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    lentilsonlent's Katamari Damacy (PS2)

    [January 19, 2007 02:31:33 AM]
    I'm beginning to remember why I don't count this game among my favorites. In addition to the problems with the camera and the shaky wall-climbing feature, this game gets old really quickly. Although each level presents a new arrangement of obstacles, they all have the same look and feel. And although the game has many novel concepts, the rules of the game are uninspired and allow for little strategy. I've never been a fan of games where you have to run around and collect as much stuff as possible before a timer runs out. There is no room for exploration or strategy. Although each progression to the next level brings presents a greater challenge and demands a bigger ball to roll, this is essentially a game of emergence. Furthermore, getting good at this game essentially consists of memorizing routes. The minigame levels (pick up the biggest bear you can find!) are so frustrating that I didn't dare go near them, as they are entirely optional and require absolute perfection. The challenge of picking up a big bear is a matter of avoiding smaller bears, but the game's camera simply won't allow for such controlled navigation.

    I managed to complete the level "make a star 6" before giving up. I wandered around the unorganized world map looking for "make a star 7", couldn't find it, and turned the game off. I have no urge to finish this game, whatever that means. As I recall it doesn't really have an ending in a narrative sense, as all the cutscenes depict characters and situations that are *very* loosely related to the narrative presented in the gameplay. There is always some higher score to attain, and completing all the levels takes no time at all, so it is very hard to reach any satisfactory sense of completion in this game. This is most definitely a game of emergence.

    Katamari is a cute game, but it is more novelty than innovation. Contrary to what some claim, I don't think it comes anywhere close to making up for the majority of drab and unoriginal movie-wannabe titles that characterized the PS2 and its generation of consoles.

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    [January 19, 2007 02:02:28 AM]
    First session.

    Well, that was an entertaining opening. The kitsch-factor, however, feels a little disingenuous. The marketing and translation of the English version even may even be an attempt to cash in on America's fetishization of Japanese culture as a source of cheerful and weird media.

    The premise is simple and novel: by guiding an orb that picks up objects, the player produces a snowball-effect that leads to quite large wad of junk. This wad must reach a certain size. Crashing into objects that are too large to pick up results in some junk falling off the wad. That's it!

    The design is very innovative in several areas. The control-setup almost reinvents the PS2 controller by forcing players to use the dual analog sticks in a way that is unfamiliar to them. In order to roll your ball in a given direction, both control sticks must be aligned in that direction. Unfortunately, this leaves you with no stick to control the camera, which, quite frankly, can be a pain in the ass. By clicking both sticks you can change the angle by 180 degrees, but that's hardly the camera control you need to avoid frustrating situations.

    The game has a dynamic sense of scope. A ball that consists of a few paper clips and walnut shells can grow big enough to pick up skyscrapers. When you are working on a small scale, the detail in the objects is fine enough to make out the labeling on a package. As you grow too large to appreciate such details, the game re-renders your environment to depict it on a different scale. This creates the illusion of a single mind-bogglingly intricate world when in fact it is a series of environments that blend seamlessly together. It also uses an extensive catalog of seemingly everyday objects to create the aesthetic of a virtual parallel (albeit surreal) world. The graphics wisely sacrifice complex shapes in order to support more polygonal clutter on screen.

    The game's physics display a good amount of thought. A lopsided ball will have a bumpy trajectory. However, the exaggerated traction used to climb walls feels sloppy, as it seems completely random whether it will let you roll up some incline or smash your ball to bits as it repeatedly runs into some invisible gravity-barrier. Not so fun.

    The levels have gradually been getting bigger and bigger in scale. In the first level I could scarcely pick up anything larger than a thumbtack. Things begin to get more exciting in later levels once I am able to pick up larger things. In fact, I just picked up my first human being! Funny how this game transcends such a blatant act of violence with its cheerful aesthetics.
    add a comment Add comment
     
    Status

    lentilsonlent's Katamari Damacy (PS2)

    Current Status: Playing

    GameLog started on: Friday 19 January, 2007

    Opinion
    lentilsonlent's opinion and rating for this game

    Cute, but it gets old.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstar

    Related Links

    See lentilsonlent's page

    See info on Katamari Damacy

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