katamari damacy

In our series Old Games for New Kids, we suggest a great past-generation game to play with your new-generation children.


Katamari Damacy (2003)
by Namco – PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable, Vita, Xbox 360

(Okay, I realize this series is about “old” games and I’m talking about a series that’s available on all of the current systems. But since this franchise reaches back to the PlayStation 2, it’s fair to say that you’d be “old school” enough to yank the ol’ PS2 out of your closet and set it up in your kid’s room.)

If you yourself have never played the Katamari Damacy series, you’re missing out on a real treat. In every game in the series, you play the Prince, whose father is the King of All Cosmos – a foppishly dressed dude in charge of making stars. So, he has you, a little green prince, roll a ball around, picking stuff up (which you use to make stars…don’t ask). Literally, that’s the whole game! But whereas you start in small areas like a bedroom, picking up paperclips and candy, you later find yourself outside, rolling up whole buildings and oil tankers. As your ball gets bigger in a given level, you’re able to access more areas. The bigger your ball of stuff when the timer hits zero, the more pleased your dad-king is. And if you roll up hidden items in the level, you get extra royal rainbows!

Check out an old IGN trailer for it:

This is a great game for kids: it’s colorful, it’s wacky, and there isn’t a lick of violence. Also, the incredible soundtracks were a mainstay in our son’s nursery for play times, which we think is why he’s so odd. What kid wouldn’t love to play a game where they get to roll up everything from pencils to chairs to cats to cars to airplanes? The simple two-stick controls might be harder for little ones to perfect, but that’s what makes Katamari Damacy fun; when they’re younger, you can have them control the movement stick while you control the directional stick. That way your kid is moving the ball, but you’re steering. As they get older, they’ll enjoy the open-worldness of it, and being able to pick up every day items in this colorful setting.

Now, there is, in fact, a Katamari Damacy game on Sony’s Vita handheld that was released in 2012. But if you’re a little justifiably nervous about handing your Vita over to your kid, the series has also seen releases on the PlayStation 2, 3, PSP and Xbox 360, which really, all have the same core gameplay, with small tweaks in each release. Katamari Damacy games are a great time for any age player, but for kids especially: they’ve got a lot of character and are easy to progress through using a simple skill set. If you’ve got an old PlayStation 2 collecting dust in your closet, it might be time to consider hooking it back up for your kid, though if you’ve already got a 360 hooked up, Beautiful Katamari should be priced just right at your local used game store.