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Takahashi's Departure From Namco Bandai Confirmed
Takahashi's Departure From Namco Bandai Confirmed
September 8, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander

September 8, 2010 | By Leigh Alexander
More: Console/PC

Cult-favorite designer Keita Takahashi has left publisher Namco Bandai. The Katamari Damacy and Noby Noby Boy creator's exit from the publisher has been long-rumored, and his candid disappointment with the game industry fairly widely-publicized, but the company has now confirmed Takahashi's departure officially.

A Namco Bandai spokesperson gave official comment to consumer site, not long after an interview with Takahashi emerged in which he referred to the publisher as a "so-so company". However, he wasn't any more laudatory of his own work: "I am so inefficient I only made four games in 11 years," he said.

Takahashi is known to be working on a children's playground design project located in Nottingham, UK.

Beyond that, it's unknown if he'll take on further work in the game industry; in fact, last month he told Official PlayStation Magazine that he is "actually not thinking about a future in games... I want to try lots of different things."

"At E3 I saw people putting on speeches, but I thought the future seemed a bit dark," he informed OPM, as reprinted in its sister website C&VG. "The 3D games didn't spark my interest... I think motion control's a bit old now, I don't think those games are the future. It all seemed a bit dull."

Takahashi's Katamari Damacy became an unexpected hit when it arrived on PlayStation 2 in 2004. The odd game, in which players use the PS2's twin analog sticks to roll an assortment of objects great and small into a brightly-colored, sticky ball, gained widespread acclaim.

It was praised as much for its gleeful silliness -- poppy Japanese soundtrack, rainbows galore and an off-kilter and effete 'King Of All Cosmos' character to instruct the player -- as it was for its gameplay, engaging yet deceptively simple.

Multiplatform sequels to Katamari Damacy, such as We Love Katamari, were never as widely well-received as the game's initial installment. Takahashi followed up Katamari in 2009 with Noby Noby Boy, a PlayStation Network title intended to focus the player on unstructured play.

The game, which was released on iOS platforms less than a year later, stars Boy, a four-legged, striped creature whose front and back ends can be moved independently, so players can stretch him out. The title's only goal is for players to collectively contribute length to Girl, Boy's counterpart in space. Many mainstream critics and gamers were unsure what to make of it, but it gained darling status among Takahashi fans and those with an affinity for offbeat games.

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Sad to hear. I too am tired of the motion control gimic. I don't know about 3D yet...but I haven't liked any of the movies yet. Maybe Avatar.

Matthieu Poujade
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Boy this is sad. Candid is the right word... Hey, what if he was right to be?

Evan Van Zelfden
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I believe the videogame press circulated a proclamation from Takahashi-san in the spring of 2006, announcing his departure from the videogame industry (possiby for ever), and about the same time, detailing his strong interest in children's playscapes.

Sometimes things are lost in translation. But if a single data-point of history can serve as a guide, we may well have Keita with us for another four years.

DanielThomas MacInnes
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I can't think of a single video game in recent memory with the charm and creative freedom of Katamari Damacy and We Love Katamari. Those two titles are worth scoring a PS2 just to play. There once was a time when such brilliance was common; you could count on a Miyamoto or a Sonic Team to deliver greatness. Such brilliance seems extremely rare to my eyes...the Wii Series games or Just Dance... Right now, I'm just happy to see all the old school revivals, in hopes that those classic video game values will be rediscovered. Nearly everything today is junk, conceived by talentless hacks.*

For some reason, I now have an itching to play NiGHTS and Chu Chu Rocket, Virtua Fighter 2 and Sega Rally, MULE and Seven Cities of Gold.

(*Sorry. I'm in a slightly down mood. I know you guys are trying your best.)

Ian Uniacke
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Although it walks in the shoes of Katamari I would recommend Eledees (or Elebits in some countries) on the wii. It's fantastic and has a similar gameplay to Katamari and similar style. Although I know that's not exactly what you were suggesting.

Jonathan Jennings
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Sad to see such a creative individual go, Katamari damacy ranks highest among my favorite " unusual games" it's funny how such a odd premise made such a fun game. I think I can agree with his sentiments as well, I got to attend E3 and I was pumped but were I an individual who watched the event over the T.V. I would have been pretty disappointed. Very few games caught my interest and most of the ones that did were mostly 2d platformers and xbox live arcade games.

J Benjamin Hollman
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Why exactly is this sad to hear? Takahashi's free to do whatever he wants now. A fellow like him was never meant to be tied to a large publisher, with a PR department telling him what he could and couldn't do.

And if he doesn't want to make games anymore, more power to 'em. I wouldn't want to play a game by him that he didn't personally care about. That's kind of what made his games so lovely in the first place.

Chris Bell
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I don't post here often, but I have to agree with John on this one.

Takahashi is incredibly talented -- and I just don't see his best work being produced within the current main stream game arena. As probably best evidenced by Noby Noby Boy, Takahashi isn't particularly interested in conventional games. Thus, I'm extremely excited to see what comes of his public park work, as well as other creative ventures I'm sure he'll get involved in.

I'm sure there's plenty he wants to progress work, art installations, location-based entertainment (rides, parks, etc), ARG type events, etc. This is a great moment for him, and for interactive media.

I also pray that Namco doesn't own the rights to his FPS idea, where every time you shoot something, you grow bigger. There's a simple message there that I find really beautiful.

Matthieu Poujade
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What is sad to hear is this part: "The 3D games didn't spark my interest... I think motion control's a bit old now, I don't think those games are the future. It all seemed a bit dull."

And then put it beside the over-excited crap some PR guys are trying to force-feed the market with, revolving around 3D, motion control, and bad games.