KATAMARI DAMACY / Namco / PS2
 
 
Katamari Damacy was made on a (relatively) shoestring budget, the equivalent of less than 1 million bucks American. So the physics can get a little wonky at times, the camera sometimes decides to re-center itself unhelpfully with a huge object between it and your avatar, and it's not exactly massively longevous.

That's really all that is wrong with it ... and the wonky physics and camera issues only happen at a few very specific spots, and only constitute a very minor annoyance. Otherwise this game richly deserves its 5/5 for being fun, genuinely inventive, utterly unique in style, and all-around charming as balls. Do you complain that too much of Big Dev Budgets go to samey Space Marine and Dudebro shooters? It's because when publishers make games like these and price them at $20 right off, people still don't buy them because LOL. Well, OK, that's not the only reason, it's also because a lot of the market keeps asking for (and one could thus posit deserves) exactly the sort of crap it gets, and also companies like EA are basically Satan. But still.

Anyway, you play as the Prince of the Cosmos, and must clean up after your dad King Of All Cosmos, who went on a bender and destroyed all the constellations, a bunch of stars, and the Moon. For some reason this needs to be done by taking a giant suction ball down to Earth and rolling up everything you can reach to provide material for new stars. The King has to supervise this, but he gets bored easily, so levels also have arbitrary time limits in which you usually have to make the Katamari a certain size.

What initially appears to be a game trading solely on randomness and Japaquirk reveals, after a little playing, to actually have a fair strategic depth. The Katamari can only pick up objects smaller than itself; you have to plot a path through the level optimally to grow continually. If you grow too fast, though, you can lock yourself out of areas where you could have scooped up a bonus present. There's also the issue of picking up oblong objects relative to your current size; until you grow the Katamari enough to accomodate them, you'll roll more slowly and unevenly, and may find yourself unable to get through narrow openings. The controls feel a bit goofy and constricting at first, but you'll be surpised at how suddenly you pick them up and they become second-nature.
 
 
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