Revisiting The Katamari Series.

In my first blog post I looked back on my experience of playing ‘Me and My Katamari’ when I first got it in 2007. I mentioned that when I got to the last blog post I’d replay it and reflect on my experience.

Well, this is my last post. I will be looking at my experience replaying ‘Me and My Katamari’, and my experience of playing ‘Katamari Damacy’ for the first time. I want to compare not only the actual games, but also the consoles.

Starting a new game for ‘Me and My Katamari’ felt like I was greeting an old friend. Seriously, I already had three saved and completed games on my PSP. I used to play this game a lot. However, this time around I actually payed attention to the story and the dialogue, rather than just getting the gist of it and diving straight in. My impatience all those years ago can certainly account for some confusion as to what I had to do and why. The entire games’ concept suddenly made so much more sense.

Me&my-katamari-screenshot

Screenshot of ‘Me and My Katamari’.

It took me all of five minutes to remember the controls (which are a little complicated) and get back into the groove of playing the game. Somehow I remembered all the levels and the best ways to complete them. I was left feeling satisfied and proud of myself as a result. I remembered each of the animals who ask for an island, but only just realised the genius behind their assignments. For example, a ‘smart’ island for the dolphin, and a ‘loud’ island for the cicadas. I’m not saying I didn’t get the connections previously, but I certainly appreciate them now.

KatamariDamacyboxPlaying ‘Katamari Damacy’, the first game in the Katamari series, on a PS2 emulator on my laptop was sort of weird. This was for a number of reasons; chief of which was the fact that figuring out the controls took a couple levels because there were 24 different keys to remember. It certainly changes the entire experience of playing a PS2 game, when suddenly you have to press keyboard keys instead of controller buttons.

I have to say that while the games themselves are so similar they produced varying reactions and feelings.

Playing the PSP game felt more intimate and I could curl up in bed and play. I took it with me as I moved around the house. I picked it up and put it down as I went about my day. And I didn’t need to check no one wanted to watch the only TV in our house. I became absorbed in it; with my head phones in and the seriously wicked soundtrack blocking everything else out.

Playing the PS2 game I felt like I was committing to playing for a longer time. I settled in. It’s not the sort of game I played to pass a couple minutes, rather to pass a couple hours. I wasn’t as immersed in the game, but I think that is because the sound wasn’t working and it wasn’t on the big TV.

IMG_0209

Playing ‘Katamari Damacy’ on my laptop.

Shaw (2010 p.411) states that video games encourage flow, a “state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost for the shear sake of doing it”.

I think that this quote really sums up my experience with the Katamari series. They’re these strange yet captivating games, which appear completely illegible upon first glance. But you realise that it makes perfect sense, and is funny and cute, if you just look past that initial stereotypic perception of ‘quirky Asianess’. Sure it’s quirky, but we need to make sure we look past that, and realise that such a concept cannot (and should not) be limited to one group or genre.

– Gabi

 

References:

Shaw, A 2010, “What is Video Game Culture? Cultural Studies and Game Studies”, Games and Culture, vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 403-424

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7 comments

  1. Really interesting post!

    I really resonated with your statement that the experience of playing handheld games a comfortable and intimate experience – this is probably why I love handheld games so much, how you can create a space anywhere you like to game 🙂

    Would be interesting to hear some of the opinions of other handheld gamers, perhaps you could run a poll saying whether people prefer the experience of playing console or handheld and why? 🙂

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  2. You mention that while the first game was grounded to a console, you used an emulator to play the second one and that you felt more connected to ‘Katamari Damacy’ because of the flexibility of using a laptop. It is interesting to think that the game was made to be played on the Playstation 2 console, but perhaps you would have had a worse experience playing it as it was meant to be played. Because you used the emulator you were able to play the game on your own terms and felt like you had a more riveted and rounded experience. I think this says a lot about the media industry and its resistance to consumer control. It’s likely the game developers/distributors would be unhappy that you’re playing their game in a way they didn’t intend.
    I couldn’t find any useful information looking at the ethics of using an emulator, but I did find this article about digital rights management restrictions and the Xbox One if you want to further explore this idea (http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/jun/19/xbox-one-drm-second-hand-restrictions-abandoned).

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  3. What a great way to conclude your exploration of handheld games! It was also great to see your justifications in your cross platform comparisons. As you’ve insinuated a feedback loop in starting and finishing your discussion with Katamari I think it would have also been interesting to include an extended discussion on your knowledge growth of the cultural significance of the game and any possible wider characteristics that have been prevalent throughout your investigation.

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  4. I have essentially no gaming experience whatsoever except for The Sims from ages 7-14 but that Shaw quote definitely relates to that time of my life considering I would literally play for days on end and it would be all I could think about.
    It’s interesting to see how playing this game on a portable device was more enjoyable for you in that you could play the game, as another commenter said, “on your own terms”. I think that’s such a reflection of current society in that we want things to be portable so that we can play a game, for example, wherever we are.
    I’ll have to go back to your first post to figure out what this game is actually about!

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  5. So I do not have a lot of experience with Japanese games, however I actually know this one!! My partner was playing this a couple of weeks ago, and I just couldn’t help but think what a bizarre concept it was. I mean you can basically destroy a whole world by sticking it to a ball. The game was visually incredible though and I see where you are coming from with that soundtrack!!
    I find it really interesting that you found the PSP more intimate than the console. I would have thought that playing on the PS2 would be extremely nostalgic. Although if the PSP is what you originally played the game on I guess that would bring the nostalgic element as well. I suppose one of the best aspects of hand held devices is that you are literally able to take them anywhere.

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  6. What an awesome video! I love it when a local academic shows up in research that’s relevant to students. This video (and your post of course) was really insightful into how japanese women have become sexually liberated, especially the changes that occurred in the 1990s. Also interesting to note the prevalence of sexual liberation in the Shinto religion. I wonder if this sexual equality in the religion has contributed to the attitudes towards how women and men are represented in Japanese media today. I’ve heard that some joke topics that an Australian audience would consider taboo, like up-skirt jokes and female toplessness on television, are relatively inoffensive in Japanese culture. Perhaps this is a manifestation of the Shinto ideology? Great post!

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