Tuesday, July 23, 2024

There Was A Katamari MMO (And Boy, Was It Weird)


Few could have predicted that such an eccentric game would spawn an entire series. Even fewer would have expected it to also branch out into MMOs.

There are less than a handful of games as strange as Katamari Damacy. Everything from its story – which involves the omnipotent King Of All Cosmos destroying the galaxy in a drunken stupor – to its art style to its gameplay is straight out of some acid-tripping weeb’s fever dream. Yet, for all its offbeat imagery, the game has persevered as a beloved video oddity. It has even inspired an entire franchise of equally bizarre experiences. To date, there are around 14 different Katamari titles, including remakes, portable games, and even mobile games like the suggestively titled Touch My Katamari.

Few could have predicted that such an eccentric game would spawn an entire series. Even fewer would have expected it to also branch out into the world of MMOs. That’s right, a game about rolling mahjong pieces, crabs, and screaming schoolchildren into a ball and shooting it into space was somehow adapted into the same genre as World Of Warcraft.

The Cosmic MMO

Back in the mid-2000s to early 2010s there was a bit of an MMO craze going on. Thanks to the massive success of WOW, every franchise from Star Wars to Star Trek to Family Guy was trying to get in on the action. Since they liked making money as much as every other big-time video game publisher/developer, Namco saw this craze and thought, “screw it, let’s make a Katamari Damacy MMO.”

This article may be the first time you’d ever heard of a Katamari Damacy MMO. That’s because the game was only available to residents of South Korea. Released in late 2007, Katamari Damacy Online was the brainchild of Namco and a South Korean games company named Windysoft. Fans of the free-to-play MMORPG Rusty Hearts may be familiar with their work. Although considering that Rusty Hearts‘ servers closed in 2014, it’s hard to say if there actually are any fans of Rusty Hearts still left.

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The game had a narrative, and in typical Katamari fashion, it was insane. A family fishing trip with the King, Queen, and Prince somehow leads to the creation of a gigantic black hole. Upon realizing that they done messed up, the King and Queen immediately bail on the whole situation. Thus, it’s up to the Prince to once again clean up another mess created by his jackass father.

The gameplay still consisted of taking the diminutive Prince Of All Cosmos or one of his cousins and rolling up all manner of debris to form a new star or constellation. Katamari Damacy Online featured exclusive levels as well as game modes suited for a multiplayer environment. Players could compete against one another to accomplish goals like making the biggest Katamari or two teams of three could fight against each other in a Crash Battle. It’s hard to tell exactly what these “Crash Battles” were like, but judging by Youtube videos of the game it looks like players could build up their Katamari and then crash into one another Dave Matthews-style.

As you might have suspected, there were also a variety of microtransactions that could be purchased including cosmetics and in-game items. These items seemed to function the same way as items in the Mario Kart series do. There was a squid that sprayed ink to cover a player’s screen, an octopus that would latch onto a Katamari and make it move slower, a spider that would spray webs over a Katamari (apparently this game had a thing for eight-legged creatures), and so on.

There were also features from Katamari Damacy Online that have never appeared in any other game in the franchise. You could build your own home island and raise a virtual pet. Many of the cousins you could acquire were exclusive to this MMO and haven’t been seen since. There were even entirely new songs written for the soundtrack that are incredibly catchy, which isn’t surprising considering how great Katamari‘s music has always been.

Sadly, the dream of a Katamari MMO couldn’t be sustained. The servers were closed forever during the first few months of 2012. There weren’t any plans for expanding the game beyond South Korea, and due to its closure, it’s now impossible to play it anywhere.

All The Stars Have Vanished

via Katamari Wiki

The fact that Katamari Damacy Online failed isn’t shocking. Many of the developers who jumped on the MMO bandwagon had varying levels of success. Most shut down quickly, while the select few that managed to stay alive – WOW, Final Fantasy XIV, and for reason, The Elder Scrolls Online – have gobbled up all the potential consumers to the point that the MMORPG boom is mostly over.

Even though it’s gone, we can’t help but imagine a wacky alternate timeline where millions are still gathering online to roll their Katamaris together. Maybe if Katamari Damacy Online was still active the world would be a better, weirder place.

Source: Lost Games Wiki

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Ebenezer Robbins
Ebenezer Robbins
Introvert. Beer guru. Communicator. Travel fanatic. Web advocate. Certified alcohol geek. Tv buff. Subtly charming internet aficionado.

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