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Atlus Goes HD With Catherine

New action adventure game in development from the Persona team.


It's hard to believe, but now four years after PlayStation 3's release, Atlus has yet to release an HD game. That's going to be changing shortly. In this week's Famitsu, the Persona publisher provides first details on its first HD project, Catherine.

In development as a multiplatform PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 release, Catherine comes our way from key members of the Persona team. Key staffers include Katsura Hashino as producer and game director, Shigenori Soejima as character designer, and Shouji Meguro as sound composer. Skip down below or some commentary from the three.

The main character in Catherine is Vincent (voiced by Koichi Yamadera), a 32-year-old single salarayman at that point in life between independence from one's parents and marriage. Vincent has no ambitions in terms of love and romance.

(This week's "Flying Get" column referred to Vincent as a "vegetarian." This terms is actually used figuratively to describe the character. He may or may not be a meat eater.)

Vincent's life changes when he meets the 22-year-old Catherine (voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro). Catherine has a charming face and a "well proportioned" body that makes anyone turn and take notice. She happens to be Vincent's type.

After meeting Catherine, Vincent ends up having nightmares. These serve as a central part of the game. In the nightmares, Vincent finds himself in a world of unending stairs. Unless he can climb to the top of the of the stairs, he will not be able to wake up.

Screenshots of the nightmare component do look nightmarish. In one shot, we see Vincent, stripped down to his polka dot briefs, leaning against a step of a giant flight of stairs. Another screen shows Vincent, again wearing only his briefs, being followed from behind by bipedal lambs. Another screen shows the subtitle of a "mysterious voice" saying to Vincent, "You lambs have been selected. You will soon die."

There may be more to the lamb connection than just a single dream passage. The magazine states that Vincent is not alone in his dream. In his dreams, he'll end up meeting a large number of lambs. The lambs, and apparently Vincent as well, are being chased by a pair of giant hands. In one screen, we see one of the hands holding a blood-covered fork. In another screen, a red-eyed lamb says, presumably to Vincent, that those who do not want to die have to climb the stairs.

It looks like you'll be entering and exiting Vincent's nightmare world repeatedly throughout the course of the game. One batch of screens shows Vincent safely waking up from his nightmare. Catherine is beside him, making the magazine speculate that perhaps the two spent the night together. A girl walks in on the two and appears to get angry at Vincent.

Incidentally, you may be thinking that Vincent is some sort of loser who's obsessed with Catherine. This may not be the case. Based strictly off the screenshots, it's actually difficult to say what exactly is the relationship between the two characters. Outside of the shot showing the two in bed, screens show them having drinks at a restaurant, Vincent's arm casually around Catherine as he smokes a cigarette. One shot shows Catherine appearing to seduce Vincent.

Famitsu speculates that there may be some connections between Vincent's nightmare world and the real world. Another set of screens show a sequence from the real world where a young man's gruesome death is reported on the news. There's a rumor going around that when you see a dream about falling, if you don't open your eyes you'll truly die.

So what exactly do you do in Catherine? That's the big mystery at this point. Famitsu lists the game as a single player action adventure. It also hints that the "action" part of the game may play out in the nightmare world. What those action components are is unclear at present.

Famitsu got some commentary from the three key staffers. Here's a summary of what they had to say.

Katsura Hashino (producer and game director)

Atlus's first HD game is a completely original title, Hashino noted. Before releasing a true RPG, they began the Catherine project with the desire to make something new. However, joked Hashino, they ended up making something very strange.

"Different from usual,"it's very adult-oriented," said Hashino. He joked that the team will probably be asked who exactly they're targeting with the game.

The team has placed an emphasis on creating a deep experience with lots of gameplay for players to sink their teeth into, said Hashino. He hopes that many players will enjoy it. "We'd like to offer a new and interesting experience."

Shigenori Soejima (character designer)

Soejima said that in addition to Catherine being the team's first HD game, it will also be "more adult oriented" than past titles. They're trying out things they'd never try (or perhaps were never allowed to try).

The reason for going with this new approach, said Soejima, is that the team is also simultaneously continuing their work on "the game where boys and girls fight" (I think he's trying to say Persona here without actually saying Persona).

Getting into his character design work (he also describes himself as art director), Soejima says that he made many mistakes while trying to portray serious and comical characters on actual hardware. He's worked particularly hard on the area of showing emotional expression in "a story about a love affair." He suggested that we be on the lookout for "daring" or "audacious" visualizations that one would expect of manga-like visuals.

With a laugh, he added, "While there are adult-oriented scenes that will shock you, when you actually play it on the system you will be stimulated even more, although in a different sense."

Soejima believes that Catherine will become a game that one would expect of the team.

Shouji Meguro (sound composer)

Meguro recalled how in all his recent interviews, when asked about his next title he would always respond, "I'm working with Hashino on the thing that's not an RPG." That game ended up being Catherine.

Hashino is apparently taking particular care with Catherine, and has been giving very precise orders regarding the game's music. This has caused Meguro some difficulty, but he believes that because of this they'll be able to deliver a good product to players.

The keywords for the game's music is "classic," "adult oriented" and "erotic." Said Meguro, "It's not the usual RPG, so you can expect content that challenges some very new things."

Meguro closed off with what appears to be a Persona 5 tease. "Perhaps some time next year I'll be able to answer 'I'm now working with Hashino on the RPG.'"

He also added, "Finally, one word: 5.1ch!!"

While Famitsu's reveal article is lacking specifics, Catherine appears to be pretty far along. The game is 80% complete and is due for Winter release. An official site will be opening up shortly at http://cathy.atlus.co.jp.

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