When you think of object-gathering game Katamari Damacy the first things that spring to mind are usually balls, and the rolling thereof. Computer scientist and custom controller kitbashing experimenter Dr Tom Tilley had the same thought and, erm, rolled with it. In a case of life imitating art, Tilley repurposed a trackball he’d made from roll-on deodorant and a soccer ball to play the game with (thanks, Time Extension). You can watch Tilley mucking about with the trackball to control an emulated version of the PS2-era Katamari Damacy in the video below.
Although it was originally made for Japanese arcade game Armadillo Racing, Tilley shared the controller concept on Twitter and followed up with a bit more explanation on how he got the trackball working with Katamari Damacy too. “A FreePIE script maps the mouse movement to two virtual vJoy thumbsticks for the in-game control,” Tilley tweeted.
The trackball doesn’t map to all the game’s controls, such as turning and dashing using the analogue sticks, though. “There was also a 180 degree quick turn and jumping for an aerial view,” Tilley explained in a reply to a commenter. “They could be mapped to extra buttons or actions such as shaking the ball to charge.” Tilley's trackball wouldn't have been out of place among our custom controller exhibition at the last EGX show.
Tilley’s trackball isn’t the only oddly useful custom controller out there. Just before the holidays, I reported on Super Louis 64’s very authentic looking and surprisingly usable Buster Sword controller for Final Fantasy 7 Remake. Streamers have had some success with other oddities, such as tooting on a recorder to control Call Of Duty: Black Ops Cold War, dressing as an unconvincing goose to play Untitled Goose Game, and a genuine pomegranate used to beat Hades.
Katamari Damacy Reroll is on Steam for £16/$30/€20, but you’ll have to make your own controller for that one.