Good news: I am now finally able to play Katamari Damacy at home. Also, I am playing the US version instead of the Japanese version, and that makes things a lot easier to understand. And the quirkiness made it across for once.
So what did other people think of Katamari Damacy?
In GameSpy's 2004 Top 10 Games of the Year, it came in at number 10:
I know that this year everybody's all hyped up about the Half-Life and Halo and GTA and Metal Gear and blah blah blah how many times have I played games like that? Yes, I know that all of those games are fantastic, but for my money there's no greater game this year that Namco's wonderfully, joyously bizarre Katamari Damacy.
I can't remember the last time that I played a game just makes me feel as, well, happy, as Katamari does. The surreal box art, the whacked-out intro (which I still have to watch every time I play), the cute and addictive (and subtly dark) gameplay, and perhaps most importantly, the indescribably wonderful soundtrack -- everything about this game puts a big, dopey smile on my face.
Gamespot says it has the Best Original Music of all game in 2004:
But there's more to the music in Katamari Damacy than just one melody, and the rest of the music on the soundtrack is consistent only in how different one piece is from the next. The menus are at first accompanied by the filtered pluckings of an acoustic guitar, and then by what can best be described as a marching band composed of very small robots. The pipe-organ-laced synthesized vocal chorus that plays as you're briefed by the King of All Cosmos helps set such a surreal tone that it doesn't seem inappropriate that his voice sounds like DJ scratches. During the actual gameplay, you'll hear big swing-music sounds, an achingly sweet J-pop song, and some intensely bizarre electronic compositions that work hard to defy description. The quality of the soundtrack is high enough that it stands on its own as a catchy, quirky collection of music, though within the context of Namco's surrealist ball-rolling game, it is an integral part of the experience.
As well as a nomination for Best New Character:
Words can't really do justice to The King of All Cosmos, so we'll simply remind you that his "voice" sounds just like turntable scratching.
As well as for Funniest Game:
It may be a touch morbid, but hearing the screams of the maniacally wiggling humans when you scoop them up into your garbage ball is always hilarious. The King of All Cosmos also delivers some awesomely weird lines to round it all out.
Finally, they call it the Most Original Game of 2004:
There has truly never been a game quite like the strange and wonderful Katamari Damacy. To merely say that the game's design is "original" seems an understatement of epic proportions--every aspect of this delightfully oddball title is saturated with surreal style.
Finally, Voodoo Extreme lists Katamari Damacy as the number 1 PS2 game of 2004:
It's stupid, it features crazy physics, it's insane, it features addictive pick up 'n' play gameplay that even your girlfriend or kid can master without ever touching a game pad before, it's hilarious, it makes you go back for more and more, wanting to increase the size of your ball more than you did before, and then you discover the possibilities: internet ranking boards, take-turns get togethers with alcohol consumed upon failure of a level, and so on. A truly wonderful game.
Update: I found out through Kotaku that Geek On Stun has given Katamari Damacy a ton of awards: Best Sound, Most Innovative Title, Best Chopsticks Wrappers Based On A Video Game and Best Budget Title. For some reason, it didn't pick up Best Exploding Barrels. Meh.