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Katamari Damacy

塊魂

Developer / Publisher: Namco
18 March 2004
Katamari Damacy [塊魂] - cover art
Glitchwave rating
4.16 / 5.0
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1,428 Ratings / 5 Reviews
#62 All-time
#6 for 2004
Playing as the royal son of the Prince of All Cosmos, you are sent to Earth with orders to roll its contents into several oddly-shaped balls to be used as replacements for the missing stars and constellations in the sky.
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2004 Namco  
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JP 4 907892 015555 SLPS 25360
2004 Namco  
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Katamari Damacy PS2 Classic
2013 Namco SCE  
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2018 Namco Monkeycraft  
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XNA 7 22674 84018 7 LA-H-ARRKA-USA
2020 Namco Bandai Namco  
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A nonviolent power fantasy unlike any other
Katamari Damacy is notorious for a few things: a brilliant soundtrack popular even with those who haven't played the game, an easily recognizable, surrealist art direction, and (most importantly) a bizarre core concept that is executed at ridiculously high levels. The game, taken as a whole, is a tornado of jazzy bubblegum electronica, pastel colors, and unfettered, wanton destruction - a complete sensory overload that understands the unique aspects of the gaming medium.

Your job as the Prince of the Cosmos is to rebuild the starry sky after your father, the vain, sarcastic and somewhat abusive King, destroys every star in the universe on a whim. Deciding he misses them, actually, he sends you to Earth to roll up objects, people and creatures to collect material to rebuild the stars. However, the King is a busy guy, and he only gives you a handful of minutes for each mission, making where to go and what to pick up nonstop mental decisions for the entirety of the stage. You control your ball of stuff with the two analog sticks and barrel through the environment, grabbing everything you can.

The sense of scale and perspective was the first thing that really grabbed me. The tutorial level takes place on a kotatsu that feels gigantic, rolling up candies and matchsticks and dominoes as the size of one yourself. As the levels go by, you'll eventually tackle the rest of the house, the yard, the neighborhood, the nearby cities and finally entire islands in the sea. This size hierarchy is emphasized in gameplay by immediately attaching any object small enough to your katamari, and bouncing you off of everything else. Out of the hundreds of thousands of objects in this game, they either are yours to take now or later. This gives way to some creative level structures, where areas can be "zoned off" simply by containing too many of an item you can't pick up yet, giving a semi-intended route though these otherwise unbounded playgrounds.

In the later levels, the sense of destruction you're causing becomes intoxicating. You might spend a level in a small market, picking up fruit and boxes while humans charge into you and erase your progress, only to end that level large enough to start picking up the people that caused you so much trouble before. Overcoming your obstacles through sheer heft gives a weird, primal sense of accomplishment, as you stage a literal conquest of the environment before you. In no time, you'll pluck cars from the street like you're waxing hair off of your body. Katamari Damacy discards stuffy completionism favor of a million shiny objects for you to roll up, with each weird item and creature vying for your destructive attention. It's impossible to roll up everything in the tight time limits, so you're gunning for sheer quantity at all times.

Series creator Keita Takahashi has spoken about this game being a critique of consumerist culture, and I think that lens is the best way to understand the game's vision. The sheer number of different objects that can be rolled up is completely staggering, and even through hours of gameplay there will certainly be some that you haven't seen yet. The King lambasts and praises you based on your collection efforts per stage, but will always end his monologue with the same line: "My, Earth really is full of things." It is up to interpretation if this is meant to represent some divine condescension of mankind's hoarding, or a critique of the actual utility of these things in their current state outside of kindling for a boulder of stuff, or a more abstract desire of the creator to do away with the manufacturing of useless trinkets that comprise a majority of our landfills, to literally shoot all of this garbage into space, where it may actually be of use for something. The fact that the people who helped create all of these things are commonly caught in the mayhem serves only to amplify the stance, whether you see those acts of kidnapping to be punishment for mankind or an act no different than picking up anything else. Perhaps it's justifiable as an alleviation of a burden on the Earth itself.

On a smaller narrative scale, you learn of a human perspective on the events taking place through small cutscenes of the Hoshino family, who witness some of the Katamari nonsense as they travel across the country to see the father's rocket ship launch. The kids see news stories about stars appearing and reappearing and even glimpses of the King himself, but their mother always just misses the events and refuses to believe such ridiculous stories. Inevitably, the adults are forced to accept the strange reality when the father's launch is canceled after the moon can no longer be found in the night sky - a reconstruction project that you as the Prince just hadn't gotten to yet. This second story gives an interesting perspective of childlike wonder on your anti-consumerist crusade, re-contextualizing it as what it appears to be at first glance - a fantastical mythos of childish imagination. Damacy is both the work of a discontent adult, disgusted with the planet around him, and the boy he once was, wide-eyed for stories of the otherworldly.

The identity of humorous surrealism is built on with rather strange side missions to rebuild constellations, with goals other than to consume indiscriminately. To rebuild Cancer, you are told to collect as many crabs as possible, with all other things discarded from your score. To rebuild Taurus, you need only touch a single cow-related object, but may start too small to pick up any large bulls, requiring careful navigation through the environment so that you can build your katamari while avoiding smaller cows. Finally, in the reconstruction of the North Star, you are tasked with eyeballing a katamari of 10m in diameter without any numeric data for your ball that is usually given, forcing you to pay attention to the relative size of objects in the environment and making an educated geometric guess as to when to stop. All three variants are fun, simple twists on the usual formula that add tension, constraints and challenge where the open-faced levels may not.

The only real issue I had playing at any time was occasionally combating the control scheme. You can hold both sticks forward against an object to slowly climb it, but how long you can do this before you fail and fall to the ground seems inconsistent. building momentum is difficult in areas without much free space, and the "boost" mechanic is caused by turning left and right very quickly which makes it unreliable to aim. This isn't a major issue, as a ball that large of weirdly shaped stuff is of course going to prove difficult to control, but it posed a challenge in a handful of levels where visibility was poor or there were many obstacles to avoid. In tense situations, even minor dissonance between my inputs and the katamari started to drive me up the wall. If this control scheme was intentionally hard to reign in I'd consider it a design flaw.

Control weirdness aside I cannot think of a single area where this game fell flat outside of level variety, which feels like a silly complaint considering how much Namco gets out of just the normal grab-everything stage layout. It's a really well-thought out piece of art and one of the most complete experiences I've ever enjoyed. Highly recommended to everyone, especially those who don't venture outside of their comfort zones often.
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the_lockpick 2019-07-06T17:11:42Z
2019-07-06T17:11:42Z
5.0
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What a blast
This is quite the eccentric puzzle game and for its time quite unique. I've played it about twice but I still thoroughly enjoy it every time! Playing this game whether it's via emulation, the real deal or the remaster, it's completely worth it.
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Joeman2 2022-06-03T14:54:34Z
2022-06-03T14:54:34Z
5.0
3
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Play it any way you can
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It’s hard to believe the concept of Katamari Damacy hasn’t been around for decades now. Conversely, it’s also hard to believe that the game wasn’t an idea that emerged from the mobile gaming market in the late 2000’s. The gameplay premise of Katamari Damacy is such a simple, attractive idea seemingly created for a wide demographic of gamers, putting into perspective the overall appeal of the series that has made it successful. Katamari Damacy just seems so ideal that it’s a wonder that someone didn't capitalize on it before 2004. The gameplay is also so simple and accessible that I’m certain every mobile game developer is collectively coveting the rights to this game, kicking themselves that they didn’t think of it first. Alas, the legacy of the Katamari franchise began in 2004 as an exclusive to the PS2 and became a massive hit. Given all of the elements that make this franchise as appealing as it is, how could it not have been?

While the gameplay of Katamari Damacy is simple enough, it’s ironically difficult to pinpoint exactly what genre the game falls under. The closest genre that would appropriately fit is a rolling platformer, but that more so involves the player rolling a ball in a contraption to get to a goal. It has puzzle elements, but in an incredibly unorthodox fashion. The objective of Katamari Damacy is to roll around a colorful ball called a katamari, collecting objects of relative size to it. Once the player collects enough objects, the katamari will incrementally increase in size in order to roll up larger objects the player couldn’t roll up before. The objective is timed and the player has to get the katamari to a certain size or they will fail the mission. This is the objective for every single mission in the game, but it never gets stale. The player starts off rolling up bread crumbs and candy wrappers, miniscule objects that could be picked up by the tiniest of human hands. As you pick these up, the katamari expands to pick up mice and flowers. Bigger objects like televisions and even people are scattered around as you magnetize the remnants of their households scattered around their ankles. Seeing these larger obstacles makes the player yearn to roll them up to, but makes them wonder if they will ever be able to. As the game progresses, the small scaled levels of basically vacuuming up people’s houses like a roomba into swallowing people, trees, buildings, Godzilla, and even the clouds in the sky. The credits sequence even has the player rolling up entire countries, leaving the Earth as an ocean planet. The progression of this simple game is incredibly cathartic, and it’s complemented quite well with the simplistic gameplay and objectives.

While this premise could work without any narrative context, Katamari Damacy is aided by an oxymoronically grand, yet simple premise. The King of the Cosmos, a being that is most likely supposed to be God, has accidentally destroyed the universe’s celestial bodies in a drunken stupor. To clean up his mess, he enlists The Prince, the green playable protagonist that looks like a Japanese Mike & Ike, to roll up the physical beings of Earth with a katamari to then release them into the sky as celestial beings. This game takes the scientific notion of all life on earth being a product of the cosmos very literally. There is also a little girl on Earth that has the power to feel the presence of the cosmos, and the player gets a cutscene detailing her and her family whilst the cosmos is being rebuilt. It’s also quite a grim and horrific premise if you think about it. A god is sending all living things back to the universe, prematurely condemning Earth to it’s doom. Every single thing you collect on the katamari is lifted to the sky by the King of the Cosmos as it explodes and becomes one with the universe. The inherent existential dread of the game’s premise is entirely cloaked by the snazzy, vivacious charm synonymous with the Katamari series. The game argurably didn’t need an attractive presentation given the simple and effective game mechanics, but the game benefits greatly from having one. Katamari Damacy is the epitome of kawaii Japanese weirdness and eccentricities. The game has an incredibly flamboyant color scheme and the graphics are stylistically blocky to make everything the Prince rolls up look like a toy. The King of the Cosmos is so ostentatious looking that he could show up at a Rocky Horror Picture Show screening and he’d still look overdressed. Not to mention, he has a rainbow mouth power that can make things appear. The soundtrack is also incredibly effervescent and very Japanese. While the simple gameplay is alluring enough, the style here is most likely what grabbed so many people.

The King of the Cosmos also has a giant ego that matches his colossal stature. It’s selfish enough that he has his son clean up after him, but fixing the universe is also a task that must be done without haste. The challenge of each mission is making a big enough katamari under a time constraint. As the game progresses, the time to make that katamari increases, but the standard for the size of the katamari increases as well. If the Prince fails to make a big enough katamari under that time limit, a terrifying game over screen occurs in which the King scolds him like he just came home with a failing grade on a test. Usually, the game gives the player enough time to complete these objectives, so failing never occurred for me. However, this lenient timespan might be implemented because the game incentivises going beyond the time limit. The King of the Cosmos will be underwhelmed by the Prince performing at the bare minimum and bluntly express this feeling of disappointment. The King is a cunt, and is probably inspired by the collectively strict Asian fathers of all of the developers. I personally think exceeding the needed limit is a good thing. Afterall, why would you stop building your katamari after it’s come so far?

I’m not exactly a fan of some of the game’s controls regarding the katamari. To make the katamari seem sizable, the developers implemented tank controls to make rolling the intergalactic ball seem more kinetic and disattached to the Prince. In execution, I often found myself losing the pace of movement because of having to roll sideways at times, but this might just be chalked up to my questionable skill level. The katamari will also roll awkwardly if the player manages to pick up an object like a bench or a fence that are too jagged to pick up once the player has the ability to. This causes rolling the katamari to feel like pole vaulting and breaks the pace of the movement. The game expresses that picking up these kinds of objects should be avoided until they can be picked up smoothly, but they are everywhere and tend to be pretty sizable. I suppose picking these up is meant to be a tradeoff. I oftentimes also felt annoyed whenever I’d get the katamari stuck between a rock and a hard place because many of the objects would fall off. Like picking up objects that cause the katamari to move awkwardly, this happens fairly often due to most structured objects like buildings and such to be heavily present, but not small enough to pick up, leading to bashing the katamari and losing some objects. Let’s call it the “adolescent phase” of the katamari growth process: it’s not where everything can be picked up, but it’s too big to traverse through the playground easily resulting in being battered at every move. It’s a bit awkward and it occurs in most of the levels.

I’m also not a fan of the side missions Katamari Damacy presents. Besides restoring the moon and constellations, the King also has the prince roll up specific objects that are themed around astrology. The Prince rolls up crabs to make cancer, fish to make pisces, etc. Levels like the one for Taurus will have the player roll up enough objects to potentially roll up the biggest cow object they can find. What mostly occurs is the player will most likely roll up a smaller cow object by accident, resulting in the level ending and getting a lecture on laziness from the King. These sub levels mainly underwhelmed me. They sort of break the pace of the climactic progression of the main missions of growing a katamari in size, and the unfair missions like the taurus ones royally pissed me off.

Katamari Damacy is a game that is utterly infectious in many ways. It’s unique, it’s charming, and it’s accessibility makes it ideal for any gamer. It was a gigantic hit in the mid-2000’s for a reason. While I had a blast with this game and was smitten by it’s candy-colored absurdism, I felt like the hiccups presented in the gameplay are a deterring factor. They seem like nitpicks, but I found quite a few of them while playing this game again for this review. I also feel like the developers undermined the effective simplicity of the game. Katamari Damacy could’ve given me hundreds of levels doing the same thing and I probably would’ve been satisfied. The developers probably felt that implementing side missions to break the pace of gameplay would’ve been refreshing, but they either ended up as tedious or unfairly broken. Katamari Damacy had a golden idea that presented itself well, but I feel like it could’ve used some more refinement. Even the simplest of games need time to breathe and buff out the cracks.
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Erockthestrange 2017-07-21T20:02:55Z
2017-07-21T20:02:55Z
7.0
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Also, this game might be way too Japanese for it’s own good. The King tells the player that they roll up objects in different parts of the world like Poland, Spain, Russia, but who in Spain plays Shogi? Why are Godzilla and Ultraman running around in Russia? It would’ve made enough sense for the game to be entirely located in Japan, progressively rolling up the entire country at the end of the game as the katamari got bigger. Then, it would’ve made sense that it conquered the world as per the credits sequence. The Japanese elements present throughout the game are extremely unconvincing for levels that are supposed to be set in other cultures.
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Feel good chaos
Destruction in games has all kinds of various usages, whether it'd be for environmental immersion or for engine testing purposes, it is all just a form of destroying something, there is no other trait that can apply to its ground definition. Katamari, however, twists its idea of destruction, and adds a bit, or more so, lots of charm into it.

The unique idea of collecting items at a small starting until eventually reaching a point where you can pick up houses and even people, it's such an enjoyable and fun mechanic of chaos to play around in. Mixed with its absurd humor and its amazingly fitting soundtrack, Katamari Damacy is one of those games that is very weird, and yet, it would eventually grow and grow more on you, taking in its undoubtedly special and fun concept altogether.

Katamari Damacy is a memorable game to whatever genre it's confined to, but honestly, it's a memorable game overall.
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sappukei 2021-07-29T07:36:24Z
2021-07-29T07:36:24Z
1
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Katamari Damacy is a remaster of the quirky, ball-rolling PS2 game. It gets off to a bad start by having the game windowed and making you play a tutorial to get to the options screen so you can adjust the resolution and maybe change the controls. I didn’t notice any other problems with this version.

If you play with a controller, you use the Thumbsticks. Push them both forward to move forward, opposite directions turn e.g. back on the left, forward on right makes you turn left. There’s some other maneuvers like quick-turn and boost but I rarely used them.

The game has a low-poly graphical style with a nice colour palette. It’s very Japanese with its presentation and the music is quite interesting. I liked the beatbox/a capella beatbox theme.

The King Of All Cosmos destroys the stars and moon with his drunken antics. He gives the Little Prince a challenge to collect items on Earth which can help reconstruct the stars.

There’s loads of objects in each level, and it is quite impressive how much variety they put in across the leves. There’s all kinds of household items, plants, vehicles, animals, humans, buildings and more. It’s partly a collectathon since items are catalogued and you can view your collection. Some animals and people will charge at you, but if you are large enough, they run away.

In each level, you roll a ball called a Katamari over objects to attach them to your ball and increase its size. The limitation is that you can only collect smaller items but sometimes it's not clear. For example, you pick up an elephant but then can’t pick up a tree even though the tree looked smaller/less mass. If you hit objects with force, then you will drop objects. If you are nearly the correct size, you will tend to pass through or lightly bounce against them.

The camera zooms out as you grow and it’s quite satisfying to remember just how small you were at the start of the level, and struggle to get up small ramps. Now you are big and can just roll over them. It’s also really satisfying when you get large enough to pick up that object that was causing you a problem; like you are getting revenge for bouncing you about earlier.

You’ll fail some levels so will have to replay them. It’s mainly a casual game but some levels can be frustrating for this reason. Other frustrating moments are when you momentarily get stuck on objects. Time is ticking and you lose objects while trying to dislodge. Sometimes when you fail a level, you seem to be way off the target size, but you were probably closer to the goal than you think. You often have exponential growth when you are big, because you will be rolling up entire buildings and gaining metres in size per object.

Each level has a longer time limit, but requires a larger size to complete. Once you reach the target you play until the timer finishes to obtain a higher score. On the final level, you start on a large island, but then eventually get large enough to pick up entire islands. It feels like a lot of work on that level, but it’s a lot of carnage when you get there.

There are special stages where you have to collect a certain type of item, or some where you only collect one thing which ends the stage. So you are supposed to collect objects to grow bigger, then pick up a large version of the specific object. However, it's so easy to grab a small object that you didn’t notice, or a sign that has a picture of that object. You don’t really fail these special stages, but are encouraged to replay them to do better.

There’s some reused environments but you usually see it from a different perspective, or start in a nearby area and see how it connects to the previous one. It takes around 5.5 hours to complete but you can replay the levels to gain high scores. I felt it was about the right length for the gameplay style.

It’s a quirky idea and was well implemented. There were definitely some frustrating moments so it’s hard to describe the game as pure casual.
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CaptainClam 2021-06-17T19:49:44Z
2021-06-17T19:49:44Z
3.5
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Title
Still an awesome little puzzle?... action?... you know what I don't know how to describe Katamari Damacy's genre other than it is a game that is well regarded for various reasons and is still fun to come back to and replay.

The only true flaw is that it is a little short, but it sets out to do and deliver exactly what it wants to and it does a good job of doing just that. Easy recommend if you wanna play a little sociopathic space prince rolling up crabs and people into a sticky ball to turn into Polaris or whatever.
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tetsucabra 2021-05-10T05:25:53Z
2021-05-10T05:25:53Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
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Catalog

zobano 塊魂 2022-11-28T04:22:30Z
2022-11-28T04:22:30Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Doubloon00 塊魂 2022-11-27T21:58:11Z
2022-11-27T21:58:11Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
gummy 塊魂 2022-11-27T02:53:46Z
2022-11-27T02:53:46Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
thedoomcamel Katamari Damacy Reroll 2022-11-26T22:17:10Z
Windows
2022-11-26T22:17:10Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
sneepVanO 塊魂 2022-11-26T21:18:05Z
2022-11-26T21:18:05Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
1068396 Katamari Damacy 2022-11-26T00:26:31Z
PS2 • XNA
2022-11-26T00:26:31Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
andrewglanz 塊魂 2022-11-25T08:05:12Z
2022-11-25T08:05:12Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
DirectorBlack 塊魂 2022-11-25T07:27:30Z
2022-11-25T07:27:30Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Acido 塊魂 2022-11-20T16:38:18Z
2022-11-20T16:38:18Z
4.5
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
SprinkleTits 塊魂 2022-11-20T12:46:00Z
2022-11-20T12:46:00Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Rap_Prodigy 塊魂 2022-11-20T08:09:23Z
2022-11-20T08:09:23Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
cloudfilmer 塊魂 2022-11-19T19:42:10Z
2022-11-19T19:42:10Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Content rating
CERO: All Ages
Player modes
1-2 players
Media
1x DVD
Multiplayer options
Local
Franchises
Also known as
  • Katamari Damacy
  • Katamari Damacy Reroll
  • Katamari Damacy Encore
  • View all [3] Hide

Comments

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  • Previous comments (21) Loading...
  • TarotSport 2022-08-15 07:56:05.033007+00
    ^wait until you play we love katamari
    reply
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  • wallrooseyes 2022-08-21 21:07:58.607353+00
    if it didn't control like i wanted to die this would be the easiest 10 of all time
    reply
    • Xantha_Page 2022-10-06 02:49:57.733406+00
      We Love Katamari [みんな大好き塊魂] controls a lot better actually.
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  • Teglement 2022-11-03 14:55:09.278312+00
    YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOU'RE ROOOOLIIIING LONELY STAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR
    reply
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  • HardBloodNelza 2022-11-11 02:46:53.661777+00
    This is rated higher than undertale
    reply
    • A_Latin_Guy 2022-11-16 03:13:27.299844+00
      As it should be.
    • wallrooseyes 2022-11-17 01:26:22.183945+00
      because it's better than undertale
    • Hvlk 2022-11-17 19:03:21.886002+00
      what is this comment supposed to achieve lmao, this game is an absolute masterpiece
    • sudatantalus 2022-11-21 19:44:40.958683+00
      no need to put down either of these gameplay monuments
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  • kleptomato 2022-11-12 21:55:44.30953+00
    the best Destruction game
    reply
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  • sushy342 2022-11-13 02:34:32.65168+00
    I wish this game was better known :(
    reply
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  • Bashkesh 2022-11-14 07:09:10.090008+00
    One of the absolute most cathartic media experiences to be had
    reply
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  • Rap_Prodigy 2022-11-29 02:53:43.857568+00
    Holy shit this is weird
    reply
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