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Catherine

Experience Points .04: Catherine

Feb 14 // Ben Davis
Drink and be merry Every night at the Stray Sheep, Vincent has the option to get borderline blackout drunk at the bar. You can order cocktails, sake, beer, and whiskey. Or you can order one of each. Or 50 of each. Drinks are free and the bar apparently has an unlimited supply, so go crazy! Surprisingly, drinking only has positive effects on Vincent. Alcohol makes Vincent move faster in his nightmares, which is very useful since the puzzles are on a time limit. It's always a good idea to drink yourself into a stupor before taking on the block towers of your dreams. Too bad alcohol doesn't work that way in real life. If I drank as much as Vincent did in my game, I'd be dead. Even if I drank a fraction of what he did, I'd still be waking up in a puddle of my own sick on the ground outside of my apartment, if I even made it that far. Let alone the hangovers... does this guy even get hangovers? What is his secret? [embed]287657:57340:0[/embed] Back to Bach All of the music in Catherine is great, but the best tracks are definitely the songs that play during the block puzzle segments. Composer Shoji Meguro used classical music arrangements for the soundtrack, remixing them with his own style to create these really nice modern takes on classic compositions. Some of my favorite classical scores are featured, such as "Mars" and "Jupiter" from Holst's The Planets, Bach's "Little Fugue", and Chopin's Revolutionary Étude. The soundtrack also introduced me to some great music that I hadn't heard before, but which quickly became favorites of mine, including Mussorgsky's "The Hut on Fowl's Legs" and Dvorak's New World Symphony. I don't know how much average gamers these days know or care about classical music, but I'm glad that there are still avenues through which young people can be exposed to the classics. You'll occasionally hear classical arrangements in other games as well, like Tetris, Mega Man Legends, and Earthworm Jim. I always appreciate a good reference to the great composers of the past. Another round of drinks, Erica! Erica is a waitress at the Stray Sheep. She's a childhood friend of Vincent and his buddies, and loves gossiping with the group. She also has a weird Ronald McDonald color scheme going on, but that's okay. She's way cooler and way less creepy than Ronald. Toby, a recent addition to the group of friends, has a pretty big crush on her. It's no wonder why; Erica is always super kind and charismatic, and attractive to boot. Eventually, the two get together for a night of passion. At the end of the game, if you get the True Lover ending, it's revealed that Erica used to be "Eric" back in the day. This comes as a huge surprise to Toby, but rather than getting all freaked out or weird, he just sort of jokes about it in a friendly way. The rest of the guys obviously already knew this about Erica, since they were childhood friends, and they treat her normally during the entire game. There are also a few subtle hints about the revelation at various points during their conversations. I think it's great to see a transgender character handled so respectfully in a videogame. Her gender identity is revealed in a natural way, and it's treated like a perfectly normal aspect of everyday life. She was my favorite character in the game, even before I learned about her past. A wet dream gone horribly wrong Most of the bosses in Catherine represent aspects of Vincent's relationships that he worries about during the day. The Fist of Grudge symbolizes Katherine's controlling personality and Vincent's fear of commitment. Doom's Bride alludes to Vincent's uncertainty of marriage. The Child with a Chainsaw implies Vincent's apprehension about having a child. And then there's the Immoral Beast. The beast takes the form of a gigantic butt with legs that tries to kill Vincent. It has a mouth with a huge tongue that waggles all about, and blue eyes that resemble Catherine's on each cheek. It appears in Vincent's nightmare after he has an affair with Catherine. It's pretty clear that the butt beast represents Vincent's shame due to the affair, but it seems like it's also telling us something more about the specifics of their sexual encounter. Catherine even comments the next morning that she's never done something "like that" before. I'm sure you can all use your imaginations to deduce what that means. Regardless, the Immoral Beast is one of the most bizarrely grotesque bosses I've ever encountered in a game, and I can't help but admire that. Feeling a little sheepish Those who haven't played Catherine might not know that most of the characters in the game are sheep. Well, technically they're men, but in the nightmare world they appear as sheep to everyone but themselves. That means, to all the other guys, Vincent appears as a sheep wearing polka dot boxers. The sheep-men are all so freaking cute, especially since many of them are dressed up like people. One sheep is wearing a tie, another one has a cool jacket and glasses, one has a pompadour hairpiece or something, and another one's got a police hat and nightstick and is a little larger around the belly (he's my favorite). Most of them represent male characters from other parts of the game. Their outfits are a little strange, though. Like, shouldn't they be dressed as though they're in bed, like Vincent in his boxers? Does that means Morgan, the policeman, sleeps in nothing but his hat and nightstick? And some of the others sleep in their jackets? That's kind of weird, but I guess it's possible. I mean, hey, whatever's comfortable. I'm not here to judge! Saving lives one conversation at a time If you make a habit of talking to the various bar patrons at the Stray Sheep, you'll start to recognize some of them as the sheep you meet in your nightmares. The more you talk to them, the more you learn about their love lives and why they're being haunted by these bad dreams. You'll find that most of them are rather depressed and worried about the way they've been treating the women in their lives. By speaking with them regularly and answering their questions, you'll give them hope and more incentive to stay alive in their nightmares. On the flip side, if you ignore them or give them unsatisfactory responses, you may notice that they stop showing up to the bar at night and you won't see them in your dreams anymore. This means they've lost the will to go on and died in their sleep. How awful... The most touching story to me was that of Morgan the police officer. You learn that his wife was killed a long time ago by a criminal he had been investigating. He blames himself for her death, especially since they had a fight the day she died, and the last thing he said to her was, "Get out." His depression has left him with suicidal thoughts. The reason he's been having nightmares is because of his tendency to lead women on with no intention of a relationship, which he sort of views as cheating on his deceased wife. If you help him stay alive, he decides to focus on finding his wife's murderer so he can finally enact justice. All of the other men's endings involve them asking their girlfriends to marry them, or trying to make things work with their wives, which is great. But Morgan just wants to avenge his wife so that he can visit her grave and tell her all about what he did. I always thought that was really sweet of him. Past Experience Points .01: The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask.02: Shadow of the Colossus.03: EarthBound
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Love is over
Experience Points is a series in which I highlight some of the most memorable things about a particular game. These can include anything from a specific scene or moment, a character, a weapon or item, a level or location, a p...

The nine worst girlfriends in videogames

Feb 14 // Vito Gesualdi
Jessica – Final Fight On the surface, Final Fight’s Jessica seems like a rare catch, a high-society gal with a definite knack for fashion and a particular interest in bad boys. Not to mention how hard it can be to find a decent date in Metro City, unless you’re into having beautiful transvestites beat the crap out of you. The real problem with dating Jessica though? Meeting her parents, specifically daddy: Yes, Haggar is pile driving a shark, and no, he doesn't need to explain why Meet Mayor Mike Haggar, the man who pioneered the pro-wrestling politician angle (long before Jesse “The Body” Ventura tried to steal his swagger). This is the kind of father-in-law you don’t want to mess with, as one wrong step will result in a literal whirlwind of hurt. Remember, this is the man who tackled his city’s gang problem by punching it to death; the kind of guy who goes to work in suspenders because he knows that he’s just going to rip through any dress shirt he puts on once he thrusts those beefy arms out to his sides and spin-punches the crap out of whatever junior assistant screwed up his coffee order. So, how do you think he’s going to treat the guy who forgets his little girl’s birthday? If your answer was anything other than “pile drive his skull into the pavement,” you've got a lot to learn about Mike Haggar’s America. And don’t even think about trying to report your savage pummeling to the police, because Mike Haggar IS THE LAW. How do you really think Jessica’s former boyfriend wound up in jail? I really shouldn’t have told her she looked fat in that dress… Aeris – Final Fantasy VII To be fair, Aeris actually seems like a pretty fantastic girlfriend. She’s a dedicated church-going woman, maintains her own small flower selling business, and despite being relentlessly pursued by the evil corporate goons at Shinra she manages to maintain that winning smile. I'm dying Cloud... you'll carry this moment with you for the rest of your life... If anything is wrong with Aeris, it’s the fact that she’s well… deceased. But beyond the obvious fact that necrophilia is generally frowned upon, the bigger problem is this girl doesn’t know how to stay dead. And I'm back!  See, one of the great things about dead people is that they stay dead. For instance, I miss my grandfather a lot, but because he has the decency to remain in his corpsebox deep beneath the earth, I’ve mostly been able to cope with the loss. Aeris however, seems to pop her head up in just about every new SquareEnix game that comes along, which has got to be weighing a serious emotional toll on her former boyfriend. What’s that Cloud? There’s a movie sequel to the game where you watched me get a sword jammed through my heart? How’s about I show up and help reopen those terrible wounds? Oh, Square’s making a fun Disney tie-in game meant for preteens? How do you feel about my dead ass prancing around? Would a corpse woman tormenting her former lover be appropriate for this E-rated title? Thing is, though it’s creepy to watch Cloud chase his dead girlfriend through the streets of Toontown, watching Tifa continue to pursue that spikey-haired jackass is even worse. Seriously, girl, it’s time you stop crushing on that mopey loser and get with a real man. Might I suggest a little bit of brown sugar to spice up your life?Catherine - Catherine Many men hope to wake up with a beautiful woman in their bed, though before you start pining for the titular character of Atlus’s Catherine, know that this privilege comes with a horrible price. You think it’s bad when your girlfriend forces you to watch some crappy Ashton Kutcher romantic comedy? Imagine if instead she forced you to fight for your life in a terrible nightmare realm, featuring the two worst things in the world: trippy demonic manifestations of your darkest fears, and CRATE PUZZLES. [embed]244682:46909[/embed] To be fair, main character Vincent totally deserves to be impaled by a giant fork. He’s got a perfect girlfriend already (Katherine), and he wants to sleep around with some blonde hussy. Why? Because he’s afraid of commitment? Get it together jackass. Point is, if you happen to be dating a fantastic woman and some random chick with a suspiciously similar name starts flirting hard up on you, it might be time to GTFO. Anybody - Fire Emblem: Awakening When battling your way through Nintendo’s blistering tough series of strategy RPGs, it’s hard to not get attached to the game’s many capable women. Beautiful sorceresses, graceful Pegasus knights, even scantily clad immortals, so the Lolita-fetishists can pretend they don’t have a problem. She's 1000 years old! IT'S NOT CREEPY! Problem is, as attractive as these women may be, your chance of forming a lasting connection is slim. Because let’s face it, you suck at strategy RPGs. Half these girls are going to die before you even make it through the tutorial missions. Rose – Metal Gear Solid 2 Making a relationship work definitely requires a lot of communication. Thing is, while many men complain about their girlfriend’s constant texting, imagine how it would be if you had a stealth communication device implanted in your ear canal, and for no good reason, the military decided to give your girlfriend the frequency code. I know a lot of people weren’t fans of Metal Gear Solid 2’s Raiden, but regardless of how you feel about long-haired pretty boys with samurai swords, you have to have some sympathy for a guy who’s busy trying to rescue the goddamn President of the United States, only to get forced into a conversation about his “feelings.” Hey baby, I’m about to fight an immortal vampire atop an oil platform. Can we maybe talk about this later? Yorda - Ico Look, I get it, there’s a certain exotic appeal to having a foreign girlfriend. Hell, there’s even an entire industry catering to supremely lonely creeps who would rather buy a wife from abroad than take the chance on becoming a decent person. That being said, somehow the weird glowing girl from Ico leaves much to be desired. Thing is, it’s going to become very hard to make a relationship work when the only conversation topics your significant other understands are “climb that crate” and “dammit, you stupid girl, I’m all the way over here -- will you please get away from those shadow monsters, please!” Seriously, don’t even get me started on those shadow monsters. What’s that, all your guy friends are having a poker night? Sorry, buddy, but you’re stuck at home making sure your significant other doesn’t get pulled into a swirling portal to oblivion. Pass.Tails – Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Look, I’m not personally into the whole “furry” thing, but even if you were going to pick an animal partner I think you could do much better than Sonic’s stupid fox girlfriend. Not only does she have one of the most annoying voices in all of gaming, but--Wait, Tails is a guy?Oh. Well he still sucks.Sakura – Street Fighter Though I understand the whole schoolgirl thing definitely appeals to many fellas, you may want to seriously reconsider breaking your state’s statutory laws for a fling with this spunky street fighter. As cute as Sakura may seem, her methods of showing affection are borderline psychotic. I mean let’s be honest, Sakura has a major crush on Ryu. Though rather than express her affection in a sane and rational manner, she instead decides to basically become his female clone. So while taking to wearing a similar headband is on par with your typical teenage obsession, putting in countless hours of training to learn all of a man’s signature fighting moves? That’s beyond the realm of creepy obsession. Do not want. Every male game protagonist ever Sorry fellas, but you’ve gotta admit that for every lackluster gaming girlfriend, there’s about fifty muscle-bound morons who offer literally nothing in terms of dating potential. Just take a look at some of our most beloved gaming stars: a fat middle-aged Italian plumber who still hangs out with his brother; a guy who thinks mullets are still in style; a physics nerd. This douchebag. And of course, legions and legions of muscle-bound morons whose only real method of communication is some indiscernible grunting and a burst of fire from their plasma rifle.Point is, as much fun as it is to jump into the shoes of these digital heroes, real girls aren’t hiding in castles. As nice as fantasyland might be, maybe it's time for losers like us to turn off the console and get ourselves a real date. Nah... [Haggar image courtesy of jnkboy]
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Suddenly my prom date seems alright
If you’re anything like me, Valentine’s Day is a very special time of year. A time to be reminded that your crippling social anxieties and complete lack of desirable personality traits mean you’re likely to ...

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HOJAEFJAAM: Atlus having an amazing summer sale on PSN


Jul 03
// Kyle MacGregor
Summer is here and that probably means you're spending a lot of time inside nice air-conditioned buildings trying to get away from the scorching heat. Unfortunately AC is expensive, but the kind folks at Atlus are a...
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Promoted blog: Honest endings for honest hearts


Apr 25
// Stephen Turner
[Dtoid Community Blogger Stevil gets the "bad" ending in videogames AND in life. Do not date this man! Want to see your own words appear on the front page? Get writing! --Mr Andy Dixon] WARNING: Spoilers f...

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Atlus earnings: Catherine sells nearly 500,000 worldwide


Oct 20
// Maurice Tan
Atlus has revealed some figures in its earnings report, but it's in Japanese which is all bukkake to me. Luckily Andriasang has translated some key info. Catherine sold 260,000 units in Japan and 230,000 internationally, on X...
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Catherine finally reaching Australian shores


Aug 18
// David Rayfield
Atlus' puzzle-horror adventure Catherine has had the most diverse reactions of a videogame in recent memory. Fortunately, now Australians can decide for themselves as the game has just been announced to be released later this...
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Were there plans to bring Catherine to the PC?


Aug 07
// Tony Ponce
The VG Resource did a little spelunking recently with an Xbox 360 copy of Catherine. By digging through the code, they were able to turn up a bunch of unused images from the game in addition to a user interface template sheet...
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Catherine helps Mega64 win the ladies over


Aug 06
// Alex Sargeant
The latest offering from Mega64 actually has one of the most straightforward set-ups. There are no props. No cameos. No other starring members except Rocco. It turns out that the subject matter of Catherine is weird enough on its own to produce an incredibly awkward series of encounters with Rocco playing a disturbingly forlorn nerd Love is over before it even began.
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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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