27. Katamari Damacy
The quintessentially quirky Katamari Damacy proved that wacky, distinctly Japanese games with relatively low budgets (under $1 million) could succeed in the US both commercially and critically. The public's warm embrace of the original Katamari, a surprise gem sold as a $20 budget title, led to not only several higher-priced sequels, but also paved the way for publishers to take more chances on localizing other oddball titles.
Katamari's brilliance is in the elegant simplicity of its gameplay, coupled with the vibrant chaos of its visuals. You use both analog sticks to roll a sticky ball around collecting as much stuff as you can, and the bigger the ball gets, the bigger the stuff it can pick up. Crucially, there's an abundance of really cool junk to roll up--lots of real-life, tantalizingly exotic, Japanophilia-inducing consumer goods, plus adorably blocky people, farm animals, planets and the like. In short, it's a joyous celebration of silliness with a simple yet totally novel concept that's highly addictive, all set to one of the greatest, jazziest soundtracks in gaming history.
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