March 28, 2009

Complete: Katamari Damacy

Just last year, I got onto the Sony bandwagon with my first Playstation, in fact, a Playstation 2. In an effort to catch up on the classics that I've missed out on, and I've gotten a ways through each, but haven't managed to actually finish anything. The only one I have gotten around to finishing was Namco's gem, Katamari Damacy.

It was pretty fun, picking stuff up by rolling over it was a really fresh mechanic for me, even though I did find myself wrestling with the controls a little bit. They were simple enough, with each thumbstick moving a part of your katamari(it's the ball that picks stuff up), but even though I understood the concept, it just wasn't a motor skill that I mastered in my time with the game. I would say it's much like driving a motorized vehicle in reverse, I understood that concept, but it took concentrated practice to be able to be fluent enough to trust myself not to crash.

Another gripe I had with the game was that I was constantly unsure of what my katamari was and wasn't large enough to pick up. This might have been an intentional decision on Namco's part to force you to take risks about things that are in the gray area of not knowing for sure if you can pick them up, but it frustrated me. A simple distinction of a red glow for things that you couldn't grab, and a green glow for things you could would have gone a long way, and eliminate my confusion of being able to tackle a towering sunflower, but dropping it right back on the ground after running into an insurmountable soccer ball.

It was nice of Namco to break up the pace of always trying to just get the biggest ball of stuff that you could be throwing in themed levels where you're trying to grab a certain object. Although it was imaginative, I had a small issue with this, as I was expecting it to name a particular object, but really mean a class of objects. For instance, on the level where you were told to pick up a cow, I figured I wasn't big enough to pick up a full-sized cow right out of the gate, so I went on my usual course of rolling up smaller things to eventually stick a cow to. Unfortunately, the first thing I ran over was a carton of milk. At this point, the game was telling me how disappointed it was in me for picking up such a shrimpy "cow", and I decided to avoid trying for a better score in that stage.

I'll have to say though, on the very last level of the game, it all pays off. You are given a tiny starting katamari, and told to go forth and create one that's much more massive than anything you've seen in the game yet. Once you get about halfway there, and you're used to picking up buildings, something amazing happens, and you suddenly pick up a part of the land mass. It almost defies explanation to be picking up rainbows, clouds, islands and whirlpools, but you're seeing just that unfold before your very eyes.

All in all, it was a good experience, but not one that I'm likely to repeat, as I think the amazing novelty of picking up the whole world could never be matched again. To this day, I still find myself humming the theme song every once in a while.


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