Thank You Namco (Katamari Damacy)

On a hunch I decided to pick up Katamari Damacy. I knew it would be a wacky Japanese game, but I figured I was up to the task since I am fan of other obscure goodness: Tale of the Sun, Aquanauts Holiday, and Motor Toon GrandPrix. Yes, add Katamari Damacy to the list.

What the hell am I talking about? Namco just published Katamari Damacy for the PS2 – only $19.99 for extreme goodness, lots of fun, and plenty of replay value.

The premise of the game is simple. You roll around your katamari and try to grow it to a specified size (within an allotted amount of time) by collecting all manner of objects. And when I say all manner, I really mean all manner starting off with fairly small mundane items such as candy, tacks, matchsticks, lipstick, crackers, and so on. Eventually as your katamari gets bigger, you can pick up bigger object. I have not made it far enough along yet, but you can pick up all manner of living things including people.

Sound crazy? Well it is, but it is unbelievably addictive and fun. The backdrop story is stupid – I will not go there. Your goal is to grow your katamari to a certain size within a specific amount of time. Simple? Yes and no, but it is a flashback to the glory days of gaming against the clock.

Making things more interesting is the simplistic controls, which are so freaking ingenious that the developers should be granted awards for innovation in simplicity. What is so great about the controls you ask? You just use the analog sticks to move around and about each level. No buttons to press, no rapid sequences to tap, no nothing except for wonderfully fun controls. OK, not entirely true. You have to use one shoulder button to look around and change your view, another to jump, and you have to press down on both sticks to rapidly turn. Still, that is it. Straight and to the point.

Everything about Katamari Damacy is simple, but deep and complex at the same time. The graphics are extremely stylistic, the much is catchy and perfect for the game, and the interface is perfect for the game (and silly little backdrop story). On the surface the gameplay is simple, but at the same time is very deep. You actually have to plan how you build your katamari; as your katamari gets bigger you can open up areas that you could not previously enter and you pickup items that you could not previous collect. You also have to avoid certain obstacles for fear the items coming off your katamari (thus making it smaller). It is all good clean wholesome family fun, and I am not coming anywhere near doing Katamari Damacy justice. You just have to give it a chance to see what I am talking about.

I will certainly write more later because I have a feeling that I am going to be playing the living crap out of this one. At this point I can say without reservation that Katamari Damacy is a sure fire purchase and an instant classic. If you want something a little different, if you like old school gaming, or if you want an easy pick up and play game, start rolling your katamari now.

Thank you Namco. Thank you!

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