Saturday, September 27, 2014

Soundtrack September: Katamari Damacy

Game: Katamari Damacy (2004)
Platform: PlayStation 2
Composers: Miyake Yuu et al

Every aspect of this game seems designed to make players scratch their heads. The goofy concept, the low-poly, rudimentarily animated human characters, the strange sound effects and voices.

Following suit, the soundtrack is a celebration of weirdness. Heavy on pop, jazz, Latin and Shibuya-kei influence and performed by an eclectic list of popular musicians, this is as appropriate a soundtrack as one could hope for in a game where the objective is to roll a ball around a room, picking up little objects until the ball is big enough to pick up a cat (or a car, or a space shuttle, or Canada).

During gameplay it can become difficult to hear the music over the din of the sound effects. Picking up a object or a character always makes a sound, ranging from a simple cartoon "pop" to a man's voice singing, "den-de-de-de-den-den-dennnnnn!" When the ball gets big enough to pick up the larger features of a city, the game is full of the screams of houses' terrified inhabitants, the ringing of office telephones, the roar of engines, etc. All the while, the soundtrack putters along at its own happy pace.

My favorite track is called "The Moon and the Prince." It features enka star Niinuma Kenji in an unlikely capacity: Instead of crooning, he's rapping surrealist lyrics, complete with hip hop interjections like "yo" and "get up."

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