Shortly after graduation from art school, Takahashi was hired as a designer at NAMCO BANDAI, where he was allowed to develop unconventional games. Critically acclaimed for its innovation and wit, Katamari Damacy (Clump soul) is simple, if unconventional: the player takes on the role of an extraterrestrial prince sent to Earth by the King of the Cosmos to gather balls of anything and everything—balls that, when sufficiently big, become new stars that populate the cosmos. The narrative, characters, and details are unique, but the player’s task is not complex, limited to rolling clumps of debris—starting with erasers and bits of sushi and moving to cows and houses—into progressively larger spheres, until whole mountains and cities adhere. The game plays with scale, allowing the user to interact in a creative, surreal way with ordinary objects and built environments, rendering the objects of everyday life fantastical. The minimal narrative and repetitive activity yield surprise and elation, due to the quality of the graphics and the unexpected coherence of the “clump”—inexorable and playful as it eats up the whole world.
Gallery label from Applied Design, March 2, 2013–January 31, 2014.