I wrote previously about Katamari Damacy in the context of it being a destructive force, one wielded with an ever-increasing boulder of stuff that you roll up into it. But one of the things that I didn’t talk about was one of its appeals – the idea that as you accomplish and collect more, your field of view changes. In all the stages, you start out very small, looking at very small things, and as you collect more and more, your field of vision expands, allowing you to see more of the setting in larger and grander detail. It’s a kind of mouse maze that expands up, panning the camera back so that you’re able to expand your field of view even as you look to get further through collecting more to do so. It’s definitely the kind of mechanic that I was reminded of when I played this game, which focused on collecting things that allowed you to expand your path view in the game environment.
The pain of losing someone or otherwise not having them in your life anymore is, I think, a bit of a dull pain that never really goes away. It’s something that can be, of course, moved on from, and is also something that tends to recede with time, but it’s never something that goes away if you ever have any care for the person in question. The thing with that kind of pain, a pain that we probably all feel or carry with us in our lives at some point or another, is that it can be triggered by any number of things that bring you reminders, memories, and then the pain itself out of hiding.
Playing this game immediately reminded me of an old classic that I loved way back in the day – a game called Katamari Damacy. The game had a simple goal – score the most points by rolling up pretty much everything in your path in the time allotted, getting larger and larger the more stuff you picked up. It was, at its core, a fun but ultimately a destructive experience – after all, you’re basically destroying whole worlds and sometimes even universes with your ability to roll your little boulder of stuff into a bigger boulder of stuff to capture larger and larger targets.
I’ve never been a particularly good swimmer, and the times when I’ve actually had to do so were done with a sense of dread coupled with the ongoing idea that were I to end up where I’m not supposed to be in the water that I’d probably be in serious trouble. As such, I had a bit of a difficult time playing this game, where you’re trapped in a room as it fills up with water and the objects within are affected as the water level goes up.
Oftentimes there is a presentation in these games that I’ve played that isn’t immediately apparent when looking at them or when reading what was said in the quote (which I unfortunately lost for this entry as I didn’t retrieve it before writing this). You’re left with playing with the item or thing in question that the developer creates, and the game, in many cases, just ends. In this case, you have a little orb or glass that fills and eventually gets all the way full, but which is meant to evoke an idea for memory and for, I think, running out of space to hold any more.
One thing that I think isn’t encouraged more often that this game tries its damndest to get across is being happy for and celebrating the accomplishments of others. We live in a world where oftentimes the message is that we need to look out for number one first, and that we should do whatever we can to get ahead in life, for our own enrichment and barely anyone else’s. That may come with some kind of modicum of success, as those that are driven to enrich themselves do often find some level of success, whether it’s financial, in their career, or in other places.
A lot of the entries this year have focused on, not surprisingly, being in the right kind of mindset to think about and reflect on things, a sort of meditative state that allows you to appreciate what you have, think about what’s been done, and then move forward from there as a means of re-focusing things. There are few times of the year that dictate that sort of necessity than the holidays do, with their focus on getting ready for family get-togethers, shopping for gifts, or simply trying to get through the coming weeks and the effect they have on normal stuff. This is when a simple appreciation of nature and a calm setting tend to help the most, and that’s what we’re seeing here.
Some of the games in this series have tried to convey a kind of sense of what you’re supposed to be thinking, but don’t immediately connect that to the game that they ultimately have designed for the day. There’s nothing wrong with this, as I think in these instances you have more freedom to determine how you’re supposed to feel and come to your own conclusions, as I’ve purported for many games throughout this project, but in no other entry is this more apparent than the one that got presented here.
Games as escapism is perhaps one of the primary reasons a lot of gamers tend to play them. There’s a sense that you can go ahead and, for at least a little while, lose yourself in another world or another setting where the only things that are important are trying to have fun playing the game and doing so while using the mechanics the game uses. It’s a kind of process where, like anything you learn, takes some time to get used to but ultimately is able to be looked at as a satisfactory process where you accomplish some sense of mastery of the games in question.
One of the reasons why I continue to like playing games, even though I’ve been at it for years now, is the fact that some of the best games have interconnected things baked into them, whether that is through narrative, through player choice or action, or as a means of continuity between games in a series. To have a way of trying to see that the things you do in one place or in one game might have an effect later is one of the joys I get out of playing them, because it means what I do has not only advancement but agency.