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    Flamojo14's Katamari Damacy (PS2)

    [February 20, 2008 09:43:30 PM]
    Session 2:
    GamePlay
    After playing the first few levels which are amazingly fun I started coming across the constellation levels that change up the basic level format. In the constellation levels you have to collect as many crabs within a certain time for Cancer or swans for Cygnus etc. The addition of levels kept the game fresh and entertaining. I thought that I would get bored with just rolling things up in every level but it hasn’t happened yet. The further you get in the game the bigger your final Katamari ends up being and it’s really gratifying when you finally get to chase down and absorb people, then houses, then skyscrapers! The controls are very easy to learn but you get real satisfaction when you master abilities like flipping over the katamari to change directions and the super charge that lets sprint across the game world. After only a couple hours of playing I feel like a katamari guru and I beat all my friends in two player mode.

    Two player mode is not very different from the regular game play with the exception of getting largest first and rolling up your friend. Besides attacking your friend there isn’t really anything too special about two player, but single player mode is engaging enough that I don’t feel any real disappointment as I can still compete with my friends by reaching a certain diameter quickest or by getting the biggest diameter within a set amount of time.

    Game Design:
    One of the most innovative things about Katamari Damacy is obviously the core mechanic of rolling up items. The game is actually more complex then it appears at first as the layout of items throughout the levels are carefully placed by the game designers. The player must create a strategy that constantly takes into account the largest size item that you can pick up to maximize growth without smashing into items and losing katamari mass. The controls are also fairly innovative as you must coordinate the left and right analog sticks to move the katamari with efficiency.

    Some of the factors that make this a good game are the visual and audio effects. The visual style is very stylized and quirky and the music is extremely upbeat and catchy which encourages the fun and silly spirit of the game. By adding a timer for each level and target diameters the game creates challenges for the player that are achievable but also difficult so the player gets that sense of gratification and personal skill when they complete a level. As the levels progress you are allowed to replay levels to beat your own personal records and try out playing in a time test where you try to get to a certain size as fast as you can or the regular attempt to get as large as possible in a fixed amount of time. The player is constantly able to try and best their own records or their friends while the humor of the levels keeps them entertained.

    There is also a menu where you can examine every item that you have picked up as you play and shows empty slots for items that you have not yet collected. This menu also gives items a rareness value which adds the challenge of collecting all the items in the game and trying to find the most rare ones that are hidden in the levels. Along this line there are also ‘Royal Presents’, secret items hidden in each level that the player can find for a bonus. Another kind of level is the constellations which add new goals and objectives. Some of the constellations require obtaining as many of a certain kind of item as possible while others require getting as large as possible before picking up a certain theme item, ex: picking up the biggest bear possible for Ursa Major. You want the biggest bear possible which means getting really big before you pick up anything with a bear on it. This gets really hard when you are very large and it gets difficult to avoid tiny objects with bears on them that you really don’t want after so much strategic rolling. The incorporation of multiple goals while playing through the levels keeps gameplay engaging and encourages replaying the levels.

    My criticisms of the game are that sometimes you can get stuck behind or underneath items and it is almost impossible to get out without breaking off half of the items you’ve collected. Also, it is unclear sometimes why you can pick up some items when ones that are smaller can’t be picked up. The parameters for what can and can’t be absorbed seem a little off to me. Another issue that I have is that the camera would frequently go behind walls leaving me blind which was especially frustrating when time was running out and I only had a few more centimeters to grow. My last frustration is that when you achieve a certain size the perspective changes to show you the world now that you are bigger. I love this aspect and think it makes the game better, but whenever you reach one of these perspective adjustment phases the game pops up a loading screen and the King of the Cosmos blabs something random at you. This really interrupted the flow of gameplay for me though I understand that it may have been necessary for the game to have a loading screen at that point.
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    [February 20, 2008 08:49:38 PM]
    Session One:
    Summary:
    In Katamari Damacy the player roles a ball (a katamari) around various maps and picks up items that are slightly smaller than it in order to increase the ball’s size and pick up larger and larger items. The game could most likely be classified as a puzzle game because the main objective of each level is to carefully choose your route and the size of items you pick up in order to maximize how quickly your katamari grows. The avatar you control is a tiny character called The Prince, who does the actual rolling of the katamari even though he is nearly invisible as the katamari reaches larger proportions.
    In theory the game has a plot where the King of the Cosmos destroyed all the stars in the sky and now his son, the Prince must roll up katamari’s to create new stars and constellations. There are a few cut scenes telling the story of a family with a father who is an astronaut, but the story is marginal. It has no direct effect on the levels and only adds humor to the already zany atmosphere of the game.

    GamePlay:
    I really enjoyed this game. The core mechanic of the game where you roll up items is fun enough on its own but the environment of the game adds the strange and silly aspect that makes it extremely fun. The graphics are very abstracted and cube like which makes everyday items funny looking and bright colors make it very cute even when you are rolling over small children and cats. One of the main factors that made this game fun for me was the addition of Japanese items and culture. The music is all Japanese Pop which is very upbeat and happy. When you pick up items they are listed in the bottom left hand corner and part of the fun is seeing all the mundane and wacky things you can pick up from socks to a samurai sword to an alien. The random and the everyday are all mixed together and kept me laughing the whole time.
    The only real character in the game is the King Of The Cosmos who is lovable in a very annoying kind of way. He is extremely bossy and says things that are non sequiter all the time but it is enjoyable because it is just part of the strangeness of the game. He frequently pops up when you are in a level to comment on your progress or an item that you just picked up and no matter how good of a job you think you did he always thinks that he could have done a better job. The humor of his comments gets old pretty fast but I guess that a part of his character is to be annoying.
    The game did get frustrating at times when the controls would not do what I wanted them to and I would get stuck or my katamari would fly off in an unwanted direction and have large pieces fly off. The minor annoyances from the controls did not hinder me from enjoying the game too much. After a while of playing my friends started watching and pointing at things to pick up that looked funny and yelling ‘look out’ whenever an animal would come after me. Katamari is really fun and exciting and my friends all wanted to give it a try after only watching for a few minutes.
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    Status

    Flamojo14's Katamari Damacy (PS2)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Wednesday 20 February, 2008

    GameLog closed on: Wednesday 20 February, 2008

    Opinion
    Flamojo14's opinion and rating for this game

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