Child development scholars like to talk about unstructured play — that wild, creative ranging-about that fires a child’s imagination for a lifetime. Keita Takahashi must have been swimming in it, because his hallmark PlayStation 2 game delivered the most cute, bizarre and intricate experience of 2004.
Players took on the persona of the meek, diminutive Prince of All Cosmos. You had to roll up everyday items – beagles, fishing poles, clouds – onto an ever-expanding magical sticky ball so the loopy and ominous father, The King of All Cosmos, can use it to repair the stars that he destroyed during a drunken bender.
The game looks like a cardboard cut-out diorama brought to unlikely life, but the chaos you cause when rolling up trees and cars and people never feels malicious. Instead, Katamari Damacy feels like the most innocent mode of play — the let’s-see-what-happens kind that gives back to the childlike energy that spawned it.
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