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