Catherine is a game you don’t want to play anywhere near your parents, even on Nintendo Switch.
This visual novel/puzzle game sees you scale towers of blocks within the dreams of a man named Vincent, who's struggling with guilt and anxiety about his love life. Stuck in an unhappy relationship with long-time girlfriend Katherine, Vincent has an affair with a demonic blonde bombshell named Catherine. The game is a lot of fun but can make you quite uncomfortable with its use of explicit text messages and suggestive sex scenes.
Catherine's narrative was gripping when first released in 2011, and it was revamped in 2019 when Atlus’ Studio Zero remastered it for PS4 and PS Vita as Catherine: Full Body.
Now it’s finally come to the Switch as an incredibly solid port. While some of Catherine’s story and writing feels outdated and downright problematic in its handling of LGBTQ+ characters, Catherine: Full Body feels right at home on the system as one of the best ports to hit Nintendo Switch in a long time.
Katherine is pushing Vincent towards marriage, but he’s worried about committing, doubly so when she suggests she might be pregnant. In his recurring nightmares, he and a bunch of sheep-men have to climb a tower of blocks and risk dying in both the dream and real world.
While Catherine has long been controversial for its aging bachelor’s perspective on relationships and clumsy handling of sexual diversity, the game isn’t under any illusions that Vincent is a good guy, which keeps the story from feeling wholly misogynistic. That said, it would also be interesting to see a similar story play out from a woman’s perspective.
While the interesting narrative retained from Catherine’s original release is still backed up by great performances by Troy Baker, Laura Bailey, and Michelle Ruff, the additional content centered around the new character Rin is highly problematic.
Spoilers for Catherine: Full Body follow.
In a mid-game twist, it is revealed that Rin — Vincent’s third love interest, new to the Full Body version — identifies as male and presents as female. Vincent sees them naked following an accident in the shower. Vincent’s first response when learning this is to act horrified and hit Rin. While such a story beat may have had an easier time flying under the radar a few short years ago, it is undeniably problematic. Later on in the story, the game appears afraid to have Vincent and Rin do anything more than hug. This, along with the deadnaming controversy in The Last of Us Part II, shows that game developers still have a long way to go with LGBTQ+ representation in games.
Rin’s story also introduces even more otherworldly elements with aliens that don’t mesh well with the rest of the game. Thankfully, the original story of Catherine is still here with new and improved cutscenes. The block puzzle gameplay is also as fun as ever, and going for high scores on levels you’ve already completed is especially enjoyable. Catherine: Full Body also has a remix mode for returning players that will change up the levels slightly, and a useful auto mode to skip through these sections if you are just playing for the story.
A Sultry Port
While you’ll have to choose between the PS4 or Nintendo Switch ports of Catherine: Full Body in North America, you can’t go wrong with either. The Nintendo Switch port is a well-made expanded version of the original, which has been released across Xbox 360, PS3, PS4, and PS Vita.
The only technical issues I ran into were an audio glitch where lines were read over each other and another where a texture didn’t load properly in the Stray Sheep bar. These were barely noticeable and infrequent, however, so you don’t have to worry about this Switch port feeling inferior or half-baked.
Surprisingly, the puzzles and replayability of Catherine: Full Body works very well on a handheld console. That said, Vincent gets risque texts from his girlfriends and multiple scenes are pretty suggestive — though never explicit — so it’d be a pretty awkward game to play around nosy onlookers. In that case, the retro-themed Super Rapunzel, Colosseum, and Babel puzzle-only modes are the best to play while you’re on the go.
The Switch version of Catherine: Full Body also includes all DLC released for the game on PS4. The weirdest addition is the “Horn-Rimmed Glasses” that lets you see every character in their underwear during cutscenes.
For those of you playing with the Japanese dub, you can now hear new voices for Katherine, Catherine, and Rin from three classic Persona voice actresses. The puzzle-only modes are also expanded with new playable characters, with the highlight being Persona 5’s Joker.
Anyone who’s already beaten it once will appreciate that all of this content is there from the outset on Nintendo Switch. While Catherine: Full Body definitely isn’t a game for everyone due to its sexual nature, those interested can’t go wrong in picking up the Nintendo Switch port. 7/10
Catherine: Full Body comes to Nintendo Switch on July 7, 2020.
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