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    E4's Katamari Damacy (PS2)

    [January 26, 2008 02:10:17 AM]
    Gamelog entry 2

    GAMEPLAY

    After playing for a while longer, I've found the game remarkably easy to progress through (the storyline) with the exception of the mission of rolling the katamari to rebuild the moon. Since the mission requires your to roll your katamari all the way from 1 meters to a whopping 300 meters - roughly 10 times the biggest katamari size requirement I'd previously encountered. Even with 25 minutes on the clock, I found myself struggling to get the katamari big enough to effectively roll over islands the first few tries. Regardless, I had a lot of fun with it, since there's this bizzare joy in being able to level a city in a few seconds with a giant ball.

    I think one of the other main reasons I found Katamari Damacy to be so fun was that the world was fairly open to exploration, limited only by the size of your katamari, and that you could never die in a mission by hit/being hit by objects larger than the katamari (only get objects in your katamari get knocked out), thus there are negative consequenses to rolling around randomly and having fun. You can still fail the mission, but there's no penalty for failing and you can try again; additionally, each attempt you make makes you more familiar with the map and controls, making it easier to beat the mission, since the game is dependent on player skill, which is very easy to attain once you grasp the control scheme. As to this, I did find it a bit tricky at first, but I had it down within about 2 missions, so I think the simplicity of the game is part of what makes it so easily enjoyable.

    However, while the gameplay is fun and the theme of the game was definitely original and funny, I found the storyline a rather weak. As far as I can tell, the protagonist (the tiny prince) never says anything--even in text--but rather, is constantly ragged on by the King of the cosmos as you go from mission to mission unless you happen to do really well on a particular mission in the mission result screen; even so, he'll revert to his condescending tone again when you undertake your next mission however, making it seem kind of pointless. As such, there's essentially only 1 character that ever "talks," giving the storyline no character development. Literally too, since the protagonist prince is still a microscopic few cm when rolling a continental-size katamari (although I don't think he's still drawn at that point).

    DESIGN

    Straight up, the entire concept of the game is downright innovative. Beyond the concept, I think the simplicity of the control scheme is very innovative as it allows the player to enjoy themselves much more since they don't have to worry about hectic button mashing combos or perfect timing to make a long jump or what-not. The use of just the two thumb sticks to control the katamari means that the player never has to move their thumbs off of the sticks, and gives the player control of the camera implicitly while requiring more skill in controlling the katamari. Since the main game mechanic essentially consists only of rolling the katamari around, this could have been achieved with only 1 thumbstick... but that would have made the game too easy. The use of two sticks requires more skill, and provides a reminder that the Katamari isn't rolling by itself--the sticks control the tiny prince rolling the katamari.

    While the control scheme is innovative and quite easy to learn, I continue to have problems using the charge roll, which requires the player to rapidly move both sticks up and down in the opposing directions. Somehow, I can get it to initiate the rapid spin, but then the katamari stops spinning instead of charging forward. I think this could have been implemented differently making it a bit easier to use. Other than this fault, I think the control scheme was brilliant.

    After playing for a while, I noticed how well the game scales the player view of the world so that the katamari always appears to be the same size, and the world gets smaller, clipping out objects too small to see and not bother to take into account. There seemed to be several noticeable phases, starting with very small (push-pins, coins, etc.), then moving up to small fruits as being the smallest objects, then people and large appliances/devices (vending machines, etc.), and then finally buildings and structures being the smallest objects visible and taken into account (as far as I've progressed, anyhow). The game seemlessly phases out small objects from the gameworld as the katamari reaches certain sizes, altering the objects in the gameworld and available regions to move in while using the same world map without making any distinct graphical changes aside from clipping objects no longer taken into account.

    This structure gives the game strong sense of emergence within each mission. The game does have an overlaying mask as a game of progression with the storyline and the player's progression from mission to mission as he/she clears missions and unlocks new missions, however, within each mission, the game mechanics affect how the player chooses to grow their Katamari. Simultaneously, however, the size of the katamari does restrict where the katamari can go, which is controlled by the level design, a quality of games of progression. Thus, while there is no single category for Katamari Damacy like many other games, Katamari Damacy has a unique combination of level design with game world rules that open up and limit movement, as it is possible to both grow and shrink the katamari by picking up and losing objects.
    read comments (1) read comments - add a comment Add comment
    [January 26, 2008 01:15:13 AM]
    Gamelog entry 1

    SUMMARY

    In Katamari Damacy, the player controls a tiny prince that rolls a "katamari" (translated 'lump/cluster (of objects)' in Japanese) around the game world, a ball that picks up smaller objects as it rolls over them, adding them to the rolling jumble. The katamari grows as it picks up more objects, becoming capable of picking up larger and larger objects, going all the way from a picking up coins and candy to rolling up entire islands and more. The specific objectives in each mission vary, but generally require the player to keep rolling over stuff and grow their katamari. The overall objective for the player is to complete each mission to restore a star or constellation in the sky, thus restoring all of the stars in the sky that the Lord of the Galaxy 'accidentally' shattered.

    GAMEPLAY

    From the very start of the game, Katamari Damacy made me crack up and fall off my chair laughing. It even sounded like someone's cracking up in part of the short intro soundtrack. On top of that, the opening intro sequence was so random and bizzare, that it made me wonder if the game designers were high when they came up with the idea: cows in space. ducks singing the chorus, a volcano erupting a rainbow, dancing pandas, giant mushrooms, an elephant spraying a rainbow... did I say rainbows? The bright, colorful palette gives the world an overly happy, comic feel to it, which--when combined with the bizzare character design--makes the world of Katamari Damacy absurdly more comical. The prince that rolls the katamari, controlled by the player, is only about a few cm tall, bright green with purple pants, has a head the shape of a medicinal pill on it's side with a square pale yellow face with a red antenna coming out of the top of his head... must I say more? The character design makes me think of pikmin on crack. And then the people are very square... even more so than legos.

    To add to the uniqueness of Katamari Damacy, the music is an interesting combination of voice-instrumentals, retro beats, and comical dialogue and lyrics in Japanese related to the theme of the game. Most of the soundtrack seems to be done in an intentionally comical way, satirizing the game, adding another degree of depth to the bizzare comic background of the game. The sound effects, are also rather comical; although the medium doesn't allow for the same level satire as the soundtrack, the sound effects as you hit people range from over-dramatized screams to a joyful "Woohoo!" depending on the type of person you pick up.

    However bizzare and crazy the background may seem, I actually enjoyed playing the game very much. I was continually amazed at the innovativeness of the game and the sheer awesomeness of discovering that I could roll over essentially anything if the katamari was big enough. For that reason, I found it very addictive, as I kept discovering new, bigger objects to roll into the katamari. At first I thought it would be rather boring as the game started with you rolling over push-pins, candy, and erasers, but found that once in the open world area, the designers didn't hesitate to add in more and more bizzare/crazy/random objects to roll over as the katamari got bigger, to shortly find myself addicted despite the very simple gameplay (I shall refrain from saying more in an effort not to spoil the fun for those who haven't played).

    This entry has been edited 1 time. It was last edited on Jan 26th, 2008 at 01:19:43.


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    Status

    E4's Katamari Damacy (PS2)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Friday 25 January, 2008

    GameLog closed on: Sunday 27 January, 2008

    Opinion
    E4's opinion and rating for this game

    Bizzare, crazy, and very unique, but addictive and fun to play

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

    Related Links

    See E4's page

    See info on Katamari Damacy

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