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July 24, 2005

REVIEW: Katamari Damacy (a.k.a. That's How We Roll)

  • Platform: PlayStation 2
  • Current Price (new): $20
  • Amount of Game Played: nowhere near enough...yet
  • BOTTOM LINE: Rolie Polie Perfection!
"Is that game here yet?"
"I want to play that game."
"It entertains me."

No, that's not me talkin'.
Nope, not the chillens, either (though they share the sentiment).

That would be something my wife said a few days ago, and the game she was referring to is Katamari Damacy.

Last November, we rented KD from GameFly (think Netflix, but for video games instead of DVDs - more info here). I'm not sure whether it was because we were playing other games at the time, but while my kids seemed to enjoy the game, they were just as happy to play other games instead. As a result, though I was enjoying it ('cuz it's so freakin' enjoyable), we exchanged the game after only 2 weeks.

But soon after, the kids started excitedly asking to play "that cool Kamemamashi game."


I was granted a temporary reprieve when one of my Official PlayStation Magazine discs had a short KD demo. The kids love to play the demo and they heartily sing the infectious Katamari Damacy theme song every time.

Speaking of kid-friendly PlayStation 2 demos, why does the Katamari Damacy demo have to be so short, when the demos for the Ratchet & Clank and Sly Cooper franchises are delightfully robust? Is Namco afraid that they'll lose sales if the demo is too long? SCEA (Sony Computer Entertainment of America) wasn't worried, and we bought their full versions, too. But I digress.

So after everyone (including me) kept saying how much we wanted to play the full monty, we finally bought the game that my wife, who doesn't play many video games, is waiting so impatiently for. For the most part, gaming is something I do with the kids. Every once in a while, though, a game will come along that she finds enjoyable. What those games have in common is that they are as simple & elegant as they are compelling. For example:

OK, so there's a little more to Katamari Damacy than just the sticky rolling. The high concept is that in addition to sheer size (you start with pushpins, ants & candy, and graduate to mice, birds, cats, dogs, cars, buildings, islands, etc. - the kids love when we roll up the flailing animals), you try to make your balls of collected stuff as elegant and symmetrical as possible (watch out for bats & pencils), as they are destined to replace the very stars in the sky.

It seems the King of All Cosmos went on a bender and accidentally destroyed the stars, and the Prince (also "of All Cosmos") is sent to earth (where better to find stuff?) to replace the stars with ever-larger balls o' stuff. Speaking of the King, I'm not thrilled (as a parent) with the way he tends to berate the Prince. But since the insults are text-only, it's easy to avoid the issue if your kids aren't reading yet.

Designed by Keita Takahashi, Katamari Damacy is a wonderfully original, creative, quirky game that is both fun & challenging (moreso for young 'uns, obviously) for kids. Other than that, there's not much else to explain that the screenshots can't tell you, which is good, 'cuz I think I hear the mailman. Gotta go!


Namco has a sequel coming out later this year (We Love Katamari), and it should be super-swell. Here are some Katamari-related photos from E3:

We Love Katamari at the Namco booth.

Namco invited E3 attendees to bring contributions for the We Love Katamari ball.

If all 70,000 E3 attendees agreed to be completely silent for just a minute, they'd have heard my "Cow in a Can" moo every time the We Love Katamari ball spun around.

Hey, what's that puffy pink thing next to my can cow?

Step off, pal! Nobody messes with The Prince!


NOTE: The GameFly review has been migrated to its own separate post. FYI.


  • One of the best games EVAR.

    Katamari is so cool because, not only is it refreshingly different and slyly fun...but it's very non-competitve.

    My experience with games my kids like is that they have a much lower tolerance for games that require beating challenges, and find games where they can just explore environments and DO things much more interesting.

    We picked up Spongebob: Battle for Bikini Bottom based on the review here, and my son LOVES it, even if he isn't that interested in it.

    Last night, we picked up Pokemon Colliseum and Burnout 3 (thank you Target sale)...and Burnout 3 is a mega-hit (although my wife and I continually have to say "...But you know that you would never REALLY drive like this, right?" This is immediately followed by the classic exasperated "Yeeesss, dad." :)

    By Blogger WizarDru, at 6:03 AM  

  • I definitely agree about specific missions vs. more open-ended play. My kids love to explore & find new things. That's not to say that they don't enjoy a challenge, but if it's too difficult or restrictive, they'll get frustrated and ask me to play for them, then lose interest altogether.

    Glad you like the SpongeBob game. We finished it over a year and a half ago, but the kids still likr to play it every once in a while.

    Funny you should mention Burnout 3, because after I picked my son up from day camp, we stopped at Buest Buy on the way home, because they're giving out FREE DEMO COPIES OF BURNOUT REVENGE!

    By Blogger Dan, at 12:10 PM  

  • "Buest Buy"?


    By Blogger Dan, at 12:10 PM  

  • Yeah, they're the Buest. :)

    By Blogger WizarDru, at 5:29 AM  

  • How'd you come up with "Buest Buy"? U, E and S are nowhere near each other on the keyboard...hah.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:15 PM  

  • LOL! Good catch! I have no idea. I plead carpal tunnel.

    By Blogger Dan, at 4:23 PM  

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