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  • Katamari Damacy – A Critique: Part One

    - Ryan Stancl

  •  New Critical

    Listening to just the creator of a work of art is a dangerous thing, because the critic digs no deeper, takes the creator at his word. The critic then misses all the subtleties, the deeper meanings, completely ignoring the work of art itself in the most extreme cases.

    A school of literary criticism called New Criticism formed partly in reaction to schools of criticism that put too much emphasis on the creator and the information surrounding a piece of art, expecting those things to give them the meaning of a piece of art, and not the piece of art itself.

    Thus, New Criticism focuses just on the formal elements that make up a work and nothing else.

    New Critics take a work apart only to put it back together again and try to gain a greater meaning out of it that way. Studying the concrete aspects of a work versus things like the author, reader, or history was all done on a quest for objectivity (Rivkin, 1998).

    To study a video game in a New Critical fashion, it would require the critic to examine every aspect of the game, from the controls to the dialogue, the graphics to the story, and the reasons behind all of them.

    For example, in terms of Katamari Damacy, the King of All Cosmos talks in record scratches because the player, the mere mortal, could never understand the words of a god. The text is laid out of what he’s saying for the player only because the Prince, who the player is playing as, his son, a demigod, can understand him.

    And that only goes to one aspect of the dialogue.

    The weirdness of the words spoken by the King (and the majority of the other characters in the game) could be boiled down to bad translation, but in a game that’s this deep, there’s no way. Some of the dialogue will be discussed below in relation to other schools of thought.

    Another small New Critical analysis of the game could go something like this. The start of the game has the player learning the controls in an empty, rather large round room. The King says that he went to the trouble of making the room just so the player could learn how to maneuver around in the game. It’s a tutorial. Simple enough, right?


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