: Can Catherine Possibly Succeed In The US?

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Can Catherine Possibly Succeed In The US?

Recently, I did an article concerning the distinct Japanese artistry and style in video games, and how it has been declining throughout this generation.

This month, we will see Catherine from Atlus, which is an example of Japan-centric entertainment that may struggle when it launches here in the US. Utilizing an anime setting, a story-driven, heavily cinematic plot, and puzzle-based gameplay, the game certainly sounds intriguing, but it also clashes big time with the type of productions that prove popular in this country. I've also heard the puzzles can be ridiculously hard and considering the waning patience of the gaming populace - and the American public as a whole - that could be a huge stumbling block.

But even if the game is great, I'm worried that absolutely nobody is going to buy it. The sex element only goes so far, and it typically doesn't work well in the video game realm. You might fool a few people into thinking this is softcore anime porn but beyond that, it seems only a very, very small number of consumers are even remotely interested. Personally, I've never been a big fan of anime but these days, I'm always on the lookout for something fresh. At the very least, I imagine Catherine will deliver on that front. And provided the puzzles don't frustrate me, I might enjoy the story and compelling characters, too.

Unfortunately, though, I just don't see this one doing very well, which in turn will give Japanese developers more incentive to keep their games within Japan's borders. Many complain that Eastern developers should've never tried to emulate Western designers, but when the culture barrier appears to be just as thick and unwavering as ever, can you really blame the Japanese game makers...? You can't just tell them that nothing works, anymore.

7/8/2011 Ben Dutka

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Comments (39 posts)

playaplus
Friday, July 08, 2011 @ 9:37:24 PM
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got this on pre order...this reeks of japan so it'll keep me entertained for sure.

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BTNwarrior
Friday, July 08, 2011 @ 11:04:30 PM

same here

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gungrave
Sunday, July 10, 2011 @ 12:40:37 PM

In raptors we trust

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gungrave
Friday, July 08, 2011 @ 9:37:31 PM
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I'm an Atlus faithful. I will pick this game up on day one. It's the same company that brought us the awsome Persona series on PS2. The concept of the game looks very fresh. I'm thinking if it does well, Persona 5 on PS3 would be that much closer :)

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gungrave
Friday, July 08, 2011 @ 9:46:34 PM

Look at this trailer. The game looks scarrier than RE5 and the plot looks pretty dope. http://youtu.be/33wX998yH04

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, July 08, 2011 @ 10:14:06 PM

I'm sure Persona 5 is coming, albeit with a brand new action based battle system.

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cLoudou
Friday, July 08, 2011 @ 10:42:50 PM

Nooo, I want turn-based. Oh well, better than no Persona at all.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, July 08, 2011 @ 10:44:07 PM

It better have the old TB style intact.

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Sancho
Friday, July 08, 2011 @ 9:50:05 PM
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I'd totally buy this on day one if my hours weren't getting cut at work. Also if I didn't need to save as much as possible to get a car to get a second or preferably just a better job. Last game I bought was Infamous 2 the Hero edition and thats going to be the last game I can afford for a while. I'll still definitely buy this, and new as well, it'll just have to be later on sadly. I'm not even sure if I'll be able to pick up more than one game this holiday season meaning I'm going to be hard pressed to make my decision.

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Lawless SXE
Friday, July 08, 2011 @ 10:00:59 PM
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I really hope that it does. That may persuade Altus to get into gear for a Euro release. Seriously, I want to try this one. If it isn't released here, I guess I'll just have to import it sooner or later :/

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, July 08, 2011 @ 10:17:55 PM
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I agree with Ben, this has about a snowball's chance in Hell of being a big success. That said I'm getting it right away, the only barrier I see is the hard puzzles, I hate hard puzzles. But I love a weirdo narrative and I'm a fan of anime.

At least we know Atlus is smart enough to keep bringing their stuff here. The cost to add English voices should be paid for in the sales easily. Wish I could say the same for other Japanese devs.

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Oxvial
Friday, July 08, 2011 @ 10:19:03 PM
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No way.... and is a damn shame.

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SHADOW [Moderator]
Friday, July 08, 2011 @ 10:45:20 PM
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Catherine seems like it might fit into a weird sweet spot, where it's accessible enough to be enjoyed by non Japanophiles but retains enough of the Japanese weirdness to still be a novelty. I think that this game could be very successful (for an Atlus game) but it won't be the runaway success of much larger games. I think it might make a lot of sense for Atlus to release the game for 40 dollars instead of 60. 60 is a lot of money to spend on a game a lot of people (including myself) will see more as a novelty item than anything else. But I would blow 40 on this game, easy.

Last edited by SHADOW on 7/8/2011 10:46:05 PM

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cLoudou
Friday, July 08, 2011 @ 10:49:41 PM

Blow 40 what?

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, July 08, 2011 @ 11:14:47 PM

I think 40 seems much more fair for this as well.

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SHADOW [Moderator]
Saturday, July 09, 2011 @ 12:04:52 AM

I'll blow 40 whatever-I-damn-well-pleases. ;)

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gungrave
Sunday, July 10, 2011 @ 12:38:23 PM

I believe this game is worth the 60 bucks but I would hate for this game to be lost among the other "AAA" titles like Valkyria Chronicles did years ago. $40 sounds about right.

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Dreno
Friday, July 08, 2011 @ 10:50:40 PM
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Ill be buying this game FOR SURE, just not a d1p for me. Id like it to be, but the money I have saved now is for wkc2. Then mw3 or bf3 after that and then skyrim sometime after that. When it hits goty though.

But I'm always down to broadin my gaming horizen, and I figure this would be a great game to do that. I mean, after all I've read, it sounds amazing.

So yeah, a purchase for sure.

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DazeOfWar
Friday, July 08, 2011 @ 11:08:02 PM
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I'm definitely buying it. I love the art style and it just looks so interesting. Can't wait for the demo next week.

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Highlander
Friday, July 08, 2011 @ 11:19:42 PM
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I think it may sell on the sex aspect of it. But I understand and share your worry. I am becoming convinced that to enjoy JRPGs in future it may be necessary for gamers to learn to speak and read Japanese.

I'm also of the opinion that we'd be better off as gamers and fans of Japanese games and anime, if localization of such things was limited to a straight translation of subtitles, necessary text and menus. The games might only appeal to a niche market, but let's face it, that's the current situation. But at least the Japanese devs and publishers wouldn't have to spend a lot on localization, and so the number of sales in the West needed for a tidy profit would be comparatively low. Combine that with a PSN release for games and you have a near certain profit on a game that otherwise would only sell in Japan. I mean, if you're only going to sell the game in japan, but for a hundred thousand dollars extra (translation services) you can generate 100,000 extra sales in the International market; isn't that essentially free profit?

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Milonakis
Saturday, July 09, 2011 @ 12:22:54 AM
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All i think about when i see anything about this game is that rediculous noise she makes when she's jumping in that one game and if i had to do that puzzle more than once i would put a brick through my tv. That noise may be the one thing that makes me not buy this game.

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___________
Saturday, July 09, 2011 @ 3:20:45 AM
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i dont see why not.
theres enough people out there who like these neiche styled games, and we dont exactly get many so this is really there only pick.
when was the last time we got a game like this?
obviously wont be selling 2M+ units, but easily over 1, maybe 1.5 if there lucky.
hopefully that will be enough to convince them to bring it everywhere else.

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Excelsior1
Saturday, July 09, 2011 @ 4:14:48 AM

i don't know. 1 million units feels awfully high for a title like this. look at titles like vanquish, bayonetta, and shadows of the damned. all those sold well under 1 million copies in the US despite having some decent critical reception.

also, it depends on how you measure success. atlus probably isn't expecting to sell a ton of copies. i remember their initial projections for demons souls was something like 250,000 copies. i can't imagine they would be expecting this title to sell even more.

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___________
Saturday, July 09, 2011 @ 10:12:24 AM

yes but bayonetta and vanquish were very common titles, theres so many games out there like them.
same thing for shadows of the damned, plus its only been out less then a month, and its a seriously boring repetitive game!
this though, how many games out there are like Catherine?
i dunno only time will tell, but i certainly do think theres a fanbase for this.

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Beamboom
Saturday, July 09, 2011 @ 5:58:40 AM
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I think it's about time that the distributors, press and gamers stop treating every new game like they are all competing with each other, cause they are not. There is not *one* game market, there are several.

Lets look at another industry: Music.
Noone expects a jazz album to sell as much as Lady GaGa's latest production.
Still, if it is a GOOD Jazz album, it will sell *enough* to cover the costs and give the involved an outcome, and give the jazz lovers yet another wonderful moment.

Noone there cries about this album being a "flop" because it didn't sell as much as the current pop princess? Quite the contrary, they get hailed for selling as good as it did, being a jazz album!

And there are STILL jazz albums being released, still classical music, still 100 other smaller genres being live and well. They may not be the richest musicians alive, but they still deliver *quality works*. Maybe even more so than had they been "the current fabs".


Last edited by Beamboom on 7/9/2011 6:01:24 AM

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Lotusflow3r
Saturday, July 09, 2011 @ 6:22:50 AM
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I'll be on it! Might import it as no uk date has been announced.

Suppose that's fair, you get Catherine, we get WKC2.

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Lawless SXE
Saturday, July 09, 2011 @ 6:54:53 AM

That doesn't make it fair... at least they're confirmed to be getting WKC2. :/

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Beamboom
Saturday, July 09, 2011 @ 7:41:31 AM
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@Ben, quoting, "when the culture barrier appears to be just as thick and unwavering as ever <..> can't just tell them that nothing works": This is a very interesting question indeed. I ask, "maybe something in between is the answer":

Let's picture the content of a game that contains what seems to be the archetypical "japanese" to me: Anime cartoonish/"childish" visual style, characters being in their early teens, female characters all being so innocent it's almost naive while wearing nothing but a bra on their upper body, boys wearing what could best be described as unisex clothing, story being about kids trying to become adults. I mean... This all, to a westerner, screams "paedophilia". Sorry but it does!

One might discuss *why* and who is really to blame, is it in fact US that is too sexually deprived etc, but my point is:

Instead of to "westernize" their games by replacing all sex with violence, long cutscenes with frantic action, all story with gunplay and car races... Why not KEEP the core of the game, just let the characters and story be a *tad* more modern? Would that spoil much, when you think about it?

I am not talking about replacing anything here, just a slight correction? Let the girls be sexy as hell, just let them at least be 18? You are still a teen trying to figure out what to do with your life then!
Let the characters keep their basic personalities, just not emphasize every single classic sterotype of how a boy and girl should be according to some old pigs fantasies? Let the story unfold like they do and let the bad guys be bad, but not necessarily by raping a kid?
I mean... That could work, couldn't it?


Last edited by Beamboom on 7/9/2011 7:47:35 AM

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Excelsior1
Saturday, July 09, 2011 @ 9:06:36 AM

one of the prominent things you will see in japanese male characters in their games is how female they often look. it's not just their clothes, either. take the character designs for vaan or even squall(advent clildren) from the ff games for example. they almost look like they are females...what i mean is their faces appear very femine. that's just an observatation.

i'm a big fan of japanese games(especially jrpgs) so i don't have a problem with any of the sterotypes. i've grown accustom to them, and certainly don't want to see them changing styles by weternizing their games. i guess i don't have a problem with the tweaks you would like to see.
i just don't want to see japanese games loosing their personality and charm by making changes to appeal to the western market.

Last edited by Excelsior1 on 7/9/2011 9:07:43 AM

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Beamboom
Saturday, July 09, 2011 @ 9:22:03 AM

I understand completely, but is this charm we talk about here dependent on girls being 12 year old with big boobs? Is *that* the core of this charm, or could the charm remain in a 18 year old body? Still in anime shapes and colors, just a *tad* more adult.

Same goes with the stories, let it be as sexually explicit as they want (please do!), just make it *slightly* more within the boundaries of adult sexuality! To put it simple: Don't rape a 14 year old in the name of entertainment. That just ain't cool.

So my advice to the japanese delopers is this:
"Don't westernize - just modernize!"


Last edited by Beamboom on 7/9/2011 9:30:08 AM

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Highlander
Saturday, July 09, 2011 @ 9:20:58 PM

Utter BS BeamBoom. Your first post and youre replay are little more than cultural imperialism and BS. To me, you couldn't appear to be more blinkered or biased if you tried.

Your last line (actually the last two paragraphs) in your reply is simply offensive. Actually now I think about it you are sounding like a complete xenophobe on the subject and are utterly offensive to me. I don't even know where the hell you came up with the rape comment.

Sorry, but you just walked right over the line, and I don't give a damn how you dress up your comments, they're offensive.

This is where you and I walk in utterly different directions. You've made some posts in the past that appeared to me to be completely naive on the subject of culture, race and ethnicity. I put them down to a lack of knowledge of American slang or American history. But not any more.

Last edited by Highlander on 7/9/2011 9:27:27 PM

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Beamboom
Saturday, July 09, 2011 @ 11:41:24 PM

Highlander, this not something I make up(?) and I don't really see how this can in any way be related to me being naive or not... It's based on the content of Atelier Rorona, quoting IGN:
"Whether it's Rorona's master that makes jokes about molesting her while she sleeps, or the nice shopkeeper who gets drunk and actually does molest her, everyone wants a piece of Rorona. The American version changed the character's ages, making Rorona 17 instead of 14"

The age were confirmed by Looking Glass, saying that she indeed were 14 in the japanese version.
How you can call my scepsism on this content "cultural imperialism" is beyond me. You think I should accept it cause it's "culture"?

And even if this is just "japanese culture" getting "lost in translation", I very much believe such content to be alienating on the western market, something that indeed also the publisher seem to agree with since her age were raised to 17 in the american version. Were they cultural imperialists too?


Last edited by Beamboom on 7/9/2011 11:49:41 PM

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Highlander
Sunday, July 10, 2011 @ 12:30:23 AM

I can refer to you as being naive because you are. If you want to base your post on the extremely biased and misleading characterization of Atelier Rorona by IGN, I can't stop you. The thing is, you went further than they did.

I have played the game and the reviewer was so far off the mark as to be about as off base as you are here. To take what is nothing more than a silly, sweet lighthearted game and portray it in that way is not simply taking things out of context, it's a deliberate act. It says more about the reviewer who twists the content of the game in that way than it does about the game itself. The fact that you take what the reviewer says as the verbatim truth of the matter says as much about you.

You talk of the change of character age as if it was somehow sinister, when in fact it had no more significance than making the game more acceptable to the cultural expectations of Western nations.

I've played Atelier Rorona and apart from some bawdy humor there's nothing offensive at all in it. It's a sweet, lighthearted JRPG about item synthesis and a girl coming of age in her profession. It's not a bloody sex game, it's not a dating sim, it's not a visual novel there's no sex and certainly no rape. I mean, seriously, unless I missed something incredibly huge, there's nothing like that in the game at all. Just to be sure I checked the game's own wiki, and as many other locations as I could, and other than IGN and Eurogamer, there is no mention of any such thing in the game at all. But hey, you go ahead and take IGN's word for it.

Frankly, I don't give a damn about your skepticism, and I don't care to discus the topic with you any longer. Good day.

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Beamboom
Sunday, July 10, 2011 @ 12:59:53 AM

"making the game more acceptable to the cultural expectations of Western nations" -> But, this is exactly what I suggest they should do too! That's the core of what I try to say here. A slight correction of details in the stories would possibly do good VS the western market, I do not suggest removals!

But if I have completely misunderstood, and my impressions have no root in reality whatsoever, then I apologize for even bringing this up. And I really mean that.

But even more so, regardless of whether I'm right in my general assumptions or not, I do sincerely apologize for being offensive. That was not the intention at all. I was just speaking my mind straight from the heart, based on how I saw things. Some of us are more direct than others, and I get easily carried away.
I understand that this means a lot to you, and I should have expressed myself differently. Please accept my apologies.

Last edited by Beamboom on 7/10/2011 1:05:40 AM

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AnonymousPoster
Saturday, July 09, 2011 @ 8:55:32 AM
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The reason I like the look (and demo) of Catherine is not the anime, not the sexiness, not the puzzles. It's the fact that the game is FRESH! It takes all of these things and combines them in a thoroughly new and innovative way. And that, above anything else, is what will drive me to purchase someone's game.

Unfortunately, fresh ideas generally don't do well in the US unless they're thoroughly wrapped up in and based around old, popular ideas. I'm cautiously optimistic the game's quality and fan hype surrounding it can pull it through, but we'll just have to wait and see. I can picture plenty of people passing on it just due to the fact that it has cell animation; and even worse, Japanese cell animation. Because that's obviously for children (*sarcasm alert*).

At least I'm doing my part. I'm glad to say I have this pre-ordered and will be picking it up on Day 1.

Last edited by AnonymousPoster on 7/9/2011 8:56:43 AM

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Deleted User
Saturday, July 09, 2011 @ 10:03:11 AM
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I'm not into puzzle games but something inclines me to buy Catherine anyway as this is an opportunity for people to be able to raise their voice and open their wallets in regards to playing something different on their consoles.

I'll be done with Dirt 3 and SSF4 by July 26 so I can trade them away for Catherine. I'm just buying the regular edition and I'll have to play through the Super Easy Mode first.

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BigBoss4ever
Sunday, July 10, 2011 @ 1:28:09 AM
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Let Japanese developers do japanese games, let western developers do western games, and let the gamers choose whatever they want to play, that is the gaming industry supposed to be, sadly, reality is almost always disappointing comparing to ideals...

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Robochic
Sunday, July 10, 2011 @ 9:48:27 AM
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I think the game looks fresh and different than what we see on the Western side, I love Japanese games it's nice change.
I love Atlus they are an amazing developer and always do an amazing job :) if people don't play it due to it "looks" like crap *which I have heard from people* or to time consumming then you don't know what you are missing thats what games should be all about time consumming and amazing :)

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SmokeyPSD
Sunday, July 10, 2011 @ 12:19:00 PM
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Pfft not interesting, sorry but this is pure shat. This very much is most likely a Persona 5 precursor. Not many interested? Maybe not around here but there IS many interested at large. I'm hugely excited, haven't picked up a game in awhile and this will be the first since LA Noire for me.

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