Ciao! I just returned from Umbria, Have you ever been to Italy? I just returned from a weekend stay with some friends. I hope you can visit during the day's rolling. Like that's possible.
This is a cool project I saw at the Awesomer, a DIY trackball for playing Katamari Damacy!
Let's Play Katamari! [hopefully you can look past the annoying banter]
It's an attempt at making katamari more complete [I think]. I don't think that the ball is at all neccessary for enjoying katamari, the katamari team did a wonderful job of exploiting the ps2 analog sticks and translating their motion into pure katamari psychadelia. However, it's awesome because I believe katamari harkens back to the days of the arcade [how unfortunately distant those days are], where games were based on a single game mechanic and high scores. The trackball was a common replacement for the joystick in many an 80's game cabinet. The trackball gave gameplay momentum [literally and figuratively] and required a different set of motor skills than the average quarter eater. Missle command, anyone? In the 90's however, all trackball games devolved into golf and bowling, y'know the game that you're dad played while you were playing turtles in time. So in that way, the trackball fits really nicely and, if nothing else, could give you a reason to squeeze more hours out of Katamari.
Tone down the graphics, turn up the style, add a quirky but addicting game mechanic and you'll have what makes katamari so damn fun, and a great way to relax. It's one of the games I show my friends who don't play video games that often, because it embodies the mindless fun that lies at the soul of games. It doesn't feel any need to justify or even attempt to relate to it's audience, and somehow that makes it really accessable. Katamari is self-aware, it knows that it's fun and it's happy when it makes you happy. Much like Jet Set Radio, One of katamari's strengths is it's soundtrack, full of upbeat, bizarre, and original tracks made just for the game [almost all of the songs are about rolling balls.]
there are other recent titles that follow this formula of singular quirky game mechanic and super stylish gameplay, like patapon by rolitoland, loco roco, killer 7, and katamari's successor Noby Noby Boy. This return to the arcade style is nothing new for browserware and other light pc games like world of goo, and many of the games at popcap.