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