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Your mother should play Katamari
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Your mother should play Katamari

by Natalia DEMBOWSKA 3 min. 15.07.2021 From our online archive
A soothing game lets you clean up by making a mess
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Katamari is a Japanese video game that lets you be the Prince who helps his father, the King of All Cosmos, re-build the universe. The premise is quite simple - you roll objects around, pushing a ball called Katamari – a word that means cluster, mess or disorder. The bigger the ball, the bigger the objects you can roll into it. In the game’s pastel-coloured virtual space, adorably elaborate Japanese objects, animals and buildings are all ready to get rolled into your cluster-ball. You don’t have to worry about making a mess. 

Instead of avoiding hitting objects, afraid to lose points, you simply roll your ball straight into everything you see and that you can possibly assimilate into your mess, depending on the goal of the challenge. And as you see the space getting cleared out of anything that stands in the way, a glimpse of order emerges through the chaos you create.

In a world that glorifies order, structure and organisation, there is a certain exhilaration in destruction. Thermodynamics state that entropy is unavoidable and that order is merely a state of proto-destruction. What we perceive as order is really the mere silence before the storm, one we don’t know about just yet.

Think about it. Whenever you tidy the house, delete your emails or organise your socks, you will feel satisfied, calm. You think of yourself as a well-functioning, organised person and you suddenly experience a state of zen. You got this. But let’s face it, that will last only a day or two. Now comes the pleasant time of procrastination. You’re happy in your clean space and you can finally relax. 

You don’t feel the need to clean up the dishes right after making dinner - the house is already clean. You don’t have to pick up those dirty pants from the bathroom floor because they’re the only thing laying around. And quite quickly, the clean house becomes a mess again, and you curse it for never staying in order, wondering why you even bother, because there is always a mess anyways as feverish flashbacks of your mother yelling at you for not cleaning your room roar through your head.

And that is why Katamari is so satisfying. The game is peaceful but highly dynamic and entertaining. It isn’t violent at all, its relaxing music, along with the funny, self-deprecating and slightly existentialist storyline, narrated by the neglectful, careless King of All Cosmos, make it almost impossible to feel any sort of aggression or discomfort. Even when you get frustrated because something bigger is bumping into you, a few moments later you will be big enough to roll right over it – a most satisfying and feeling of progress. And yes, people scream when you roll them into your ball. But the combination with game’s implausible character results in a perfect mix of sugar and spice. It’s simply a splendid game.

The minimum age for playing Katamari – created by Keita Takahashi - is eight years, but I am convinced that older children, young adults, as well as parents will enjoy it as much. It’s simple, satisfying, and offers rather short levels that don’t require too much time or personal involvement. It’s the perfect game to relax while having a playful, harmless release. So honestly, for all the years of relentless cleaning and care-taking she endured to keep your life together, you should play it with your mother so that you can both enjoy the unapologetic destruction of the universe even as you are peacefully reconstructing it.

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