Inside Pulse 12

THE TRIBUNAL: Katamari Damacy (PS2)

Katamari Damacy seemed to catch many gamers off guard as of late. Its premise may be simple, but the accolades generated for it have been no less then uplifting. How in the world can a pint-sized character rolling around a ball and having things stick to it generate such an incredible response from the public? Even our own Liquidcross gave this game a high rating. But how does it stack up to those who judge it in…THE TRIBUNAL?!?!?

THE SESSION HAS NOW BEEN CONVENED

*The crowd gathers into the fabled Inside Pulse Tribunal Stadium*

Attention! Attention! All will come to order!

*The crowd refuses to quiet down.*

ORDER! COME TO ORDER!

*Bangs gavel*

(Sigh) Very well, you leave me no choice! BRING IN THE KATAMARI!

*The crowd is rolled into a gigantic ball, and is forced to quiet down.*

Very well. We meet in the fabled Tribunal hall to pass judgment on one of the more…unique releases to arrive in this country: Katamari Damacy. Katamari Damacy, you will rise and step forward.

*The game does so. (Yes, it does. They ALL do. Shut up.)

Katamari Damacy, the Tribunal has brought you forward today for one purpose: to prove yourself to our judges, and to the world. When we first heard about you, you were simply a quirky Japanese title that made little sense. But you’ve seem to have struck a chord with quite a few gamers as of late. Who would have thought a budget-priced game that nearly no one has heard of could simply “roll” into town and create the waves it has? (Roll. HAH!) This is why you are here today: to see exactly what you are capable of.

Your judges today are Lee Baxley, Matt Yeager, and myself. These three have played your adventure quite a bit in order to form fair and unbiased opinions on you. Now…

LET THE JUDGEMENT COMMENCE

JUDGE #1: Lee Baxley

Like most people, I didn’t know what to expect from Katamari Damacy. The name was Japanese, and it seemed like one of those quirky Japanese games that I’m so fond of. But for some reason or another, it fell off my radar. Probably all the other, more hyped games that have been announced for release in the final 3 months of the year. But once it was released, I realized my folly. It was a $20 game, and being that it WAS a quirky Japanese game, it was by default not going to have quite as many made as other games (see anything by Atlus or Nippon Ichi). But I was lucky enough to get it for my birthday.

As for the game itself, it looks like something that Terry Gilliam would make, were he Japanese and stoned out of his mind. The cut scenes are all hilarious, from the crazy King (your character’s father) to the cube shaped Japanese family.

But the game itself shines like the stars you are trying to make. That is, after all, the premise of the game. You, being the prince, have to clean up your father’s mistake. See, he had a bit too much fun destroying stars one day, so he destroyed them all. So you roll around a ball called a Katamari that magnetically picks up anything you roll over, assuming the ball collectively with what you have already rolled up is bigger than what you are trying to roll up. You start off small, picking up thumbtacks and yen coins, and as you roll up more stuff, your Katamari grows in size, and you can start to pick up cats, people, cars, and pretty much everything.

The controls are simple yet complex, and you basically only use the analog sticks. It is so intuitive it’s not even funny. The graphics are kind of blocky, but it’s because of the amount of stuff that they cram onto the screen, as well as a stylistic choice. The music is simply some of the greatest and most catchy themes I’ve ever heard in a game.

This is probably my favorite game out there now. I could easily see it as game of the year. It’s just so unique that I can honestly say I’ve never played ANYTHING like it, which is why it was so much fun. I hope and pray Namco brings the sequel to America.

THE SCORE: 8.5/10

JUDGE #2: Matt Yeager

What do Tetris, Super-Bust-a-Move, and Puyo Puyo Pop have in common with a game whose name I’m not even sure I can pronounce correctly (round my house we just call it Calimari to save time and because we’re witty)? They’re all deceptively simple and super addictive puzzle games. With the odd description of pushing garbage around and it’s super cheap price I had to see what this game was about and I couldn’t be happier.

As far as graphics are concerned it’s not close to being the prettiest game out there but what it lacks in beauty it makes up for in style. Sure it’s a weird style of someone whose dropped a few too many acid tabs but I can honestly say I’ve never played another game like Katamari Damacy. Considering all of the clones or games with slight upgrades that are released nowadays it’s goddamn amazing to have a game come so far out of left field and show everyone that there are still original concepts out there.

The game is only controlled with the analog sticks and is so natural that instead of trying to figure out what brand of crack the creators were smoking you’ll be wondering how come no one ever thought of a game like this before now that dual analog sticks are on every controller. The gameplay is trying to roll the biggest ball of garbage you can but is also so much more than that. You’ve got to think what you want to roll over before you roll it over while trying to get to a certain size within a predefined time limit. Even then it’s not just about how big the ball is, you’re able to view the objects you collect so if your the type of gamer that likes to collect things then hits game has a world of replayability for you. Hell I don’t like collecting stuff in games unless it’s the skulls of my enemies but I’ve gone back to get items because some of them are challenging to get.

Not so sure it’s Game of the Year, but it is one of the most stylish, addictive, and just fun to play games that I’ve had the chance to play this year so far and it’s only $20.

THE SCORE: 8.0/10

JUDGE #3: Alex Williams

Why is it that when I spend $50 on a game, I’m mildly disappointed, yet when I spend $20 on one, I end up playing it for weeks on end? What is this inverse relationship here?

Ah, Katamari Damacy. I’ve never seen another game like it. Rolling things up into a ball may not seem like fun on paper, but just wait until you get into the game. The “things” start out small, like caramels and thumbtacks, but then they get bigger. You end up rolling cats and dogs, Japanese dolls, calculators, rats, PEOPLE, alligators, fish, MORE PEOPLE, bicycles, cars, houses, elephants, and entire towns. Did I mention the satisfying screams you get when you roll over people? It’s soothing, AND sadistic!

Now the graphics are simple. That is, the individual components are basically rendered, and don’t contain a lot of detail. What impresses me is that when you have a gigantic ball rolled up, and everything you have on it is STILL ATTACHED; it’s a sight to behold. Another thing I like is the physics are pretty damn good. Depending on what you attach to you your Katamari and where, you won’t be always rolling a completely flat ball. The physics are as such as when something is jutting out of the side, it can hinder you from rolling a certain way, or even impede your progress. I REALLY liked this feature, as it adds a tiny bit of strategy to the game.

And even though there are only around 15-20 different stages to go in, I always want to go and play them again. It’s very appealing to me when I’m given such a small object, yet I build it up to 100x its size. Building something that great takes time and patients, and it’s all worth it when the stage is over. I truly feel like I’ve accomplished something great when I see that gigantic star in the sky.

This is easily the most unique and fun game of the year. Highly recommended.

THE SCORE: 8.5/10

The Tribunal has spoken! And now, to the final judgment…

SCORE #1: 8.5
SCORE #2: 8.0
SCORE #3: 8.5

FINAL JUDGEMENT: 8.3

It is the decision of this Tribunal that Katamari Damacy is indeed a worthy game with all the attention it is currently getting. Your gameplay is simple, but highly creative and innovative. Your soundtrack is catchy. The humor added in works on so many levels. And even the price is low. You contain all the elements that make a good game great that so many other games whom are victims of the “hype machine” fail to provide. And that is a feat unto itself. So you may go now, and roll yourself a place in gaming history.

THIS SESSION HAS NOW BEEN ADJOURNED

We now dismiss all the attendees to this gathering. But we shall require your presence again, once The Tribunal deems another to prove itself…