMinutes to Action 5
Score 8  Clock score of 8Gameplay: 8
Fun Factor: 9
Gfx/Sound: 7
Story: 6
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Katamari Damacy is the quirky... ball rolling game released for the PlayStation 2 in 2004. In this highly original Namco game, the Prince is on a mission to restore the missing stars in the sky. To do this, he rolls up everyday household items into giant piles of junk (called Katamaris), and then his dad, the King of All Cosmos, creates stars out of them. You're probably thinking, "WTF?" and that would be entirely valid. This game doesn't hold back the weirdness at all. But sometimes I think gamers need games like this, too often we're thrust into much too serious worlds doing much too serious business.

I'm fascinated by games that are named with generally entirely original words. Though Katamari is a real word and Damacy is kind of a one-off, I applaud Namco for not changing it for the American release (and also for not changing the game's cover). Knowing the gaming industry, it probably would have been called something like Clumpy Souls. Anyways, let's get on with the review of just the first hour of Katamari Damacy.

Minute by Minute

(minutes are in bold)
00 - I roll my ball to an empty save slot and start a new game. To roll, I had to press both joysticks in the same direction. There's this really weird song playing with just a guy going "na na na na na na na dun dun dun dun dun". Well, it sounds better than that. A cutscene starts, there are some cows in a field. The Katamarai Damacy song starts playing. Some giant king floats to the sky as storks fly by. WTF. This is like some crazy flash animation from a few years ago. There are pandas dancing and tons of mushrooms.

01 - The king is driving some big white car under a rainbow to a castle. Ah, more loading. Now another title screen? I press Start. I'm behind the Prince with his ball. The king's head appears and starts talking to me. It's a good day for rolling. The king is the King of All Cosmos.

Katamari Damacy King Of All Cosmos Cows Rainbows

02 - Now I can move around in this practice space. All the controls are there, I can roll forward, back, left, right, sideways, and do a quick shift. That just sort of runs the prince around the katamari ball. I complete all the moves and king returns.

03 - A few more moves: charge 'n' roll, look, quick turn, and jump. Charge 'n' roll is cool, just flick both joysticks up and down a bunch and the prince will ram the ball forward. Jumping doesn't actually jump with the ball, the prince just flies in the air to get a look at things.

04 - Some cathedral music starts playing as we get a look at the starry sky. The king is flying around destroying all the stars! Woah, now the king is huge and staring down at the prince, he's packing below the waist by the way. The king demands that I fix all the stars.

Katamari Damacy King Of All Cosmos Full Pants

05 - The first level begins, the king talks some more, telling me that I need to create a 10 centimeter katamari. My ball is currently 5 cm around. I just roll and pick stuff up. The prince is also pretty small. Here I go!

07 - Just reached 7 cm! So I've been picking up thumbtacks, candy, ants, and a bunch of other little stuff. Everything adds a bit to my katamari. But if I run into something too big for me to grab, I lose something! How are things getting attached, by the way?

08 - Well, that was easy enough, once I got rolling I increased in size really fast. The king shoots a rainbow out of his mouth and sucks me up. Oh, forgot to mention before that I had a five minute time limit. Came under it pretty easily.

Katamari Damacy King Of All Cosmos Rainbow Suck

09 - The game shows an animation of various objects that the prince tries to roll up. Wow, you can pick up people! If you roll up a pencil you'll also be a really awkward shape and you won't roll very steadily.

10 - I collected 117 objects, mostly snacks. The king sends my katamari into the sky and it becomes a Jelly Star. Ah, I see what we're doing.

11 - Now I'm on my home planet, just a small little sphere I can walk around on and save and such. Kind of reminds me of the Little Prince. I press R1 to fly to Earth and start the next level: Make a Star 2.

12 - He wants 20 cm in six minutes.

Katamari Damacy Prince Home Planet

15 - Going pretty well so far, already at 16 cm and have 229 objects collected. I'm in the same level as last time, it's a Japanese house.

16 - Oh, I can head outside, there's some tomato plants and lots of mice running around. This is a big level!

17 - I reached 20 cm but the king let's me go on. My katamari is as bix as one axe (this wasn't me estimating that, the pause screen will actually tell you that). Once you get big things seem really easy! I've ballooned to 27 cm in just seconds, I also found a royal present.

20 - Time's up! I ended up at 35 centimeters! I went back inside and pretty much cleaned up everything. There were actually a few people in this level that I noticed once I got big enough, guess they didn't see the giant ball of rolling crap though!

Katamari Damacy Rolling Up Household Junk

21 - The thing I collected the most was stationary. 528 total objects! My junk becomes the Pencil Star.

22 - A cutscene of two kids watching Ultraman on TV, then a news report comes on saying the stars have vanished from the sky. "To be continued..." Back at my home planet, I save.

23 - Next level is called Make Cancer? Huh? Ah, I have to make cancer by rolling up crabs, like the constellation. There are a bunch of little crabs running around, you're mine! I'm also in the same level again as far as I can tell.

25 - After a few minutes I have 40 crabs and am 40 cm large. I actually started out at about 22 cm so the game is making me bigger and bigger as I progress. Even though it is the same level from before, it is filled with totally different stuff, and a lot of crabs.

Katamari Damacy Constellation

29 - Not bad! I finished the level (only had five minutes) with 82 crabs. I picking up some huge ones near the end as I was at 61 cm in size (is that the diameter of my ball?). 82 crabs is only 61%?! Wow. 223 total objects.

30 - He releases it into the sky and it becomes the cancer constellation. "Oh! I feel it! I feel the cosmos! Cancer came scuttling back! So yummy!" That was the little girl from the previous cutscene, kind of creepy. I save and it's time to start the next level, Make a Star 3.

32 - Eight minutes to go from 10 to 50 cm! Same level again...

33 - Okay, not entirely true, I started outside but I can leave this area and head out on the open road! Well, the driveway at least.

Katamari Damacy Rolling Up Ball Outside Little Girl

35 - Either I'm really good or this is really easy because I just hit 50 cm with like four minutes remaining.

36 - Haha, just picked up some grafitti.

38 - Just picked up a cat! The king goes "meow meow". I'm over 80 cm!

41 - Well that's that! Royal Rainbow! 91 centimeters, 594 objects, number one item was cooking objects. I think I picked up three cats and a dog. My katamari becomes the Bistro Star and Mince Comet.

Katamari Damacy Little Girl Cutscene

42 - Another kid cutscene, the mom doesn't believe that the stars disappeared, everyone gets into a cab, "to be continued..." What is going on? Now for Make a Star 4.

43 - Holy cow, in this one I start at 5 cm and have to reach a meter! In ten minutes... should have plenty of time, I think. I start in the house again.

46 - I don't know how they do it but it's really easy to grow fast this level, at just a few minutes in I'm almost 20 cm. I'm heading outside now.

50 - I just rolled around in a Japanese toilet, don't think I picked anything up though. I'm definitely growing at slower pace than usual, hope I can make it. Just reached 50 cm.

Katamari Damacy Rolling Up Humans

52 - Okay, now I'm growing really fast, at 87 cm, I think I almost picked up a little girl too!

53 - One meter! And with just over two minutes left on the clock.

54 - Yes! I have picked up my first human! The little girl of the household! Success!

56 - Wow, I ended up so big the camera pulled way back and I could see the entire house at once. I was also able to pick up the boy of the family, though the mom and dad ran away before I could get them. 1 meter, 28 centimeters, 9 millimeters. 678 objects!

Katamari Damacy Total Count Prince

57 - The katamari I made becomes the Bratty Star. Another cutscene, the family is at the airport, "the night sky is showing signs of recovery." The mom still doesn't believe the kids, listen up mom! "To be continued..."

58 - Enough time to start making the Cygnus constellation, I've never heard of this one personally.

59 - I have six minutes to collect swan eggs, the trick is that there are a bunch of bird eggs around, but only swans count.

60 - Cool, the birds hatch once they get attached, so there are a bunch of birds stuck to my katamari. I end the first hour of Katamari Damacy with 10 swans stuck to me. Fun stuff.

Time for some scores out of 10.

Katamari Damacy King Of All Cosmos Playing Guitar

First Hour Scores

Minutes to Action: 5

Gameplay: 8
It's simplistic and a bit repetitive, but I think that's the genius of Katamari Damacy. The game is entirely controlled using the two thumbsticks and while this has a slight learning curve, it begins to feel really natural as you progress. The game pretty much adopts the simplicity of Super Monkey Ball and tosses in a whole bunch of quirky humor and lots of rolling up random junk. It's pretty hilarious some of the stuff you pick up, and definitely rewarding to start grabbing thumbtacks and then five minutes later you're rolling up human beings. The game has a wonderful progression to it.

Fun Factor: 9
Man, it's fun rolling up stuff. Rolling up cats, frying pans, crabs, birds, even humans. There's something very carnal to it, and addicting. When your katamari becomes the king of the block and suddenly you're towering over everything, it's an amazing feeling. I also like how they had a bit of variation with the constellation creation levels. I wish they had a bit more variety though, but I think that would affect the overall game's score, not the first hour. Plenty of fun here.

Graphics and Sound: 7
Vibrant and colorful, Katamari Damacy displays a clever balance of realism and playfulness, never rolling too far either way. Okay, well maybe the cutscenes are a little insane. My basic complaint about the graphics are the lack of detailed textures and objects. I suppose this can be chalked up to the sheer variety of stuff onscreen and the platform it is running on, but there is a bit to be desired. The music on the other hand is outstanding. Namco did a great job gathering a diverse group of creative artists for the soundtrack.

Story: 6
Not really sure how to score this one... there is a story, but it's like a story from a flash animation. Just random bits thrown together. I guess the overall plot is recovering the stars, so there's something. The rest of the game is so weird the story properly follows suit, so I can't complain too much.

Overall: 8
Imaginative and original in every category, Katamari Damacy's first hour excels. This is one of the weirdest games I ever played and there's no denying, weird is really fun when pulled off right. I highly recommend trying it out, or one of its many sequels. I will definitely be playing the rest of this, I want to roll up more humans!

Katamari Damacy King Of All Cosmos

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