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A PS2 Game Review

Katamari Damecy

By Le Chupacabra

I’ ll say it flat out: Katamari Damacy is the most enjoyable video game I've ever had!

As if the name wasn't enough to warrant a few frowns and quizzical glances, then the contents of the game will have 'normal' people thinking that anyone playing this title deserves to be locked away in a padded chamber!

As it is, The King of All Cosmos™ got a little…um…tipsy one night and knocked a "few" stars out of the sky. Realising his mistake he immediately sends for his pint-sized son to cover up for daddy's giant

Playing as the miniscule Prince, you control a ball called a Katamari. Anything that touches the Katamari sticks to its surface and allows it to grow larger. The idea behind this is that you'll have to roll over and cause items to stick to your Katamari and once you've completed that level's objective, the King will take those items and transform them into one of them any stars that he...uh…misplaced.

What's hard to describe is how awesome the gameplay feels. The Katamari is controlled via both Analog Sticks and much like a tank; pulling or pushing both sticks moves the Katamari back and forth while pushing one and pulling the other allows for turning. Due to the simplicity of the controls, you can pay attention to what counts the most: the gameplay. By rolling around, you collect things from thumbtacks to peanuts to…well…the sky's the limit in this game, I swear! This game is probably the ultimate collect-'em-up…bar none! The more items that stick to the Katamari, the bigger it grows. Odd shaped items also affect how your Katamari rolls, so if pencils and poles start attaching themselves it could either make things easier or harder. Since you're so small, bumping into too-large objects often knocks some items off. Bumping into fast moving critters like mice and snails (oops, did I say fast?) does the same. In the early levels, you'll learn to fear mice the same way the wizards in Harry Potter fear Voldem…er…You-Know-Who. Later you'll grow to literally titanic proportions; whales, elephants and giant squid are incorporated into your bulk like they were mere ants. There's an immensely satisfying feeling of power as you roll up people. They try to scarper from you, screaming like they they're seeing Godzilla all over again (it is Japan after all!), but nevertheless they soon become part of you! That's the odd thing about this game. I mean sure, there are fun level-specific objectives like time limits and collecting, say, as many crabs as possible so that the Cancer constellation can be reformed. But other than that, it's just the sheer joy of rolling around and running amuck with the Katamari that keeps you playing on and on and on. Due to the fact that there are near-infinite items and that the game lists what you have and haven't picked up, there's an odd yet burning desire to go back and see what you've missed. You'll also try to see how insanely large you can get within set time limits when entire cities get rolled up just like that, you're probably having the time of your life then!

If the sheer fun and absurdity of gameplay don't keep you clamouring for more, then the absolutely eclectic soundtrack will. The music has one general theme which the game keeps playing repeatedly but with great variations. It'll be a single-instrument ditty at first but soon it breaks out into an all-out cacophony of electronica. To say that the music is addictive is a gross understatement; the tunes will get stuck in your heads for WEEKS after you've stopped playing! Seriously, it's impossible to not get enough of such awesome music! The King is vocalised weirdly, with each word sounding like turn-table scratches it's odd to hear but strangely endearing all at once. Also, some of the stuff he says is so effing random and bizarre that you'll be at a loss for words. But it's all in good fun and this truly gives the King a keen sense of being. The same holds true for most of writing in the game and it's usually of the 'utterly hilarious' variety.

Graphics-wise, this game is an oddity (I sense a pattern emerging…). The items look very angular and sharp and the live objects look more like Lego toys. Infact, if you're used to the best high-res graphical tricks of today, then you may as well pass out… In other words, the game looks very outdated… Yet, that's where a lot of its charm stems from. Since there's no need for any advanced graphical bells-and-whistles, the simple yet bold graphics allowed the developers to just fill the entire game world with life. There are so many objects strewn about utterly randomly, and yet in Katamari Damacy, there always seems to be a pattern to this seeming madness.

It's certainly different and the more you play it, the more endearing the looks become, believe me on this one!

I assume that I'm probably the only here who's so excited about this game, but it shouldn't be so. If words like 'fun', 'enjoyable' and 'bizarre' ever took solid form, they'd turn into a disc containing the game Katamari Damacy - and 'tis the damned truth!


Compiled by Raya Mahbuba

The Simpsons first hit the TV screen on April 19, 1987 as a minute long "buffer" cartoon, shown before and after commercials in the Tracey Ullman show. Simpsons creator Matt Groening was then drawing the comic strip Life In Hell. Then one day, Matt got a call from James L Brooks (now executive producer of The Simpsons). James had seen Matt's comic strip and wanted him to do some animation for the Tracey Ullman show.

Matt, who was planning to use his Life In Hell characters, changed his mind at the last moment and came up with The Simpsons. He named them after his own family: father Homer, mother Margaret (he thought Marge was a funnier name) and sisters Lisa and Maggie. He called the then main character Bart, which is an anagram of 'brat'.

Although the animation and voices of the characters were extremely crude in comparison with more current Simpsons episodes, the shorts were a big hit. In 1989 Fox commissioned a whole series: 13 full-length episodes. The animation was still a little raw, but the show was a huge hit nonetheless.

Over the years The Simpsons have won the hearts of its audience and critics alike. The series has bagged numerous awards including 21 Emmy Awards, 22 Annie Awards and a Peabody. On February 9, 1997, The Simpsons surpassed The Flintstones as the longest-running prime time animated series in America. TIME magazine has named The Simpsons the best television series of the 20th century. It also put Bart Simpson on the Time 100, the publication's list of the century's 100 most influential people. He was the only fictional character on the list. On January 14, 2000 the Simpsons were awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Naturally, animated characters depend upon voices to help bring them to life, and the Simpsons are no exception. The voices behind these characters include Dan Castellaneta as Homer, Julie Kavner as Marge, Nancy Cartwright as Bart, Yeardley Smith as Lisa and series regulars Harry Shearer and Hank Azaria. Among its countless guest stars are Kelsey Grammer and David Hyde Pierce (who play brothers in both The Simpsons and Frasier), Buzz Aldrin (Deep Space Homer), David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson (The Springfield Files), Stephen Hawking (They Saved Lisa's Brain), Serena and Venus Williams (Tennis The Menace), Tony Blair, J.K. Rowling and Ian McKellen (The Regina Monologue when the Simpsons go to London), Simon Cowell (You call that a punch? I felt it, but it was like 'So what?'…
You know what I say? I say 'next'!), 50 Cent (Pranksta Rap) and Fantasia Barrino (A Star Is Torn).

The 17th season of The Simpsons will premiere on FOX on September 11th 2005, but here in Star-World-land we're still stuck in 2003 watching season 15. D'OH!! There's also talk of a movie scheduled to come out in 2008. The movie might signal the end of the series but many television series have continued to run after spinning off a feature film, including The X-Files.

The reason behind the success of The Simpsons maybe because of its innate ability to humourously reflect events in the real world, because it takes below the belt jabs at celebrities and politicians, because of the jokes or the guest stars. According to Matt Groening the following dialogue from The Simpsons sums it all up:

Marge: Homer, it's the thought that counts. The moral of this story is a good deed is its own reward.

Bart: Hey, we got a reward. The head is cool.
Marge: Well then... I guess the moral is no good deed goes unrewarded.
Homer: Wait a minute. If I hadn't written that nasty letter, we wouldn't've gotten anything.
Marge: Well... then I guess the moral is the squeaky wheel gets the grease.
Lisa: Perhaps there is no moral to this story.
Homer: Exactly! It's just a bunch of stuff that happened.
Marge: But it certainly was a memorable few days.
Homer: Amen to that!





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