When I first bought Katamari Damacy for PlayStation 2, it was simply because the box art was weird and I was taking a break from tactics roleplaying games. Bright colors, weird characters and a game box that interested me, that was all it took. Here we are in 2019 and I’m still intrigued.
I have to admit, when I first played Katamari — I had no bloody idea what I was looking at, what I heard and what was happening. Larger than life characters like the King of Cosmos, the Queen and the itty-bitty Prince were a story all on their own, but there was more. Little side-stories about the Hoshino family were also happening in tandem. Showing what was happening in the wake of the King’s terror on the galaxy — the Hoshinos brought us back to Earth. What was the King up to that dragged an Astronaut and his family into this mess? Well, he kind of had a temper tantrum and just… wiped everything out. Who had to clean up after it? The Prince. The super small little fella was tasked with grabbing up a large sphere-like rolling apparatus called a Katamari and use its otherwordly stickiness to gather up Earthen items to then shoot into the atmosphere.
I’m not kidding. That’s quite literally what you do in this game.
A lot of people, I’ve found, are in two camps when it comes to this game. They either know about it or they don’t and when you explain it to the camp who hasn’t heard of it, they look at you as if you got into the cleaning fluids under the sink. The cool thing was, no matter who I ever showed it to, everyone was entranced by at least one aspect of the game and very rarely did people not ask for a turn. Between the utterly infectious music or the charming gameplay, it was not difficult to see why the game got the cult following it did.
Once I started looking into the creator of Katamari Damacy, Keita Takahashi, I started to see that this wasn’t some tossed together random title but a labor of love. Takahashi set aside his love for art, being a sculptor at that, and wanted to work on another passion project. Katamari Damacy’s concept was born from a desire to see video games go towards a softer and more light-hearted medium. Takahashi had set art aside to work on the artistic endeavor within video games and had become quite successful as a developer when he came up with the idea of Katamari Damacy. Little by little, inspiration would come to him as he worked on other games and through his own life. The pressures of pleasing your family, be it as a son or as a Father, interested Takahashi because it was something relatable that he saw even larger-than-life fictional beings having to cope with.
And within that concept, Katamari Damacy and it’s absolutely peculiar little series was brought to life.
When having a particularly rough day, I decided to get out Katamari Forever and give it a go once more. Of the older ones, it has stood the best test of time because of it being released on the PlayStation 3 and it wasn’t too low-res a title to give me a headache. It’s weird how far we’ve come graphically but our brains never remember the transition almost immediately after we upgrade. Going backwards isn’t always easy and even with a game as simple in art like Katamari Damacy, the blur can still be felt if you play longer than an hour. So, with Katamari Forever, I was diving back in.
What I found was that the music still had me remarkably befuddled when it came to how quickly it could draw me from a sour mood. The concentration on such an easy thing like steering this large orb-like object around to gather items and complete objectives was steering me from the heavy heart I was saddled with. Sure, I barely needed to pay attention to the King of Cosmos and his constant nit-picking about my Katamari, so it was quite nice to just relax and roll. Unlocking Eternity mode meant I was left with only the soothing tunes of soft Japanese rock and pop to steer me. There were no startling events, no story to really concern myself with as it is bare bones anyhow — so I could meditate among the stars.
Perhaps that’s what Keita Takahashi wanted all along. He wanted us to forget our troubles for about five to eight minutes at a time and just roll with it. Besides, nobody could ever be as disappointed with you as the King of Cosmos is. Maybe that’s for the best.