The Adventures of a Prince Trapped in a Dead PS3

A katamari is a device designed for the world to involuntarily get better acquainted with itself.

The prince, who was named Prince, had a lot of work to do. He knew that if he didn’t fulfill his responsibilities, he would again be punished by the mechanical surrogate of his deadbeat father, which the prince himself had built. The prince set out into the world, carrying with him a lumpy sphere that was several times larger than himself. Appearing within a stranger’s house, he immediately went to work. He rolled his sphere over the mess that cluttered the stranger’s home, and the debris clung lovingly to the sphere, becoming one with its mass. Eventually, the sphere grew larger as it collected more of the clutter, and it was able to absorb larger objects into itself. The home was picked clean of rats and bugs, and the prince had moved on to bigger game, such as cats and dogs. Now enveloped and engorged with the contents of the house, the sphere moved outside, and proceeded to clean up the streets. Larger and larger items became one with the sphere, from chairs to bicycles to fences. Inevitably, the prince would seek out people to become part of his sphere. The people would scream and writhe as they became stuck to the growing, rolling juggernaut. Their screams became muffled as additional layers of cars, trees, and buildings were added to the sphere. Soon enough, the entire town had been uprooted and rolled into a ball. The prince knew now that the sphere was large enough to fulfill its purpose. The head of his robotic father-substitute appeared, and transported the sphere away in a beam of prismatic light. In space, the machine king considered this strange ball of trinkets, animals, vegetation, people, and homes. It determined that the sphere was worthy of being set ablaze, becoming a new speck of light in the night sky. The sphere was sent upward, ready to complete its transformation.

Suddenly, the universe had ceased to exist.

This is how you draw a Total Existence Failure.

Outside that universe, and inside an overheating PlayStation 3 console, a globule of solder had melted, bridging a circuit. The console had sensed this, and shut itself off, taking a microcosm with it. I, who had witnessed this event, stared in a moment of disbelief at the vanished world, and approached the malfunctioning console. When I attempted to turn it back on, it shined a strange yellow light at me for a brief moment, and quickly shut itself back off. This yellow light was foretold by the soothsayers of the internet, who claimed that it meant doom to any console that bore it. Furthermore, the disc mechanism wouldn’t eject unless the system was on, thus preventing me from removing the game from the system.

The Prince of All Cosmos was trapped in my PS3.

I tried rubbing the PS3, and a genie came out. Even he couldn't get the disc to eject.

I immediately consulted technical support. I found a number of tricks one could use to force a PS3 to eject a disc. Unfortunately, my console was an older, “fat” model, and did not feature such secrets. I could open it up and try to remove it manually, but according to some sources, I could be refused customer service if I were to tamper with the console’s innards. When I looked at my options for service, I found that I could get a newer PS3 model at a severe discount if I sent it in for service. Because the aging console would inevitably break down again after it was repaired, I signed up for this option. It was a pretty sweet deal, so I felt that I had to avoid angering the service department, and not pry the console open. I had to accept a strong possibility that the PS3 would need to be sent in with the prince still trapped inside.

In addition to having a disc stuck inside the system, I was also widely aware that the service department would make no effort to preserve my save data. Despite my willingness to comply with their terms of service, I grew impatient, and started searching the internet for a means to temporarily resurrect the system. Many people claimed to have done this by placing the PS3 in a box, and blowing a hair dryer into it. There were numerous testimonies, videos, and confirmations to back this up, along with plenty of warnings. As I waited for the shipping container to arrive, I decided to give this a shot. Hopefully, it would keep the console alive enough to extract the disc and data. I picked up a cheap USB flash drive, and made sure it was properly formatted. Although I didn’t own a hair dryer, I did have a space heater, which was similar in function. I blasted the console with heated air for controlled durations, and waited for it to cool down. Unfortunately, this had no effect on the system’s ability to stay on. In theory, I could have been successful if I were willing to add more heat, but I didn’t think it was worth the risk. I’ve seen stories about people who put their PS3s into ovens in order to fix them, which is utter madness.

A PS3 is not a tray full of delicious cookie dough. If you put a game console into an oven, you have wrought a microcosmic hell.

Eventually, the PS3 coffin arrived at my doorstep. It was very well designed, with a foam framework brace suitably shaped for the console to fit snugly inside. Immediately, I filled out the paperwork included with the box. I even called their support line to express concern that my ticket number was longer than the space they had provided on the form. After convincing myself that all preparations were complete, I laid my dead PS3 to rest in the box, trapped prince and all. I sealed the box with the strip of tape they had provided, and took it to a FedEx office to be delivered. It was now out of my hands. The prince was going on a journey.

I just need to stuff the box into a matryoshka doll, and it'll be ready to ship.

On the road, there were many sights to see. The prince passed by trees, rabbits, fast food restaurants, armadillos, rocks, salsa factories, swamps, nervous people, and buses. Unfortunately, he couldn’t see any of these, for they were concealed by the wall of the shipping truck, which itself was concealed by a thick layer of cardboard, and outside of the black plastic shell of the console he was imprisoned within. Still, the prince knew they were there. He had badly wanted to roll all of them up into a ball, and send the lot of them into space, where they would know the brilliance of the stars.

I still like to imagine that he was staring at the outside world, despite being data on a disc in a console in a box in a truck.

A few days later, the package had reached its destination: Laredo, Texas. I hopped onto the support website to confirm if they had received it. According to the support ticket, it was still shipping. I checked later, and it was still shipping. After another day of waiting, it was evident from the support site that the package was still in transit. Out of curiosity, I checked where Laredo was on the map. As it turns out, it was a city on the border between the US and Mexico. I could reasonably conclude that the shipment had changed hands, and the prince had crossed the border into Mexico.

OOOH, WHAT YOU DOIN' ON MY PROPER-TAH? GIT OFF MAH LAND BEE-FORE I BURN YER BRITCHES!

The prince could barely stand the heat inside the shipping box, which gradually increased as he traveled further south. My attempts to revive the PS3 had prepared him for this ordeal, so at least the effort wasn’t wasted. Thankfully, he had soon arrived at his destination. After being received and sorted, the package was delivered into the waiting hands of the support staff. They unsealed the PS3 coffin, allowing a gust of cool air to swirl about inside. The PS3 lay within, rapidly cooling. Also fluttering about in the gust were two identification slips: the one they had sent me, and a redundant slip I had printed out to prevent any confusion caused by the claustrophobic ticket number field.

Because I don’t wish to tread upon any broad, offensive stereotypes, I will create some benign, zany ones. For the sake of identity, let’s assume that everyone in Mexico owns a viking helmet, walks with a candy cane, and has a 1950’s-style robot arm protruding from their chests.

The rectangular, blocky shapes aren't part of the set of zany characteristics that I made up to avoid offensive stereotypes; this is a trait shared by the entire human race.

Both of the identification slips contained a message, expressed as the word “Yes”, inscribed in a circle. Translated, the message read thusly:

Dear PlayStation Support Staff:

As you are firmly aware of by now, this box contains an old 80GB PS3 model. Trapped inside of this console is a mallet-shaped prince, dressed in green. This PS3 model was not designed with a method of forcibly removing him from his prison of plastic and silicon. As I am incapable of removing him without incurring the wrath of the console gods, I beseech you to rescue this prince. Please return the prince to me, so that he can continue his duty of restoring light to the heavens, by means of repeatedly stealing and igniting large chunks of our planet.

P.S.: I subjected the prince to a substantial amount of heat when I attempted to free him myself. He is possibly suffering from heatstroke. When you rescue him, wrap him in a bunch of wet towels.

One of the support technicians unfurled a fine cloth roll that held a wondrous assortment of tools. He picked out the ones that would best open up an old PS3 model, and set right to work. After peeling away the plastic shell with ease, the technician began removing the screws from around the disc reader, as another technician lifted the screws away with her mind. With the optical drive exposed, the technician reached in with a long pair of tweezers, and removed the prince from captivity. The prince was immediately placed in a large basket full of wet towels, where he emitted a loud hiss and a cloud of steam.

While they were tinkering around the inside of the console with their tools, the support technicians found the save data stored within. Out of curiosity, they peeked at the saved files. They noticed that the prince had rolled up a ball of stuff, and it was still waiting to become a star in the night sky. The technicians, being nice people, decided to turn the prince’s sphere into a star for him. A technician took the PS3 outside, hurled it into the sky, and struck it with his laser eyes. We know the PS3 today as LAMOST-HVS1.

I don't want to mitigate the whimsy of the story, but I'd just like to point out that if this really happened, all life on Earth would boil away in an instant. Not because of the nearby star, but from the energy of the laser eyes that ignited it.

Using a set of tools designed for this specific purpose, a technician removed the prince from the towel basket, and placed him in a paper sleeve. Meanwhile, the support staff had picked a newer-model PS3 from their PS3 tree, and placed it in a box with a styrofoam cradle. The technician tucked the prince into the box with the PS3, and gave him a new power cable to play with. Once the box was closed and sealed with a strip of tape, they placed it on the back of a shipping ostrich, and sent it northward.

OOOOH VARMINT WHAT'CHOO DOIN' BACK IN MY YARD? GIT BACK HERE SO I CAN FRY YOU PROPER!

The prince passed by some familiar sights on the way back. He passed by buses, nervous people, swamps, salsa factories, rocks, armadillos, fast food restaurants, rabbits, and trees. Once again, he couldn’t see them, for there were layers of paper, styrofoam, cardboard, and feathers that occluded the outside world. However, he could better sense their presence. He spent the days in transit planning to systematically make a constellation out of them.

A few days later, a box was placed at my doorstep, among a few feathers. I took the box inside, cut the tape, and opened it. To my delight, I found that the PS3 they had delivered was a newer model than the support website had promised, featuring a smaller frame and a larger hard drive. Atop the new console was a paper sleeve, with the prince tucked within. I plugged the new console into my television, and switched it on. “Oh no, not again!”, the prince cried, as I removed him from the sleeve and placed him into the new PS3. This time, however, the prince had nothing to fear. The new disc bay, which resembled the innards of the portable CD players of olden times, required no power to eject a disc. The prince would never be trapped in the PS3 again. Now that he was in a working console, he was able to resume his task of repopulating the cosmos with incandescent potpourri, while enduring the incessant criticism of his neurotic dad-robot. He had to start over, of course.

Every Katamari Damacy veteran who is reading this has logically deduced that this isn't the first time this happened.

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