So, I found myself really craving an otome this weekend, however I had two obstacles: one, mac was my only option and two, I wanted it now. Lucky for me, I was able to find a download edition of Yo-Jin-Bo on J-List. Yatta! It’s one of the few I know of available for mac (besides Animamundi) and I got to play it instantly! The otome gods were looking down on me that day. Now even though it’s classified as an otome game, it’s much more visual novel than otome, but earned its classification because you’re able to capture one of the male characters at the very end. Still a great game, but not a traditional dating sim. Just don’t want you to be surprised.
The story follows Sayori (you), a modern-day high school girl who finds a mysterious pendant when participating in an archeological dig with her school’s history club. That night, she has a dream that Hatsuhime, the princess of the Mochizuke clan in feudal-day Japan, is assassinated. When Sayori awakens, she is in Hatsuhime’s body. She learns that the pendant sent her back in time giving her the opportunity to “reset” Hatsuhime’s tragic death. The choices you make will decide whether the princess get a second chance at life or not. Accompanying you on this journey are six dreamy bodyguards, each vying for your heart.
Now the best thing about this game is easily the Japanese lore. It’s chock full of noble warriors, shinoni clans and some very very cool action scenes. If you’re someone who is interested in feudal Japan and the samurai era, you’re in for a treat. They pay close attention to authenticity and accuracy but still manage to balance out the tension and intensity with some comedic relief. Even though the plot is pretty serious (and ancient), there are tons of modern pop culture references that will crack you up (like Samurai Champloo). Not to mention the constant bickering between the body guards. Pretty funny stuff. It surprised me, but in a welcome way. I was also glad to see that even though the guys weren’t all that sexy (why don’t we ever get the super dreamy ones in the west?!) they did a really nice job developing each character and their unique personalities.
The animation itself isn’t anything special. Some visual novels are extremely stunning and intricate in their artwork, some are more simple in their approach. This one is a simple approach, but it’s okay, because it compliments the epic plot well. The voice acting is also very well done. Nothing ruins a game, much less an otome game, faster than bad voice acting. Talk about a mood killer. But the best part about the actual production of the game? The soundtrack. The only thing better than an epic otome game, is an epic otome game with super metal j-rock cues! These cues really enhance the action sequences and, as a result, I found myself becoming very emotionally invested in those scenes.
Overall, it’s a cool game, but I did have a few gripes that I’ll get out of the way. Even though there are multiple endings to discover, it was a pretty short game. A good choice if you’re looking for something to amuse you over the weekend, but if you’re looking for more of a commitment, look elsewhere. The replay value is also pretty weak. It wasn’t anything enormously special, but it was entertaining, and the few plot twists it did have were enough to keep me playing to the end.
If you want something amusing, relatively inexpensive, short, sweet and history oriented, definitely give Yo-Jin-Bo a chance. Enjoy!