Atlus' sexy puzzler Catherine is headed to North American shores. Is there a place for this type of game in today's industry?
Ever since Catherine was originally announced, people were interested. Exactly why they were interested varied depending on the person, of course: some were excited by what the Persona team would do with their first HD project, some were interested to see how far they'd take the promised mature content in the game. And others? Well, they liked pretty girls in suggestive situations. Today's announcement from Atlus USA that they are definitely, positively, absolutely bringing Catherine stateside this summer is excellent news. It shows that the company is committed to localizing some of the more unusual titles that come out of Japan. And Catherine is nothing if not unusual.
Some question whether there's a place for this sort of game, however. Catherine's box art leaves no doubt in anyone's mind: this is a game that features overt sexuality. (And sheep.) People unfamiliar with the game are likely to pass by that box on a shelf and make certain assumptions about gamers and the type of content they consume. And those assumptions might not be entirely complimentary.
At the same time, though, gaming and gamers have both grown up. Why shouldn't they be able to purchase and play a game that is upfront about its mature content if they're old enough to make their own decisions? And when it comes to parents buying games for children, many are very ill-informed about the content of the titles they pick up. Catherine's box art is at least honest about what people can expect from the game, and this will allow parents the opportunity to make their own mind up about whether or not it is appropriate for their children.
One of the interesting things about the growing library of supposedly "mature" titles out there is that the ones that always get latched onto and vilified by the mainstream media are the high-profile, popular, Western-developed titles. Call of Duty, Bulletstorm, Mass Effect have all attracted criticism for violent or sexual content. Many Japanese titles are far more overt and graphic with their explicit material, but they get passed over. Fox News was remarkably quiet about Bayonetta's masturbating angels and torture attacks, for example. This means that however controversial Catherine might turn out to be (and even people who have played the Japanese version are keeping remarkably tight-lipped about spoilers so far) it may well remain safe from the overly-watchful eyes of the mainstream media -- and the censors.
There's absolutely a place for Catherine, both on North American store shelves and in the game libraries of players who are tired of the same old "blockbusters". It presents something a little different from the norm, both in terms of its gameplay and its narrative. And as such, it represents something which should be celebrated in modern gaming -- diversity.
Keep an eye on the game's official website, launching soon, for the latest news.
This story, "Watch for Catherine -- She's High-Maintenance" was originally published by GamePro.