Enjoying the Same Game Twice: A Closer Look at Atlus Re-Releases

Recently we were given a chance to play Catherine Full Body, being a fan of the game, I had no qualms about playing it all over again. Watching Vincent make one poor decision after another, at the mercy of the game’s writing, while I make poor decisions on how to climb a block tower was just as fun as I recall it. I’d actually recommend buying it if you’ve only heard of the game as it’s a very unique one, as it relies on puzzle mechanics and at the same time, somehow mix in a story with a more mature tones. It even manages to make solving the puzzle itself pretty intense. So far, I think Atlus is the best when it comes to rehashing old IPs, so how do they get away with basically releasing the same game yet everyone loves them for it?

First, let’s review how we normally get our old games come back to life on newer platforms, so we have a point of comparison when we start looking closer at how Atlus does it. The most plain of all would be the port, where the game is simply emulated or run without any real adjustments on the new system. Sometimes they’d even box the game in because it’s natural resolution is simply too low for the full display. It’s typical to see this with games that originally ran with the really old 4×3 ratio like in fighting games. Usually these things go on without much problem because of how the new consoles or PCs can barely feel the processes required to run them. But we do have some pretty bad cases, which personally for me would be the Megaman X series. I’m really not sure how it ended up that way, but it’s like they run the older Megaman X games by first emulating the console it’s supposed to be played on, then run the game on that emulated machine. This means you’re running through at least 2 layers of emulation, and guess what happens when your system has to pretend to be another console before it can run a game? Input lag, that’s what. Input lag for a platformer action game is kind of a death sentence. So, there’s my ‘non-recommendation’ of a certain compendium release. 

Moving on, there’s the remaster, and in-general I don’t have much to say about them. They’re good for people who either want to play the game again or are just curious about it but don’t have access to where the games were originally playable on. For my case the more common denominator for these would be the RPG titles, which I completely understand if anyone’s interested in it. Though like, how these releases usually are, I don’t really have much to say about them as they don’t really do much else than make the games themselves natively playable on the new system.

Then there’s the not-so-old games that get some repackaged releases, what I’m talking about of course are the ones called ‘Game of the Year’ (GOTY) editions, some shy away from calling their repackaged games such but in general they all have the same plan. It being the game itself plus the expansions or extra DLC that came through the year. They’re fairly good bargains for those who decide to hold out on buying the initial release, but if you already own the game or didn’t like it in the first place, it’s really not for you.

 

So, how does Atlus mix up the formula?

First of all, there’s a huge chance the games they re-release are already remastered for the platform they’re aiming to be on. I don’t think I’ve seen them go the route of emulation for any of their titles. However, one huge thing I found them do is how they have a tendency to revamp their systems in significant ways, making the game different while still playing the same way. For Persona 4 Golden, they added extra effects for social links, making allies more reliable the closer their relationship to you is. For Odin Sphere Leiftrasir, they revamped the combat system to be more active and combo-oriented rather than tactical. They even created a skill system for you to build and customize your characters with. As for Catherine, they changed how blocks could work, which pretty much changed the entire game. Instead of every block being the exact same size, they made it more tetris-like. At first I thought it wasn’t going to be too big a deal, until I found myself trapped every now and then because I wasn’t accounting how moving an L-shaped block would affect every other block it’s hitting. Sometimes it was T-shaped, but you get it. This ‘re-mixed’ mode has kept me from getting complacent about a game I already completed a long time ago, and that’s quite a feat considering I’m pretty much playing the same game. Perhaps the most modest of these would be Muramasa Rebirth, which adds a bunch of standalone stories as content but added a bunch of unique content to the game, anyway.

That’s not the only thing, though. They continue to add more meaningful content to the game, and not just at the end either, like how some RPGs do. For the Persona series, it’s typical to add a new character that interacts with the story early on. The same is true for Catherine, where a third ‘Qatherine’ (they’re really pushing it, I know) is introduced as ‘Rin’ from the very start, and makes some new scenes throughout the story with Vincent. They even make it so that a new set of endings became possible as Vincent gets more involved with the new character. Where the most impressive part would be how the new content is written in without having to overhaul how the story or characters work. So either through story or gameplay, the experience still feels new and engaging to play.

Atlus is capable of re-releasing a game that’s a genuinely good, refreshing experience while tickling the nostalgia bone. So if you haven’t picked up Catherine or haven’t gotten around to playing Persona 5 despite our massive recommendations. Consider this my glowing endorsement, particularly for the already released Catherine Full Body and the upcoming Persona 5 Royal.

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