Holy cow, I wrote a book!
As I already noted,
I went down to Los Angeles
a few days before the PDC to spend time with friends
I stayed with a cousin who works for a major video game
and his boss gave him a homework assignment:
He was told to go home and play a specific video game.
(Unfortunately, it wasn't a particularly good video game,
but his boss didn't want him to admire the gameplay.
He wanted him to pay attention to the visual design.)
Tell this to a teenager and they will think my cousin
has a dream job.
"He plays video games and gets paid for it!"
But of course, we all know that there's a difference
between playing video games for fun (where you can choose
which game to play and how long to play it)
and playing it for work.
Anyway, when he was taking a break from his video game homework,
I turned on the Playstation and popped in
by far the most screwed-up video game ever.
In a good way.
I won't bother explaining the game; there are
plenty of other sites that
do a better job of it than I can,
perhaps the most poetic of which is
Namco's own site.
(They obviously got a professional translator to do the site
rather than relying on the bizarro-English used in the game itself!)
Featuring ball-rolling and object-collecting gameplay mechanics
of mesmerizing fluidity, reduced to Pac-Man simplicity,
through pure absurdity.
Dimensions change drastically as your clump grows
from a fraction of an inch to a monstrous freak of nature.
I was indeed mesmerised by the utter simplicity of the
gameplay, the intuitiveness of the controls,
and the sense of total glee when you realize that
you can pick up an ocean liner.
The way the game changes scale in the span of twenty
minutes adds to the overall magic.
What was at the start of the game a wall you merely
accepted as part of the landscape
becomes, after you grow your katamari for a while,
an obstacle you have to avoid,
and later still, an item you can roll up, or,
if you neglect it long enough,
something you pick up off the ground purely incidentally
like a piece of gum stuck to your shoe.
I remember on the last level,
realizing that I had just picked up
the park where the level started.
The entire park.
One thing I found myself doing was standing up
as my katamari grew larger.
I would start out the level sitting down,
and by the time I reached 200 meters, I would be
standing up and leaning left and right as my
huge ball of junk became more and more unwieldy.
Anyway, there wasn't much of a point to this entry.
I just wanted to rave about this completely messed-up game.
(I'm hardly the only fan of this game.
This particular fan club
deserves special mention for
their wonderful "Your katamari is as big as <n> comments" link.
And then there's the unbelievable
katamari cake complete with prince.)