Robert Muirhead looks at one of gaming’s weirdest franchises
I can’t pretend to understand why Namco developed Katamari Damacy. Maybe they felt the West didn’t quite think Japan was odd enough. In any case, its novel mechanics, jazzy music and playful art style have been popular enough to spawn seven successors across multiple consoles. There’s literally nothing quite like it.
The game involves rolling an incomprehensibly adhesive ball – the Katamari – around everyday environments, sticking objects to it in order to become larger. Controlled by the two analog sticks, this is remarkably intuitive. It’s mechanically equivalent to pushing a trolley in real life. As the ball grows, more things are able to stick to it – given half an hour rolling about, you can expect to swallow up anything from paperclips to islands.
It’s mad. Be it through looking like the lovechild of Picasso and an anime artist, the insane justification for your actions, or the weird sounds objects make when added to your Katamari, the aim is to have incessant fun through absurdity. Being transported via rainbow to snatch up animals for the King of all Cosmos’ star building shenanigans is a normal affair. Imagine the sound and sight of a giant sphere of clutter rampaging through a herd of cuboid sheep – it’s as entertaining as it is bizarre.
With an open world to roll around, objectives are personal and of the moment. For example, the obvious response to knocking into an object you can’t grab is to bulk up and come back later for adhesive revenge. Instances like this chain together in such a way that there’s no need for secondary goals.
Katamari Damacy makes it easy to focus on its continuous novelty and humour. It’s more than a snowball simulator and, with newer versions on the latest generation of consoles is well worth picking up.