Friday 25 January, 2008
KATAMARI DAMACY GAMELOG ENTRY #2
Upon returning to Katamari Damacy after a much-needed dinner-break, I noticed that the controls were still as just easy to execute as when I was playing a few hours before. I found that the interactions between items and the katamari were very realistic and thus, added a sense of realism to the game. For example, if my katamari was hit by a fast-moving child on a bike, my katamari would go flying farther than if it was just batted around by a menacing, but cute tabby cat.
The game also has a fair amount of variety in the levels. On the Taurus-themed level, you pilot your katamari around a town infested with cows! The catch is that you can only roll-up one; therefore, you have to find the biggest cow in the level. Unfortunately, there are also many cow-printed items and pictures of cows that can count as your “Cow Quota” so you have to be careful with what you roll up as the larger cows will require a larger katamari to be rolled up. One the virgo level, everything is female themed, so the trick is to roll up as many girl-related objects as possible before the timer runs out.
Unfortunately, despite the variety in the themes of the levels, the actually number of levels is somewhat small. The player’s katamari can also get stuck between objects which can waste quite a bit a valuable time. The multiplayer options are also a bit limited as well, with just an option for a head-to head mode which gets boring quickly. Overall, Katamari Damacy is a unique and interesting look at what the Japanese gaming industry has to offer and a herald for what else is to come from across the seas.
When returning to Katamari Damacy, I was greeted with a happy loading screen that had me select my save data via rolling the correct data icon (all the data icons spell out the name of the company that made the game, Namco) up in a katamari provided for me. It is these kinds of quirky, seemingly miniscule features that can really make a game shine. Not only was it very cute to see the Prince rolling away a katamari with a big “NA” on it, but it also showed that the game designers really put a lot of thought into making their game unique. Upon progressing in the game, I began rolling up cousins of the Prince. Each cousin had its respective theme to it, some have oddly shaped heads, some resemble fruits and other objects and others have similar bodies to the Prince, but their colorings are different.
Katamari Damacy also has an all-original soundtrack of which all of the songs are in Japanese, but that does not stop them from being on the top of my “Most Played” list. MY favorite song occurs on the level where you need to make the constellation of Cancer, the crab. The entire level is a house that is infested with crabs of many different sizes and colors. The song that plays on the level is called “Katamari Mambo” and it is one of the many off-beat and up-beat pop songs featured in the game.
The cut scenes following the Japanese family known as the “Hoshino Family” are also portrayed as a pastel drawing. Here, everything is drawn heavily stylized, for example, the shapes that make up the people are all squares on rectangles with rounded edges. The Hoshino’s story begins with the children noticing that the stars have disappeared. The story then progresses with them going to the space station, where it is revealed that they are in fact planning to travel to the moon for a vacation. Despite the actions of the Hoshino family having nothing to do with the Prince, it is still cute to watch them.
The level design is also incredibly accurate to many small towns in Japan. The items that the player is capable of rolling up also reflects the presence of Japanese traditions, for example, players can roll up dango, a ceremonial Japanese treat consisting of three spheres of mochi skewered on a long toothpick and many other Japan-related items. Later on, the player is also capable of rolling up thunder and rain gods, showing the polytheistic Japanese beliefs. Overall, Katamari Damacy is a beautifully designed game that brings many aspects of the Japanese culture to us through a unique and pleasurable gaming experience.