Katamari Damashiii

15 Jan

Secretly deep down inside, there’s a part of me that enjoys listening to the panicked moos of cows that have been rolled up with a Katamari.

I was at my friend Bianca’s birthday party, drunk on large quantities of coconut rum mixed with pineapple juice. Her brother turned on the Playstation 2. “I got a new game,” he said. “It’s some obscure thing from Japan. Looks interesting.” We all gathered around, and the next thing I saw convinced me the game developers at Namco were all on drugs.

The next day I ran out to the store and bought Katamari Damacy, spawning a love affair that’s lasted six years. Katamari is as fun to play as it is unique and weird; you play as the little prince, son of the King of all Cosmos. The King manages to wipe out the cosmos in a drunken binge, and the little prince is tasked with restoring the stars. The prince accomplishes this by rolling things up with his katamari (the ball with bumps on it), starting with small things like pencil erasers, and working up to whole cities and countries. It’s a simple formula rounded out by theme levels; for example, picking up as many swans as possible to make the constellation Cygnus.

Katamari Damacy was developed as a low budget game. It was met with moderate success in Japan, where it was released at about 2/3 the cost of the current Playstation 2 games. It was subsequently ported to the United States, where it was expected to have low sales due to its quirkiness and Japanese culture references. Katamari flew off the shelves in America, selling out nationwide within weeks. It’s since been followed up with sequels: We Love Katamari for the Playstation 2, Me and My Katamari for the PSP, Beautiful Katamari on the Xbox 360, and Katamari Forever for the Playstation 3.

I own a Playstation 3. Over the years I’ve played a lot of different titles on the system, picking up trophies here and there. None of these game trophies can even hope to touch the amount I’ve earned in Katamari Forever. Every katamari sequel is the same tried and true formula: quirky graphics and dialogue, theme levels, and a killer soundtrack (did I mention the game has an award winning soundtrack?). I just can’t stop playing them. I want to collect all of the prince’s adorable little cousins, unlock all the music, and roll up ALL the things. The games never change much, but I have a feeling a Katamari game could be released twenty years from now, and I’d still rush out the day it was released and buy it.

Na naaaaa na na na na na na, Katamari Damashiii!

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