Katamari Damacy, or, “EVERYTHING IS FLUFFY!”

4 October, 2010 § Leave a comment

The games I’ve analyzed as artistically worthy thus far are downers. I realize this. “Final Fantasy VII” is legendary for a gigantic character death so memorable that it’s on par with that one guy who dies in that one “Harry Potter” book. While “Final Fantasy” games tend to be well balanced mixes of epic, sad, and humorous, “Shadow of the Colossus” is merely the first two. It’s a big bummer befitting of its colossal scope.

Sometimes you just need to feel good. “Katamari Damacy” is the stylistic equivalent of Saturday morning cartoons. But REALLY Japanese. With an incredible soundtrack. And more than a little bit of a head trip. Check the intro to the game:

Intrigued? Weirded out? Suffering flashbacks to that one time you took “the good (or bad) stuff”? Weren’t those dancing pandas ADORABLE? It’s all just a glimpse into the warped and colorful fun of “Katamari Damacy.”

After the King of All Cosmos accidentally destroys the stars in the sky, the tiny Prince is sent to Earth to roll up objects with his katamari (a ball that objects smaller than it stick to) to eventually grow large enough to replace the stars. Don’t ask for too much more story, because “Katamari Damacy” is all about taking a simple, extremely fun concept and running with it for an entire game. Add some truly hilarious sight gags and dialogue into the inherent sillyness of the game and you get something so fun you won’t care if it only takes ten hours or so to beat it.

Surprisingly or not, there is a critique of consumerism buried amidst all the fun. Much of the items the Prince rolls up into his katamari are cheap trinkets, similar to omiyage (souvenirs). The Prince’s quest to continuously acquire more and more cheap and meaningless goods to expand the katamari is blatantly analogous to consumerism. The katamari is essentially gaining more and more useless crap until it can become big, but never quite big enough, for the King of All Cosmos.  It’s expansion for expansion’s sake. The bright, distracting colors and infectious music make “Katamari Damacy” seem all the more like a surreal pop-art parody of a commercial, something like the works of Takashi Murakami.

“Katamari Damacy,” to continue the film comparison I began in my assessment of “Grand Theft Auto III,” is like a Pixar or Studio Ghibli film. It’s wonderful fun that’s appropriate for all ages, and adults will get just as much, if not more, enjoyment out of something aimed at kids. As a quick search on Craftster can attest, the visual style of the game is very popular among many knitty, crafty types and Prince and King costumes are surprisingly popular around Halloween.

“Katamari Damacy” is a throwback to why we started gaming in the first place: sheer entertainment that no other medium can compare to. Though short (about ten hours), the length is perfect for a repetitive game and the music will be stuck in your head long after you finish the game. If you want to just have fun, look no further than “Katamari Damacy.”

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