Reminiscing Over Catherine

Reminiscing Over Catherine

Today is my 21st birthday. In two days, Catherine: Full Body will be released on the Nintendo Switch. Happy birthday to me. 

After divorcing my first love, Sony, I had to quickly come to terms that I wouldn’t play Full Body until it dropped on another platform like PC or Switch. Now that it’s finally here I will be throwing my PS4 into the garbage where it belongs once Persona 5 receives its eventual Switch release.

But… wow… it’s actually coming to the Switch. Sometimes I find that information just as hard to believe as I did Catherine receiving a second life in the form of Full Body.

Catherine is one of my favorite games of all time, but it’s also the game I was sure Atlus forgot. I never thought anyone would care about Catherine again despite the P5/Atlus fan who points out how Catherine pioneered Persona’s art. Nevertheless, Catherine was never a Persona or Shin Megami Tensei in terms of great fanfare. It was probably one of Atlus’s most mild successes, a middle man as fans eagerly awaited P5. At least, that’s how I feel about it these days.

Catherine is a game that I feel like I owe much to. Having originally played the game as a pre-out-of-the-closet Ari, aged 14 or 15, feeling things I couldn’t place at the time. When I think about those feelings and my personal taste now, it can all be traced back to Catherine. 

It’s one of the hardest games I’ve ever played, and also the most personal. An introduction to aspects of my life, taste, and preferences, that I didn’t know about myself at the time. Yes, when I think of the character who goes into my “Hey I might be gay!” starter pack, Katherine is at the top of that list. 

Leading up to Full Body’s release I’ve been reflecting greatly on Catherine and found that much, yet so very little, about this game and its impact on my life has changed. During this time I found I loved Catherine so much more than I thought I did.

I can trace it all back to the character Katherine. Who, at the time, was a woman after my heart. Along with the game’s empathise on you, the player, answering the game’s direct questions honestly as yourself, not Vincent.

I still remember the gravity I felt when first gazing upon Katherine. It was the same pull I sensed gazing upon the lips of a girl I wanted to kiss. Not knowing what the hell was wrong with me and feeling like a creep afterwards. I didn’t know what romantic or sexual attraction was back then, but I did feel it. Katherine was probably the first female character I experienced it with.

During those times I proudly declared that no man would ever love me and my marriages would be failures lasting only a couple of days. I still remember the eye rolls from friends and family. Commenting ‘Stop that, you would make anyone lucky to have you.’ Yeah, that still sounds like absolute bullshit. Of course I would later realize that men liked me, I just didn’t like men. Making the question of love became all the more uncertain, and sometimes, terrifying. 

But, Katherine… I think it was her fire that got to me. The raw seriousness and anger in her eyes has Vincent wouldn’t look at her and answer her questions directly. Then there was the subtle sexuality her design contained. 

Shigenori Soejima has been a character designer for Atlus since Persona 3. I think it’s safe to say his work is very influential, highly praised, and celebrated. I am of the personal belief that his designs for Persona 4 and 5 should be studied, along with Catherine’s female designs.

While the men in Catherine are very casual, cool, laid back. The average 20-something Japanese male who enjoys a drink with his bros since high school. The women in this game all look stunning and unique.

Each female character represents something different and Soejima’s designs reflect them perfectly. When I look at Catherine, I can instantly tell she’s a very outwardly sexual person who is looking for attention and attraction. Erica, despite being in uniform throughout the game, radiates confidence in her body and fitting clothing. And Katherine, mature, responsible, independent, self-loving and caring. When you look at her you know who she is and what she is, and that’s what drew me into her.

At the time I thought Katherine was my ideal partner. Though I wholeheartedly believed love was completely impossible for me to achieve in my lifetime, it was a nice daydream that someone out there was like her. Someone who also had complete independence. Who wanted me to take care of myself as much as she wanted to care for me. Someone who knew what they wanted! I loved that so much about her, and I still do, but in a different way.

Katherine is no longer the woman I want, but the woman I want to be! Katherine is a picture of my ideal life. Like her, I know what I want in my future relationship. A wife. A woman to love me, is willing to put up with my shit, and also fucking hates children. I want someone to take care of and who will take care of me. 

However, that’s not possible if she doesn’t know what she wants. Just like Vincent before his journey of self discovery throughout the game.

While guiding Vincent towards my ideal ending I realized that I wasn’t only saving Vincent’s relationship for myself and, I suppose, my monogamy, but also to save Katherine.

I couldn’t love a woman like Catherine. While I know people who will strive for the open relationship she offers, I never saw any appeal in her. I do like her and it didn’t take long for me to figure out her true identity. But Catherine is a woman who I still find quite… uninteresting.

I never found attraction in her flirtation nor her fittingly sexual design. I dismissed the lewd photos she sent just as much as her advances. But I never once disliked or hated Catherine. I knew she existed to test Vincent’s faith and I will admit I still find her true ending arousing, pervert that I am. But she could never take my eyes off of my Katherine.

I suppose this game, both then and now, is able to make me believe in “comic book” relationships. Clark and Louis, Bruce and Selina, Peter Parker and MJ. Because when I talk about my beloved comics, games, and general nerdiness, I tend to attach that word to it: My.

My Billy Batson was an orphan with a heart of gold and because of his kindness he gained the powers of Shazam for being so damn nice. It’s cheesy, I know, that’s why I like the newer versions better.

My Moon Knight is a man who suffers from extremely poor and damaging mental health. That’s why I bitched for years about him getting a movie because I want people to see what I and my friends suffer daily on the big screen.

My Zelda is a knowledgeable woman of great courage. She hid away from Gannon for years to save her people and damn if she isn’t going to save her kingdom again by facing him head-on in BOTW. And if you dare make her any less than a woman of great knowledge, courage, and faith then I will fucking slice you.

My Katherine is the woman who Vincent loves and he knows he loves her. He just forgot that. And I want him to love her because I want to love her. I want to love that one special person, I want to marry that person, I want to cherish them forever!

My Louis Lane.

My Mary Jane.

My Katherine…

The aspect of Catherine that has greatly changed over the years has been my attraction from one character to another. Whereas Katherine is the woman I want to be. Erica is the woman that I want.

Looking back on it I can recall a mild attraction towards Erica. I wasn’t much for redheads then, but her charismatic personality was what drew me into her. Now, I adore Erica. And when I think about the traits I want my ideal pattern to have, I will point to her as an example.

She’s not afraid to bust balls with her closest bros. She’s a shoulder to cry on and the voice of reason. Erica is playful and fun. The kinda of woman you want to take to the bar, get hammered, and have drunk messy sex with the night before you take her to meet your mom for breakfast. And I’m pretty sure she’ll be able to hide the hangover flawlessly.

Erica is a great friend, a sexy flirt, and I fucking envy that shit Toby for actually being able to nail her. But what makes her so sexy to me, is her confidence. A woman holding her head up high, looks good in whatever she’s wearing, taking her life in stride, and isn’t afraid to spit venom at the asshole who makes a pass at her. That’s a woman I know I don’t deserve and will pray that I’m able to call my wife.

I suppose Catherine’s writers were able to become so intimate with my personal feelings that I simply can’t help feeling this way. Both then and now, I always felt incredibly close to Catherine because of how the game’s writing was able to touch me.

I continue to believe the game personally asking you how you feel in certain situations and aspects of a relationship is genius. Because that’s how the game becomes so personal. These aren’t overly complicated questions that want an essay from you. It’s a simple yes or no answer that allows you to proceed forward.

For me the answers were no brainers. For another it may also be the same, but for the other Catherine. But for some it may be mixed. There are many in this world who don’t know what they want or experience indifference. And that’s completely fine! The game doesn’t punish you for being who you are. If you get a bad or neutral ending, that’s on Vincent, but it’s not on you

Dear reader I confess that while writing this article I spent far more time reflecting than typing. Catherine is just that close of a game to me and my fondness for it is great. I love the cocktail history being read in a soothing voice like that of warm liquid honey. The ballbusting challenge that I happily recommend of Dark Souls fans who aren’t done with having their testiculs ripped out. The ever evolving gameplay that forces you to think on your feet and never lets up on its challenge once. I adore Vincent’s story and growth from confusion to acceptice to love. I love the horrific fucking boss designs and to this day no game has made me want to actively vomit more than the baby boss.

Look, dear reader, in case you couldn’t tell I’m a horny fucking homo and I will not aplogize for it. Yes, I did bite my lip once or twice thinking about the lust I have for fictional fucking characters. At least I’ve had sex so by the laws of the internet I’ve avoided being a fucking simp. But can you blame me for finding attraction in characters so fucking good they feel like real people that I know and hang out with.

The dialogue and barter exchanged in a bar between friends. The traits and flaws of lust, greed, confidence, and will. A tightly written story with a solid three act structure introduced by a narrator with the coolest afro I’ve ever seen! This game was created via the inspiration of relationships and the goal to explore them and it did that marvelously

Catherine was a game that came to me at the right time. A time of severe depression and many a sleepless night. A time where I masked that emotion with dark humor and compliments sounded as foreign as Finnish. A time where my sexualilty was repressed and confidence destroyed by bullies who once literally tried to push me down the stairs. 

I don’t know if I needed Catherine per say. But I do know that I am enterinal grateful that such a game entered my life. And I wouldn’t have known about it if it wasn’t for a YouTube let’s play.

Reading this article as I draw it to a close, I suppose that I could go more into gameplay, graphics, and story, but I’m unable to find the words for them. It wasn’t those things that makes me love Catherine as much as I do. It’s the characters. The same reason why Persona fans love their favorite installments and Neir stans fight over 2B.

Catherine turely would’ve been nothing without its cast and the writing that connected with me so profoundly. Back then, I adored the game for its mechanics and gameplay and art. Now, I adore it for introducing me to myself. It just took me a while to realize that…

I don’t know what’s in store for me in Full Body. I don’t know if the voice acting has changed or characters rewritten. I fear the team changing Vincent, Erica, and the Catherines knowing full well that it’s probably just paranoia. I’m still unsure how I feel about the inclusion of Rin. But I’m sure I’ll enjoy her fine enough and the mission of the game’s storytelling won’t suffer with a third option. 

But I do know that I will be there on launch day to pick up my physical copy. I will cry at the title screen and will gaze upon Katherine and Erica’s beauty with horny gay fury. I will be there, pouring even more hours into the game. Getting the best endings for all three girls. Remembering and laughing at my petty past. Possibly looking forward to my short lived future. 

I will be there… 

À une autre année. Bonne chance. Santé, mes amies…