Katamari (series)

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Katamari
Genres Third-person puzzle-action
Developers Namco, Namco Bandai, NOW Productions
Publishers Namco, Namco Bandai
Creators Keita Takahashi
Original release Katamari Damacy – 2004

The Katamari series is a series of video games which puts players in control of a character called The Prince as he uses a ball called a katamari to roll up objects. The first title in the series was Katamari Damacy for the PlayStation 2, which became a cult classic and led to several sequels and spin-offs. It was followed by We Love Katamari, also for the PlayStation 2.

Gameplay and setting[edit]

In most games, players typically control the player character The Prince as he is ordered to do various tasks by the King of All Cosmos; for example, in the first title, the King binge drinks and inadvertently destroys all of the stars in the cosmos, to which The Prince is now tasked with fixing. To do this, The Prince uses an object called a katamari, which can roll up certain objects, depending on the Katamari's relative size to them. Players typically control the katamari using two analog sticks; players move forward and backward by pushing the analog sticks in that direction simultaneously. They can turn the katamari by pushing only one stick in the desired direction or pushing the sticks in opposite directions to do so faster. Players may also do a 180 turn that causes the Prince to jump on the other side of the Katamari typically by pressing the two sticks down into the controller. Players may cause the katamari to roll at high speeds typically by rapidly moving the two sticks in opposite directions back and forth. Players may also cause The Prince to jump and get a better look at the world by pressing L1. More recently, players are given the ability called the "Prince Hop" as well as look at the world in the first person.

Before each level, the King will often go on a nonsensical rant to The Prince, and refers to himself in the first person plural. In most levels, players are presented with a specific size that they must reach as well as a time that they must reach it by. As the katamari collects more objects, it becomes larger, as demonstrated by a size chart on its HUD. In earlier levels, players are given a katamari similar to the Prince's size, which allows him to only roll up small objects such as tacks and ants. Later levels allow the katamari to grow much larger to the point where it can roll up buildings and clouds. As it becomes larger, the katamari is then able to pick up larger objects. Living creatures will sometimes attack the katamari if it is smaller than them; once it becomes a certain size, they will often attempt to flee from it. If the katamari is only barely able to pick a living creature up, they will be knocked away; if they are not rolled up in time, they will escape. If players are attacked or crash, the katamari will sometimes lose items. If players roll up a long, slender object such as a pencil, it will sometimes juxtapose out and cause the katamari to roll awkwardly until more objects are rolled up. In more recent games, players can hit a glowing pillar that causes all items close to the katamari that are small enough to be sucked into it.

As players reach certain size milestones, the King will often appear in the middle of the screen and speak to players. In some levels, this will precede a cutscene alerting players that a new area has opened up. If players fail to reach this size in the time allotted, they are punished by the King. If they are able to reach the required size in time, they may continue making it bigger. At the end of the stage, they are judged on their size as well as the time it took to reach the required size; if they only barely exceeded the required size, they are criticized for it; if they manage to exceed it by a significant enough margin, they are given praise. If it is the players' first completion of the level, the King will automatically transform it into a star; if it is not, they are asked if they would like to turn it into a star or into stardust. Additionally, if they reach the size fast enough, a shooting star will be unlocked for the star. As an additional reward found in some of the games, players may be allowed to play a specific level without a time limit which allows them to play indefinitely.

Not all levels follow this format; for example, some do not have a timer, and instead require players to do a certain task, such as rolling a snowball to a certain size and putting it on a snowman. Some levels also require players to pick up a specific item, such as in the cow or bear levels where players are tasked with rolling up the largest of that specific animal. Each level is presented on a stage select screen, and can be replayed multiple times after being completed. Each level also typically has two specific objects in them: one of The Prince's cousin which, after obtaining, can be used either in multi-player only or in multi-player and single-player, depending on the game. The other is a "Royal Present", which, after obtaining, may be used as an accessory for The Prince or cousins. The games keep record of every item rolled up, and players may view them in a book, which shows specific categories of items as well as % complete for each. Two players may play cooperatively or competitively together; in the cooperative mode, players are tasked with sharing control of the Katamari together with one player controlling one half of controlling the Katamari while another player controls the other in stages that resemble the single-player mode. The competitive mode puts two players against each other as they compete in an arena-like setting to get the largest sized Katamari; if one grows large enough, it can roll up the other player's katamari. Both modes are played with a timer.

Video games[edit]

Game Platform Release date
Katamari Damacy PlayStation 2 September 21, 2004
We Love Katamari PlayStation 2 September 20, 2005
Me & My Katamari PlayStation Portable March 21, 2006
Katamari Damacy Mobile Mobile phones June 1, 2007
Beautiful Katamari Xbox 360 October 16, 2007
Rolling with Katamari Mobile phones November 1, 2008
I Love Katamari iOS, Windows Phone, Android December 14, 2008
Korogashi Puzzle Katamari Damacy DSiWare March 25, 2009
Katamari Forever PlayStation 3 September 22, 2009
Katamari Amore iOS September 29, 2011
Touch My Katamari PlayStation Vita February 22, 2012

The first video game released in the series was Katamari Damacy, which was released for the PlayStation 2 on March 18, 2004 in Japan. Due to the critical and commercial reception that it received, Namco Bandai followed it up with a sequel also for the PlayStation 2 titled We Love Katamari. It was mostly the same as its predecessor with the exception of some additional content and slightly improved physics. A sequel was made for the PlayStation Portable titled Me & My Katamari, which used a different scenario and different gameplay which required players to utilize the d-pad or analog nub and the face buttons in absence of the dual analog sticks used in most Katamari games. A mobile phone version of Katamari was released titled Katamari Damacy Mobile, a simpler game than its console counterparts which utilizes both tilt controls as well as more traditional controls. Another sequel, Beautiful Katamari, marked the first major Katamari title to be released for a non-PlayStation console as well as the first to support high-definition television resolutions of 720p, 1080i and 1080p. While initially planned for both PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, the former version was cancelled. The most recent title in the series is Touch My Katamari which was released exclusively for the PlayStation Vita.

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