Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Great Arseholes of Gaming: The King of All Cosmos

Welcome back to Great Arseholes of Gaming, our semi-regular re-examination of videogame's most beloved and/or infamous shitehawks. Today, we turn to Namco's bizarre roll-em-up Katamari Damacy, and the vindictive blowhard that is the brightest star in it's firmament. 

Deities, eh? Who'd have 'em? Always rampaging around, drunk on their own power, messing things up for us poor mortals without a second thought. Throughout history, the tales of the many pantheons of Gods show us that even the most powerful of celestial beings were riddled with the worst neuroses and foibles of human nature, and a pretty blas̩ attitude towards the mortals that worship them. Sometimes they're lustful РZeus was constantly priapic, with a strange predilection for turning into animals and sexing unsuspecting mortal ladies. Sometimes they're violent Рjust have a gander at this list of party animals. And some, like Hera, Loki, Anansi, and the King of All Cosmos, are just arseholes.

Katamari Damacy for the PS2 (and its many sequels and updates in this hardware generation) are difficult to describe making both the games and you sound very peculiar indeed. You play the Prince, a tiny green man with a katamari – a super-adhesive ball that you roll in front of you, gathering up all in your path. You roll your katamari, stuff sticks to it, it grows, you roll up bigger things, it grows again, and before you know it you are straddling the ocean like a colossus, rolling up entire continents, and asserting the primacy of the mighty katamari over all things in this earthly domain. It is an absurd amount of fun, surprisingly challenging and very pretty to boot - the worlds you roll through are awash with chaotic colours and lively scenes. I would be remiss if I did not also mention that the Katamari games have some of the most amazing music in all of gaming. The story, at first glance, makes no sense, but in actual fact, it's just moving in a mysterious way.

The prince, your humble, dauntless character, is the son of the King of All Cosmos. The King is, particularly in the first game, the classic example of an old-school imperfect deity, a being of near-limitless power shot through with near-limitless arrogance, thoughtlessness and idiocy. In the first game, the King is the catalyst for the action: after a drunken binge, he accidentally destroys all the stars in the sky. Yes, that's right. He gets drunk and destroys every celestial body in the heavens. Thor would be proud. The King then sends his son to sort out the mess he's made, in another classic God move. Surely the King of All Cosmos could recreate the stars without his son having to traipse all over the universe rolling pencils, cows and skyscrapers up into balls of ever-increasing size? Yes, he probably could, but I imagine he find it more fun to get his son to do it.

And does your Lord and Father show gratitude, when you return unto him with the fruits of your labours? Does he shower you with praise and adulation, and invite you to sit at his right hand in his kingdom?

No. Usually, he tells you it's too small.

And that's if you manage to succeed. If you fail? DERISION. And lasers.

In We Love Katamari, the 2005 sequel, the King takes on even more Godly duties, by answering prayers. Specifically katamari-themed prayers, of course, but prayers nonetheless. Of course, the King doesn't answer the prayers directly. He sends his son to do his works for him, spreading his word and moving in the hearts of the people. All the King does is stay at home and fret worriedly about whether his popularity is waning. The Prince is the King's proxy, doing his work and receiving little credit for his part in it, suffering for an ungrateful populace and an unknowable, detached father of immense power and insecurity. I'm not sure if Namco were trying to write a Christ allegory, but they did.

Put your faith in a higher power, believers say, and you'll be rewarded. This fluffy, wacky game shows you the King's reward – to be ever at the whim of a capricious, vengeful, paranoid buffoon who blames all his problems on those who follow him, never lifts a finger himself, and takes all the credit when things go right. I'm an atheist, and Gods like the King of All Cosmos are the reason why.

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