20 Years Later, Katamari Damacy Is Still the Most “Video Game” Video Game

People who grew up playing games often don’t really understand how difficult they are. You actually have to learn how to play them, and it’s fun to spend time playing them with adults who didn’t grow up trying to adapt to using dual analog stick controllers and watching them figure out how to move in 3D space. Thankfully, there are what I like to call gateway games that often help people understand the game as a whole.

These games can come in many different forms: while it may be difficult for those who have trouble playing 3D games, games like this Uncharted are a good introduction because they are familiar, after all many people have seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, and the “movie” atmosphere is easy for newcomers to adapt to.Then you can play games on your console, like Nintendo, a 2D platformer with simple, intuitive motion controls that anyone can play, usually equivalent to left, right, up, down, and jump (I’m simplifying, I know, you don’t have to comment).Then, there are games like this Katama.

Cover image for YouTube videosKatamari Reroll | Trailer released | PS4

Today is the birthday of Katamari Damacy, celebrating its 20th anniversary, a game that was so fresh when it launched that it still stands out even today, all these years later. I think it’s also a game that’s impossible to describe to someone who doesn’t actually play the game. In it, you play a little prince who must use his katama (basically one of those spiked balls you put in a tumble dryer) to roll up anything and turn it into stars and planets, which All because your father, the King of the Universe, unleashed a little too much and destroyed much of our galaxy. In my opinion, this isn’t the most approachable game, and this is coming from one of Kingdom Hearts’ biggest fans.

Suffice to say, somehow this doesn’t actually confuse or put off people who want to get into video games – it’s a bit of a weird concept, but there are a lot of weirdos out there, so it’s entirely possible. But there’s another, bigger problem. The controls are definitely quirky. To be clear, I mean that in the most complimentary way possible, but there’s no denying that they’re pretty weird.

You might think that, like in most other 3D games, to move you’d use the left analog stick, and to lock around you’d use the right analog stick, right? No! Movement in Katamari requires you to move both analog sticks at all times, with different inputs allowing you to move in different ways. For example, pushing both sticks forward moves you forward, pushing only the left stick makes you turn right, and pushing both sticks all the way to the right moves you right, and vice versa.

It’s a strange control scheme that often makes for a difficult and possibly frustrating experience at first. But isn’t moving around a spiked ball that collects pencils, dogs, and buildings a bit of a tricky experience? Honestly, because of its awkwardness, it feels like a very clever but subtle narrative device. While running around as Nathan Drake, shooting bad guys feels like something we’d see in any visual medium, and there’s no way to accurately convey Katamari other than in video game form. experience.

I think it’s essentially the most “video game” of video games due to the fact, especially compared to other games of the time, how arcade-y it was. All of this is greatly enhanced by its incredible Shibuya-kei soundtrack, a genre often compared to elevator music. There’s a whimsical, surreal feel to the soundtrack, and even weirder, some of the tracks have lyrics (think about how many games besides Sonic actually feature songs with lyrics).

Sure, it won’t be liked by everyone, and it’s a hard sell, but that’s what makes it such a special little game two decades later. Some games have come close to capturing its atmosphere, and Donut County is obviously heavily inspired by it, but it also has a more defined story and feels approachable as a result. The only game I can think of that harkens back to the video game era is last year’s excellent Hi-Fi Rush, though even that was helped by a soundtrack from the likes of Nine Inch Nails.

I don’t think we’ll ever see something like Katamari again, or even something that doesn’t achieve the same goal – I can’t play all the games after all – but even now, Katamari still feels right to me , which topped the list of “video games” video games. Now I just need to figure out how to explain this to non-gamers…

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