Friday, October 16, 2009

Katamari Damacy

Katamari Damacy is a Japanese video game designed by Keita Takahashi and published by Namco. The game's plot concerns a tiny Prince on a mission to rebuild the stars, constellations and Moon, which his father, the King of All Cosmos, has accidentally destroyed. This is achieved by rolling a magical sticky ball called a katamari around various locations, collecting increasingly large objects, ranging from thumbtacks to schoolchildren to mountains, until the ball has grown large enough to form a star. The game falls under both the puzzle and action game genres, since strategy as well as dexterity are needed to complete a mission. Katamari Damacy's story, characters and settings are bizarre and heavily stylized, rarely attempting any semblance of realism. The game's simple controls and colorful, blocky graphics make it superficially appear to be targeted towards a young audience, but its quirky humor, innovative gameplay and surreal setting have attracted the attention of gamers of all ages.

The primary story in Katamari Damacy deals with the aftereffects of the planet-sized King of All Cosmos' binge drinking spree that wiped out all the stars and other celestial bodies from the sky. The King charges his 10-cm-tall son, the Prince, to go to Earth with a "katamari"—a magical ball that allows anything smaller than it to stick to it and make it grow—and collect enough material for him to recreate the stars and constellations. The Prince is successful, and the sky is returned to normal.

A side story follows the Hoshino family as the Prince works at his tasks. The father, an astronaut, is unable to go to the moon after it is wiped out by the King, and the daughter 'senses' the Prince's work — she can feel when each constellation returns to the sky. Ultimately, the family, along with their house and town, are rolled up in the katamari that is used to remake the moon.

Overall, Katamari Damacy was well received in Japan and North America. The game was dubbed a sleeper hit, and won several awards. Katamari Damacy inspired the development of other video games, and led to the release of four sequels in Japan and other territories: We Love Katamari, Me & My Katamari, Beautiful Katamari, and I Love Katamari, and to a fifth sequel, Katamari Forever, to be released late 2009.

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