Few nostalgic things can be recalled without hyperbole, but I doubt many would dispute the importance of the 16-bit JRPG. Those were the halcyon days when game stories first really meant something. Games like Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy VI challenged our narrative expectations, while polishing a well-worn combat variant, dubbed Active Time Battle (ATB, for short). They’re considered by many to be some of the best games ever made, and not without reason. Since that era, JRPGs have been largely lacking in quality and inspiration. Level-5’s Ni no Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch manages to blend old and new, rote and unique, into something largely successful.
I’ve become tired of hearing people talk about Pokémon and reference some fake Pokémon that is not a part of the original 151. If you’re not playing Pokémon Yellow, Pokémon Snap, or some other game that only deals with the original 151 then you’re not actually playing Pokémon. Thus, I’ve elected myself the official Error! Not Found Poké-expert or whatever.
Catherine is a game that makes you think; not just because the puzzles require brain function to solve, but to think about relationships as well. Once the training wheels were off I suddenly found myself not playing a game, but a deep morality driven experience. Puzzles aside, Catherine asked me questions I never really thought of, but took the time to actually reflect on my answers, and how others might react to them. I wasn’t thinking in terms of “this is a game; law is one path, chaos is another.” I was thinking about my own experiences and how the relationships I’ve had have shaped me. This is the greatest achievement of Catherine, but also the greatest weakness.