Katamari Damacy Hands-On

Namco's awesomely quirky junk-collection game is coming to North America.

Katamari Damacy is a weird one. A delightfully weird one, that is. And in a surprising move, Namco is bringing this quirky game to English-speaking territories.

Katamari Damacy's story is part of its charm. It seems that your father, the King of Space, is a bit of a drinker. After a particularly rough bender, the King manages to lose all of the stars in the sky. It's up to you, as his son, the prince, to make new stars to replace the ones your father has lost. You'll do this on Earth, by collecting various-sized masses of earthly objects.

The game starts out each level with a bare ball. It's awfully small, but it picks up objects as you roll it around. At first, you'll only be able to pick up tiny objects, like thumbtacks. As you collect objects, though, the size of your ball will increase, and you'll be able to pick up larger and larger objects. Soon enough, you'll move up to fence posts, road cones, bicycles, cats, humans, giraffes, trees, and so on. By the end of the game, you'll be attaching gigantic cruise ships, sea monsters, and even a Godzilla-like monster to your ball. Living creatures hilariously scream out when you pick them up. The challenge of the game comes in the form of a time limit. In most levels, you need to reach a specific ball size before time expires. Bonus levels change things up a bit.

The entire game--even the menu screens--is controlled with the two analog sticks on the PS2 controller. The ball basically steers like a tank, with each stick controlling a tank tread. So you turn around by pushing one stick forward and the other back. You also have access to a few quick change moves, like a speedy dash or the ability to hop around to the other side of the ball to quickly change direction.

Graphically, Katamary Damacy has a very specific look to it that works well. Objects in the world are deliberately block-shaped, giving the game an almost Lego-like look at times. The game's music is also a pretty amazing collection of crazy, lounge-type tunes.

So far, the localization of Katamari Damacy looks like it's limited to translating the text into English--which is really all it needs. The rest of the game's quirky nature has an unbelievable amount of charm to it. Katamari Damacy is currently scheduled to be released in North America later this year.

Written By

Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.

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