Katamari Damacy

released on Mar 18, 2004

The King of All Cosmos accidentally destroyed the stars and—having recovered—wants the prince to rebuild them. Unfortunately the prince stands a little less than half a foot tall, so recreating the stars will require some effort. Enter the Katamari, a sphere the prince can push around our world to “roll up” items increasing the Katamari’s size until it’s suitable for the King.

Taking place in stylized versions of Japanese houses, cities, and environs, the prince pushes the Katamari around collecting items which adhere to it. At first, the prince can only pick up smaller items, but as the Katamari grows, the more it can collect. Push pins and paper clips cling to the Katamari increasing its size so it can roll over obstacles and pick up bigger items. Over many levels, the Katamari can eventually pick up people, cars, and other bigger items.

Players steer the Katamari from a third-person perspective using the analog sticks on the PS2. A tutorial stage takes the player through the controls and sets up the story as well as introducing a side story about a Japanese girl who can feel the cosmos. Wanting to challenge the prince, the King sets requirements on the Katamari’s size and sets time limits on the level. Bonus missions restore constellations and have their own restrictions.

The world of Katamari Damacy is brought to life with off-beat animation and a catchy soundtrack. Players can find presents hidden in the levels that contain accessories for the prince. Two players can also battle head-to-head in a Katamari competition.

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Let's talk about scale.
Most media does not do a very good job of handling scale, because scale inherently requires contrast. Anyone who's made 3D models should know that a lot of objects tend to be created at much larger sizes than what they're going to be rendered at, meaning that you'll have plenty of geometrically massive source files that are shrunken down when they're to be displayed next to other things. Designing a toothbrush to be the size of the moon doesn't really matter so long as you can scale it back down when it's time to place it in your model of a bathroom. Scale isn't just when something is big, or when something is small; it's when something is big and something else isn't.
Scale in most video games is usually limited to simple matters, such as having a physically spacious game world to navigate, or larger-than-normal enemies to indicate increased danger. This isn't a problem, per se; in fact, this commonality that you can see between many major titles — Skyrim, Breath of the Wild, Grand Theft Auto V — likely indicates that public consensus deems this to be fine. Tropes and design philosophies become adopted en masse because they work. If the final boss is the size of a fucking apartment duplex ala Dead Space or God of War, it sells the scale.
But very few games are designed purely around scale. There tends to be a lot of focus on scope — more features, more objectives, more goodies — but not so much on scale. Scale often serves its purpose as more of a tool than a design document. For the second review in a row, I can bring up Shadow of the Colossus as an example of a game designed explicitly around scale; rather than an element or a one-off, the entire game is built and wrapped around embodying the concept of contrasting sizes. But Wander is always small, and the colossi are always big; again, not in any way bad, and completely appropriate for what the developers were shooting for! But what's uncommon about Shadow of the Colossus is its refusal to ever stop showcasing scale, rather than the fact that you're a small guy fighting a big guy. If that's all you're looking for, there are hundreds of games where you can fight a guy that's bigger than you. It's all about showcasing the scale from the start, rather than saving it for special occasions.
Katamari Damacy is one of the greatest examples of showing scale from both sides of the spectrum I've ever seen.
Again, if you've got any experience with 3D modelling, you're probably very keenly aware of the fact that not all models are created equally; the purpose of creating these models is usually to place them into a world as part of a greater whole, and not everything is as important as a main character or a cool weapon. Leaves, bottles, shelves, sticks, rocks: these aren't glamorous, but they're important. If you're on the creator-end of the product, you need all of these incidentals to make the world more cohesive, seem more lived-in. If you're the consumer, you probably never notice any of them. You'd notice if they were absent, but you kind of take their presence for granted.
Katamari Damacy puts quite literally all of its objects in the world at center-stage, demanding your attention for each and every one of them. No matter how big, no matter how small, all of them can — and eventually will — be absorbed into the katamari. This is what makes the game's use of scale feel incomparable; everything is important. Ants matter as much as batteries matter as much as fruit matters as much as houses matter as much as countries matter. Everything is rendered simply and lovingly, and you'll probably never notice while playing that these objects are only as focused on as they are because they were modelling practice for the art students who provided them. Of course everything matters. It wouldn't have been created if it didn't.
While the idea has certainly diminished since the mid-2000s common internet joke of Japanese media being "so weird!", a pervading perception of Katamari Damacy is that it's incomprehensible. Sure, the idea of rolling a sticky ball around and picking things up is easy enough to grok, but the surrounding narrative and theming is often read as just being surreal for its own sake. It would be silly to deny that the game is odd, sure, but the actual message the game is going for is simple. It's one of unity and togetherness. The songs — certainly good enough to justify the $20 asking price this had on release by themselves — almost all feature lyrics of love and longing, of having fun, of just enjoying life as it is. Some of the songs are You Are Smart, which kind of fucks up the whole point I'm making, but did still make me feel like a very very smart boy whenever it played. Animals flee and people scream when the katamari comes a-rolling at them, but all ends well when everyone gets together on their lunar vacation. There's a fascination with the breadth of the cosmos even down to the smallest and most incidental baubles that's infectious. No other game will manage to make you utter the line "yes, an eraser!" and mean it the way that Katamari Damacy inspires you to.
It's a wonderful little gem of a game. Completely phenomenal from top to bottom. I will never get the biggest cow on the Taurus level.

when you lose literally starts a Low Tier God's speech

Como isso deu certo? Top 2 da minha vida sem meme.

100%ed - love it of course but some of the physics and level design were a bit irritating for 100% completion - way too easy to knock a named character u spent 17 mins to get off of ur katamari then they immediately despawn - also very easy to get into a hallway where you just barely fit and the collision cheesegrates your katamari to nothing - names section is very interesting to me and something i somehow missed when i played this as a kid!!!!! reroll I am sure fixed the issues i had but i chose to 100% this version, i dont think ill revisit this one when we love katamari exists

Ermm I swear I didn't play this 12 times.