We Love Katamari

Keita Takahashi: Why I left Namco

"I didn't belong there any more."

Katamary Damacy and Noby Noby Boy creator Keita Takahashi has for the first time explained his decision to quit publisher Namco Bandai after 11 years working for the company.

Katamari was comment on consumerism

"I don't use drugs at all" - Takahashi.

At his talk at last week's Game Developers Conference, Namco Bandai's Keita Takahashi revealed that he intended his first game, cult hit Katamari Damacy, to be a comment on consumer culture.

Katamari creator not keen on Wii

Or doing inevitable KD sequels.

Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi has revealed that he's not too excited about the Nintendo Wii, on account of it having a funny controller.

Namco says We Kill Katamari

No more, says website.

Namco has put paid to speculation about a new Katamari Damacy game by, er, dissolving the development team and declaring that it won't be making any more.

FeatureProof that We Love Katamari

Roll up the internet!

People like a lot of games. We enjoy picking them up, playing them, getting as far as our interest will take us and then putting them down again. But what constitutes a game that we love? What makes a game so compelling, so rich, that it develops a fanbase whose adulation of the title reaches far beyond the point where the controller is put back on the table and the game box back on the shelf?

Katamari t-shirts on sale now

Designed by Takahashi himself.

Do you love Katamari? Then you might be interested in a new range of t-shirts that have been designed by none other than the series' creator, Keita Takahashi, together with his chum Ryo Kimura.

Katamari creator unhappy

Doesn't love his own sequel.

Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi has gone on record to state that he was coerced into making a sequel to the game against his better judgement (again) - and that he's not entirely pleased with the finished product.

We Love Katamari

We Love Katamari

For all the world, it's not a sequel.

"It came to a point where the company was willing to release a sequel without me," Keita Takahashi has said of his reluctance to make this game. History will show that he then got on board and didn't make one anyway. We Love Katamari is an anti-sequel. It doesn't really continue or escalate (on the latter point - we rolled up the world last time, so how could it?); it manipulates itself under the guise of celebration and repopulation.

We Love Katamari is literally about how much we all loved Katamari. Having identified the King of All Cosmos as one of the first game's crowning achievements, Takahashi and his team have channelled the game's popularity into the man with the suspicious bulge, using his fascination with, well, our fascination to their advantage, presenting subtle refinements as tasks dreamt up by fans of the original game that the King now feels obligated to act upon. Albeit only after he's been paid some sycophantic compliment and dispatched the long-suffering prince in his stead. Genius. So what does the King conclude we liked about the first game? "Our magnificent chin."

Running into and alongside the original game rather than beyond it, We Love Katamari is likely to appeal to virtually everybody - good news for those of us in Europe who never got to play the first game, and cause enough to quickly re-establish the basics, much as the game does. Using two analog sticks to roll around (probably the best use of two sticks since the invention of fire) in a manner that you could probably compare to caterpillar tracks on each side of a tank, you navigate a deliberately blocky stylised world where literally anything of the right size can stick to your ball, called a katamari. As your katamari grows, you can roll up larger objects, and their individual shapes and sizes are reflected in the ball's own shape and mass, both of which are reflected in its dynamic movement. Pick up a pencil and the katamari will bobble up on each end; pick up a ton-weight and it'll roll slowly until it reaches the peak and then fast as it descends. For pencil, later you roll up the post office. For ton-weight, later you roll Alaska.

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Katamari PC desktop toy

Cue roll-licking praise.

As those of you who lament my continued employment often note (somewhat perilously given that I have access to the Accounts Management page), we like loud and silly things over here. Imagine our delight this morning, then, when we woke up to be greeted with news of a downloadable Katamari desktop toy from Namco?

Fresh from claiming that Namco basically coerced him into making a second Katamari Damacy game by threatening to do a rubbish one without him, our current favourite game designer Keita Takahashi has apparently told Hardcore Gamer Magazine that he isn't a big gamer and finds most of them boring.

Katamari creator coerced

Into sequel. Naughty Namco!

Katamari Damacy creator Keita Takahashi has revealed that he originally had no intention of making a sequel to the game - until publisher Namco threatened to do one without him.

We Love Katamari

We Love Katamari

Keita Takahashi's insane creation keeps rollin' rollin' rollin'...

It was love at first sight. We do love Katamari; in fact, we loved Namco's Katamari Damacy from the moment we set eyes on it. Our initial burst of enthusiasm for the bonkers concept, which made us giddy like teenagers and curled something in the pits of our stomachs with excitement as the arrival date of our import gaming care package loomed, settled into a contented and affectionate long-term relationship in which the spark never died. Katamari never ceased to surprise us during the courtship, and even when we'd seen all of its best tricks - even when we'd let out those little moans of pleasure at discovering that thing it could do where it let you roll up entire islands - familiarity never bred contempt, and we were happy to come back to Katamari on a regular basis for more of the same comfortable, psychedelic madness.

The majority of you reading this, sadly, won't have had the chance to love Katamari like we do. We have a habit of picking great but underappreciated games and banging on about them until our readers actually go and buy them - ICO being a prime example. That's not some badge of honour - we feel it's our duty. But Katamari Damacy is a more tragic case than most. When we banged on about Katamari Damacy, it wasn't our readers who needed convincing - it was Namco and the rest of the European publishing industry, who passed over the game with a sneer. Too niche. Too quirky. Too hard to market. Too Japanese.

So if you're a well-behaved Euro-consumer who hasn't attracted the ire of our corporate overlords at Sony for importing or, god forbid, chipping, you've probably never played Katamari Damacy. You're missing out. The game used an incredibly simple but totally new concept - you roll around a ball collecting objects that start out very small (thumbtacks, matches, pieces of sushi, sweets), gradually growing your "katamari" and picking up larger and larger objects (flowerpots, cats, bicycles, humans, cars, houses...) until you're eventually huge enough to pluck whales and oil tankers from the ocean and stars out of the sky. In order to let you do this seamlessly, without load delays or anything daft like that when you pass certain size thresholds, the game used a stylised art style where everything looked almost as if it was made of Lego, adding to the surreal feeling of the whole affair. Top it off with the fantastic plot - which saw the hilarious Cosmo King getting drunk and knocking the stars out of the sky, and sending the tiny Prince down to earth to roll up things to make new ones - and one of the best game soundtracks we've ever heard, and you had a pretty impressive package.

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Katamari creator at GDCE

Discussing development process.

Keita Takahashi - creator of cult hit Katamari Damacy - will deliver a keynote speech at this year's Game Developers Conference Europe discussing the game's development process on day three of the event. He will also offer a preview of gameplay innovations featured in his latest project, We Love Katamari, it was revealed today.

Namco says: We Love Katamari

Is the name of the US version of Minna Daisuki Katamari Damacy. Due out Stateside later this year.

Namco has announced that the PS2 sequel to Katamari Damacy will be released in the US "later this year", whenever the hell that is. And it will be called "We Love Katamari", rather appropriately - a reference to the story, which sees the now-popular King Of All Cosmos fulfilling fan requests for more katamari (the rolling stars, y'know).

Katamari Damacy 2 dated, new screenshots

The ball will soon be in our court.

Lonely rolling stars will be flaring up again this summer as Namco reveals that Minna Daisuki Katamari Damacy - or Katamari Damacy 2 for the sake of what little sanity the original left us with - will be released in Japan on 7th July.