Catherine Q*bert-All

I think if you liked Catherine you will like writing of Haruki Murakami. What I've seen just screams inspiration from A Wild Sheep Chase and Dance, Dance, Dance. I haven't played this game, but I wish I had the system to... I love both Atlus and Murakami.

I read After Dark for a class one time, and, yeah, it is pretty much like that. There are even enormous plot similarities that, now that you mention it, are quite striking.

I finally put some more serious time into this today and I'm constantly either gasping or laughing at the absurdity of the situations that Vincent is getting himself in. I'm at the end of day five. I do enjoy the gameplay, but I'm almost trying to rush through the puzzles to see what ends up happening. Good times.

So, I thought I was almost through this game, and then... Well... sh*t continued to get weird.

4xis.black wrote:

So, I thought I was almost through this game, and then... Well... sh*t continued to get weird.

Yes, it does tend to do that. What day are you on?

I am appreciating the brutal challenge of hard, because for the most part it seems very fair. I spent a long time on 5-1 last night golding that sucker. But some of the boss battles...it feels more like it's a battle against the random number generator than it is a battle of skill or wits. And let me tell you, last night, someone definitely pissed in the RNG's cheerios. I'm pretty sure I played the level-5 boss more than 150 times. There was one point near the top where you have to build a 5-block stair in an area that's already checkerboarded (so you have nothing to work with) and every damn time she'd decide to just pull a block out in that stair, making progress literally impossible. Heck, one time I was just hanging off the side of a block, dodging ice and minding my own business, when I suddenly turned into a pile of blood and bones. I don't even know what happened.

tl;dr, hard mode = brain-bending puzzle awesomeness. Hard mode bosses = FFFFFFFUUUUUU—

5 down, 4 to go. Then, off to Babel!

Okay, got through about five days, and I'm glad I'm playing on Very Easy; it is appropriately challenging for me. Based on playing Rapunzel where there isn't even time pressure: I am a moron. (Have yet to get past stage 5, are you serious that there are 64 stages?!?!) I do try to avoid using the Power Drinks they give you gratuitously, trying to climb "the hard way" until I die a half dozen times in the same place. Minarchist, you are a better (or at least more patient) man than me.

Lots of cute callouts and references. I don't recall if anybody brought this up, but, I noticed Teddie sitting on the end of the bar.

Bought this yesterday and just started playing it. I have to say I'm really surprised at how much I'm enjoying this game. I thought I might as I love quirky Japanese games and I enjoyed Persona 3, but after all the negative talk on Giant Bomb, etc. I wasn't sure. But I really like it. I like the arcade machine, I even like the main puzzle game. I think it's funny that one texting option early in the game is "PIX NAO PLZ" in response to Catherine. I actually chose that because I'm genuinely conflicted as to whether Vincent should be settling down right now. Interesting stuff.

beeporama wrote:

Okay, got through about five days, and I'm glad I'm playing on Very Easy; it is appropriately challenging for me. Based on playing Rapunzel where there isn't even time pressure: I am a moron. (Have yet to get past stage 5, are you serious that there are 64 stages?!?!)

Rapunzel doesn't exactly scale on a perfect line. I just started playing it on this playthrough, and I'm at about 30, but I remember 5 being the hardest one until 16 or so.

Spoiler:

Oh, and there's actually 128 stages. :)

I do try to avoid using the Power Drinks they give you gratuitously, trying to climb "the hard way" until I die a half dozen times in the same place. Minarchist, you are a better (or at least more patient) man than me.

I don't know that I am. I've messed around on every difficulty so far, and I think you're doing yourself a disservice by using super-easy. I would guess it forms bad habits, because you aren't actually forced to think your way out of certain situations (like the damned inverted pyramids). Though a bit more frustrating, I'd recommend easy. Ultimately I think it equips you better to deal with the rest of the game. I started the second run on normal, but it's basically the same as easy but with only 2 continues per pillow and the levels falling slightly faster, so I went ahead and bumped it up to hard. There is a giant chasm between normal and hard, so I definitely don't recommend hard on the first go unless you can solve a Rubik's Cube in under 90 seconds.

But six deaths at one spot before you give up? Dude, you haven't even started dying. Thankfully the reload process is almost instantaneous.

Lots of cute callouts and references. I don't recall if anybody brought this up, but, I noticed Teddie sitting on the end of the bar.

He's also the voice of [redacted]

I tried the first level of Babel, "Altar", today. I think...as crazy as this sounds...hard mode in the regular game is just the warm-up. Babel is really the main event. In about 15 attempts I have yet to get through the first of four stages. The closest I got was level 117 at like seven minutes.

Yeah, I heard Babel is even more ridiculous, which I think is a bad design choice since lower-level players might want some time-killing puzzles as well.

The benefit is that this game is technically open for future DLC.

I don't know where you guys are getting this "Super Easy" stuff, though. Is it a difficulty you can choose in the bar? I know there's an Easy (that's what I'm playing), but nothing even easier than that.

If Easy and Normal modes have the same actual levels, then maybe I can give a retry on Normal difficulty.

I just completed the story mode on normal, having achieved zero golds and a few silvers on the early levels. This post contains end-game spoilers.

Spoiler:

The first time I went through the final stages I ended up with the 'good freedom' ending, which was incredibly unsatisfying, because I said that I did not want a peaceful life. I think I was primed to make this choice by the previous, as-it-turns-out-irrelevant 'Y'ALL READY FOR THIS!?' question, which got me in the mindset that Vincent would have to fight for what he wanted rather than just be 'peaceful'. In any case, it is a testament to how much I liked the characters that I felt compelled to go back today and get the 'true' Katherine ending.

I think that the story lost quite a bit of its integrity by swooping into the usual Atlas brand of 'here is the final FINAL final level' and bringing in supernatural elements that don't seem to have any bearing on the theme. (Thomas Mutton was completely unnecessary, IMO.) I found Katherine's reaction totally unreadable when she finally found out Vincent was cheating on her. (She goes to his apartment both to break up with him and to give him an energy drink?) I don't think we got enough background on their relationship to successfully parse that stuff. Then later on, her reaction to the idea that Vincent actually wasn't cheating on her because it was with an invisible demon creature was just sort of silly. I have no idea how she thought she was pregnant, since the two of them never seem to have sex. (Was she actually cheating on him all along?)

Of course, much of that is consistent with a rapidly-decaying relationship, but without showing you any hints of their past or a single actual conversation between the two of them ('You're acting weird! No I'm not! Here's a cake! Later!') it seems awfully difficult to connect with. The only thing you get is the one photograph of them with the birthday cake, which I liked and would have enjoyed a little more of.

The Katherine route (probably the Catherine route too?) involves an escort mission. I was ALMOST willing to accept it because the whole idea was very relevant to the story, but since that turned out to just be a dream (and then the first ending I got was not the one I wanted) it mostly just left a bad taste in my mouth. So, BAD ATLUS. BAD!

Overall I did greatly enjoy it; even as flawed as I found it to be, it beats the hell out of your typical Bioware narrative.

Super-easy is unlocked by, at the difficulty selection screen, holding the "back" button until you hear a chime, then selecting easy.

4xis:

Spoiler:
4xis.black wrote:

The first time I went through the final stages I ended up with the 'good freedom' ending, which was incredibly unsatisfying, because I said that I did not want a peaceful life. I think I was primed to make this choice by the previous, as-it-turns-out-irrelevant 'Y'ALL READY FOR THIS!?' question, which got me in the mindset that Vincent would have to fight for what he wanted rather than just be 'peaceful'. In any case, it is a testament to how much I liked the characters that I felt compelled to go back today and get the 'true' Katherine ending.

That's funny. I got the "true freedom" ending (so I'd obviously been playing straight down the middle), and I felt it was the best possible outcome given what had happened. Felt canonical.

I think that the story lost quite a bit of its integrity by swooping into the usual Atlas brand of 'here is the final FINAL final level' and bringing in supernatural elements that don't seem to have any bearing on the theme. (Thomas Mutton was completely unnecessary, IMO.) I found Katherine's reaction totally unreadable when she finally found out Vincent was cheating on her. (She goes to his apartment both to break up with him and to give him an energy drink?) I don't think we got enough background on their relationship to successfully parse that stuff. Then later on, her reaction to the idea that Vincent actually wasn't cheating on her because it was with an invisible demon creature was just sort of silly. I have no idea how she thought she was pregnant, since the two of them never seem to have sex. (Was she actually cheating on him all along?)

I dunno, I thought things made sense and would be how they would actually act. I haven't seen her reaction to his telling her she's a succubus, since I haven't gotten any of the Katherine endings yet.

You're acting weird! No I'm not! Here's a cake! Later!

The Katherine route (probably the Catherine route too?) involves an escort mission. I was ALMOST willing to accept it because the whole idea was very relevant to the story, but since that turned out to just be a dream (and then the first ending I got was not the one I wanted) it mostly just left a bad taste in my mouth. So, BAD ATLUS. BAD!

I am not sure that it turned out to be a dream. There are subtle clues in Katherine's and Boss' speech that would indicate otherwise. Remember, when people have the nightmares, they can't remember what happened in the morning, only that something happened. And yeah, that mission happens regardless of your alignment at the time. You have to admit, the preceding scene is awesome. "Do you even have a baby in that ice cave?

Minarchist wrote:
Spoiler:

I am not sure that it turned out to be a dream. There are subtle clues in Katherine's and Boss' speech that would indicate otherwise. Remember, when people have the nightmares, they can't remember what happened in the morning, only that something happened. And yeah, that mission happens regardless of your alignment at the time. You have to admit, the preceding scene is awesome. "Do you even have a baby in that ice cave?

Spoiler:

It doesn't really matter whether or not Katherine dreamed it, because her dumping you immediately afterwards basically destroys the dramatic catharsis that may have justified having an escort mission in your 2011 video game. You go through the annoyance of having to haul Katherine up this block tower, which is a metaphor for Vincent becoming an adult and reaching the end of his character arc, only to find out 'no, that didn't count, she's dumping you, here's an energy drink, now go battle the bartender for a while (BTW, he is some kind of demonic shepherd demi-god) and if you answer a couple more dumb questions correctly you might get the thing we really should have given you right now'.

Spoiler:

I understand what you're saying. I guess I just don't think that her leaving is incongruous with what happened. Just because she's dumping you due to things that happened over the last week and before doesn't mean that Vincent hasn't grown as a character. She wouldn't be able to see that sort of change immediately.

And yeah, Mutton is a total deus ex machina, but then that's the Persona team's style, so no real surprise there.

Minarchist wrote:
I do try to avoid using the Power Drinks they give you gratuitously, trying to climb "the hard way" until I die a half dozen times in the same place. Minarchist, you are a better (or at least more patient) man than me.

I don't know that I am. I've messed around on every difficulty so far, and I think you're doing yourself a disservice by using super-easy. I would guess it forms bad habits, because you aren't actually forced to think your way out of certain situations (like the damned inverted pyramids). Though a bit more frustrating, I'd recommend easy. Ultimately I think it equips you better to deal with the rest of the game. I started the second run on normal, but it's basically the same as easy but with only 2 continues per pillow and the levels falling slightly faster, so I went ahead and bumped it up to hard. There is a giant chasm between normal and hard, so I definitely don't recommend hard on the first go unless you can solve a Rubik's Cube in under 90 seconds.

Now that I'm pretty close to the end I'm inclined to agree. The Power Drinks helped me zip through some of the early puzzles, but I definitely ran into some (Clock Tower) where the design was such that you just had to figure it out.

Since I maxed out at 99 lives banked (lots of places where 3-life pillows sit right before a frequent death spot so I had a net gain from dying) I maybe should have done Normal. I also understand that getting Gold on Normal means you can skip the stage in a replay... not that I can get Gold even on Super Easy, though.

beeporama wrote:

I also understand that getting Gold on Normal means you can skip the stage in a replay... not that I can get Gold even on Super Easy, though.

I think you can skip after you've gotten gold at any difficulty, as long as you're replaying at that difficulty or lower.

And don't stress yourself out about gold, at least not the first time through. I think I got gold on maybe the first and second stages on Easy my first time. You have to learn the game first. Now that I'm on hard it oftentimes seems easier than it did on Easy, just because I understand the concepts so much more. Well, if you can count retrying each level upwards of 100 times "easy"

Speaking of, I have hard gold (sounds like Q-stone) on everything up to level 9-5 at this point, which I attempted for over two hours last night without even finishing. Honestly, I think it would be difficult to finish this stage without getting gold, because the level falls so insanely fast and the boss will destroy any plans you have if you don't keep moving (not that your mobility stops him; see time spent above :() If you would bronze it you simply wouldn't survive to the top.

The boss is a rat bastard, too. "Oh, did you need that block? Here, let me destroy it for you. And that block you're standing on? Yeah, I'm going to turn that into a powerful bomb block that instantly triggers and destroys everything around you. Have a nice fall!"

EDIT: the funny thing about this game is that they found that little niche in difficulty and skill where every single time you die, you think "I'll get it next time for sure. I just need to change one little thing." And 50 tries later you're still saying the same thing. It's very odd. I don't remember the last time I thought that about a game. Probably waaaaay back when I worked to conquer lvl 9 height 5 in the original tetris.

Minarchist wrote:
Spoiler:

I understand what you're saying. I guess I just don't think that her leaving is incongruous with what happened. Just because she's dumping you due to things that happened over the last week and before doesn't mean that Vincent hasn't grown as a character. She wouldn't be able to see that sort of change immediately.

And yeah, Mutton is a total deus ex machina, but then that's the Persona team's style, so no real surprise there.

Spoiler:

Actually, you should do some research on the ancient Babylonian pantheon and the book of Ezekiel. I'm just sayin' here....

momgamer wrote:
Spoiler:

Actually, you should do some research on the ancient Babylonian pantheon and the book of Ezekiel. I'm just sayin' here....

Spoiler:

I dunno, I get the whole tie-in (there's some real spoiler-y stuff with Trisha and how she relates to the mythology that apparently you get when you beat the last stage of Babel), but it still feels a bit weird in a game about normal, everyday relationships. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts about the tie-ins, though. Who would you peg as the prophet Ezekiel? Mutton? Vincent? Catherine? How do you think they all relate back to Ishtar? TBH I haven't given much thought to the mythos other than acknowledging its existence and thinking the Persona team is as crazy as ever, so I'm interested to hear your more well-reasoned and considered thoughts on the subject.

Minarchist wrote:
momgamer wrote:
Spoiler:

Actually, you should do some research on the ancient Babylonian pantheon and the book of Ezekiel. I'm just sayin' here....

Spoiler:

I dunno, I get the whole tie-in (there's some real spoiler-y stuff with Trisha and how she relates to the mythology that apparently you get when you beat the last stage of Babel), but it still feels a bit weird in a game about normal, everyday relationships. I'd be curious to hear your thoughts about the tie-ins, though. Who would you peg as the prophet Ezekiel? Mutton? Vincent? Catherine? How do you think they all relate back to Ishtar? TBH I haven't given much thought to the mythos other than acknowledging its existence and thinking the Persona team is as crazy as ever, so I'm interested to hear your more well-reasoned and considered thoughts on the subject.

Spoiler:

I can't say it's "more well-reasoned". If you know what these guys were, you'd get a connection. Their "jobs" were all about relationships.

The only reason I mentioned Ezekiel is that "Mutton" as Dumuzid who is a name of the Babylonian god Tammuz is mentioned there. He was a shepherd, and Ishtar's consort (in her guise as Innana) to add a bit more to it.

Babylon is all over. The upper levels being "bathed in the light of Ishtar" (Babylonian goddess of love, fertility, and also war). Asteroth who also comes up a couple times, is an avatar of Ishtar. Oh, and "Trisha" is an anagram of "Ishtar". The ties and parallels are all over the place. I don't want to say any more until I know you've beaten the Axis Mundi level of Babel, though.

Wait, have you beaten it? 'Cause if so....hooo-leeee crap. I haven't even unlocked it yet.

I didn't do it alone. Me and the boys powered through it. I doubt sincerely I could have ever even gotten there by myself. But I don't think they could have gotten there without me either. It's amazing what parallel biological processing can do for problem solving. Especially when combined with a young man's twitch reflexes.

There's a bad joke about old age and treachery in there but I can't get it out today. I need more coffee.

Did you do it co-op? It's my understanding that the stages are significantly shorter if you do. Still, an insane feat this early in the game. Son, I am impress.

Nope. We just pass the controller back and forth and do a lot of kibbitzing/backseat driving.

I didn't even know that was an option. Maybe I'll try that out with the girls.

Nice. How many attempts for Axis Mundi?

2nd player in co-op plays as Katherine. Thought that was neat.

I don't know. I didn't count but it was a heck of a lot of them. It took us something like two hours. It's hard to keep track of stuff like that when you're playing this way, and it wouldn't be fair to compare anyways. In some ways, it feels like a cheat.

I can say that the frustration level didn't seem as bad as the last bits of the Empireo, but that's partially due to external circumstances and more experience I think. It felt more "do-able", if you know what I mean.

You mean because there isn't someone shooting the blocks out from underneath you, or cursing you so that they change character every 5 seconds?

Minarchist wrote:

You mean because there isn't someone shooting the blocks out from underneath you, or cursing you so that they change character every 5 seconds? :)

No.... All the more festive variations were there. We just felt more up to the challenge, I guess.

The best part is when you dodge all the fireballs and blocks that change into spike traps only to run headlong into a black hole while trying to collect some coins.

4xis.black wrote:

The best part is when you dodge all the fireballs and blocks that change into spike traps only to run headlong into a black hole while trying to collect some coins.

I managed to avoid the vortexes last night, but the fireballs and constantly-changing traps were an issue.

There's this one part of 9-6 on hard where the boss will either decide to change the blocks to spring blocks so you can advance (it's a 5-block high vertical wall), or destroy all the blocks you're standing on. It is literally impossible to advance without those springs, as there simply isn't enough time to pull out a pyramid before he fries everything. In about 30 runs through I'd say the ratio is roughly 70% springs/30% hot death. Seems kind of lame for the game to have you at its mercy like that.

That's okay, though. This level, too, shall fall. And I still think it's easier than 9-5 was, so hopefully it won't take me the 3 hours that the earlier one did.

Man alive, do I hate ice blocks.

Spoiler:

One wrong move, and you're dead. Again.