In my Beyond Good and Evil review, I touched on how I don't play as many non-mainstream games as I wish I did. However, like Beyond good and evil for instance, there are a few games here and there that I manage to get my hands on. Katamari Damacy is one of those games. The name alone probably scared off many gamers, and the concept is just waaaay out there. However, in the end, Katamari Damacy manages to be one of the most addictive games i've laid my hands on.
The plot of KD doesn't take itself seriously at all. The King of All Cosmos went a little crazy one day, and ended up destroying all the stars in the sky. Now, since clearly it won't be good if things remain like that, the stars need to be replaced. The King calls upon his son, the vertically challenged Prince, to put things right. Even though you're doing this huge favor for him, the King will continue to insult you when you fail, not compliment you enough when you succeed, and make enough short jokes concerning The Prince to rival Will Smith's endless stream of similar jokes concerning Carlton.
But if you think the plot is a joke, the gameplay is an even bigger one, though it's not bad. At the start of every level, you're in control of the Prince, who has a ball in front of him. You use the joysticks of the controller to push the prince around, and as you push him around he rolls his ball around. Now, the levels of Katamari Damacy contain hundreds of random objects. The purpose of the game is to roll your ball over objects that are small enough for the ball so the objects stick to the ball. Paper Clips and Erasers at first, for instance. Of course, the more items you pick up, the bigger your ball gets. You eventually start picking up Apples, books, and other slightly bigger objects. The point is to get your ball to be a certain length in diameter before the time runs out. If you manage to do so, you win and your Katamari is placed up in space as a new star! Otherwise, your unfit katamari becomes space dust.
As you keep going through KD levels, you start out with a bigger ball, get to bigger and bigger objects, and have bigger harder objectives. In the last level, you can get your Katamari insanely big, picking up entire islands, rainbows, and huge boats. It's a little...odd, but it's also very addictive. You're probably going to have some fun with it at the very least. Beyond being innovative, it's also pretty detailed and solid. The graphics are rather poor, but I think the designers weren't shooting for that. If you pick up objects that are almost too big early, your Katamari might be harder to roll. If your Katamari becomes lopsided for any reason it won't roll properly. Bang on big objects or walls too hard and you loose mass. It's a pretty damn solidly done game. I just wish the camera gave us a good angle at all times.
However, it is also rather short. After you beat all the missions, you can go back and redo them going for mass, unlock levels where there aren't any time limits, try and get all the accessories for The Prince, and a few other things like that. Multiplayer can also be fun, but it's not exactly grade A either. You'll probably be done with Katamari Damacy in a weekend, maybe an extended weekend. However, Namco was nice enough to give KD a 20 dollar pricetag from the start. Meaning it might be worth buying anyway. Your call.
To cap off the game's quirkyness, we have the Soundtrack. It plays some most interesting japanese tunes. They seem annoying, but they grew on me. Maybe they'll grow on you as well. =p
So there you have this sleeper hit of 2004. A quirky plot with quirky gameplay, and don't forget the quirky soundtrack, make Katamari Damacy somewhat questionable. However, at the end of the day, it manages to be very addictive, and worth the small amount of money you have to put into it.