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Catherine

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Hey, Sheep: Catherine sells 200,000 copies in one week


Aug 04
// Dale North
We heard earlier that Catherine broke all sales records for Atlus USA, but now a new tweet from the company lets us know just how well they did. As you can see, 200,000 copies of Catherine sold in the first week! That's a lot...
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Catherine breaks Atlus sales records


Aug 02
// Dale North
Catherine's still new but the action title has already become Atlus' biggest launch title ever. There's no solid sales numbers yet, but it's still safe to say that  in Atlus' 20 year history, no game has moved more copie...
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Catherine gets a European publisher


Jul 22
// Jim Sterling
While Atlus said this week that there are "no plans" to localize Catherine for Europe, Deep Silver has stepped up to say otherwise. The Dead Island publisher will be bringing everybody's favorite sex-themed puzzle-horror game to the PAL region. Yay! No word on when the game will arrive yet, but it's nice to know that it's coming. I mean, if you're into that sort of thing, you sorry little pervoid.
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New Destructoid Episode: Mega Catherine Infestation!


Jul 20
// Max Scoville
Hey gang, another helping of cold-blood Destructoid Show street justice for you. First, Mega Man Legends 3 is cancelled, and Jonathan Holmes needs a hug. Some hoodlums were so mad, they vandalized the Wikipedias! But hey, on...

Review: Catherine

Jul 19 // Conrad Zimmerman
Catherine (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 [reviewed])Developer: AtlusPublisher: AtlusReleased: July 26, 2011Price: $59.99 Vincent has real problems and anxiety over his future seems at first to have spilled over into his dreams, giving rise to nightmares of climbing a tower that he can no longer remember when he wakes. He's not alone either, as he quickly discovers in conversations with his friends and other bar patrons and a terrifying rash of mysterious deaths has people talking of dreams that kill. What's wonderful about Vincent as a leading man is his lack of apparent depth. While you will come to know Vincent's friends and the people who visit the Stray Sheep Pub on a nightly basis, it's the decisions that you make on Vincent's behalf which determine what kind of person he really is. Conversations Vincent has with bar patrons and the sheep in his nightmares come with dialogue options which both determine his state of mind and change the course of the lives he touches. Unlike the moral choices found in most games, the decisions you make for Vincent are often vague and it's easy to make a selection thinking you're saying the "good" thing only to see Vincent's mood meter swing sharply to the left instead. Occasionally there are options where neither choice seems applicable (this reviewer spent a considerable amount of time deciding if he was a sadist or a masochist), but the majority of them are smartly presented. The plot in Catherine is phenomenal for the first eighty percent of the game. The mystery slowly begins to unravel and characters show themselves to have surprising complexity as they all seek understanding as to what has been happening to them. Delightful use of subtle red herrings do a fantastic job of diverting attention from the truth. Sadly, when the curtain is lifted, what's found to be the cause winds up a bit of a disappointment as the game veers sharply in another direction, though still within keeping of a late-night movie aesthetic (established in the game's opening and then never referenced again until its conclusion some twelve to fifteen hours later.) It's almost entirely forgivable, as the plot up to this point is so engaging that nothing is likely to stop the player who has progressed this far. Nor should it. One somewhat silly plot twist is not enough to damage a story which so effectively leverages suspense and natural human fears, though it did somewhat stretch the boundaries of believability with the ending earned in my playthrough. The two types of play, "Stray Sheep" and "Nightmare," couldn't be more disparate. Stray Sheep acts as a staging ground for the coming nightmare, with Vincent spending yet another night at his old haunt getting drunk. While here, he can talk to bar patrons, respond to text messages, drink (making him faster in the Nightmare stage to follow) and play the "Rapunzel" arcade machine which offers a different spin on the climbing game found in the Nightmare mode. As you spend time in the bar, people will come and go and offer different conversation later in the evening than at the start. Many actions cause time to pass, meaning that if you wait too long to strike up a conversation with somebody, you may miss your shot. Failing to talk to people can have dire consequences for them too, as those who fail to come to terms with their personal issues may simply never wake up again. You'll also engage in most of your communication with Katherine and Catherine in the Stray Sheep through a clever text-messaging gimmick. Vincent will receive messages throughout the night from the pair, which you can choose to respond to or ignore. Replying to a text is a lot like doing it in real life, as Vincent types out a line at a time and gives the player the chance to have him erase it and try again to get the proper tone. Like all of Vincent's conversational choices, these too have bearing on his state of mind and can shift the tone of his relationship with both women. Upon leaving the bar at the end of each night, Vincent will be faced with his nightmare of climbing a tower that's falling away beneath his feet. The game takes place over the course of nine days with Nightmares becoming increasingly challenging and complex the further on you go. Most nights consist of three or more floors of arcade-style climbing. The tower consists of a pile of blocks stacked one atop the other. Vincent can push or pull blocks, climb on top of them and hang from edges to move around them. Some blocks are heavy and pull out more slowly or are weak and crumble after being stepped on twice. Later in the game, blocks appear which have the properties of ice as well as traps and launchers which can send Vincent rocketing up the tower. It's a bit tricky to wrap your head around the idea of pushing and pulling the blocks in a 3D space to create paths up. People familiar with crate pushing titles like Boxxle will probably have little difficulty picking it up, no doubt, but nobody has played that game seriously for a decade or more. The progression is managed well, adding in new block types at a frequent and steady clip to keep things fresh but without ever really becoming overwhelming. Also littered across the tower are gold coins and power-up items. Coins act as your score in the Nightmare stages, earned by quickly ascending and as a bonus for the amount of the tower still standing when the level is finished. The score is then used to determine a rank award at the end of the Nightmare and high ranks unlock new content for the game. Vincent can carry one power-up at a time and they have effects like granting him the ability to climb up more than a single block at a time or eliminating all of the enemies on the tower. Yeah, I said "enemies." Vincent isn't alone on the tower as a multitude of sheep also seem to be making the trek upwards. Most sheep early on will just be a mild nuisance at worst (highly entertaining at best; they're very good at tumbling off the tower) and Vincent can just push them away. Later, tougher sheep become more aggressive and aren't so much interested in ascending the tower as they are in making sure nobody else does. They'll hound your every movement on the tower until you can find a way to get rid of them by pushing them off, crushing them under a block or forcing them into a trap. But don't let that intimidate you. While the marketing for Catherine may have been a bit on the misleading side, its difficulty modes are not deceptive in the least. The Japanese release required patching shortly after arrival in stores due to extreme difficulty but there are no such problems with the easiest setting here. Easy really does mean easy as the game affords you ample time to sit and stare at troublesome spots on the climb, a near endless supply of extra lives and additional score multipliers to help in earning higher rankings. And yet, even at its easiest, it's still a thrilling race. The pressure of choosing which block to pull, knowing that a single misstep can spell instant doom and having to make that decision quickly is delicious. The final stage of each night ratchets up that intensity further with boss encounters which make climbing hellish by destroying blocks, changing the blocks into blocks more difficult to use or just instantly killing a dawdling Vincent. The satisfaction of reaching the top of a tower after a particularly difficult stage is amazing to feel. Normal and hard difficulties are significantly more challenging as the pace of the game becomes dramatically faster. Even having completed the entire story on Easy, I struggled to even finish the second night on Normal. While it's reasonable to expect that just about anybody is capable of playing and enjoying Catherine on Easy, developing the skill to conquer it on anything else will be an exercise in patience and persistence. There is help for you in the form of the sheep who are making their own ascent up the tower. Between stages lies a landing with a save point and a confessional booth where sheep congregate. Talking to them can reveal new techniques for climbing which you might not have thought of, complete with visualization of the act being performed. It's also another opportunity to have an impact on the lives around you, as many of the Stray Sheep's patrons have found themselves sharing this dream. If you're really struggling, you can spend some of the coins you've earned on a power-up to take into the next stage, though it will hurt your chances of achieving a high rank. For those who become enchanted with the arcade style gameplay of Vincent's nightmares, Babel is an additional game mode unlocked by achieving success in the Nightmare stages of the story. These bonus levels feature leaderboards for competing against fellow climbers around the world and are extremely difficult. They also allow for a second player to help in the climb in local play which is an interesting challenge in teamwork as the death of either player spells the end of the round. If you don't feel like working together, there's also a competitive local multiplayer mode, The Colosseum. Available on completion of the story, these are best of three trials in stages based on those in the story. The winner determined either by being the first to reach the top of the tower or being the last sheep standing, so dirty tricks like moving blocks out from under your opponent can be just as effective as quick climbing. Catherine is a fantastic experience with a simple, fun and challenging arcade game at its core. It should not be missed by anyone who wants to enjoy a story with the emotional depth to match its adult themes and with multiple endings and side stories to resolve, there's a fair bit of inducement to return for a second or third pass. The action of the tower climbing is superb, though it certainly will not appeal to all audiences, but is made easy enough to allow those only interested in the story to see through to its conclusion. Those who love pushing blocks, however, will have endless hours of fun ahead of them.
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Meet Vincent Brooks. He's probably a lot like you. At 32 years of age, Vincent is unambitious and in a long-term relationship with the dependable but frustrated Katherine who has been dropping not-so-subtle hints about marria...

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Catherine 'Love Is Over' deluxe unboxing video


Jul 18
// Dale North
We've ripped the wrapper off a brand new, early copy of the deluxe edition Catherine boxset. This "Love is Over" edition goes for about $79.99 and includes a copy of the game (both Xbox 360 and PS3 are available), a naught...

Catherine: The Final Preview (Yes, it's easier!)

Jul 13 // Dale North
Game Complete Time? Competition stats? I beat the game in just under twelve hours, but I think that's because I've played it before. I knew all the stages, and had learned all the techniques from my previous play-throughs. I did that on Easy Mode. I tried the game for the first time on Normal Mode in Japan, and that was pre-patch. Hard Mode? Fuck that! I'd guess that if you're going on easy, you'll spend another hour or two on the game's dialogue, technique discussion and exploration. I'd say that this is a 15-hour game. There's a bit of replay value if you go back in under a more difficult mode, as the stages change a bit. There's also the Babel and co-op play challenges to revisit. Otherwise, expect a dozen or more hours of tower climbing, drinking and cute blondes. Difficulty? Not as much! I bitched a bit about how difficult Catherine was after playing the Japanese release earlier this year. I take some of that back. As I predicted, Catherine is a much more enjoyable game with the difficultly pulled down a bit. The balance was not there before. Now Easy feels more easy. Normal is a bitch. I didn't even try Hard -- I'll leave that to you.  I quickly noticed some changes in the North American version. The first is that there are more mid-level checkpoints in the game's tower-climbing puzzles. Phew! That alone makes a huge difference. When you die, you come back to that checkpoint, saving you from the frustration of figuring out what the hell you did the last time to barely make it up to that point of the tower. Between the post-patch effect and tweaks, you now have so many lives/tries that it's almost ridiculous! I finished the game with more than 90 retries left! Of course, it was on Easy, and this is game where it's easy to blow through 20 'lives' on the harder stages while trying to figure out how to proceed. This is not a complaint. I am glad that there are plenty of retries now. You will be, too. The levels are mostly the same. There may be a few areas where they've tweaked the puzzles in particularly trying areas, but they look to be mostly the same as they were my first time through. The changes in this version are more about how many retries you get and how many checkpoints there are. It's much better this time around overall. Localization is a win! The localization? They knocked this out of the park. Way out. Atlus have outdone themselves. As good as they are, they've never shipped such beautifully localized product. The voice work is a perfect fit. The whole cast rocked it, but Troy Baker as Vincent absolutely kills it! He's perfect for the part, and his delivery of Vincent's English lines sets a new high bar.  Laura Bailey as Catherine is also very good. She scales from horny girl to crazy bitch beautifully. The English language script is outstanding. Great job, writers. There's countless one-liners that had me rolling. Some of Vincent's under-the-breath mutterings will go down in gaming history. His victory cheers are also hilarious. Beyond all of this, the care put into the script makes for some relatable, realistic characters. The game's story was already a treat, but the work on this localization makes it a delight. F-bomb Record Breaker: The only potential negative I see to this script is the heavy use of the word "fuck." I think Atlus has broken the record for F-bomb usage in a videogame! For me it's not a negative at all. Vincent is often fucked in this game (dual meaning! Hello!), and he definitely lets you know it. Sometimes the use of the word is so funny that I'm glad they didn't hold back. If there was ever a game to drop the F-bomb in, it's this one. Fucking perfect. Is this game sexy or not? Jim Sterling asked me yesterday: "Is there boobs?!" Well, all the girls in the games have boobs. I think some things I've said before may have confused some of you. Catherine is definitely a sexy game. It's not a sex game, but there is sex in it. There's also sexy characters and sexy design. And wait until you see what pops up in your inbox in the game! Yes, Catherine is a sexy game. The point I was trying to get across last time is that Atlus Japan went at the advertising in the wrong way. Catherine is an action-puzzle title with a sexy story, and not a sex game.  This game is beautiful! Confession: The first time I played Catherine was in my small Tokyo apartment. My television set was not even high definition. If I told you how small it was, you'd laugh. I won't tell you how bad my TV was. I did this game an injustice by previewing it on that set.  Now I'm back home in America for a bit, back in the land of excess. My gaming rig is either a 55" Sony LCD or a 109" HD projector. I played Catherine on the latter and my jaw dropped. Catherine is a beautiful game! Now I see. Atlus have made it clear that this title was a sort of test for what they could do on HD consoles. Whatever engine they have running this bad boy needs to be used in future titles. The real-time cutscenes are so good that I don't even think they need to bother calling Studio 4°C the next time around. (Sorry, Studio 4°C)  The animation, mo-cap, shading and details in HD were so lovely that I feel spoiled. I'm already imagining the next Shin Megami Tensei title with this engine.  Any new gripes? Not really. I got those out with the first preview. I would even take back some of the old ones, like the one on the difficulty. There's a few left, though. I still really, really, really hate the decision to have the screen shake so much during the boss battles, as I first mentioned here. I still maintain that it's a major fault in a action-puzzle game where precision and speed is key. They should have fixed that. Luckily it doesn't happen very often. I still have beef with how the camera sometimes sort of auto-pans during puzzles. Sometimes you can lose track of where you're going. That's not as serious of an issue, though. If there is a new one, I don't love the transition between anime cutscene and the real-time cutscenes. As I said before, the real-time stuff looks really great. They should have just had Studio 4°C do the intro and ending. Recommended? Oh yes. Unless you hate story-based games or action puzzlers, you must get down with Catherine. Again, there's no way to put a name on what kind of game this is. I still maintain that it's unlike anything you've ever played, so don't try categorizing it. That demo? I feel like that demo is just a small window into a big, beautiful world that you'd be missing if you simply wrote this off as a puzzle game.   Atlus tried something new with Catherine and it definitely paid off. No, there's no dungeon crawling or level grinding or demons...well, scratch that last one as there's some demon-y things. But Atlus went a different route here with gameplay and story, but you'll still find that their ability to pull you into a great story has never been stronger. Sure, it's not an RPG, but Catherine definitely still has that Atlus charm. Catherine hits the PS3 and Xbox 360 on July 26 in North America. Look for our review next week.
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I beat the final, North American retail version of Catherine yesterday. I know I've previewed the Japanese release, and then later previewed code from E3 earlier this year, but this is the final preview coming from me ahead o...

Jimpressions: Catherine demo

Jul 12 // Jim Sterling
For a start, Catherine is an undeniably fractured game, if the introductory hour is anything to go by. It tries to be both an anime and a videogame at the same time, and the two pieces aren't welded together so much as placed next to each other awkwardly. There's a jarring split between sometimes-quasi-interactive cutscenes and puzzle-based gameplay, with no real attempt to reconcile the elements.  As for the gameplay itself? Well, I can certainly see the appeal. It is simply not an appeal that speaks to me. The frantic block-puzzle gameplay has a certain charm, but the ludicrously twitchy controls that have protagonist Vincent spazzing from left to right are far too exuberant for the urgency that the game imposes on the player. You'll be wanting to grab a block or move to a location, only to have the hopped-up Vincent overshoot his proposed location.  I can't say I really appreciate the lack of time given to the player, either. Even by the second stage, Catherine demands you to just "know" which path to take. Any time taken to think through a puzzle is met with inevitable death. As Dale North previously said, this is a hard game -- but whether that difficulty is through legitimate challenge or unfair limitation is not something I'm prepared to judge from a mere demo. All I know is, it's not the kind of challenge I think is particularly enjoyable.  When Vincent isn't running around in his boxer shorts and being chased by fork-wielding women, he's moping in cutscenes that presented with either in-game visuals or unpleasantly choppy anime sequences (and I mean it's choppy by anime standards). So far, the characters seem rather mundane and stereotypical. Vincent is miserable, his friends are nothing to speak of, and neither Katherine nor Catherine make an impression.  During these sections, Vincent can receive and send text messages, and his actions will impact a karma meter that has an influence on the story -- though the demo won't show the results of this feature, naturally. It seems like it could make the game far more interesting, but I'd need to buy the full title to check it out. From this early stage, the game looks to me like it really just wanted to be an anime, but stuffed in just enough gameplay to qualify as a bit of software rather than a movie. I could be wrong, and the full experience could offer far more. I just don't know, and I doubt I'll be buying it to find out. I am not saying Catherine is a bad game, at all. I can appreciate the quality in place and I have little doubt that a select type of gamer is going to absolutely fall in love with the thing. I am not that type of gamer, however, and I have a feeling I will be far from alone. I'd advise everybody interested in the game to thoroughly check out the demo. You may love it or you may hate it. I am speaking more from the latter half of the audience, but I can most certainly respect that there will be many from the former, who will absolutely revel in Atlus' latest offering.  All I know is, I'm glad I'm not reviewing it, and so are you.
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Alarm bells for Catherine were set when nothing more than screenshots and promises were released, yet I ignored them because it looked so delightfully weird. When the gameplay was shown, I finally sensed concern, and suggeste...

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Catherine demo out tomorrow, prepare the sausage-yogurt!


Jul 11
// Jim Sterling
Don't have a Japanese account? Want to play Q*Bert With Tits? Well, tomorrow is the day you've been waiting for, as Atlus is popping a Catherine demo up on the PlayStation Network! If you've played the Japanese demo, this is ...
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Catherine gets art book so you can do a dirty masturbate


Jul 08
// Jim Sterling
Index Corporation and Dengeki are putting out a Catherine art book -- a smart move, since the game's art generates more discussion than anything involving actual gameplay. The book's called Catherine Visual & Scenari...
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Catherine: Underwear check trailer, screens, demo date


Jul 05
// Dale North
*check* Oh, good. We're good. There's a couple of reasons why you'd have to check your boxers in the morning when you wake up. A particularly good dream? Or a terrifying nightmare? It could go either way for Vincent, the m...
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Catherine difficulty set to match post-patch JP version


Jun 29
// Dale North
Are you worried that upcoming Atlus game Catherine is going to be hard? It is. Sorry 'bout that. But I can tell you that it's not going to be ball-bustingly hard like the original Japanese release was. Atlus confirms that the...
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New Catherine trailer has me jealous, spinning


Jun 22
// Dale North
Two girls fighting over me: That's the dream. That'll never be because of my other dream: Lots of new Atlus games. Thankfully, my lonely gamer life will be filled with Atlus game Catherine when it's released on July 26th. ...
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New Destructoid Episode: Duke Nukem, Catherine, and Wii U


Jun 15
// Max Scoville
Hey gang, long time no typing. In the wake of E3, I am suffering from what the experts are referring to as "nerd flu," but which is more likely a hybrid of the T-Virus, Captain Trips, and the Legacy Virus. In spite of Kinect...

Preview: Catherine

Jun 15 // Dale North
My hands-on starts out in the confessional booth. A voice comes out of thin air. It's not the voice of God or whatever. Wait, is that Yuri Lowenthal's voice? Yes? Not Teddy (Persona 4), though. It's different, but it does sound like an evil Teddy a bit. And now Vincent (Troy Baker) talks, and he sounds great. Perfect, actually. Two key voices sound great, and that means good things for this localization.  I started out right before the first boss battle. I embarrassed myself in the first boss battle. (Why did I go that way? Why did I do that?) It was worth the embarrassment to see the following cut scene, though. Vincent's surprised reactions to the very forward advances of one busty blonde are even funnier in English. Cutscenes? Killer. The following open exploration at the bar? Nice. You're not going to be disappointed with Atlus USA's work on Catherine. They know it's a huge title for them, and it's apparent that they took great care with it.  During my play I had a chat with Atlus' Aram Jabbari about how to classify this game. Sexy puzzle time? That works for me. Aram says that Atlus Japan originally called it an erotic horror game. I think that misses the mark by a bit. Atlus USA has been calling it an action adventure/puzzle game, and that feels more right. Whatever you might call it, don't let the sexy visuals trick you. This is a puzzle game with a great story that unfolds between puzzles. There's also a fair bit of exploration and dialogue, but you'll come away remembering the puzzle action most.  Atlus does admit that Catherine is a bit of a tech demo for how the team might do HD, current generation video games. It's a beautiful first effort, even if it isn't the RPG we all hoped for. Now Atlus and its fans have a good idea of what a current gen RPG would look like. I hope Catherine's cell shading engine gets used again -- I'm sure it will.  I never played Catherine's unlockable co-op mode until this meeting. It's a good bit of fun, even if you're terrible at it like I am. Playing as sheep that are trying to scale the pile of blocks first, two players can either help each other or screw each other over. Aram and I tried a bit of both during my session. Following the other player up the pyramid is dangerous as that player could easily decide to screw you over by disrupting your path. Even nice guys have an evil streak. After we both fell to our death a few times we decided to work together. In the end Aram let me win. Thanks, I needed that.  Catherine is sexiness, love triangles, talking sheep, drinking, cell shading, anime, confessions, boxer shorts and so much more that it doesn't feel right to just call it a puzzle game. This game is unlike anything you've ever played. You'll see come this July 26th. 
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I wrote up a full Catherine preview earlier this year after playing a good deal of the Japanese version. There's no point in doing that all again, right? If you did miss my preview, here's the bulletpoints from it: Catherine...

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E3: Catherine wants you to commit to an English trailer


Jun 09
// Maurice Tan
A new Catherine trailer now lets most of us understand what they are actually saying. It also ponders the eternal question of people who become adults before their boyfriends do: "Guys, y u no commit to relationships??" You d...
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E3: E3 badge holders are Catherine/Skyward Sword-tastic!


Jun 05
// Chad Concelmo
Hamza Aziz and I just picked up our E3 media badges from the Los Angeles Convention Center and were pleasantly surprised to see two of our most anticipated games plastered on the badge holders. Every year, one game receives t...
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ESRB: Catherine has topless demons, chainsaw babies


May 31
// Jim Sterling
As always, the Entertainment Software Ratings Board has published its summary of an upcoming videogame and made it sound awesome in the process. Despite what some may think, Catherine isn't a massive sex-a-thon, so the rating...
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Full Catherine website is live, lets you send texts


May 23
// Dale North
Just like in the game, the newly launched Catherine website lets you send text messages to Catherine. You'll have to send the right text to unlock goodies like hidden artwork and wallpapers. I went the flirty route, like I'd ...
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More Catherine screenshots of the Stray Sheep Pub


May 17
// Conrad Zimmerman
Atlus has released a new batch of screenshots for Catherine focused on the Stray Sheep Pub, the bar where Vincent and his friends spend their evenings. As you can see, a couple of the shots give some gameplay information...
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Catherine asks if you're committed in a new trailer


May 16
// Jim Sterling
Here's a new trailer for Catherine, in which a bunch of geekatrons talk about getting married. Most of the video can be safely ignored, except for a bit near the end where we get to see some clips of the game with English voice acting. Yay! Game's out July 26.
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New Catherine screenshots have me climbing up the walls


May 05
// Dale North
Get it? Climbing up the walls? Like the game?...no? Sorry. Forgive this stupid sheep. I'm just excited to know that Atlus' Catherine is coming this summer (July 26th!). I loved the Japanese version so much. Today Atlus sends ...
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Answer hard questions, be in Atlus' next Catherine promo


Apr 12
// Josh Tolentino
The catch, though, is that you'll have to answer those questions in video form, specifically, as a video response to this informational clip below recorded by Atlus' resident PR maestro Aram Jabbari. All you need to do is ma...
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Catherine-with-a-C to be voiced by Laura Bailey


Mar 10
// Josh Tolentino
We already know Catherine's coming to the US. Atlus announced as much. But for a game as big as this one, localization will be a key factor in its potential success. Even a Japanophile like myself knows that having a great En...
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Catherine patch out in Japan...for PS3


Mar 09
// Dale North
...and guess what version I have. F*ck me. Well, they're working on the Xbox 360 version. I don't need the patch, but I want it. You'd get why I want it if you read our preview of Catherine. Here's the full details of what th...
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New Destructoid Show: Pokemanz, Alice, and Danny B!


Mar 07
// Tara Long
Greetings, fellow 'Toiders. Or do you prefer Dtoiders? Either way, welcome to the 61st installment of the Destructoid show. In the wake of GDC, we are still somehow managing to convince awesome people in the industry who are...
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Catherine patch details: Assist option and more retrys


Mar 04
// Dale North
You likely heard that Catherine was difficult enough to make Atlus work on a patch to make it more accessible for gamers. Now some details have come out for this upcoming patch, which is going to make easy mode even easier. I...

Preview: Catherine (Japanese version)

Mar 03 // Dale North
First impression was not great: I'm sure my story with Catherine is similar to yours, at least starting off. We heard there was a new PS3 and Xbox 360 title from Atlus, and we heard it was coming from the Persona team. Excited? Yes. Then we saw it and how sexy it looked. Then the Japanese hype machine started and we all spun out into a fit. And then that day hit when we saw that Catherine was a puzzle game at its core. And here's where we probably parted ways. I was very disappointed. WTF? This is a puzzle game?! I really wanted Catherine to be an RPG of some sort that weaved in dating elements, but they didn't make this game for me. I kind of got over that, got my launch day copy of Catherine, and played it for just long enough to be discouraged that it wasn't an RPG. I played it just long enough to remind myself that I am not good at action-puzzle type games. And I honestly didn't pick it up for another week. I bitched that it was too hard to everyone that asked about it, and got in an extra dig by complaining that it wasn't really as sexy as they marketed it to be. Like a big baby. But my sense of duty kicked in, and my inbox was hit with countless requests for a preview, so I really dug into it. Now that I've put some real time into it (I'm probably half way through it), I can say that I'm really enjoying it. I've completely changed my mind. This is a very fun game. If you can get over that it's a difficult puzzle game, and that it's really not as sexy as Atlus Japan marketed it to be, then you'll also dig it. Digging in: Catherine is very easily spoiled, so we'll stick to the basic framework of the story. You play as a guy named Vincent. Vince has a steady girl that is ready for commitment, but he's not quite. And then there's this other girl that quite literally falls into Vince's lap. She's just as attractive as his steady girl, but she's a bit more fun, and a bit less bitchy. Decisions, decisions. This in itself would be a terrible situation to be in, but it gets worse. People have been dying in their sleep, says the local news, and the rumor is that nightmares cause this death. What sucks for Vincent is that on top of his relationship troubles he too has been having some really strange nightmares.  The core gameplay of Catherine is a climbing-style action puzzle. The reason you climb is for survival, as if to climb out of a dream. Sorry, but revealing more would be a spoiler. Let's just say that you dream (or have nightmares) frequently. In these nightmares you'll start at the bottom of a pile of cubes, and you'll have to use various skills to negotiate these cutes to make it to the top. It starts out as a race against time, as the cubes under foot will begin to fall. Later, it becomes quite a bit more urgent as something starts to chase you up the pile.  Those that remember arcade classic Q*bert will see some similarities, but Catherine's gameplay is much more complex. You'll actually pull and push these cubes to create pathways where you can climb. With Vincent's limitation of only being able to climb the height of one cube, you'll need to push, pull, crawl and hang off edges to find the best way up. Each stage is actually a set, designed puzzle that you'll have to figure out for yourself. The designers really worked to make these challenging, so much so that even the first couple require you to put on your thinking cap.  Hint, hint. It's very easy to get frustrated with these puzzles. The watercooler talk these past couple of weeks lets me know that I'm not alone. Frantic climbing was not fun for me at first, but it was the repeated deaths that really put me off. What I eventually learned is that I needed to broaden my skill set for climbing these cubes. The game does a really great job of educating players on how to tackle obstacles. My problem is that I wasn't paying enough attention. When I really took to heart what I was being told, I started to succeed and have fun. While the puzzles have become progressively more difficult, I find that I'm still able to cope with them. I don't want to spoil any story elements, but I do have a bit of advice that I'll put in the most general terms: You need to talk to everybody. Or...everything. This is the key to succeeding. I've since learned things that have actually made me slap my head. "OH!" Let me be clear about one thing: The puzzle element is really fun. Forget what I said on Twitter. It wasn't for me at first, but the strategy becomes so deep that I'm kind of addicted to it. It really keeps me coming back. But so does the story.  When you're not puzzle gaming: Fans of how Atlus spins a story will love Catherine. Even if you hate the puzzle play, as I did at first, the story is so great that it easily keeps you going. Again, the story is very easily spoiled, so I recommend that you steer clear of other previews, videos or anything else that isn't sent out by Atlus USA proper. Much of your enjoyment will come out of gradually seeing how shitty Vincent's life can get. This guy has the best and worst luck ever and it's a joy to see how it all unfolds.  You do get to explore, talk to people, uncover sub stories, develop characters and all the other great stuff that made you love the Persona games and other Shin Megami Tensei titles. Just because they tried something new with the puzzle game play doesn't mean that Atlus suddenly forgot how to do this stuff well. As a crazed fan of the Persona series I found myself fully satisfied with the story and relationship elements in Catherine. It gets a bit deeper when you consider that you're often asked to make choices throughout the game. Some of them are straight moral choices, but others are simply matters of preference. S or M? Boy or Girl? Anything's game. You'll answer questions in person, on the phone, over email, and in your nightmares.  Each answer you give figures into the ending in ways you likely won't fully know until the game ends. The only gauge you have is a meter that swings back and forth with each answer. Even the game says that you won't understand until later. Production values out the ass: The dialogue is fantastic, the music is a new high point for composer Shoji Meguro, and the in-game cutscenes mixed with Studio 4C's animation are of an insane quality. The combination makes for one of the most amazing current gen expereinces, and certainly the best that Atlus has ever cranked out. And that's saying a lot. He's not pooping, but he is straining Beyond the face value stuff, Catherine just oozes style and polish. Everything is stylized and very original looking, from the characters to the locales. The facial and body animation is outstanding in the non-puzzle scenes, making the characters really easy to get into. The whole package is a visual treat -- Atlus really put some work into this one.  There's plenty of ear candy as well. Atlus in-house composer, Shoji Meguro, has been busy lately, but he's not burnt out. This is probably his best score yet. The action tunes are satisfying and the mystical, dark ones show that he's learned so much over the years. He also has a bit of fun with some of the pieces. He works the "Funeral March" song over a jazzy beat to underscore situations where relations with girls aren't going as well. I've purchased the soundtrack CD and have been enjoying it away from the game. It's that good.  So, is it horny?: Nope. Not really. Put it this way: It's barely more horny than Persona 4 was. Yes, the main character is always in his boxers, and there is a bit of top boob here in there, but this isn't a sex game. All that stuff you saw on the internet was Atlus Japan's marketing choices. Spread legs will do wonders to get a game noticed, and they knew that. While the story is clearly sexual in nature, it's really more about how Vincent deals with his predicament than what he's doing at night with these girls. If you're looking for a peep show, pick up a porn game. This title will not satisfy in that way. While Atlus always makes classy games, they almost went too far with the marketing in Japan in my opinion. It was almost a case of misrepresentation. Catherine is much more tame than what you'd gather from the images and videos you've seen. Some gripes: I haven't finished the game yet, but I do have a few issues with the game. One of my biggest may be nothing to you, unless you also become motion sick from shaking screens. I feel like it was very, very poor choice to have the entire screen shake when the boss approaches. I imagine the idea being thrown out at a board meeting, and someone approved it. Then some programmer went nuts. It's way too much. It's terribly disorienting, so much so that it makes those instances stop being fun. The excessive screen shaking in boss battles actually pulls me out of the game for a second. You'll be frantically climbing only to find that you're suddenly so dizzy that you have to look away from the screen. And then you die. I feel so strongly about this that I'd call it a major fault that has to be addressed. Thankfully you'll only encounter this in boss battles, and it only happens a few times during those battles. Toying with the gamer is fine, but making a scene disorienting and dizzying makes it the opposite of fun. My only other real gripe is that the orientation of control when climbing can sometimes get turned around with the camera. The camera can stay locked in an unmoved position for most of your time with this game, but there are a few times you'll have to crawl around back of these piles of cubes. It's then that the direction of your controls, from right to left, sometimes inexplicably flip. If you're not frantically climbing away from danger, you can stop and work your way out of this. Those situations are rare, though. Besides these, there are a few times that a boss obscures your view, forcing you to let yourself die. It's a cheap death that you'll likely only encounter when you're not doing that great anyway. Conclusion: So you're not going to bitch about the difficulty? No, I'm not. It's hard, yes. Super hard. But I'd go as far as saying that I don't even think it needs that patch they said they'd release. I might change my mind as I get closer to the end of the game, but right now I'm fine dying 10 times to figure out what I'm doing wrong. I think the game does get dangerously close to being unbalanced toward the too difficult side, and there are some later stages that basically force you to use trial and error to figure it out, but I haven't quit yet. And this is coming from someone who is terrible at puzzle games. Again, it's all about paying attention to the optional dialogue.  As I said in the intro, you already know you want this game, so it doesn't really matter what I say. Basically all I've done here is fill out some details for you and maybe gave you a few more reasons to be excited about its Summer 2011 release. Catherine is a fantastic game and you should continue to look forward to its release. Atlus tried something new and it really paid off. Hats off to them.  
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Coming right behind Atlus' official announcement of a US release for their first HD game, Catherine, is our preview of the Japanese version, which was just released a few weeks ago. So, what have you heard? That it's not quit...

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Catherine has music from Shin Megami Tensei games in it


Mar 03
// Dale North
I took a quick clip of one of my finds early in my playthrough of Atlus' Catherine to share with you. Fans of Atlus' Shin Megami Tensei will enjoy coming across music from older games in Atlus' latest puzzler/love story. I...
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Troy Baker cast as Vincent for Atlus' Catherine


Mar 03
// Dale North
When you play Catherine you'll see that it's incredibly voice heavy. The entire game is voiced, all the way down to the small talk in a bar. Going through Atlus' newest puzzle/love story is a lot like watching a movie, so the...

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