Katamari Damacy is a puzzle-action game developed and published by Namco. The game was a product from a school project from the Namco Digital Hollywood Game Laboratory, where its development was guided by three key points: novelty, ease of understanding, and enjoyment. The gameplay revolves around a character, called the Prince, that is tasked to roll up items with an adhesive ball-like object called a katamari.
Lens of elemental tetrad
In a level-based setting, the player controls the Prince who rolls the katamari around the map. Items that are smaller than the katamari will stick to it upon contact, while bigger items may cause items to fall off the katamari upon collision. The simplicity of its mechanism meant that players with any amount of skillset could play the game without difficulty.
The story follows the Prince’s mission in recreating the cosmos which has been destroyed by the King of All Cosmos’ in a drunken accident. With each completed level, the resulting katamari is sent into space to form either a star or a constellation. While the story has little to no bearing on the gameplay, the antics and eccentricities of the characters adds another layer of enjoyment to the game. The weirdness of the plot also sets the mood for the game in its quirky art style and surreal landscape, another factor that draws people to the game.
The game makes use of its colourful visuals and interactive environment to create a delightful experience. A noteworthy feature of Katamari’s aesthetics would be its use of scale. As the katamari grows, the perspective of the player changes in correspondence to the size of the katamari. A player that was rolling around a man’s foot at the start of the level could later be staring down at the crown of his head. The effect is a feeling of empowerment and achievement.
Katamari Damacy was developed for the PlayStation 2. The use of analog sticks made for easier control with the inclusion of more complicated movements such as quick turn and acceleration.
Lens of Freedom
Katamari rewards its players on their progress with greater freedom. Each level was designed to limit the maximum size of the item on the map that can be picked up. As the player progresses through each level, a previous map may be revisited with an upgrade on the size limit, fulfilling the player with the gratification of rolling up a previously unreachable object. In some levels, a sufficiently large katamari could unlock an “eternal mode” which removes the time limit, allowing the player to explore the level to their heart’s content.
Lens of Surprise
Each level in the game is sprinkled with oddities and humour through interesting placements of objects. This keeps the player constantly entertained throughout the gameplay. A royal present can also be found in several levels, which will be opened at the end of the level to reveal a piece of wearable clothing item to personalise the character. These elements of surprise keep the game interesting despite the repetitive nature of its mechanism.
Lens of Inherent Interest
The game feeds on the inherent interest of the player in its mechanics and aesthetics. The game places the player in a fully-decorated map laden with opportunities of fun: interesting trinkets to collect and people to roll over. As the player moves the katamari around, the objects lying around the map constantly pokes at the player’s curiosity in wondering if they can be picked up.