The Katamari Damacy video games star the Prince of All Cosmos, a small boy with a funny-shaped head who, at his father’s bidding, must roll up objects with a sticky ball called a Katamari. The Katamari grows as you collect more items, and points are awarded for size and speed. The franchise is owned by Namco.
Violence: In the games, you have the ability to roll up boxy, stylized humans with your sticky Katamari. The humans sometimes scream as they are picked up, but as far as the player can tell, no harm comes to them. We Love Katamari includes a series of flashbacks, which depict some angsty teenagers getting into a stylized fistfight and a few punches traded between a son and his emotionally abusive father. These scenes have no dialogue, and they aren’t scary so much as they are thought provoking. Overall, the games are comedies.
Substance Use: Some of the games reference alcohol and tobacco.
Crude Humor: You might encounter a few fart jokes, but they’re rare. In Touch My Katamari (the only game rated E10+), the character Goro the Slacker, a caricature of a video game addict, makes frequent references to “babes” and expresses interest in purchasing a “babe magazine” and of shaking hands with “babes.” Later, a pretty girl kisses him on the cheek and exclaims, “Learning is sexy!”
Nudity and Costuming: The King of All Cosmos, father of the main playable character, is depicted in a flamboyant, skin-tight jumpsuit that leaves little to the imagination.
The games are comprised of a series of levels, accessible from an interactive main menu. You can save the games from these menus. Many levels of the Katamari games are time trials, meaning the player is racing against the clock. You might find it hard to tear your kid away if they’re in the middle of one of these levels, though it is possible to pause.
In Katamari Damacy (the first game in the series), after the King of All Cosmos accidentally destroys all of the stars in the sky, he commissions his son the Prince of All Cosmos to make new stars by rolling up random stuff with sticky balls called Katamari. For the game’s final level, you must help the Prince of All Cosmos replace the moon with the biggest Katamari yet, which is large enough to pick up entire islands. Throughout the game we watch the story of two Japanese children on their way with their mother to watch their father take off on a space shuttle to visit the moon. When the moon disappears, his mission is cancelled. At the end, the family is rolled into the Katamari, which replaces the moon.
The story of We Love Katamari (game number two) surrounds the origin of the King of All Cosmos and his relationship with his father (the previous King of All Cosmos, also known as “Papa”). The two were at odds for many years as the elder never seemed satisfied with his son’s accomplishments. In one scene, Papa throws his son’s second-place trophy off of a bridge. Later, it is revealed that Papa swam into the river to recover the trophy and kept it in secret for years as a reminder of his love for his son. The two are reunited, and the son inherits the role of King, marries a lovely woman, and becomes a father to the game’s main character.
We Love Katamari also has co-op modes and gives players the ability to play as the Prince’s many cousins. The game’s soundtrack is notable because of the numerous Japanese pop artists who contributed tracks.
In Me and My Katamari, the King of All Cosmos accidentally creates a tsunami, which lays waste to a nearby island. The King orders his son to create a new island out of Katamari to serve as an animal sanctuary.
Subsequent games follow similar plot lines—the boisterous King of All Cosmos makes a mistake; his quiet, tiny son the Prince must clean up after him using sticky Katamari. Occasionally we hear stories from side characters along the way, such as the aforementioned Goro the Slacker.
Some levels challenge you to collect only certain kinds of items or have a goal of rolling up a particular person, animal, or thing. It’s a very satisfying game mechanic. Check out some Let’s Play videos on YouTube to see what I mean.
- Do you think it’s fair for the King of All Cosmos to ask so much of his son?
- Do you think that people are hurt when you roll them up? Why or why not?
- Do you know where the stars and the moon really come from?
- Why is the Prince so tiny compared to his parents?
- In these games, success often comes to those who are not perfectionists about their rolling; what can this game teach us about focusing on the bigger picture?