Very good text. I still haven't played Catherine, but eventually will (i already bought the game).
I have one comment regarding sexuality though. It is really plausible that players were attracted to Catherine because of its sexual appeal (and that totally makes sense). I was interest because a H game was coming to big console, made by a big company. Usually, H games are not mainstream.
But I see a contradiction in all of this. If the sexual appeal was the first thing that attracted players - and let's be aware that it is a Japanese-styled sexual appeal - why Hyperdimension Neptunia was so critised when released?
Ok, its premise is to be a RPG. Maybe it is not a that-good RPG, but it is an enjoyable dungeon-crawler, with beautiful characters and reliable graphics. And yet, this game was critised for its sexual appeal.
No one said that Hyperdimension Neptunia was for kids. It is probably direct to more mature players who wish for a little of fanservice in they gameplay.
That is one particular contradiction between the genres. Does it mean that RPGs cant have sexy characters? Or that the game has to be explicitly "mature"?
I guess I'm the only person on the planet who thinks that Cathrine is a terrible game. It's also a stereotypical anime portrayal of relationships. Now I'm on level four and I doubt I'll get much farther because it's a slipshod puzzle game when it wants to be an anime, but so far I've made very few meaningful choices when it comes to this "relationship" that my protagonist has entered. To the degree that during a cutscene my character says something and the morality gauge changes (from it's rather neutral position, because most of it's in text messages, and text messages are harder than regular writing to intone).
I get that they flung you into the cheating situation for the sake of conflict but it really feels like the game is trying to play itself and just asks me a few random survey questions between levels. If my choices in life are a spastic little lady who sounds like jail-bait and a dominating battleaxe of a woman I'm going to go join a seminary.
So bullcrap to this "relationship" half the crap is not stuff I would even do to begin with, and while it's fun to experiment I keep getting robbed of any input I would actually make. Besides that the camera sucks, the use of lives is downright archaic (Do they think 360s run on quarters?)
So no it's not, "just a game," it's a particularly bad game with some of the most ham-handed attempts at presenting a real relationship. It's like a relationship according to thirteen-year-old girls on one side and thirteen-year-old boys on the other.