Katamari Exploitationcy - 128Mario Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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Katamari Exploitationcy

 

I requested various subjects from my mates a while ago for blogging ideas and Jimmy suggested the once-unique Katamari Damacy series.  I say 'once-unique' because everybody is already sick of this game largely because each iteration has largely been the exact identical formula time-in and time-out and with the exception of perhaps different objects to ensnare with your sticky little ball from outer space, different levels and maybe one or two different game modes the WOW factor of the Damacy's have for the most part outlived their exceptionalness in my eyes.  Too much, too soon is the saying that can best be applied here.

 

It was an original premise.  The first game had the King of the Cosmos joyriding throughout the universe when he spins out of control because he was going way too fast and he ended up destroying all the constellations since he spun out and careened into them all like a pinball in its respective machine.  At least he wound up getting a high score.  Yet instead of owning up to his mistake he basically chickenwings his son, the 'Prince',  into rebuilding the solar system for him without any form of compensation.  It must be said that the King of the Cosmos has awesome dry humor.  In a nutshell, you're sent down to Earth to collect materials that the 'Humans' have supposedly prepared for you to aid you in rebuilding your constellations, and in order to rebuild these Stars you have to roll a super sticky ball othewise known as a Katamari around picking up whatever sticks to it in order to transform the ball into an astrological sign.

 

It's interesting because you start out small, with only things like thumbtacks and staples and erasers and the like sticking to your Katamari, but the more you collect, the bigger the ball gets and 'bigger' things can get stuck to it, eventually culminating in you running over cats and dogs and eventually humans (who, despite promising to help you, surely weren't expecting to be used as some noble sacrifice for the greater astrological good) and then its on to cars, trucks and even skyscrapers aren't exempt from the maniacal endless rolling.  Once I managed to start getting the clouds to stick to the Katamari and even some Calamari chilling out in the ocean I knew things were starting to get just a little ridiculous.

 

Playing the original a half-decade ago on my PS2 and the wacky story freaked me right out.  It didn't help matters that my gang of friends and I were drunk out of our minds when we booted it up, but the fact that the system stayed open until we straight up ruined the game by taking turns going through every level with drunken encouragement from an entourage of six other people five hours was a true testament to the then-freshness of the game.  It's truly a tragedy that the developers have failed to come up with any new concept or variety to the game which simply result in the same model day in and day out, it's sort of like how every new Dance Dance Revolution game that comes out is exactly the same as the one prior to it, just with different playlists and not much else.  If anything, I suppose that both series have their niche.  I'll say it again however, it's a true shame that the strength of the brand has fallen so far from grace through redundant repetition.

 

Loved that deceptively simple control scheme too.  The entire game uses one button and the two analog sticks to play.  You have your 'accept' and 'cancel' buttons and while you're playing all you use are the two sticks, piloting the ball around the way you'd pilot, say, a dual-analog helicopter.  Hold both sticks upward to move forward, tip one down while continuing to hold the other upward to bank to one way or the other, tilt each stick upward and downward continuosly to build up speed and click down on both sticks to pull a one-eighty (which is something helicopters haven't been able to pull off just yet). 

 

It also helped that the game retailed for thirty bucks, this insured that the game would for the most part find its way into households whether the populace was aware of what they were purchasing or not thanks to the cheap price point, and this is largely where the newer iterations have also failed: selling a game like Katamari Damacy at full price, for what you're basically getting, is not worth a full sixty dollars.  The quality of the game is there, as it has near limitless replayability as you return to the same levels over and over in an attempt to beat your time trial score and perhaps make a shot for the leaderboards if you're into that sort of thing, but overall it's a niche game that the publishers foolishly believed would become some sort of hit trend that some gamers would never be able to get enough of.

 

An adequate comparison would be Tetris.  But the problem is, where I can never get enough of a good round of Tetris, Katamari gets old and boring with the same tired formula of always slowly making yourself larger and larger at the pace of a tortoise.  I don't know about any other veterans of Katamari Damacy, but apart from listening to that sickeningly cute yet addictive music, there's little to no real incentive to hang out with the King of the Cosmos again.  While all over the place and out of this world, his parties are always the same and it's that 'I'm bored' state of mind that's keeping me from coming back. 

 

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