‘Katamari Damacy’ creator’s new game tackles “love, hygiene, monsters, and finding discarded erotic magazines in the woods”

Tenya Wanya TeensKeita Takahashi’s spent a long time away from game making, and so naturally he’s coming back in an expectedly unusual way later this year. The designer of Katamari Damacy and Noby Noby Boy is working on not one but two projects now. While the indie game glitterati awaits Takahashi’s LA Game Space collaboration with Canabalt creator Adam Saltsman, GDC attendees will get a taste of his other new game, Tenya Wanya Teens.

A “coming-of-age tale about love, hygiene, monsters, and finding discarded erotic magazines in the woods,” the game is a collaboration between IGF chairman Brandon Boyer’s web community Venus Patrol, indie game event group The Wild Rumpus, and the studio Uvula – which is actually just the dynamic duo of Takahashi and his wife and Katamari composer Asuka Sakai.

The game actually shares a lot in common thematically with Sakai and Takahashi’s game Noby Noby Boy. Both games are about young love. Where Noby Noby Boy took a turn toward the surreal as you tried to stretch a weird creature into the solar system to impress a would-be girlfriend, Tenya Wanya Teens is more grounded, with play that’s about trying to not to embarrass yourself during teenage courtship. Two people are meant to play with one another at the same time.

Even more unusual is the controls for the game. Most of Takahashi’s past games have emphasized simple controls, mostly based on the analog sticks on most console controllers. Teens on the other hand, is played with a 16-button arcade pad, with a joystick on the left and a 4 X 4 grid of buttons on the side, looking not unlike the most intimidating Street Fighter controller conceived. The prototype controllers for the game shown off at Venus Patrol are eye-catching, but they won’t completely lock the game away. Most console controllers actually have more than-sixteen buttons.

Takahashi’s been rolling in the accolades lately (pun very much intended). Katamari Damacy was just put on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City as part of its very first permanent collection of video games.

Game Developers Conference attendees will get a chance to check out Tenya Wanya Teens at the GDC Experimental Gameplay Sessions on Friday.

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