4 out of 5
In L.E. Hall’s Boss Fight entry on Katamari Damacy, her introductory chapter, appropriately only a few pages, outlines the general gist of the Katamari game – pushing a ball around the collects detritus and gets bigger – and crafts a concise thesis statement are the effective execution of the simplicity of the game, and how that carries through to all of its aspects, make it a joy to play, and a memorable experience as a result. In her concluding chapter, also a few pages, she reiterates the same, having now backed it up with the inbetween chapters which all support that thesis, stepping through the various layers of the game’s origin, design, music, impact, and etc.
That… sounds like how a non-fiction book should be structured, right? And yet, many of the Boss Fight books haven’t achieved this, either wandering through their pages for a solid idea beyond talking through gameplay and thumbs-upping the topic, or bloating things beyond reason to a full-length book, which results in that same wandering. Hall, meanwhile, uses the format – in my mind – appropriately: kept to a brief 100ish pages; more like an extended article. But that’s in no way a slight: such an article – something that might take an hour to read – has fully cited sources, and is deep enough to allow for diving in to detail when needed, but short enough to remain focused on that singular thesis. And to Hall’s craft: these sources are smartly wended in to the text, which has been another criticism I’d cite of some of the BFBs – going far and wide for quotes / sources that don’t actually add much to the material. But even when something in ‘Katamari’ comes slightly out of left field, a sentence later its justification is wholly proven; similarly, each chapter’s cute-ish title – e.g. Katamari on a Roll; Katamari Nah-Nah – is made relevant by that chapter’s focus.
This all syncs back to the joy of something simple, but the difficulty in translating that simplicity to an audience. Writing is hard. Writing to prove a point – logically; succinctly – is hard. I’ve only played a few minutes of Katamari, but L.E. Hall’s book made me want to revisit it. But even if I don’t, I’m freshly sold on how it was conceived, from the ground up, to be something that brings one joy, and I felt that joy just reading about it.
…So, why four stars? Well, unfortunately, this was one of the worst edited BFBs – lots of typos, lots of sentences gaffes with flopped words. It marred what was otherwise a really professional, exciting read. (I accept that editing is equally as hard and as much of a skill as writing, but, y’know, nonetheless.)