Genre: Puzzle/Platformer/Dating Sim Hybrid
Release Date: 07/26/2011
I’ve been a huge Megaten fan for most of my gaming “career”. I’ve imported most of the series . I’ve done translation guides and/or walkthroughs for Devil Summoner, Soul Hackers, the Snow Queen Quest for Be Your True Mind and Innocent Sin to help with my learning Japanese back in the day. I’ve also loved how Atlus would try crazy new things, from publishing Ogre Battle and Ogre Tactics games when Enix pulled out of the US market to Virtual Hydlide or Bloody Bride. So when I heard they were trying their hand at a puzzle game semi-connected to the Megaten subseries of Persona, I was intrigued, especially since I’m a big fan of puzzle games.
At the same time, I was a bit hesitant. The one-two punch of Persona 2: Innocent Sin and Persona 2: Eternal Punishment was pretty much the peak of Atlus for me, and although I enjoyed Persona 3 and 4 for what they were, they didn’t feel like actual Persona games. It was more really well made games that had nothing to do with the Persona universe save for using the name and shoehorning in poor Igor. It was Phantasy Star 3 syndrome. It also didn’t help that nearly every review that I read from across the Pacific or person than I talked to took a big verbal steaming dump on Catherine. Still, I assumed it would be a case of Persona 3 where Americans would love it while Japan was so annoyed by the original release that Atlus has remade that game twice in an attempt at apologizing to the understandably grumpy Persona fan base (and milk more money out of them). That’s the danger of using a brand name but nothing else from the original games. See things like Guardian Heroes Advance or Still Life 2 games. Longtime fans get cranky.
Still, by not using the Persona branding, this let the new “Team Persona,” as they are calling themselves (according to the enclosed artbook), forge their own identity without any preconceived expectations. It also let them try something other than a role-playing game, which is pretty much all Atlus has developed (But not all it has published) up to this point, so I applaud them for trying something new. So now the question is, does Catherine live up to the hype Atlus has made for it, or is the end result less than overwhelming?