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Katamari Damacy
  opened by paleface at 03:38:15 10/17/04  
  last modified by paleface at 12:27:18 03/05/24  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Puzzle; reg=NA]
I'm still somewhat surprised that Namco brought this brilliantly wacky game to the States, but I'm glad they did, because the localization of the King your father's speech is hilarious--he talks in strings of disjointed, third-person non-sequiturs.
In Japanese, the kanji for "Katamari Damacy" translate into something like "Lump Soul." And what you do here, as you can read in any real review, is roll a sticky ball around picking up objects to form an ever larger ball, or "Katamari." This is all to replace the stars in the sky, since your father the King of the Universe smashed them all in some kind of inebriated fit or something.
Sometimes pops has special constellation katamari missions for you where you have to roll up objects of a certain type, for instance for Ursus you have to get a bear, but actually the playing field (a small town) is full of bears, and the objective is really to avoid all bears while rolling up the largest lump you can, then get a bear right before time runs out.
The puzzle part of all this comes in in terms of the relative size necessary to pick things up: you can't pick up things that are bigger than your lump, basically, so to get larger objects you first have to roll up a lot of smaller objects. The real skill then comes in figuring out the optimal path for rolling things up from small to large. Eventually, as I've seen other people accomplish this, you get to rolling up mountains and continents and things, or something. The largest I've rolled up so far is a smallish tree, I think. Some stages have things laid out really strategically, with objects of a certain size blocking the way to another area: once you get big enough you can roll up the barrier and go nuts in the new area.
The game kindly keeps track of every object you've collected, and once in a while you're lucky enough to find "presents" requested by the King, then you can wear these around. When you complete the requirements for a stage, usually stated in terms of a certain minimum lump size by the time the time runs out, you open up another stage. Stages consist, more or less, of areas on Earth, from a house to (so far, for me) a smallish town.
The control is dual analog which feels pretty intuitive. Sometimes foreground objects get in the way of the camera and that's annoying, I wish they'd have made the object turn transparent in that circumstance. You have to contend with gravity in addition to object size, and the two of these can sometimes combine in nasty ways, with the game for instance plowing a car smack into your katamari, sending it careening down a hill into a lake or something.
The overall presention is both top notch and highly inventive, but the music in particular deserves special mention: each area (and there are a lot of them as far as I can see) has its own track, or something like that, anyway each is a fully orchestrated unique composition of genuine commercial quality. My favorite so far is the Sinatra-esque "Let's roll up to be a single star in the sky."
My initial worry about this game was that just rolling around lumping up stuff wouldn't be that entertaining, and although it's sometimes frustrating when you kind of get your lump stuck with time running down, in general the unique layouts and challenges of each stage, the crazy presentation, and the huge variety of things to see, collect, and hear, easily keeps things from getting dull.
  paleface 03:48:57 10/17/04
Download added: believe.jpg (16255 bytes)
  "Dad doesn't have a lot of faith in your abilities."
Actually it's more Tormé-esque than Sinatra, I suppose.
· Me & My Katamari (PSP)
· We Love Katamari (PS2)

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