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Katamari Damacy (PlayStation 2) artwork

Katamari Damacy (PlayStation 2) review

"Bright, colorful and fun to play all backed by a top tier soundtrack, it's an utter delight to experience."

[While the game has a multiplayer mode, I do not have anyone to test it with. I therefore am omitting any of the positive or negative impacts the multiplayer would have to ensure the review remains fair.]

When it comes to games that find their main gimmick in being weird or bizarre, I canít think of many titles that also back up their absurdity with enjoyable gameplay. Often these games sucker players into progressing by simply confusing them into wondering what oddity will be coming up next rather than be fun. Katamari Damacy happens to one of those titles that is both bizarre but is also greatly enjoyable, and a downright joy to experience. Whether itís the silly gameplay mechanics, the levels that are full of cheerful colour, or the soundtrack that varies in terms of genres and flavour.

Take a Katamari (the colorful ball rolled by the Prince, your player character) and roll up stuff. Grow bigger to roll up bigger stuff. Thatís the long and short of Katamari Damacyís gameplay and victory conditions. Itíll take a while to get used to the squirrelly controls used to roll the Katamari, as the ball can be prone to skidding and rolling out of control on angled surfaces. Items physically stick to the Katamari which can end up being more trouble than it's worth if an awkwardly shaped item is rolled up. For example, if a person is rolled up by their feet theyíll protrude from the Katamari and jab into the ground as it rolls, making the ball pole-vault. Rolling up multiple small items on one hemisphere of the ball and leaving the other clean will make climbing up steps awkward since the ball has to struggle to get traction. After mopping up an array of junk, it can get a bit frustrating to fight the Katamariís desire to go willy-nilly instead of straight, however the dual stick control scheme lends itself well to wrangling the ball under control, either through doing a one eighty to head in the opposite direction, doing a speed boost (that can be strangely challenging to pull off) to rocket away or just bringing the thing to a halt and getting your bearings. One of the more frustrating issues is rolling your Katamari into an awkward spot, such as jamming it under a bridge or bumping into a car going the opposite way, stopping the ball cold, making it crawl at a snail's pace in order to shuffle out of the way and to safety. Since these levels are timed it can lead to the grinding of teeth as your Katamari is kicked between people like a messy soccer ball, and to make it worse taking Ďdamageí from larger objects results in rolled up items being ejected from the Katamari, robbing you of precious diameters.

Despite there being a time limit, Iíve found myself completing many of the default levels with loads of time to spare, there then being an option of whether you want to continue causing Katamari mayhem or end the level right there and get your final results. To change things up there are two other level types; one that has you rolling up as many items of a certain group, and another that ends the moment an item of a certain group is rolled up, with the goal being rolling up the biggest version of that item. For the former itís simple enough, just rolling up as many of whatever the target item is in a remixed version of a previous level, but the latter I couldnít really care for, mostly because it subverts the wild rolling mantra for more careful, precise avoiding of smaller, unwanted items. Thankfully these levels are considered complete whether you do poorly or wonderfully, so they function as merely diversions from the main campaign The levels, remixed or otherwise, are chock full of tiny to huge things to roll up, like paper clips to sumo wrestlers to Ultra Man wannabes. Iíve often found myself stopping for a moment to scratch my head on what I was seeing, like a spider crab just hanging out with an assortment of rain boots on its feet or a student with hair so pointy he makes my Katamari pole-vault at the worst times. As mentioned before, there is so much colour and lively wackiness going on that it can be a bit much to take in all at once - Until your Katamari grows large enough to roll it up in one fell swoop. Later levels will have barricades that state when you can cross its threshold, which is incredibly useful for when your Katamari reaches larger sizes at a rapid rate.

To talk about Katamari Damacy without mentioning its music is almost criminal, as it contains an eclectic variety that you normally wouldnít find in most action games. The soundtrack doesnít stay in one place for long; one level will have an electronic rhythm while another will be a lovely pop-esque melody where a different track will be a jazzy up-tempo tune. Some tracks are recycled but itís forgivable due to the music being so enjoyable and likeable, giving a sense of pep and positivity with the ensuing chaos going on around you. The only bother with this is that items make a sound upon collection, so when you really get rolling (pun intended) all the sound effects begin to bleed into one another to make a messy cacophony that tends to muddle the music - Of course, itís always hilarious to roll over a class of students and listen to them echo each other's cries of alarm, so take the sound design how you will.

Katamari Damacy doesnít last very long if you blitz through the campaign like I did, however the replayability comes from going back to previous levels to go for a better time or better sized Katamari, or to just savour the mayhem multiple times over - There are also collectible gifts hidden in levels that unlock a trinket that the Prince can wear purely for cosmetic purposes. Thereís a strange satisfaction on acing level times once you have the controls skillfully managed. However once you roll up pretty much everything in a level thereís no real point to just idly rolling around other than have the sake of completion. To go from a tiny ball that can only pick up coins to a leviathan that can eat up islands is a silly but exhilarating feeling, and because of the silly but even greater silly enjoyment I got from the game I cannot recommend Katamari Damacy enough, even with the earlier mentioned control and hit detection issues. A serious game this ainít, but itís just the right kind of wacky for an action game.


Dinoracha's avatar
Community review by Dinoracha (March 27, 2016)

Dinoracha is a world-renowned internet famous Let's Player, voice actor, writer, reviewer, e-sports competitor, masterful stream host and man of the people. These may or may not all be gross exaggerations.

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