TGS 2003: Katamari Damacy Impressions

Namco shows off a brief, one-level version of its hard-to-classify "snowball simulator."

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Katamari Damashii is one of those games that defy classification. The gameplay and the object of the game--at least as it appears in the preliminary version on display at this year's Tokyo Game Show--is simple. But the game seems to have a cool visual style and also seems to offer a good dose of weird fun, so fans of Japanese imports may want to take note.

In Katamari Damashii, you start out with a small ball with nubs all over it. You control a small, hammerheaded fellow, who in turn rolls the ball around the world. When you roll the ball over small objects, they stick to the ball, which in turn makes the ball slightly bigger. The bigger the ball gets, the bigger the item you can stick to your increasingly large mass of junk. But as it gets bigger, your ball becomes harder to control. Smashing into walls or attempting to take on objects that are too large for your ball will knock some of the mass off of your ball. The eventual goal is to reach a preset ball size--in the case of the TGS demo, that size is 1.5 meters--within a specific amount of time.

The whole world in Katamari Damashii has a Lego-like look to it. A man, woman, dog, and small boy wander around the landscape in preset patterns, and even they have a deliberately blocky appearance to them. As you collect road cones, bowling pins, trophies, road signs, and increasingly larger items, you'll even be able to pick up the people, which causes them to let loose with hilariously bloodcurdling screams.

The entire game is controlled with the two analog sticks found on the Dual Shock 2 controller. You pilot your ball in a tanklike fashion. Pushing both sticks in the same direction rolls the ball that way while pushing one stick up and the other down will let you quickly turn your ball and, while you're at it, reorient the camera.

The one-level demo on display at the Tokyo Game Show is short, but sweet. We're definitely looking forward to seeing what else Katamari Damashii has to offer. The game will be released to Japanese consumers in the spring of 2004.

See more of GameSpot's coverage of the 2003 Tokyo Game Show.

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