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Katamari Damacy, loosely translated as “clump spirit” in Japanese, is a video game published by Namco in 2004 for the PlayStation 2. Originally, the game was only published in Japan, but interest grew in Western audiences prompting Namco to publish a limited and low-cost release of the game overseas. The release in North America was met with unexpected success, leading to several sequels across a multitude of platforms and reaching the cult status.
The game puts the player in the role of a diminutive 10cm character with a cylinder shaped head named “Prince of the Cosmos.” His father, the planet-sized “King of the Cosmos” who speaks mostly incoherent nonsense, gives the Prince the task of restoring various celestial bodies that he knocked out of the sky while intoxicated. To do this, the King gives the Prince a magic sticky ball called a “katamari”.
The katamari has an adhesive property that makes anything smaller than it stick to it, allowing it to grow and eventually collecting increasingly larger objects. The Prince starts by picking up very small objects like ants and thumbtacks, and eventually works his way up to people, vehicles, buildings, land masses, countries, planets, and other stars.
The music is composed of upbeat J-pop songs that have become an iconic aspect of the game, most notably the opening theme. According to Wikipedia, the soundtrack won IGN and GameSpot’s “Soundtrack of the Year 2004” award.
According to GameSpy, it was the top selling game in Japan the week of it’s released in March of 2004, selling 32,000 units. In North America, the game was released on September 22nd, 2004, and received praise from Time Magazine calling it “The most unusual and original game to hit PlayStation2”. In North America it sold over 120,000 copies in 2004.
Shortly after the Western release of the game, web comics Penny Arcade, and VG Cats published comics referencing the game. A Travelers Insurance commercial from 2006 featured the same concept as Katamari, but in an interview with Joystiq the ad company claimed it was coincidence.
As of July 7th, 2011, 345 animations have been created on YTMND, and a Facebook fan page has accumulated over 19,000 likes.
Fan artists have used the Katamari concept to depict many characters and objects relating to a theme:
In March 2011, University of Washington students Alex Leone, David Nufer and David Truong released a java-based bookmarklet that turns any webpage into Katamari Damacy. The project was rewarded the first place at Yahoo University Hack Day contest at University of Washington.
Entertainment Software Association – ELECTRONIC ENTERTAINMENT EXPO 2005 STATE OF THE INDUSTRY ADDRESS