Japan has officially recognized what gamers have long known--Katamari Damacy and Taiko Drum Master are exceptionally well designed. The Japan Industrial Design Promotion Organization has announced the winners of its 2004 Good Design Award, and both Namco games are on the list.
Originally instituted by the Ministry of International Trade and Industry as a way of promoting the importance of good design, the Good Design Award is given to a variety of products each year, from entertainment gadgets to cooking equipment.
While other pieces of game hardware, like the PSone and Game Boy Advance SP, have won the Good Design Award before, Katamari Damacy is the first video game to be so honored. The judges made note not only of the game's simple, intuitive control scheme, but also its colorful graphics and fun characters.
As for the Tatakon controller, judges said that its design "brings back the 'I want to try hitting it' feeling so many people have when they see a [real] taiko." (Interestingly, another winner this year was an actual taiko drum, a stylish "21century model" designed by the company Asano Taiko.)
Katamari Damacy was released in the US on September 21; Taiko Drum Master, packaged with the award-winning Tatakon controller, is scheduled for release in North America on October 26.