Let’s get it out of the way – The name is Japanese, in case the batshit look of the game didn’t give it away, and it translates to “Clump of Souls.” The Clump in question is an ever-growing ball that your character (the Prince of the Cosmos, more on that idiocy in a moment) pushes around and picking all types of things up like a snowball – Only by rolling the ball to a certain sky will you appease your father, the King, who accidentally broke the sky and needs you to harvest all manner of inanimate objects and living creatures who are happily shot into space to perish in everlasting star fire. All of this is implied, but hard to wrap your mind around while playing it, because everyone seems to be so happy to be invited to be conjoined with other people to create the fuel for new stars created in the forge of a dark god who cracked the sky.
Starting the game involves scurrying through mouse holes, avoiding larger objects, picking up gum drops and matchsticks to try and get big enough to start picking up the slightly larger items in the nearby stationary drawer. You have a few minutes to try to grow in size to the point where the items that blocked your path when you started can now become part of your Katamari when you roll over them. This starts as fun and games – Until your clump starts swallowing up mice, cats, dogs, children, adults, elephants, cities, and continents. Throughout the game, the scale changes bit by bit as you maneuver into areas where you can grab the most small stuff sitting around and avoid the big stuff until you’re much bigger than they are. There are specific challenge levels where you have goals, like avoid picking up bears, or try to get all the swans, but those levels are pretty much just an obstacle to get to the next stage of growth in the same levels you scurried through earlier in the game. There’s something immediately satisfying about finding an area full of things that are just the right size, and running amok. Once you progress in the game, you can take a nice roll in the park and start grabbing dozens of screaming people as they flee from your mass of corpses. Oh, and there’s a wide array of Japanese Lounge music. The tone is so incredibly offbeat, and the colors so pastel, that you can’t take any of the horrifying murders you’re perpetrating seriously enough to spoil the fun, even while you’re sucking up continents, weather patterns, and rainbows.
Katamari Damacy has a few PS3 and XBox 360 versions, but none are worth recommending more than any other, as they’re all pretty much identical. Roll your ball around and destroy the entire world in order to placate the prancing ninny that is the King of All Cosmos. Don’t expect any other games in this series, though, as Namco bled the property dry and there are no planned Katamari games upcoming.