Katamari Damacy (塊魂, Katamari Damashii, lit. "Clump Spirit", or "Clump of Souls") is a third-person puzzle-action video game published and developed by Namco for the PlayStation 2 video game console. It was first released in Japan, and then later in South Korea and North America. It is the first game in the Katamari series.
The game resulted from a school project from the Namco Digital Hollywood Game Laboratory, and was developed for less than $1 million. In designing Katamari Damacy, the development team aimed to maintain four key points: novelty, ease of understanding, enjoyment, and humor.
The game's plot concerns a diminutive prince, who's on a mission to rebuild the stars, constellations, and Moon, which were accidentally destroyed by his father, the King of All Cosmos. This is achieved by rolling a magical, highly adhesive ball called a katamari around various locations, collecting increasingly greater objects, ranging from thumbtacks to people to mountains, until the ball has grown great enough to become a star. Katamari Damacy's story, characters, and settings are bizarre and heavily stylized, rarely attempting any resemblance of realism, though the brands and items used are based on those current in Japan during the game's production.
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 five sequels in Japan and other territories: We ♥ Katamari, Me & My Katamari, Beautiful Katamari, Katamari Forever, and Touch My Katamari.
The game begins with a scene of the King destroying all of the stars and the Moon. The next day, the King is speaking to the Prince about what had happened the night before, about how he felt as one with the Cosmos, and that it was a beautiful symphony of destruction when he destroyed the stars. In the Japanese version of the game, the King openly admits he was drunk at the time, while the English release only implies this. He then tasks the Prince with returning the stars by rolling up objects in the Katamari, hopefully before anyone notices.
The game's main story is told in short cut scene depicting the Hoshino Family. It starts with the children watching a Jumboman cartoon, which is interupted by a news broadcast that all of the stars in the sky, as well as the moon, have suddenly disappeared. When the children try to tell their mother, she laughs and says that such things don't happen.   The story continues as the children go to see the launch of their father's space shuttle, which would have been the first to land on the moon in over 30 years. However, it is called off because the moon is gone and the shuttle has nowhere to land. On the trip to the space center, the children continue to see evidence of the King's and Prince's activity, as they see huge Katamaris and the King himself while travelling. Michiru Hoshino even has an innate connection with the Cosmos, as she can feel then stars return to their rightful place.
As the Prince finishes rolling up the Moon, the Hoshino family gets rolled up into it. Somehow unaffected by the vacuum of space, they decide to take a "lunar family vacation".
The player controls the Prince as he rolls the katamari around houses, gardens, and towns in order to meet certain parameters set by the King of All Cosmos. The player uses the two analog sticks on the DualShock controller in a manner similar to the classic arcade game Battlezone to control the direction the katamari rolls. Other controls can be triggered by the player to gain a quick burst of speed, flip the Prince to the other side of the katamari, and more.
Objects that are smaller than the katamari will stick to it when the player comes into contact with them, while greater objects can be hurdles; colliding at high speed with any may cause objects to fall off the katamari, slowing the player's progress. The game uses size, weight, and surface area to determine if an object will stick to the katamari. This allows slender objects, such as pencils, that are wider than the katamari, to be picked up, and these will alter how the katamari rolls until more objects are picked up. Animals such as cats will chase the katamari, knocking things from it, but once the katamari is great enough, it will scare the animals away, and they can be rolled up once they are chased down. As objects stick to the katamari, the katamari will grow, eventually allowing objects that were once hurdles to be picked up, and creating access to areas that were formerly blocked. In this manner, the player might start the game by picking up thumbtacks and ants, and slowly work up to the point where the katamari is picking up buildings, mountains, and clouds.
Unlike its sequel, We ♥ Katamari, there are only Large as Possible levels, here called "Make a Star". However, by beating stages 4, 8, and the Moon quickly enough and with a large enough Katamari, Eternal stages are unlocked. Eternal stages have no time limit, and can be played as long as the player wants. However, all of these stages have a finite number of objects to roll up and as such have a maximum size.
The "Make A Star" mode in Katamari Damacy is the primary mode, where the player must grow the katamari to a specific size in a limited amount of time.The typical mission given by the King of All Cosmos is the "Make a Star" mode, where the player needs to grow the katamari to a specific size within a given timeframe. Other missions have more specific collecting rules, such as collecting as many items (swans, crabs, pairs) within a given time, or collecting the greatest item possible (such as a cow or bear).The player can attempt a score attack mode for any level, in which they would try to make the greatest katamari possible in the time allotted. Certain levels can unlock an "eternal mode" by creating a katamari twice the goal size. In eternal modes, the player can explore the level with no time limit.
Levels feature two secret items that can be found. The first item is a royal present that contains an object that the Prince can wear. Most gifts are non-functional, but one includes a camera that can be used to take in-game screenshots. The other secret item is a cousin of the Prince, which, once rolled up in main gameplay, can be used as a character in the various multiplayer modes. The game also tracks which objects the player has collected at any time, allowing them to review all the various objects within the game.Multiplayer mode in Katamari Damacy.In the two-player mode, a player can choose to play as either the Prince or one of his numerous Cousins. The screen is split vertically; player one is on the left, and player two is on the right. Players compete simultaneously in a small arena to collect the most objects within three minutes. The playfield is replenished with new objects periodically. Players can ram into each other, knocking items from their opponents' katamaris, and if one player leads by a fair amount, then it is possible to roll up the opponent's katamari.
Toru Iwatani, head of research and development for Namco, stated that the idea for Katamari Damacy resulted from Keita Takahashi's school project from the Namco Digital Hollywood Game Laboratory, a sponsored institute for game development education similar to Nintendo sponsored DigiPen. Keita Takahashi's final thesis bore out the core gameplay ideas, while a team of ten (including the student) developed the final product. The game was developed for less than US$1 million, a tenth of the cost of Namco blockbuster titles such as Ridge Racer or Soulcalibur. The game took a year and a half to develop, with eight months of prototyping.
Lead developer Keita Takahashi said that the team was aiming for four key points in developing the game: novelty, ease of understanding, enjoyment, and humor. Iwatani compared the game to Namco's Pac-Man, which focused on simplicity and innovation, and served as a template for future games from the company. At one point during development, Takahashi "proactively ignored" advice from Namco to increase the complexity of the game.
The game was not originally planned to be The Prince's first appearance; Takahashi had designed a racing game where the Prince would control a boy steering a go-cart, running over buildings across the world; the game was dropped by Namco.
Katamari Damacy was first revealed at the 2003 Tokyo Game Show, at which the press dubbed it a "snowball simulator". The image featured on the cover of the pre-release demo showed a "Tamakorogashi", a large ball used in "undoukai", a game played by Japanese schoolchildren that was an influence for the game. Plans for releasing the game in Western countries were tied to its performance in Japan. Katamari Damacy was first shown in the United States at the Experimental Gameplay Workshop during the March 2004 Game Developers Conference. Due to its popularity at trade shows and a write-in campaign, Namco decided to release the game in the United States, Katamari Damacy was released in Japan at about two-thirds of the cost of a new title, while the cost was less than half the cost of a new game for its United States release. Europe,
In Japanese, Katamari (塊) means "clump" or "clod" and Damashii is the rendaku form of tamashii (魂) which means "soul" or "wit". Therefore, the phrase approximates to "clump spirit" (in the same sense as "team spirit" or "school spirit", meaning "enthusiasm"; cf. the use of "damashii" in Yamato-damashii). The two kanji that form the name look similar (sharing the same right-side element 鬼), in a kind of visual alliteration. The name is officially transliterated as Katamari Damacy in most releases. In an interview with Dengeki Online, producer Keita Takahashi said that when asked about the title, "It just popped into my head suddenly, and this is what it has been from the beginning."
The music in Katamari Damacy was widely hailed as imaginative and original (winning both IGN's and GameSpot's "Soundtrack of the Year 2004" awards), and was considered one of the game's best features. The soundtrack was released in Japan as Katamari Fortissimo Damacy. Its eclectic composition featured elements of traditional electronic video game music, as well as heavy jazz and samba influences (Shibuya-kei). Most of the tracks were composed by Yū Miyake, and many feature vocals from popular J-pop singers, such as Yui Asaka from the Sukeban Deka 3 TV series, and anime voice actors, including Nobue Matsubara and Ado Mizumori. One track is sung and written by Charlie Kosei, composer of the Lupin III soundtrack.
|No.||Title||Japanese title (literal translation)||Length|
|1.||"Katamari Nah-Nah"||ナナナン塊 ("Nananan Katamari")||1:21|
|2.||"Katamari on the Rocks ~ Main Theme"||塊オンザロック～メインテーマ||5:57|
|4.||"The Moon & The Prince"||月と王子||5:30|
|6.||"Lonely Rolling Star"||LONELY ROLLING STAR||5:44|
|7.||"Walking on a Star!"||ステキ星のさんぽはステキ ("The Wonderful Star's Walk is Wonderful")||3:12|
|8.||"Katamari Mambo [Katamari Syndrome Re-mix]"||katamari mambo～塊シンドロームmix||5:35|
|9.||"You Are Smart"||You Are Smart||3:32|
|10.||"Gin & Tonic & Red Red Roses"||真っ赤なバラとジントニック ("A Crimson Rose and a Gin Tonic")||4:29|
|11.||"WANDA WANDA"||WANDA WANDA||3:23|
|12.||"Que Sera Sera"||ケ・セラ・セラ||5:31|
|13.||"Angel Gifts"||天使風味の贈り物 ("Angel Flavor's Present")||5:08|
|14.||"Roll Me In"||カタマりたいの ("Katamaritaino")||5:53|
|16.||"Cherry Tree Times"||さくらいろの季節 ("Cherry Blossom Color Season")||6:14|
|20.||"Katamari of Love ~ Ending Theme"||愛のカタマリ～エンディングテーマ||4:09|
|21.||"Katamari March Damacy"||塊マーチ魂||2:21|
"Katamari Damacy" enjoyed moderate success in Japan. The game was sold at about two-thirds of the price of a new game at the time. It was the top selling game the week of its release with 32,000 units sold. Nearly 156,000 units were sold in 2004. However, Namco originally estimated that over 500,000 units would be sold in Japan.
"Katamari Damacy" was one of the recipients of the 2004 Good Design Award in Japan, the first time a video game has won this award. It also received what was at the time the highest ever review score given by UK website Play TM (formerly Ferrago). The site awarded the game 96%, stating that it is "one of the greatest video games ever made".
The game was not released in PAL territories such as Europe and Australia, since publishers thought it was too "quirky" for these markets; however, Electronic Arts picked up both sequels, "We ♥ Katamari" and "Me & My Katamari", for release in Europe.
The North American release of the game was very well-received by professional reviewers, was mentioned and praised on TechTV, and was a featured sidebar in the May 23, 2004 edition of "Time" magazine. "Time" continued to praise the game in its November 22, 2004 "Best games of the year" special, calling it "the most unusual and original game to hit PlayStation2". Most retailers underestimated the demand for such a quirky game, and only purchased a few copies of this sleeper hit; it rapidly sold out nationwide, with sales surpassing 120,000 units in North America. It also won the U.S. award for "Excellence in Game Design" at the 2005 Game Developers Choice Awards, and G4techTV awarded "Katamari Damacy" its "Best Innovation" prize in its G-Phoria of that year.
Although the game has rapidly achieved a cult following and has been praised by many reviewers, it also has its share of criticism. A common complaint is that the game is relatively short and repetitive—it can be completed in under ten hours, and the gameplay stays virtually the same all the way through. However, others, such as "Electronic Gaming Monthly" reviewer Mark McDonald, argue that the game's limitations are made up for by its strengths: "Sure, you're basically doing the same thing each mission, but Katamari's elegant controls, killer soundtrack, and wicked humor make it perfectly suited for replay." As a well-executed, non-traditional game, "Katamari Damacy" has been influential in the game development community. Since its release, a number of designers have developed works inspired by "Katamari": among them "Isostar", "The Wonderful End of the World", and "Cloud".
The Katamari series is most notable for its quirky artistic take on in-game objects. Though simple in design, tons of details can be put into the objects' texture maps, while the basic shape of the object is less detailed.
This visual design comes largely from necessity. As the game was released fairly early into the life of the PS2, the large number of objects that needed to be generated caused the system to slow down. By reducing the polygon count, more objects could be rendered and displayed at once. Additionally, every object picked up by the Katamari is continuously rendered, often with animation, and as more objects get picked up, this can slow down the system processor.
Objects are drawn inside of a "bounding box," a three-dimentional container, which tells the game how large the object is, including any empty space that may be in it. For this reason, complex items like an open umbrella are more difficult to pick up than otherwise "larger" objects, such as a car. This can go as far as defying common sense, as a pencil can be easier to pick up than a smaller object; since it is long and narrow, it has less volume than something of similar size to the Katamari, such as an eraser.
Presents & Cousins
In the original game, Royal Presents were introduced, which are located in various levels in the game, often where you least expect them to be. They also introduced Cousins, which appear in every level after finishing the game once. You don't need to roll them up in order to choose them in multiplayer mode; instead, as you progress through the game, more cousins become available to be played with. Rolling them up will only add them to your collection. When rolled up in the level, the King of All Cosmos will announce them by name, describe them, and then declare them as being "disturbing", usually using some form of hypocrisy in his description.
The first Cousins were released during this game:
The first sequel to vKatamari Damacy", "We ♥ Katamari" (みんな大好き塊魂, Minna Daisuki Katamari Damashii, literally Everyone Loves Katamari Damacy), was released in Japan on July 5, 2005, North America on September 20, 2005 (some retailers, such as Target, released it early), and Europe in February 2006. "We ♥ Katamari" is essentially the same as "Katamari Damacy" in its gameplay, controls, and graphics, but adds several new options, such as co-operative play and new scoring system in different levels; monetary value of the objects picked up, the weight of a sumo wrestler depending on the food he has eaten, etc. The sequel is substantially longer, and its plot is very self-referential, it deals with the fans the King of All Cosmos and his son have attracted since the first "Katamari" game.
Namco has also brought the "Katamari" franchise to the PlayStation Portable in the form of "Me & My Katamari" (僕の私の塊魂, Boku no Watashi no Katamari Damashii, literally " My My Katamari Damacy" using the two words in Japanese for "I" which connote a masculine ('boku') or neutral ('watashi') speaker]]). This sequel is set on an island ravaged by a tsunami (brought upon by the Royal Family's vacation, where they were splashing around in the ocean), and features a day and night system, as well as different seasons. WindySoft (now known as JUNEiNTER), a South Korean developer, has announced plans for a Katamari Damacy Online game, which was due to be released later in 2007, but never made it to the US. "Beautiful Katamari" was released for the Xbox 360 in October 2007. A PlayStation 3 version was announced but was canceled shortly after. Director Jun Morikawa stated, however, that a PS3-version, as well as a Wii version, will make it to the consoles soon.
There was also a mobile version released called Katamari Damacy Mobile, which was actually a sequel to Katamari Damacy-kun, which was a 2D side scrolling mobile version of Katamari, and was later used in the closing credit mini-game of Me & My Katamari.
In November 2008, Namco released a cellphone version of the game titled "Rolling With Katamari".
In December 2008, Namco also released an iPhone and iPod Touch sequel called "I Love Katamari", available at the Apple App Store.
In February 2009, the Official Japanese Katamari Website, posted news about an upcoming Nintendo DSi download game via DSi Ware, based on the Katamari world. There has been no information released to date concerning availability outside of Japan.
In March 2009, Famitsu revealed that a new game, Katamari Tribute later renamed "Katamari Forever" was released for the PS3 in July 2009 in Japan and in North America on September 2009. The article also mentioned that this would be the first game in the series to be rendered in full 1080p HD.
Also, in March 2009, NamcoBandai released "Korogashi Puzzle Katamari Damacy" for the DS. It was a falling-block puzzle game similar to Tetris, with little resemblance to the rest of the Katamari series. To clear a puzzle, the player used the prince to drop a Katamari into the playing field. Still though, it tied into the series in a tangential way.
The Prince also made an appearance in "Pac-Man World Rally".
The Prince is also an available as an assist that can be obtained post-game in Keroro RPG: Kishi to Musha to Densetsu no Kaizoku.
In March 2010, Namco announced that it is releasing a patch for its games that are available on the iPhone to be available on the iPad. I Love Katamari will be one of these games.
In December 2018, Katamari Damacy: Reroll was released for the Nintendo Switch.
- Official websites
- Other websites