Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Good design worth blogging about

Last weekend we went camping. Even though it was cold (-15C), the sun was out and we had a great time for most of it. One of the higlights of the camp was a hike into the Ice Caves. Another was a bowl. A bowl? Yes, from IKEA.
What's great about this bowl is that it is one of the best industrial designs I have come across in recent times. And it's only $3.
The bowl has a long vertical handle which makes it stable when standing on a flat surface, and a hole which can act as a spout or for your spoon to go through, and a flat lid that slides out to make a plate or tray. It's made of durable plastic which is microwave safe. I often have soups at lunchtime which need heating up. After five minutes in the microwave, my Chunky Soup was hot but the handle was perfectly cool.
You can drink from it, have soup or noodles, breakfast or a meal, using the plate lid for pancakes or bread. Perfect for camping.

Well done IKEA.

Another interesting game

Following on from my other post about original games, the Japanese game for PS2 from Namco, Katamari Damashi has to be one of the strangest, most original and ENJOYABLE experiences in gaming. Not since Lemmings has such a interesting gaming concept come along.
Translated it means somthing like "Prince Roller".
The intro and in-between sequences can only be likened to something like a Monty Python animation mixed with strange Japanese pop-culture.
The essence of the storyline (if it can be called that) is that the King of the Cosmos has somehow caused the stars to fall out of the sky and you, as the young Prince, have the job of making stars and constellations to put things right. How do you do this? Roll up earthly items using your gravity ball (the Katamari) until you reach the desired size. But bump into something too big and you will not only lose momentum, but also some of your precious items will be knocked off reducing the size and knocking you back from achieving the goal.
As the game progresses, you will be placed in various scenarios where the objective is harder and the things to pick up are larger and harder to roll up. The game has a strange humour - eventually you'll be rolling up amimate objects such as cats, cows and even people. The finale level is fun as you eventually get to roll up high rise buildings, small islands, and even clouds!
Apparently it sold hundreds of thousands of copies in Japan and there's now a sequel: "We Love Katamari", and I believe another one is in the pipeline for PSP. You have to see and play it to believe it.

A friend told me there is a 2D simplified version of the game on the net at this location: