Atlus’ Catherine was one of the best and most unique Japanese games made for last-generation consoles. It was a puzzle/adventure hybrid that starred Vincent Brooks, a 32-year-old man dealing with the fear of eventual marriage and commitment, and his own eventual infidelity issues. But he also had to literally overcome his obstacles through climbing the floors of a tower in his nightmares, accomplished through completing a series of block puzzles to reach the top. For a title Atlus assembled to ready themselves for Persona 5 and overall HD console development, it turned out pretty well.
However, there was a semi-realistic chance that it would be left behind on last-gen consoles for PlayStation owners. While the Xbox 360 version is backwards-compatible for Xbox One, there is no such feature for PlayStation 4, where owners have to depend on remasters. That was a problem considering how Atlus doesn’t tend to do remasters, as seen through how none of their PS2 games were remastered for PS3, but were only given (sometimes iffy) ports to PS2 Classics. (Persona 4 Golden was given an enhanced port for Vita, but that only partly counts.) Sure, Odin Sphere Leifthrasir was a full-on remake, and Dragon’s Crown Pro is on its way to PS4, but those are Vanillaware-developed titles published by Atlus.
The new version is Catherine: Full Body, due for release on PS4 and, interestingly, Vita. This iteration will be a collaboration between Atlus and Studio Zero, the latter of which is a new outfit within the company comprised of ex-Persona team members who will be handling the extra story elements. This is the other title Studio Zero is working on, previously revealed to be in the works by Persona director Katsura Hashino in September, alongside Project Re Fantasy.
Catherine: Full Body will continue the tradition for Atlus ports in having a new waifu main female character, who’s yet another love interest with the same name besides Catherine and Katherine. Her name is shortened as “Rin,” a pianist at the Stray Sheep bar described as having an honest and gentle personality. Her mere existence will apparently sooth Vincent’s nerves as he ventures through the nightmares on a nightly basis, and her story branch will come with new scenarios and endings. Rin looks a little out of place in Catherine’s world, with her pink hair and sailor schoolgirl outfit. Here’s hoping the writers have smartly inserted her into the story, perhaps as part of a new subplot with mind-screw elements, instead of her being present for pandering purposes.
Additionally, this version will have a bevy of difficulty options, so some playing can feel they’re being sufficiently challenged, while others who prioritize the story over the gameplay can venture through smoothly. The original Catherine earned a reputation for being difficult when it released in Japan, where Atlus had to patch in an easier difficulty level shortly after launch. And the western versions included another difficulty level easier than that. The nightmare levels will also have new puzzles where Vincent has to move multiple blocks at a time, though it’s tough to tell whether this could make some puzzles easier or harder. Apparently, some of the new features will be attached to a new mode, though players can switch between that and the traditional mode whenever they please.
There will also be new events, endings, anime cutscenes, and sexy events, but whether these will be entirely tied to Rin wasn’t made clear. Hopefully that’s not the case.
The Versus Mode for the nightmare puzzles has taken off in tournaments worldwide, especially outside Japan. Atlus acknowledged this in the Famitsu magazine article, and responded by adding online play this time around. Atlus doesn’t have much experience with online games with their internally-developed titles, so it would be preferable if they work with another organization to make sure it handles connections well. Given how conservative they are, I’m not confident in that happening, so hope for the best.
Catherine: Full Body doesn’t have a release date for Japan yet, but it should release in the first half of next year. It would be a surprise if it didn’t come to western territories, but whether Atlus USA can get the same voice talent back will be a big question. Some like Troy Baker and Laura Bailey, who voiced Vincent and Catherine, are far more in demand now than they were in 2011. Baker already gave up the voice for one Atlus character (Persona 4’s Kanji), while Bailey gave up two (Persona 4’s Rise and Nozomi in the Shin Megami Tensei IV games), so they might have to change them. This is another issue where we’ll simply have to hope for the best.
Atlus will give more detail for Full Body on a stream this Friday, and will perhaps show some changes in motion. It will likely be difficult to access for anyone outside Japan, but it should be posted on YouTube afterward.