Atlus released Catherine over five years ago on Xbox 360 and PS3. The game was never ported to PC or the current generation of consoles, and the 360 version still isn’t backwards compatible on the Xbox One. Despite all of those obstacles, however, there’s still a thriving competitive community around the game.
In fact, there’s a tournament for the game going on right now in San Jose, California with a prize pool of $5,000 being paid out to the top place finishers, the largest ever in the game’s brief but illustrious history. If you don’t remember, Catherine was a Japanese horror game that went back and forth between conversation scenes and puzzle scenarios. The latter is what people compete against one another during tournaments, and it can get super intense. You can watch today’s tournament, featuring players like Dacidbro among others, below:
Players win by being the first to make it to the top of a level. However, the sheep-men they play as can only climb up blocks that are connected, without being allowed to jump or climb more than one cube in a row. Players can also smack each other with pillows to delay their progress as the level falls apart beneath their feet. There are also items and other hazards, making mindfulness and strategy just as important as speed and reflexes.
In a way, it’s like playing chess if the board was full of wholes and bolted to the side of a cliff.
Catherine’s competitive scene has had a small but enthusiastic following for some time, growing in visibility more recently with side-tournaments at events like EVO 2016 and increased media coverage. The game was featured at CEOtaku last month to great success, and King of Catherine simply marks as another milestone on its unlikely journey as an esport.