NEWS: Support Visual Novel Reviews on Patreon

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PATREON : https://www.patreon.com/visualnovelreviews

If you have been following my website for a while, then you will have noticed that I often add new additions, upgrades, and aesthetic improvements over time. For example: my biggest change was when I did a complete website overhaul and the server was down for the entire day.

This was due to more funding from my own pocket in order to access more tools to improve the site and increased server capacity for my website to stay up and running. If you regularly visit my website, you will also notice that I did add a patreon section to my side panel a while back—however, I have never formally announced it until today.

The reason is because I personally had reservations about starting one, and I didn’t want people to feel obligated to donate to the website. However, after much deliberation I finally decided to officially make a post about it and why I have decided to use patreon.

WHO AM I?

Hello, I’m Cherry and I’m the writer behind the website Visual Novel Reviews. I initially began this website out of passion to write down my thoughts, opinions, rants or raves on the Visual Novels that I played. I thought it would be a great way to interact with, inform and expand the Visual Novel/Otome Game community. I never would have expected that in less than a year, my website would have grown so much and developed such an amazing following from it.

I cannot thank you enough for the support and it’s the wonderful feedback that I read from my readers that inspires me to keep writing. I read every single comment, and they never fail to make me smile or make my day. It makes me feel like all my hard work is recognised, and I’ve had amazing opportunities to work with companies such as Aksys Games, Idea Factory International, MangaGamer and NISA America with reviewing their new game releases. These companies continually localise games that I have been a fan of since the very beginnings of my endeavors into the genre of Visual Novels.

WHY DO I NEED YOUR HELP?

Unfortunately as much as I would like to devote more time to writing, it really isn’t feasible with the amount of funding and schedule that I currently have. I am currently a fourth-year university student, aspiring to be a clinical psychologist specialising in child psychology. As my masters program has a high GPA requisite and my course is very demanding; I spend four days a week at university and the bulk of my time at home is spent studying. Whatever time I have left over, I am working at university as a tutor.

Currently how I fund my website is through advertisements on my side panels and affiliate links, however this pays for only 30% of my monthly website cost. The other 70% is completely out of my own pocket to keep the website up and running, and to purchase games to review.

WHAT KIND OF WORK DO I DO?

Despite how it looks, behind the scenes a review takes me hours to write. I only want to post quality content for my readers, and I continue to work on them until it is to a standard that I believe people will enjoy reading. My average review count is 5000-8000 words, although some of my reviews such as ‘Black Wolves Saga: Bloody Nightmare‘ totaled 13000 words.

As you can imagine, this takes me anywhere between 10-20hrs to write. This does not include the time spent afterwards proofreading, formatting and editing. My website itself I have spent well over 30 hours coding and learning how to design and format. Prior to this, I had absolutely no idea how to use CSS or HTML.

WHAT IS MY GOAL WITH PATREON?

I am currently making no profit whatsoever from my website, despite the time, effort, money and work that I place into it. The hours I spend on it does not translate into profit, and as a result it will only be a hobby at best in my current predicament. It is something I am personally funding out of genuine enjoyment as part of the Visual Novel & Otome community. My aim with Patreon is not to make it a full-time job, but to be able to self-fund the website without having to constantly dig into my own expenses every month.

In the worst case scenario (which I would want to avoid) is for the website to shut down, if in the situation that I am unable to personally fund the website anymore.

Every single bit helps, and I am forever thankful to each and everyone of you that continue to support me and help me in continuing to do what I love. 

If you have read up until this point, thank you so much for taking the time to read it until the end! I want to stress that there is no obligation whatsoever to donate, and just your understanding as to why I have decided to open up a patreon is more than enough for me.

Your continual support in visiting my website, reading my content, and expressing how much you enjoy my work in the comment section always inspires me to keep going with the website. Just things like sharing my patreon/website on social media or turning off ad-block when browsing the website helps immensely as well. You can do this via entering visualnovelreviews.com → clicking ad block → select ‘don’t run on this page’ and ‘don’t run on pages on this site’.

And finally, thank you so much to Milkteababy for being my first patron!

EDIT: Over 50% of my monthly website hosting cost has been reached! Every dollar would help so much in order for me to self-sustain the website and keep it up and running!

EDIT 2: 90% of my monthly website hosting cost has been reached! Thank you so much for the support, I wouldn’t be anywhere near as passionate about writing if it wasn’t for all my readers!

EDIT 3: 100% of my monthly website hosting cost has been reached! I cannot believe I was able to finally achieve this goal, and it makes me so immensely happy as it helps me out so much every month. It means ‘visualnovelreviews.com‘ is here to stay for good.

I’m not planning on stopping anytime soon, as writing is something I truly enjoy and has always been a passionate hobby of mine. Especially with the feedback/comments I receive on social media and the website itself. I would feel like I’m letting you guys down, when so many people look forward to reviews/updates on the website.

I wouldn’t be here without you, my readers. I cannot thank you enough for supporting me. I do have other stretch goals implemented, and ANY contribution thereafter (whether big or small!) will assist me in improving the website as a whole. Even something like $1 from many people makes a huge difference. For the stretch goals, it will enable me to: produce more regular content, try out more games, potentially have future giveaways, QOL/technical/design improvements to the website etc.

Love Always,
Cherry

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NEWS: MangaGamer White Day Sale

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MangaGamer recently announced some decent otome games that are on an amazing sale for the next five days. If you haven’t played these two titles yet, then I do recommend checking them out whilst they’re at a discounted price. Hopefully with more successful sales, it will encourage them to pick up an even greater number of otome titles in the future!

OZMAFIA!!!


DIGITAL EDITION (45% OFF)http://bit.ly/ozmafiadigital
LIMITED EDITION (25% OFF)http://bit.ly/ozmafiaphysical

Although I have yet to review this game (which I will get around to writing eventually), I did play it when it first got localized in english years ago. To this day, I believe it hasn’t aged poorly at all and still remains a solid contender against the newer otome localizations in recent years. The artwork, backgrounds, music, voice acting and character designs are absolutely gorgeous and you’ll be hard pressed to find many other english otome titles that mirrors OZMAFIA!!! in all these departments.

Unfortunately, the storyline, writing and character development definitely were not the strong points of this Visual Novel. However, regardless of the obvious flaws and weaknesses of the game—I still really enjoyed playing OZMAFIA!!! overall. Whilst I was very critical of the overarching storyline and the pacing/events of some routes, the beautiful artwork, music and characters were enough to win me over. If you’re a fan of fantasy and the Wizard of Oz setting, then you’ll absolutely love this title.

FASHIONING LITTLE MISS LONESOME


DIGITAL EDITION (20% OFF): http://bit.ly/flmldigital
PHYSICAL EDITION (PRE-ORDER)http://bit.ly/flmlphysical

If you would like to read my in-depth review on Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome, then you can read it here. As a warning, then this game does have two versions: all-ages and an R-18+ version.

This title is by no means one with an immersive storyline, complex characters or a universe/setting that you would become totally invested in. It’s a light-hearted, fun school-life comedy that is hilarious and absolutely ridiculous in almost every aspect imaginable. It’s meant to be the kind of otome game that you mindlessly read after a long day, something that doesn’t require a lot of time to play but is very enjoyable nonetheless.

I really enjoyed this game because I appreciated the satirical humor and it received a very good english localisation that really appeals to a western audience. It’s one of the very few otome games aimed at a adults, and I do recommend checking it out if you’re looking for something more mature and less vanilla than the current english otome titles on the market.

However, if you’re sensitive to body image jokes and borderline fat-shaming towards women—then this may not be the type of game for you. Although at its core, Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome is not meant to be taken seriously at all; I can definitely understand how uncomfortable it can make some people feel.

So long as you’re able to separate the distinction between a game setting not being a direct reflection of reality, then Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome is another fun pick up to try if you haven’t played it already!

Summary of 2017 & 1 Year Website Anniversary

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I know that I am very late to the party, but I hope that everyone has had a great start to 2018 so far and a wonderful New Year! I have been on hiatus the past few months due to final examinations at university and spending time with family and friends over the holiday break. I needed a rest from all the stress, late nights and constant pouring over a textbook. It was nice to finally have some time to myself, and before I knew it — university has nearly started up again for the new semester!

One of my resolutions for the new year was to become more active at university, as I’m only there for a very small fraction of my life. I have never been one to truly step out of my comfort zone, as I am quite a shy and introverted person especially when it comes to trying out new things and meeting new people. However, it has turned out to be a surprisingly rewarding experience.

Becoming a mentor at university, joining new committees/societies and making new friends has been immensely satisfying as I personally never imagined putting myself out there before. If you have ever been in the same position as I am or felt the same way, I definitely encourage you to take that step forward and try something new. You will never know how much you may have missed out on, or all the great friendships and people you may have never met!

Life update aside, despite all my new extracurricular activities alongside my studies this year — I do not intend to stop blogging or writing reviews. I have had many lovely messages wondering where I have been or whether or not I have abandoned my website. Whilst unfortunately I may not be posting as regularly as I did in 2017, writing is something I enjoy with a passion and genuinely love spending my free time doing.

I will still be reviewing and playing the major game releases this year, however I may not be able to play as many smaller or indie titles compared to 2017. Without further ado, here are the significant milestones that my website has been able to accomplish in the past year that I am extremely happy with!

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General

  • My website anniversary was on January 17th, 2017 and when I started blogging I honestly didn’t think many would be interested in reading or hearing about my thoughts on games at all. It was a fun hobby at best, as I had never created my own website before and was a complete coding novice.
  • It took hours and hours for me to start up the website initially, even though I was using a default template that WordPress offered for all it’s users. If you’re an old subscriber/reader, you’ve probably forgotten as to how my website originally looked at the beginning!
  • Fast-forward six months later, I was able to proficiently code more advanced features for my website, adjust formatting/layouts in a fraction of the time it took me initially and complete redesign my template into the site you see today.
  • Considering when I started blogging I had never once understood or even looked at a line of code before, I am very happy with my progress and what I have learnt in the past year. Google was essentially my best friend!
  • I remember when I first started writing, I would be so excited if I received even one new visitor on my page! I used to only receive 1-10 visitors a day and in a whole month only accumulated 100 views! It was only by the third month that this turned into several hundred views, and in the fourth month into several thousand views.
  • Lesson learnt here is: don’t be discouraged if you’re a fellow blogger, and keep writing! It takes time, effort and a lot of patience — if you genuinely believe your content is good, others will soon discover it and recognise your hard work.

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  • In the first four months, I was so immensely happy with the milestone of over 20000+ views and 6000+ unique viewers. Now after one year, I have well over 200000+ views, 74000+ unique viewers and 1000+ subscribers. Never could I have imagined such growth in a short span of time and I am truly humbled by how many people view my website and read my work on the daily. I read and reply to pretty much all my comments, as they always make my day (if I miss out on yours, it’s usually because I haven’t checked in a while or I accidentally skipped over it!)

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Content

  • Despite my inactivity towards the latter half of the year, I managed to publish 53 posts in 2017! That averages out to more or less a consistent post every week.
  • I reviewed 13 unique visual novels in total. This genuinely surprised me, as I had played more games than I initially thought over the course of the year. This averages out to about one visual novel per month.
  • I published 5 unique walkthroughs. This comes as no surprise as I usually publish walkthroughs if no one has posted any yet. When I am late to playing a game and there are already existing walkthroughs, I choose not to publish my own.
  • My total word count for 2017 was 95 899 words and an average of 1809 words per post. My reviews tend to be quite lengthy as I always have plenty of thoughts on the overall game, so this comes as no surprise. My general average word count per review is usually between 5000-8000 words!

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  • What review first propelled my website’s publicity?
    Surprisingly enough, it was my ‘Amnesia: Memories Review‘. I remember waking up and having my jaw drop because of the flood of notifications and views that I was receiving. The Idea Factory twitter account had retweeted my review, and I remember just completely fangirling over it because I never thought any company would ever read my writing or notice my website. It gave my website a lot of traction and publicity, and it was only up from there.

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Best of 2017

  • Most Popular Reviews?
    My top five most viewed reviews are: 1. Nightshade, 2. Period: Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~, 3. The Charming Empire, 4. Irresistible Mistakes, and 5. Black Wolves Saga  — Bloody Nightmare — .
  • Why is Nightshade by far my most popular review?
    Initially I could never have imagined the amount of popularity and publicity my review/walkthroughs of this game would bring about, and for a while I was somewhat stumped as to why this was my standout post of 2017.

    I guess it came down to a multitude of reasons such as: 1. I posted my review much sooner than others, as I was not as busy during its release and was able to binge play the game, 2. It is definitely one of the top contenders in best/most popular english otome releases for 2017, 3. The game left a profound impression on me afterwards, and I suppose these strong emotions and thoughts were conveyed in my review.

  • Favourite review or post to write?
    My favourite post that I wrote in 2017 was ‘The Differences between the Original Hakuoki Series and Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds‘. I have received overwhelmingly positive feedback from both Idea Factory and the community on it, and I personally enjoyed writing the piece very much.

    My initial aim behind it was to be informative for new and returning players to the franchise/series, if I were to put myself in the position of someone who was on the fence about the game.

    Since then, it has been consistently reblogged, linked and referred to in so many Hakuoki-related posts as a useful guide to the different games in the series. It makes me very happy to see that people found it to be both informative, helpful and spoiler-free!

  • Favourite game(s) of 2017?
    My favourite otome games of 2017 were definitely Black Wolves Saga — Bloody Nightmare — and Collar x Malice (PS Vita). As you can see by the trend, I do love darker themed games with immersive storylines and complex characters. I am a sucker for angst and mystery, and it will always be my bias that I can never get enough of.

    In terms of overall game, then my two choices are Persona 5 and The Last of Us. I was a huge fan of Persona 4: Golden, so Persona 5 was essentially everything I wanted and more. If you’re a fan of anime, RPGs, immersive storyline and lengthy gameplay — I cannot recommend it enough. Although late to the bandwagon and hype, The Last of Us definitely lives up to all the critical acclaim it has received and was a roller coaster of emotions from beginning to end.

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Worst of 2017

  • Least favourite review or post to write?
    Due to the length of my reviews, I do have a tendency to experience writer’s block and feel lacking in inspiration every now and then. To my own surprise, it’s not the terrible games that I have trouble writing my thoughts on. In fact, the more strongly I feel about something whether both negative or positive — the words just flow with ease and the reviews seamlessly write themselves. It’s the ‘in-between/mediocre’ games where I find myself struggling the most, as they’re not good… but they’re not bad either. Striking a balance between the two I find is the most difficult aspect of writing reviews in the past year.

    The review I’m awarding this title to is ‘Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds‘ | PS Vita & Limited Edition (NA/EU). I’m sure you’ll be surprised by this, as if you have read my review you’ll know that I definitely enjoyed it and view it to be superior to the predecessors. However, in terms of writing my review and thoughts — this one was an absolute pain as there were simply so many characters to write about. In comparison to the average 5-6 bachelors, this title encompassed 12. Yes, 12.

    It was definitely a struggle to condense my review in terms of detail without losing touch with my usual writing style, and I felt so uninspired every time I sat down to write it due to the sheer daunting amount of how much I had left to cover.The game itself took me much longer than usual to complete due to how lengthy and repetitive it was, and the review took even longer to write. I believe it took me around a month to clock, in comparison to the standard 1-2 weeks for majority of Visual Novels.

  • Least favourite game(s) of 2017?
    My least favourite otome games of 2017 were definitely Period: Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~ (PS Vita) and Norn9 ~ Norn + Nonette~ (PS Vita). Despite my favourable score of Period: Cube in my review, this was mainly due to the impressive budget, music, graphics, voice acting and system of the game. In other aspects such as the character development and storyline, it fell extremely flat of its potential.

    I just had so many criticisms and issues with the game which I went into detail with in my review, and it ended up being a title that I didn’t truly enjoy. It definitely became a drag after several routes, and I did mainly complete it for the sake of giving a ‘wholesome review’ after seeing everything it had to offer.

    That being said, it’s not entirely all bad (such as the factors I mentioned above) so it could still be very enjoyable and your cup of tea if it’s your type of game.

    Although Norn9 is my second choice, I do admit it is a slightly unfair mention as I have only played the prologue of the game. However, it was the only title this year that didn’t immediately reel me in and left me with little to no interest to continue playing.

    The premise is quite confusing and weak in terms of impact, and the writing seems to be quite scattered and all over the place. That being said, I do intend to finish the game and write a review eventually so it may potentially change my initial thoughts on it. However, I am skeptical based on what I have seen so far and the feedback I have read.

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Collaborations

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Support

  • Without each and everyone of you, my website wouldn’t be what it is today. Thank you so much for the support, I appreciate every view and comment from all my readers!
  • Special thank you to Melli and Laura who helped donate to the website upkeep this year, I truly appreciate your kindness and every little bit helps!
  • I started up a patreon and ko-fi link to assist with the website server costs. These are purely optional and I would never want anyone to feel obligated to donate. However, it would greatly assist me in my review writing and enable me to produce more content every month with your support.
  • You can also directly donate to me via paypal.
  • If you’re unable to donate, just turning off ad-block when browsing my website helps me out so much. I receive a very small amount from wordpress every time someone views an ad on my website, and all of this goes back into the monthly website server costs. The ads are not intrusive or pop-ups, and they appear at the bottom of my blog posts or on the side banners.
  • Special shout out to Ame who has posted the most comments on my website.
  • Special thank you to Hayurika who always mentions my reviews/posts in her monthly updates and on twitter. Hayurika is also a fellow visual novel/otome/game blogger that I read regularly, and you can check out her website here.
  • If you would like to support/follow me on other social media, I do have a facebook page, twitter and tumblr. I always post updates and news on upcoming reviews and games!

That wraps it up for my 2017 summary, and here is to hoping that 2018 will be an even better year than the last!

Love Always,
Cherry 

NEWS: New Facebook Page

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Hi everyone,

I have received some requests from you guys to also have a facebook page for the website, as facebook notifications are a lot more convenient. I know that not everyone has a wordpress account to follow the blog, or would prefer to not have continual email updates about new posts. People also tend to use facebook more so than other social media as well nowadays. I sat down and made the facebook page today, so yes you can also now like/follow ‘Visual Novel Reviews’ on facebook!

You can see the facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/visualnovelreviews/

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I usually check my social media/website everyday, so if you do comment/post things I will try to respond within the day! For more prompt responses or casual conversation about visual novels/otome games, I am the most active on twitter @vnreviewer.

NEWS: Visual Novel and Otome Games Reddit

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What is Reddit? 

In a nutshell, it’s a social news media sharing and discussion website. You can subscribe to any forum of your interest, and scroll through a newsfeed (similar to Facebook and Twitter). It consists of thousands of other people posting news or interesting and funny links on your subscribed ‘subreddits’ of interest.

I am fairly active on reddit mostly as a lurker under /r/iTotoro, and usually I do check it every day. It’s my go-to resource for visual novel and otome game news. I also love reading the discussions on various games, and seeing what other people’s opinions are. I highly recommend checking out /r/visualnovels, and /r/otomegames! Both subreddits are very active and receive new content everyday from users.

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I decided to post about reddit today because in spite of how popular it is, there are still a lot of people who don’t know what exactly the website is about or use it.

Yesterday night for good fun, I made a post on /r/otomegames where you name specific otome games and other users comment on who the ‘best guy’ is from that game. I did not expect the post to literally blow up over night, and when I hopped on this morning it had over 150+ comments of so many different games and favourite characters.

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I highly recommend checking the post out here, since some of the comments are actually really funny and hilarious. It was interesting seeing who everyone viewed as best boy and there was mostly a lot of contentions between the first and second best guy in every game. If you haven’t signed up for reddit yet, come join in on the fun! Everyone there is really nice, and passionate about both visual novels and otome games.


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Do you enjoy reading the content of my website? Would you like to help support me in keeping the website up and running, as well as being able to devote more time to reviews and walkthroughs?

Please consider supporting my work on Patreon, as every little bit helps me out so much every month with website hosting costs. I am forever grateful to all my readers and supporters!


Written By Cherry

Most Anticipated English Visual Novel Releases of 2017

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Ever wonder what other english releases are going to be released for the year of 2017? Do you want to know what games you should save up for? Are you looking for more games to add to your playlist and backlog? Here is my personal list of games that I am anticipating for 2017, and cannot wait for their release!

2017 is probably the best year so far that I’ve seen in terms of the amount of new titles picked up to be released in english.

1. Collar x Malice

-The Story-

“Who put this collar on me?”

The protagonist is a policewoman who works in Shinjuku, which had become a dangerous city after a series of brutal incidents popularly referred to as the “X-Day Incident”.

She had been busy working in her assigned area everyday in order to keep it safe. But one night, an unknown assailant attacked her and placed a collar built in with poison around her neck.

Amidst the chaos and right before the protagonist’s eyes were men with suspicious backgrounds. They’re all part of an organisation composed of former police officers and have taken it upon themselves to investigate the brutal cases.

Without knowing whether she should trust these men or not, she suddenly became the person who held the key to this massive case.

In order to remove the collar that places her at the edge of death and to liberate Shinjuku from the malice that binds it, she cooperates; beginning to investigate the incidents with the men.

Who holds her life in their hands?
Will Shinjuku ever return to its former glory?

(English translation from official website)

I love the premise, storyline, art, OST, and just everything about Collar x Malice! I am an absolute sucker for mystery x detective themed games. Not to mention the artist is Hanamura Mai (same artist for the Amnesia series) and Manyo as the composer (big fan of his soundtracks and work—composed for Amnesia and Kara no Shoujo series). I just knew the art was familiar when I first saw screenshots of the game. I am extremely excited about the game, and dearly hoping it will be a 2017 release.

UPDATE: The game has now been released! Purchase it here: Collar X Malice – PlayStation Vita

UPDATE 2: Read my ‘Collar x Malice’ Review here.

2. Period Cube ~Shackles of Amadeus~

-The Story-

With the help of your childhood friend, Hiroya, you decide to play the online RPG game “Arcadia” in order to look for clues as to the whereabouts of your missing older brother.

You are suddenly engulfed by a blinding light and lose conscious. When you wake up, you find that the scenery has changed into that of a video game fantasy world.

As you are overwhelmed by the sudden twist of events, you learn a terrible truth: to escape this deadly world, you must clear the game.

In this cruel world, you were selected to become the key to clearing the game – the holy sword. With this, you are the target of everyone!

(English translation from official website

The first out of the four otome titles localised by Aksys Games in 2017, the storyline definitely gives me Sword Art Online vibes. With beautiful art by the artist of Black Wolves Saga, this is quite an interesting fantasy otome with RPG elements. Period Cube actually comes out very soon, with an announced release date on the 28th of April next month!

UPDATE: The game has now been released! Purchase the game here: Period Cube – PlayStation Vita

UPDATE 2: Read my ‘Period Cube: ~Shackles of Amadeus~’ Review here.

3. Bad Apple Wars

-The Story-

Congratulations on your DEATH admission!
Welcome to NEVAEH Academy!!

The heroine, who was caught in an accident on the first day that she was to enter high school, suddenly found herself on the premises of an unknown school.

This was NEVAEH Academy, a school for those whose souls were left behind after death.

In this school if you were a good student who followed the rules then, upon GRADUATION, you would be able to return and RESUME YOUR LIFE.

The heroine, having been informed about her death from a suspicious man wearing a RABBIT HEAD and thinking that this was all a dream, followed him to the school entrance ceremony.

Suddenly, a piercing explosion echoed from over there.

What started at the sign of that noise was the school war between those who defy the school’s rules, the DELINQUENT TEAM BAD APPLES, and members of the DISCIPLINARY COMMITTEE.

In the middle of that battle, the heroine meets a RED-HAIRED young man.

That young man faced her directly and asked a question.

“– Do you want to live?” (English translation from official website)

The premise reminds me so much of one of my favourite animes, Angel Beats. The art deviates from Idea Factory’s usual style, taking on a more comic-book themed approach (to match the concept that it is a different world, I suppose). Although it was a little strange to look at initially, the art grew on me the more I looked at it. The release date has still yet to be announced, but I do hope it stays with its 2017 expected release date.

UPDATE: The game has now been released! Purchase the game here: Bad Apple Wars – PlayStation Vita.

UPDATE 2: Read my ‘Bad Apple Wars’ Review here.

4. Code: Realize Future Blessings

The fandisc for Code: Realize, featuring after stories for the main cast and new routes for Herlock Sholmes and Finis.

If you haven’t read my review for Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~ you should check it out! If you have, then you’ll know I absolutely loved the game and it is one of my all-time favourites. I am looking forward to the new routes with Herlock Sholmes and Finis, as I felt their stories weren’t quite fully delved upon in the original game. The art in the opening looks gorgeous, and of course who doesn’t want to have more stories to read with their favourite bachelor?

UPDATE: The game has now been released! Purchase it here –
Code: Realize Future Blessings – Play Station Vita | Limited Edition
Code: Realize Bouquet of Rainbows – Play Station 4 | Limited Edition

5. Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome 

-The Story-

Ema Tachibana is a tall, gloomy and unsociable girl with a bad case of resting bitch-face. With all that working against her, she’s never really had any friends. That didn’t really change when she started at a new school. Everyone kept their distance because they were scared of her.

But Ema herself was quite content with that state of affairs. She was all set to spend the rest of her time until graduation invisible as ever.

That is until two men turned her life upside down…

“I’ve finally found you. You are my… my one and only muse!”

Miki Hiraizumi—recently returned to Japan from abroad, he’s loved making clothes ever since he was a little kid. He has a strong desire to help make charming, unusual women shine. (Also a bit of a masochist.)

“Listen, you may be nothing but a little shrew right now, but even you have some potential to shine. I’ll just have to polish you up.”

And Saito Shinjou—he frequently finds himself bored because things have always come easy to him. He wants to find a way to do something so big, it’ll change the world. (He’s also a bit of a sadist.)

These two ambitious and attractive fellows decide to give Ema Tachibana a makeover!

“No… I’m not really interested…”

But Ema has other ideas. (English Official Website)

This is quite an interesting pick up by MangaGamer, as I feel R18+ otome game localisations are very few in comparison to bishoujo games. The summary looks hilarious, and the art is quite good! The VA (Yotsuya Cider) of Shinjou Saito is the same as Kyrie from OZMAFIA!!! Hopefully if the title sells well commercially, we will see more mature-themed otome games released in future.

UPDATE: The game has now been released! Purchase it here: Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome R18+ Version.

UPDATE 2: Read my ‘Fashioning Little Miss Lonesome [R18]‘ Review here.

6. Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds

-The Story-

A remastered retelling of the beloved otome Hakuoki series that focuses on the story set in Kyoto. 

Hakuoki was first developed and released in 2008. New players, as well as players that have grown with the franchise, can discover the beauty and richness of its story with new, innovative features all presented on the Playstation Vita system. 

Never-before-seen episodes and character routes have been added to the original version of the game, introducing more romanceable targets, new minor characters, and plenty of new paths to seek for yourself!

Take a glimpse into the world of Hakuoki, as it was originally intended!

(English Official website

Although I’ve already written a post regarding my mixed feelings on another Hakuoki game, it is still a great title nonetheless for players new to the franchise. It’s essentially an all-in-one release, so if you haven’t gotten around to playing the series—now is the time to play it. It’s release date was announced only a few days ago, and the game is being released on May 16 (NA) and May 19 (EU) for the PSVita!

UPDATE: The game has now been released! Purchase it here: Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds – PlayStation Vita

UPDATE 2: Read my ‘Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds [Limited Edition]’ Review here.

UPDATE 3: Read my ‘Differences between the Original Hakuoki and Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds’ here.

7. Night Shade

-The Story-

Thanks to an age of constant war, the Iga and Kouga had independently achieved an expansion of their respective forces.

Both shinobi forces, owing to that long history of warring, shared an antagonistic relationship of mutual hatred towards one another. However, during the ninth year of the Tenshou era, the Iga forces fell into ruin due to the Tenshou Iga War started by Oda Nobunaga. The few Iga members that had survived were taken in by the Kouga forces.

Seventeen years later, the Sengoku period had ended and lasting peace came to the world.

Dreaming of performing shinobi duties, Ueno Enju (the protagonist), daughter of the Kouga forces’ leader, Ueno Kandou, had been training everyday.

After finally being selected to go on her first mission, a major incident occurs. It not only derails Enju’s fate, but the fate of the village as well…

(English translation from official website)

The storyline, art and theme reminds of the Hakuoki series. I really enjoy historical Visual Novels, and the art in Night Shade is gorgeous. Originally it was actually meant to be released December 15th, 2016 on steam but it got pushed back. I’m assuming it just wasn’t ready yet, and although it is unfortunate—it’s better to wait if it’s going to be a higher quality release. It’s in the steam-release queue with other Visual Novels within March-April release dates, so fingers crossed it will be released sometime soon in 2017!

What I’m looking forward to the most about the game is that Hattori Hanzo is voiced by the same VA as Chikage Kazama from Hakuoki. He is one of my all-time favourite VAs, and it’s ironic the character is named ‘Hanzo’ (after Overwatch, the name is forever ruined for me).

UPDATE: The game has now been released! Purchase it on steam here.

UPDATE 2: Read my ‘Night Shade/Hyakka Hyakurou’ Review here.

8. Grisaia no Rakuen/The Eden of Grisaia

-The Story-

Our story picks up immediately after the events of Grisaia no Meikyuu, with Kazami Yuuji having been detained for suspected involvement with an international terrorist organization, lead by Heath Oslo, that has managed to enter Japan’s borders with a devastating new weapon of mass destruction in hand. Meanwhile, at Mihama Academy, the remaining students find themselves with time running out – due to financial issues, the school is set to close within the month. Over the past year, though, the girls of Mihama have finally begun to find their own legs, thanks to Yuuji’s involvement – are they really just going to bury their heads in the sand and let the world change around them? And are they really willing to let the man who changed their lives slip away without so much as trying to win him back? As the end of their time at Mihama Academy approaches, Amane, Makina, Sachi, Yumiko, and Michiru find themselves arriving at a single conclusion.

The final chapter in the Grisaia series, featuring Prologue De La Grisaia, a prologue set before Yuuji’s arrival at Mihama; Blanc Aile no Tane, the overarching story’s grand conclusion; a smorgasbord of bonus eroscenes; and an after story to the events of Blanc Aile no Tane. (Excerpt from VNDB

The Grisaia series is one of my all-time favourite visual novels, and it’s great to see that the series trilogy will come to an end in 2017. The Labyrinth of Grisaia (second in the series) was released in January this year. It has a to-be-expected release date of March 2017, and the uncut version sometime during the summer.

I personally am currently still finishing up the first game (The Fruits of Grisaia), and onto my last route which is Makina’s. But, I am taking my time as the series is incredibly long (my current playtime is 85hrs) and I might as well pace myself until the final game is released. No point finishing the games early then suffering the unbearable wait (laughs).

9. Nekopara Volume 3

-The Story-

What’s NEKOPARA? Why, it’s a cat paradise!

Minazuki Kashou, the son of a long line of Japanese confection makers moved out to open his own shop “La Soleil” as a patisserie.

But upon moving out, hidden amongst his things were two of the catgirls (“neko”), Chocola and Vanilla, that the family had been raising. When he tried to send them back, they begged and pleaded until he gave in and now they’ve opened La Soleil together.

With two nekos who really, REALLY love their master trying their very best and occasionally failing — a heartful comedy opens for business!

See the Sayori NEKO WORKs’ mascots Chocola and Vanilla like never before, moving, and in full voice on screen. And now with the E-mote System, the characters smoothly move on screen changing expression and poses in countless ways. (Steam Summary)

Initially I found this game a little weird, not going to lie. It is not for everyone, and I actually found out about it from internet memes (laughs). But, once you give it a try it’s actually a pretty good game and for a very cheap price! They often go on sale in bundles, which is when it’s best to grab them. The art and animation is really good and crisp, and it’s an all-around hilarious game. The cat girls really do grow on you as you play through the visual novel. This is the last in the trilogy, releasing the last two romanceable cat girls. It is set to be released on the 28th of April, 2017.

UPDATE: The game has now been released! Purchase it on steam here.

10. New Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony

-The Story- 

The third Dangan Ronpa game which has been confirmed at the TGS 2015 to be released on both the PS Vita and PS4.

Like the title “New” implies, the game has a completely different storyline, characters and environment than the first three games (the “Hope’s Peak Academy” storyline ends with an anime series), with only the series’ mascot Monokuma returning. The game features a new killing game called the New Killing School Life. The new setting is called Gifted Inmates Academy or the Prison School for the Gifted. The Academy (and hotel) is in a garden surrounded by a cage. It’s implied that the story is set in the future.

The overall theme is mentioned to be “psycho cool”, unlike the “psycho pop” and “psycho tropical” themes of the first two games. The visual style will have a “cool adult-like image” and the Class Trials will have “high-speed reasoning action”. While the storyline and the sixteen new characters are different, the gameplay is similar to the earlier games, including exploration, talking with other characters and the Class Trials. It will have notable additions and improvements, though, like the possibility to use your own lies to defeat opponents during the trials. (Excerpt from VNDB

Did I save my ultimate bias and the best for last? Perhaps. This is my number one favourite visual novel of all-time indisputably. It has an amazing mix of storyline, plot twists, character cast, humour, cuteness and mystery; just everything I love in a game. When I first played the game, I had a phase of obsession for several long weeks/months (which never happens to me over a game, usually I just have a few days of bliss upon completing a game before getting over it). I’m a little sad that the Hope’s Peak Academy arc has ended, and I am very curious as to how they have decided to revamp the series in a brand new release with a completely new cast.

The Danganronpa series is a ‘whodunnit?’ mystery/detective Visual Novel, where you must discover the culprit of the killings and present your findings in a class trial. The stakes are essentially kill or be killed, and you’re faced with uncovering people whom you consider friends as potential murderers. However, it is not what you expect at all coming into the game with an incredibly immersive storyline and great gameplay. It’s one of those games where you just have to try it yourself to understand what it’s truly about. The descriptions will never do the game any justice.

I have heard mixed reception over the new game, but for the most part they were very positive. It has an announced release date on the 26th of September for NA and 29th of September for EU. What I am glad about is the steam port is being released at the same time as the PSVita/Playstation 4 platform. This is great considering for the predecessors, the steam release is usually a year later.

UPDATE: The game has now been released! Purchase it here:
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony – PlayStation 4
Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony – PlayStation Vita | Limited Edition

UPDATE 2: Read my ‘Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony’ Review here.

I hope that you all enjoyed my list, and found some new games to look forward to for 2017!


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Please consider supporting my work on Patreon, as every little bit helps me out so much every month with website hosting costs. I am forever grateful to all my readers and supporters!


Written By Cherry

NEWS: Hakuoki Kyoto Winds Release Date Announcement

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For more information, check out the official Idea Factory website.
Pre-order it here: Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds – PlayStation Vita


Idea Factory announced the official release date only yesterday, although I personally have mixed feelings about yet another Hakuoki game.  I think it’s clear to anyone at this point that Idea Factory is just absolutely milking whatever is left of the franchise, since none of their other games have created such an incredible wave of popularity and of course: profit.

I’m all for more games using the Hakuoki universe or a twist on the original concept, but when it’s their second ‘remastered’ edition of the same game—it’s bound to raise more than a few questions. They had their original game released on PSP, and then the fandisk Zuisouroku on Play Station 2. The original was localised, whereas the fandisk was not. Due to its commercial success in the western world, a port for Play Station 3 was released re-titled “Stories of the Shinsengumi”.

This included both the original game and the translated fandisk, which had extra routes with all the bachelors, more CGs and fan-focused content. Rather than emulating the serious, history-driven storyline of the original, the fandisk depicted the everyday lives and antics of the Shinsengumi when they were out of action. This was explored in the anime OVA of Hakuoki, and had the iconic geisha scene where Yukimura Chizuru infiltrates the red-light district undercover.

And now, we have Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds which is essentially a remastered version of the PS3 Stories of the Shinsengumi. From what is shown on the website, it includes everything of the predecessor (both the original game + Zuisouroku shown from the screenshots) but new and improved additional content has been added.

3 new never before seen characters, which the website has yet to reveal and Yamazaki, Sannan and Shinpachi all now have their own routes due to fan request. The original routes also have additional events and scenes (more CGs!), as well as Kazama’s route having more substance.

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The three new bachelors/playable routes as pictured above in Image 2 & 3.


I’m not entirely sure how long these new character routes are compared to the original bachelors, which took around 10-15hrs per character. Although Yamazaki, Sannan and Shinpachi have their own routes now, does that mean their stories have the same amount of content as the original bachelors? Or is it just mini-routes, like what we saw in Zuisouroku/Stories of the Shinsengumi?

For players like myself who purchased both the original PSP game, and the PS3 port—there are many questions as to whether its worthwhile purchasing essentially the same game again. How immersive and detailed is this new content? Are the revamped routes truly that much of an improvement over the original? Or is it just additional events that essentially don’t change anything in the grand scheme of things?

I personally am looking forward to seeing the ‘new and improved’ Chikage Kazama route because honestly his story in the original was very disappointing in comparison to the others. For such a complex and interesting character with so much potential for a storyline; he barely had any substance or playtime in his route at all. Not to mention he had one of the best VAs in the game and is one of my all-time favourite characters.

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As the game is a poorly disguised cash-grab, Idea Factory are banking on the fact that fans of Hakuoki will purchase the game regardless simply because we all want to see more content with our favourite bachelors. I’m personally still on the fence as to whether or not I will be purchasing the game myself once it’s released.

However, for players who have never played the Hakuoki game before, then I highly recommend grabbing Kyoto Winds! It essentially has everything the previous releases had, but better. You’re getting a lot more bang for your buck. The original game is a solid title, with beautiful art and immersive storyline—definitely a worthwhile pick up for the PSVita.

However, with Idea Factory constantly recycling the same game, it honestly comes off as they’re running out of ideas for new titles. I would’ve preferred to see Hakuoki: Reimeiroku localised or even Hakuoki: SSL. Reimeiroku is one of the more under appreciated titles of the franchise I feel, despite it offering so much good quality content. It deviates from the otome/romance aspect of the game, as we play a male hero however it has significantly longer playtime than the original.

It delves into the origins of the Shinsengumi, their past, how they came to be, and offers more dimension to the original character cast. To me, that is something worthwhile playing rather than yet another rehash of the first game. I look forward to when the game releases, and seeing other player’s opinions first before deciding for myself. What do you guys think of the newly announced Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds?


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Please consider supporting my work on Patreon, as every little bit helps me out so much every month with website hosting costs. I am forever grateful to all my readers and supporters!


Written By Cherry

Men of Yoshiwara: Ohgiya Review

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RELEASE DATE: 2015
PUBLISHER: D3 Publisher & Dogenzaka Lab
PLATFORMS AVAILABLE: Apple iOS/Android/Steam/Switch (Japanese & English)
GAME LINK: Men of Yoshiwara: Ohgiya – Steam [DIGITAL]

After playing through Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya, I noticed that it had a sequel within the same universe of Yoshiwara with different characters. I was curious about the game, mainly to see whether the developers addressed the glaringly obvious issues and much needed improvements from the predecessor.

At first glance, the artist had improved significantly in comparison to their debut work. The art looked a lot cleaner, and the characters were better designed and less generic. I was excited to play the Men of Yoshiwara: Ohgiya as the Yoshiwara universe made for an interesting premise in the original game and I preferred the designs of the bachelors in the sequel.

The story also takes on a different direction with an affluent heroine driven by duty to enter the Pleasure District, rather than the cliche naive, kind-hearted, Cinderella protagonist who meets the bachelors via fate.

Storyline ★★★

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-The Story-

Deep in the center of an island lies the Yoshiwara pleasure district. Never does its beauty, nor bustling activity, wane in the slightest.

Full of doubt and wonder, which courtesan will you have chosen by the end of a seemingly endless night? (Steam Summary

If you’ve played the predecessor, you will already be very familiar with the Yoshiwara universe and storyline. If you haven’t played the first game, then the setting is based on an island where men are rarely ever born. If a family is ever cursed with the birth of a son, they will eventually be forcibly sold to Yoshiwara, the Pleasure District.

This is for the sake of the island, the people and it’s culture for it is the only method of attaining love (even if it is through only one night of deception) and bearing a child. Being a courtesan in Yoshiwara is akin to slavery, as the courtesans are unable to leave the district. Their only method of attaining freedom is by paying off their debts or being bought by a customer.

Paying off one’s debt is a feat possible only with the earnings and status of a top courtesan, which many aspire to become but never reach. Having one’s freedom bought, only to be inevitably sold to a rich family is merely trading one’s masters and home for another. Even if a courtesan were to find freedom, it would be difficult to survive without a stable source of income and their talents are rendered obsolete in the world outside of Yoshiwara.

In Kikuya, our heroine stumbles into the Pleasure District by coincidence and certain events occur to allow a pauper access to the top gentlemen. This is because only the rich could ever dream of producing the income needed to spend a night with the best in Yoshiwara). By comparison in Ohgiya, you play as an affluent protagonist who bears the responsibility of visiting Yoshiwara in order to produce an heir to continue her family business and name.

In all the storylines, she is torn within her inner conflict of desiring the true love she has read about in her studies and novels, and what she must do in order to not disappoint her mother.

She has been raised with love and dutiful care, carrying herself with the poise, dignity and intellect as expected of someone with great lineage. The visitations prove to cause the heroine immense duress, as she is unable to properly respond to the affections of the courtesans and dislikes being surrounded by unfamiliar men with whom she must engage in a purely physical relationship. In turn, all the courtesans of Ohgiya vy for the protagonist’s endearment for reasons such as status for their own career, fame, fortune or perhaps… something more?

The protagonist of Ohgiya has been met with mixed reception in the many reviews I read, but I personally thoroughly enjoyed the change of pace and definitely viewed her as an upgrade to Kikuya. In comparison to Kikuya, where the protagonist is clumsy, naive and innocent to the workings of the world and men—the heroine in Ohgiya is headstrong, intelligent, stays true to her convictions and isn’t so easily swayed by the charms of the courtesans.

Her actions were refreshing, and her source of conflict throughout the routes were understandable. Although she knows where her inevitable familial duty lies and does not wish to disappoint her hard-working mother, she remains cold and apprehensive of the bachelors as she stays true to her own beliefs and sense of self respect.

It is only when she truly falls in love with the courtesans after getting to knowing their own pasts and hardships, that she fully opens herself up to them and consummates their relationship. There is noticeable progression in their relationships, as the characters become closer to one another.

However, I do agree with the notion of other reviews that the heroine’s personality is rather inconsistent in some routes. For example: in Takigawa and Gakuto’s route the protagonist is extremely cold in her approach and refuses to fall in love with them at all costs. To the heroine, being the top ranked courtesan means they’re extremely skilful in having women fall for their whims and could easily be toying with her feelings. In Asagiri, Utsusumi and Ageha’s routes however, her guard is slightly lowered and she is much more reciprocal to their affections.

Although it’s a little confronting to play initially, I feel it’s understandable as the heroine changes in accordance to the bachelor’s personality. Courtesans such as Takigawa and Gakuto are infamous for their trysts with women and very persistent in their approach to courting the protagonist. The heroine is only more defensive in order to protect herself from being hurt and because she is unsure as to how to respond to attention she has never received before.

All the routes differed greatly from one another, which was another factor that they improved from Kikuya. All the men have different situations or issues that they must overcome in their past and their struggles in Ohgiya, which the protagonist learns about and inevitably falls in love with them.

The writing was significantly better than Kikuya through notable improvements in the sentence flow and structure, as well as the translation. I’m not sure whether it’s simply because they hired a translator with a better grasp of the English language or whether the original writer had changed/improved from the predecessor. But, I’m assuming it to be both due to the notable improvements.

The sexual content is as prevalent as the first game (text only — no NSFW images) in terms of description, so that is something to be aware of. Due to the improved writing, I felt the interactions between characters to be more heartwarming and romantic. The climaxes of all the routes were well done and each of the story’s conclusions brought about a sense of satisfaction at their completion.

Each route is around the same length of 3 hours as the original game despite having less chapters (10 in comparison to 13 total for each bachelor). As a result, each chapter is a lot lengthier in terms of content. The game is notably cheaper than Kikuya at $15.99USD compared to $29.99USD, due to the fact that it does not include the many sub-story scenarios with each of the courtesans. It only comes with the sequel and date scenario for each bachelor, as well as one route less (Kikuya had 6 bachelor stories, Ohgiya has 5). However, I find it to be a much better purchase than Kikuya at full retail price.

Character Development ★★★

! WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION! 

As I mentioned earlier, the character development improved vastly from Kikuya. There’s slow and notable progression in the interactions between characters, and genuine conflict that draws them closer together in developing their relationship. Each bachelor has their own past and reason for ending up in Ohgiya which the heroine eventually comes to discover from her visitations. It is these events that coax the protagonist to open up about herself and realise that their feelings for her are not empty proclamations.

She is a skilled tailor and business woman in her own right beneath her mother’s tutelage—quickly rising to the problems that occur and doing everything in her power to help the man she loves. One thing that I would’ve liked and many would agree on is a route for Musashi. I personally am very intrigued on his past with the heroine and his clear underlying feelings and devotion towards her. It would be a refreshing difference from courting someone from the Pleasure District, versus someone the protagonist has known her whole life as a member of her household.

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TAKIGAWA: Takigawa is what I consider to be the canon route of the game, and the most well written out of the bachelors. The protagonist is very apprehensive and hostile initially towards him, due to his reputation as the top courtesan of Ohgiya.  She chooses him at Musashi and her mother’s recommendation, due to his experience and status. He is skilled at what he does, although Takao his ultimate rival from Kikuya (the first game) claims that he has “never fallen in love before”. Thus, the love he sells is no match for him.

In spite of the main character’s consistent refusal towards his advances and cruel remarks—he is nothing short of passionate towards the heroine. He openly expresses his desire and sincerity for her time and time again, stopping at nothing to convince her that he is genuine in his feelings towards her. We soon discover that beneath his arrogant facade, is a lonely and traumatic past involving the dark secrets and baggage that comes with reaching the status of a top courtesan.

What I liked about the route was that through the heroine’s influence, he was able to confront the demons of his past and turn his life around for the better. It is through each other that they are both able to grow as characters, a slow progression that is evident throughout the story. I consider the route canon due to him being the only bachelor with past history with the protagonist—Takigawa had always been in love with her since childhood and the game revisits this through a series of flashbacks.

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GAKUTO: The second most popular courtesan at Ohgiya after Takigawa, and considered the most handsome in terms of appearances by the women of the island. He is rougher and brusque in comparison to the other bachelors, and shrouded in a veil of mystery—never allowing any women to truly come close to him. However, he has his rare moments of gentleness especially towards Utsusemi and Ageha that reveal his kind nature. He took the two courtesans beneath his wings and tutelage, like genuine blood brothers. He considers the heroine interesting at first meeting, and chooses to continue courting her.

As the two grow closer, the protagonist discovers the source of his inner turmoil and torment—that he is an avenger, whose sole life purpose is to seek revenge upon the woman who caused the death of his best friend. His traumatic past forms the crux of his character and there’s significantly more to him than meets the eye.

His love for the heroine is exceptionally passionate bordering on violent, but ultimately not enough to swerve him from his path of revenge. His route is a lot darker in comparison to the others, but very dynamic as the readers are pulled into the back and forth tide of his indecision between choosing the heroine and revenge.

What I disliked about his route was that for the majority of it, Gakuto was so hell-bent on his revenge. It seemed as though no matter how hard the heroine tried, nothing would ever get through to him. It felt as though no matter how strongly he claimed to feel about the protagonist, it would never be enough to quench his thirst. This then brings forth the question: does he truly love the heroine? How can he continue to hurt someone he supposedly cares about, time and time again?

My favourite moment of his route was in Chapter 8, where the heroine threatens to leave him as a last resort in order to save him from the path of revenge. The once proud, unemotional Gakuto then completely breaks down and begs the heroine to stay with him. It was a heart-wrenching and touching moment that stood out to me throughout all the routes and how much he had truly grown as a character.

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ASAGIRI: Asagiri is the most passionate out of all the bachelors and the most sexually explicit route. He differs from the rest of the men, due to his softer and more seductive demeanour when handling women. Rather than viewing Yoshiwara as a cage he can never escape from, he willingly remains there as he is content with his life as a courtesan. I felt the writing of the dynamic between Asagiri and the heroine was particularly well expressed in his route. It clearly reflected the sheer ardour and yearning they had for one another.

One aspect I disliked was despite his supposed love for the protagonist, upon her breaching the topic of purchasing his freedom for a future together—he vehemently denies her, and becomes angry at her for “denying his way of life”. I found this to be a stark contrast to the actions he had shown prior, since if he truly loved her wouldn’t he want to always be with her freely? Rather than only within the confinements of Yoshiwara, where they had only a limited time to be together?

Then, when the protagonist finally visits him again after some space for one another—he magically changes his mind about his previous sentiments. It felt like an all too convenient series of events that didn’t match up with the character’s previous actions at all.

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UTSUSEMI: Cheerful, friendly and easily approachable; Utsusemi always wears a cheeky smile on his face. Despite his outward mannerisms that Gakuto always chastises as inappropriate for a courtesan, he is the third most popular at Ohgiya. He is humbled by the heroine’s choice for him as her selected courtesan, as he believes he is no match for Takigawa or Gakuto. In his route, it truly explores the deep friendship between him, Gakuto and Ageha.

Although his path started off very sweet in his patient progression with the protagonist, I found it the most disjointed out of all the routes and difficult to follow. When the heroine doesn’t visit Ohgiya after some time, Utsusemi suddenly has a personality change where he roughly forces himself onto her. I found it to be very abrupt, unwarranted and there was no justification for it.

I also could not understand his reasoning for forcing Ageha to take on his identity as his family’s lost son in the mainland, even if it was for the sake of “Ageha’s happiness”. It is not something for Utsusemi to decide, and Ageha was anything but happy and extremely distraught by the events. Utsusemi then goes on to implore the protagonist to “let him use her as the reason for him to stay here”.

This comes off as very selfish to me since they’re essentially sacrificing Ageha for the sake of their own happiness, rather than actually doing it for Ageha. Utsusemi to me, never felt truly happy with his choice in the end and only comes off as regretful in his decision.  Although his route started off well, it had very poor execution and pacing of the storyline.

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AGEHA: The equivalent of Kagerou from Kikuya, Ageha is an apprentice-in-training soon to become a fully fledged courtesan once he completes his deflowering ceremony. He directly serves underneath Gakuto and Utsusemi, whom he deeply respects and admires. Ageha is extremely pure by nature due to his lack of experience with women and has been sheltered by the other courtesans all his life.

Despite his appearance and mannerisms, he is the same age as the protagonist. If you’re looking for a pure love with plenty of crying from both parties and many overly sweet moments—this is the route you’re after. He is an ideal match for the heroine, as she feels his honest personality can be trusted in comparison to the deceitful nature of experienced courtesans. It is a very pure love story, with both parties going to great lengths in order to be with one another.

His route didn’t stand out to me as much as the others, since I felt their love didn’t have as strong of a foundation as the other courtesans and his character changed very little over the course of the story. It also had too much crying for my taste and petty misunderstandings. The events that led to the climax of his story were also far too convenient and all of a sudden they were able to be together. It didn’t truly feel like they had fought to be with one another, nor that the fruits of their labor had come to fruition at all which was disappointing.

Design ★★★★

Similar to Kikuya, the major selling point of the game is the beautiful art, backgrounds and sprites. I felt that the body proportions were improved in comparison to the first game, such as the hand structure which I criticised in Kikuya. The background art especially improved, and I did not mind that some were reused as the resolution was increased to match the new art style. The line art and colour illustration was significantly cleaner, and there was less of a disparity between the character sprite and CG.

The character clothing and hairstyles were drawn with more attentiveness, and I loved the kimonos of the courtesans in Ohgiya much more than the original. I found them to be drawn a little bulky at times, but I suppose it’s to demonstrate the traditional style of the kimonos they’re wearing (as Kikuya is meant to be a ‘modernised brothel’). I especially loved the new protagonist’s character design and hair. Overall, I felt the quality of illustration was maintained and improved in all of the CGs.

One of my main criticisms would be the use of the old character sprites from Kikuya, as the characters from the original game do make cameo appearances in Ohgiya. Due to the improvements and different art style between the predecessor and sequel, it is blatantly obvious when the character sprites are side by side. It feels as though they clearly do not belong in the same game and I find that to be poor production value.

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Music and Voice Acting ★★

Although the music tracks have improved in Ohgiya compared to Kikuya, it still suffers the same glaringly obvious issues as the predecessor. They used only a handful of 30s looping tracks that became repetitive over the course of the game and the loops were very choppy and poorly done. You can hear the exact section of the song where it loops back to the beginning. The songs did better suit the mood of the game and were more mellow and pleasing on the ears to listen to in comparison to Kikuya. However, they really weren’t anything special to write home about and there was no voice acting in any of the platform ports.

System ★★★

As the game initially was also a mobile platform port, the UI wasn’t particularly impressive or attentive to detail. The controls and ease of use felt rather clunky on the steam version, and not completely smooth for the user. However, it is an improvement over the hot purple/pink colour scheme of Kikuya, using rich tones of gold and red.

It more or less features the same basic functions as the original, with character introductions, access to gallery, backlog and the same six load/save files which honestly is not enough for a game of this length. At the very least what they did change is when you open the full screen mode in Ohgiya, it does not turn completely pixellated and has good resolution—an issue that really should not have been in Kikuya at all.

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Conclusion

Overall, Men of Yoshiwara: Ohgiya is a good game and I enjoyed it a lot more than its predecessor, Kikuya. It has a stronger cast line up of bachelors, each with distinct personalities and better written storylines. There are plenty of noteworthy moments in all the bachelor stories, even though the writer was unable to hold the momentum all the way to the end of some routes such as Utsusemi and Ageha.

Although the writing has improved vastly to Kikuya, as a standalone title it is still quite poor and could use a lot of improvement. There is still a fair amount of grammatical errors, typos, and sentence cut offs that are noticeable in all the stories. However, it is easier to overlook than the amount that I found in Kikuya.

Although the stories had better cohesion, build up and development; some of the lead up events to the happy end felt very abrupt, forced or sudden. Convenient plot devices would occur to wrap the story outcome into a sudden happy ending. It disrupted the flow of the story, and although the ends are satisfying in terms of the characters ending up together—it could have been executed much better. The happy endings honestly felt tacked on, without too much connection to the events that happened prior especially for the normal ends. It felt like a backtrack to all the bachelor’s actions in the route.

I thoroughly enjoyed Takigawa and Gakuto’s route and they definitely fulfilled my expectations as the two main bachelors and poster-men of the game. I find that $15.99 USD is a fair price for the game, despite the lack of sub-stories. You would expect to complete the game in about 10-20 hrs of gameplay, and with the art and improved content you’re receiving it is a decent purchase (not to mention it does go on sale on steam once in a while). That being said, I do recommend purchasing the game on sale as it occurs quite often and it’s just more bang for your buck, right?

I am fairly satisfied as the game has improved a lot as a later title of Dogenzaka Lab. It addressed a lot of the shortcomings in Kikuya and shows promise for improvements in future games. My main qualm with their titles is to invest in better translations, improved UI for cross platform ports, and to perhaps incorporate voice acting. Many of the Visual Novels released and to-be-released on steam are all very popular and highly praised games from initial release in Japan, and it is rare for them not to have voice acting. If Dogenzaka Lab hopes to compete with them, then it would be a major step forward in improving their games.

Overall Rating: 3/5


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Written By Cherry

Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya Review

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RELEASE DATE: 2014
PUBLISHER: D3 Publisher & Dogenzaka Lab
PLATFORMS AVAILABLE: Apple iOS/Android/Steam/Switch (English), PS VITA (Japanese)
GAME LINK: Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya [DIGITAL]

I recently picked up the game a few weeks back during Steam’s December/Winter Sale. It was 75% off the original price of $29.99USD, which is quite a good steal in my opinion. What initially attracted me was the lovely art and its setting within ancient Japan/the Edo Period. I have a soft spot for the time period due to its depictions of ancient Japanese culture, and there are vast windows of opportunity for interesting storylines interwoven with the complexity of history. I especially adore characters adorning kimonos as they are always drawn so beautifully, as well as the intricate background art to reflect the era.

The use and popularity of the genre within visual novels has increased immensely after Idea Factory’s now coveted poster game Hakuouki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom made a huge splash in the gaming community. It was very popular in both its original debut in Japan and internationally through the licensing partnership with Aksys Games. Game companies are always seeking new target markets to appeal to and whatever is popular clearly sells, right?

I am aware that the game originally was released for the mobile platform. However, it was popular enough to warrant a steam release along with the sequel Men of Yoshiwara: Ohgiya (which I also reviewed). I was intrigued on how they decided to approach the steam port, in terms of graphics, improvements, art, UI etc. and was met with mixed reception.

Storyline ★★

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– The Story –
A closed island where baby boys are not born…
A unique culture that is completely different from the mainland has been flourishing on the island. In the middle of the island, there is a district where men are gathered.
Some women just want children.
Others are looking for love.
Knowingly deceived by a lie, and deceived in return, all in a single night’s dream.
At the end, to whom is it that you will be talking of love? (Steam Summary)

You play as the daughter of a regular shipping agent and have lived a relatively sheltered life on an island where men are rarely ever conceived. Any men who are born are cursed to inevitably be sold to Yoshiwara, in order to become a courtesan. As a result, the only choice for the women of the island to experience any semblance of love or to have children is to pay a visit to the district of Yoshiwara. It is a custom exclusive only to this unique island, where it has become an everyday occurrence for a woman coming of age to visit the pleasure district.

Yoshiwara despite its awe-inspiring beauty, is merely a fabricated dream. The male courtesans are enforced to something akin to slavery—they sell their body and love, but never their hearts. Our protagonist on an errand to Yoshiwara, stumbles across a courtesan and his lover attempting to escape to the mainland in order to be together. Assisting such a crime would be considered high treason, but the MC follows her heart and allows them to find a boat in order to escape. In return for her kindness, she is given a large sum of money and a kimono of great quality.

She continues on her errand with the package in hand and is dragged into the depths of the pleasure district. It is here that she meets our bachelors and experiences emotions and events she never would have dreamed of, or been possible without the blessing of the couple she rescued. What will become of our innocent heroine who has never experienced the darkness of the island? Will she fall into a world of deceit and fabricated dreams?

Although the premise was promising, it had very mediocre execution overall. The events were extremely predictable, with the heroine quickly falling to the beguiling charms of the gentlemen. The courtesans in turn fall for the protagonist without any proper build up or emotional connection, but merely on the premise that she is “cute and innocent”. The writing was littered with grammatical errors, spelling mistakes and a lot of the phrases were worded quite strangely.

The flow of the writing was disjointed and clunky, and clearly translated by someone where english is not their first language. The stories tended to conclude through very convenient plot devices without much further explanation, and the heroine ended up with all the male courtesans through more or less the same ways (courtesan pays off debt or gets bought, they get married, the end).

For several different character routes, variety and variation is a must in the writing of the story. Overall if you overlook the subpar writing and poor execution, the story does have some good moments here and there of promise. There were a few scenes that definitely warmed my heart, such as in the climaxes of the storyline where the protagonist and the male bachelor confide in their love for one another. It does contain fairly descriptive sexual content compared to most otome games, so that is something to also keep in mind. Each route takes about 3hrs to complete (with the side stories, sequel and date scenario).

Character Development ★★★

! WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! READ AT YOUR OWN DISCRETION! 

In general, I found the character development to be very lacking in this game. Most of the bachelors hardly change throughout the story, and more or less remain the same. They’re a little softer in their approach to the heroine, and more open in confiding their love—but as a reader, you’d expect something more than that after everything they have been through together.

The heroine especially, completely lacks character and is the equivalent to a doormat. She cries a lot, and for the most part essentially over nothing. She quickly falls for the bachelors and is willing to throw everything on the line for them after only a few encounters. For the life of me, I cannot begin to wrap my head around the appeal behind this common protagonist trope in otome games. I suppose her only good point is that she doesn’t lack passion and is willing to protect at all costs what she holds dear. She is easy to read like an open book, very kindhearted and hardworking due to her sheltered upbringing.

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TAKAO: One of the most popular courtesans in all of Yoshiwara, he excels in charming women with his sweet words, alluring demeanour and charming nature. Due to this, he is extremely egocentric and approaches everything with brimming confidence. The heroine is bewitched by his looks at first glance, and quickly succumbs to him—visiting him at every opportunity, constantly waiting for him at Kikuya (the more popular a courtesan; the longer his list of customers he must attend to) and finds herself unable to focus when she is apart from him.

What I disliked about this route was that Takao remained the same from beginning to end, and his personality had very little development over the course of the story. His feelings for the heroine were also abrupt and sudden, and without much build up to warrant it.

I found Takao a lot more likeable in the other character routes, as he is prevalent in all their storylines. His story was also tied up in the most convenient plot device possible, and I disliked how they didn’t properly explore his relationship with his father further despite their heartfelt reunion. It felt like it all happened so fast and then it skipped to their wedding as well as the ending. It had so much potential to give Takao the depth he needed as a character, because ultimately his family was his reason for continuing to remain in Yoshiwara for so long. For the poster boy of the game, I expected a lot more from his route.

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KAGURA: I felt the pacing in Kagura’s route to be a lot better than Takao’s. The pacing was significantly slower in terms of romantic interactions (for Takao’s he is very forward from the get-go), but it made for a more meaningful relationship. Kagura is an extremely serious individual and very different from the other courtesans. He wishes to be recognised for his abilities in swordsmanship and knowledge of western culture, rather than his looks alone. He is hardworking, and not a man of many words.

As a result, the heroine desires to know more about him and what he likes. Their interactions mainly consist of conversations in getting to know one another on a more personal level. I found the MC to be more endearing in this route, as she tries her best to get to know Kagura, his interests, and shows more attentiveness to him. My only criticism would be again, that his story ties up in the most convenient way possible before it quickly skips to their wedding and the ending of the story.

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KAGEROU: My personal favourite route of the game. He is Kagura’s attendant, and a courtesan-in-training soon to have his coming of age debut. As a result, he is unfamiliar with women/love and has a sharp-tongue when speaking. He is the same age as the heroine, and as a result their relationship begins on a much more even playing field. Both are able to open up to one another better, as their similar age makes conversing a lot easier.

The heroine is not intimidated by Kagerou (in comparison to the other bachelors) and is able to show a lot more of her true personality. They often engage in friendly, endearing banter and it is clear through their interactions with one another the continual shift in their relationship. Kagerou idolises Kagura and as a result, it is rare for him to interact with anyone else. It is clear when Kagerou falls for the heroine, by asking her to accompany him on a date to the local festival.

His route was like a breath of fresh air, as he wasn’t stifled in confinement. Kagerou has yet to become a fully-fledged courtesan, and is still allowed outside of Yoshiwara to pursue his studies. He truly changes when falling in love with the heroine, and pushes everything aside when she falls ill—showing his immense love for her. I personally found their route to be the most canon, as they are able to consummate their love as one another’s firsts and with someone they truly loved—something rare and unheard of in Yoshiwara.

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TOKIWA: Tokiwa has an air of arrogance and haughtiness in majority of the other routes, so to my surprise he was actually one of the gentlest courtesans in Kikuya. Tokiwa prior to his demotion to Takao’s attendant, was a rising courtesan within the district for his skills in dance, singing and unique foreign looks. In comparison to the other men of Yoshiwara, he originated from the mainland and was not originally born on the island itself.

He did not come onto the protagonist as strongly in comparison to his appearances in other routes, where he consistently attempted to seduce her and had a bad reputation for stealing other gentlemen’s clients (which is considered forbidden in Yoshiwara—a client may only choose to remain with one courtesan once chosen).

I quite liked the pacing of their relationship, since I felt they developed quite mutually. He learns to accept himself for the things that he despises, due to the heroine’s love for him. I felt in this route the protagonist truly wanted to make him happy, and paved the path for him to achieving his dream as the most desired and top courtesan in Yoshiwara. My main criticism would be the story tied up through a very convenient series of events that enabled them to be together and end in marriage.

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IROHA: The now retired-courtesan and current “ogre-like” manager of Kikuya, he is the main contribution to its success within Yoshiwara. He is always thinking of business first and foremost, and uses whatever means necessary to ensure it prospers as the most popular courtesan shop. His route is very different in comparison to the others, as he is no longer working as a courtesan. As such, he insists to the heroine that there is no need to pay for his services as he is no longer a gentlemen of the night.

Although he is always employing tactics that would be most profitable for the store, it is clear in the other routes that he is not completely as heartless as his actions would infer. He clearly does care for the other courtesans very much, and wishes them happiness above all else. Due to his position, he keeps a clear barrier between him and the heroine—refusing her wishes and advances for a more intimate relationship.

We soon learn that it is due to him holding a dark secret, and a strong sense of debt towards Kikuya. When he falls for the heroine, he becomes very passionate and extremely jealous; unlike his normally cool and collected self. I quite enjoyed his route, as the complication was different from the other courtesans. He is not bound to the store in the same manner, and their source of conflict results from his dark secret. I found his transformation to be a little overbearing however, as he turned literally 180 degrees from dismissive to completely obsessed in an instant.

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HAYABUSA: The only courtesan with prior history with the heroine, as her dear childhood friend. Unlike the others who use their beguiling charms and physical attractiveness in earning customers, women are attracted to Hayabusa due to his hardworking and caring nature. He gets along with the other courtesans of Kikuya well, especially Takao. This is surprising as Takao usually has stiff relations with the others, due to his popularity as a courtesan and abrasive nature.

What I liked about this route was that it was interwoven with flashbacks of their past, and the nostalgic nature of their conversations. It demonstrated how much they truly cared for one another, and how their feelings had not diminished despite the time they had spent apart. Hayabusa has always been in love with the heroine, and only thought of her—collecting her favourite candy in the hopes that if they were to be reunited, he would be able to offer them to her as a gift. I found that to be so adorable and a testament of his longstanding love.

Overall, the route is a lot fluffier than the others but I found myself again being disappointed yet again by the ending. He easily escapes jail with the help of the heroine’s mother, as the patrol guard had previously been in her debt and he is subsequently released. It then quickly skips to their wedding scene and ending. He also has less content in comparison to the other men, as he was the newest add-on route implemented into the game. Because of this, he does not appear at all in the other male routes. This greatly diminished his screen time and weakened the attachment you felt towards him as a character. Whilst the other bachelors had plenty of sub-stories, there weren’t any for Hayabusa.

Design ★★★

One of the biggest selling points of the game is its great art, especially for something being originally for a mobile platform. It has a wide array of backgrounds, and the character designs with their unique kimonos are all drawn beautifully. I love the colour scheme and art style of the artist. If I were to be nitpicky, then I felt that the CGs of the game were of lower quality than the drawn character sprites. The line art just wasn’t as clean or crisp, and the artist clearly had trouble with certain expressions or hand gestures (something that is quite common in visual novels).

For example: in the two images below, in the first image with Iroha both of the character’s hands are very oddly proportioned. His hands are clutching her face like a vice, and larger than her head; whilst the heroine’s hands look akin to being fractured and claw-like. In the second image with Kagerou, what is clearly an attempt at looking seductive comes across as someone who looks completely different. It doesn’t look at all like his character sprite, and looks more like an evil expression in a bad ending route.

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Music and Voice Acting ★★

As it is a mobile platform game, the music wasn’t anything great. Most mobile platform visual novels often utilise only a handful of 30 second tracks that consistently loop over the course of the game. The looping in this game however, was done quite poorly and choppy. You can hear exactly when the sound loops for it stops abruptly and changes back to the beginning of the track. The songs chosen however, were suitable to the mood and scenes of the game.

As the steam version was ported from the mobile game, there was no voice acting. This to me is quite disappointing, as for the PS Vita port it included voice acting from famous seiyuus from the Tokimeki Memorial series and I believe Takao is voiced by Morikubo Shoutarou who famously voices Okita Souji from Hakuoki: Demon of the Fleeting Blossom, Impey Barbicane from Code: Realize ~Guardian of Rebirth~, Hanamura Yosuke from Persona 4 and Shikamaru Nara from Naruto.

System ★★

The system, user interface (UI) and overall graphic layout isn’t really anything to write home about. As it is a mobile port, it uses the exact same UI that you would see on your mobile phone. One major complaint I had was even though you have the option to play the game on windowed mode or full screen for steam, if you chose full screen; the game would become incredibly pixellated and unclear as it was not programmed for the larger resolution of a PC screen.

This shows incredible lack of foresight by the company and is quite sloppy in my opinion. The textual interface is bland and the glaring tones of pink and purple aren’t very appealing to look at. Six save slots is too little for a steam port and the overall ease of use for the interface such as accessing the backlog/save file loads didn’t feel crisp at all.

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Conclusion

Overall, the game wasn’t too bad. Nothing outstanding to write home about, but not terrible either. It is Dogenzaka Lab’s most popular title for a reason, as the game did span multiple ports and a sequel using the same setting with different characters. It had some good moments here and there, and glimpses of greater potential that were not executed properly. One of my major qualms about the game was the poor writing and translations that were difficult to overlook for a $29.99USD game. I can think of numerous titles off the top of my head at the same price point, but with infinitely better quality writing, plot, character and execution.

I also do not understand why Dogenzaka Lab did not import the PS Vita version to steam instead. It included professional voice acting, improved UI, graphics (cleaned/fixed the old CGs), new CGs, additional events and scenes. Hayabusa is not an included character to play, but they have a PS Vita exclusive bachelor called Itou Keiji for selection instead. Unfortunately, the PS Vita port is still in Japanese without an English release so the only way to access the game is via purchasing it in the Japan PSN store.

I personally would not recommend purchasing the game for full price at all. In terms of price value however, then the steam version is significantly better than the mobile platform. Purchasing it via mobile means you pay-per-character, and all the extra content must be purchased individually as well. The steam version includes all character routes, sequel, date scenario and several sub-stories for each bachelor.

I would only recommend purchasing the game on sale, and it goes on sale once every couple of months from what I have observed. For the price of $7.50USD (75% off), it does offer a decent amount of gameplay that I feel is worthwhile. With around 3hr routes per character (including extra content), you would expect to complete the game in about 10-20hrs depending on your reading speed.

I thoroughly enjoyed Kagerou’s route, and it was definitely my favourite of the game. If you can overlook the grammatical errors and typos in the game and are looking for a steamier otome game with good art, then I recommend purchasing this one on sale. I look forward to playing the sequel Men of Yoshiwara: Ohgiya and seeing whether or not the developers have improved their shortcomings of the first title. I will be posting it up next, so look forward to reading it!

Overall Rating: 2.5/5


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Please consider supporting my work on Patreon, as every little bit helps me out so much every month with website hosting costs. I am forever grateful to all my readers and supporters!


Written By Cherry

Welcome to my Blog!

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Hello everyone,

Now that I have moved domains and returned to writing, I will be trying to write as much content as possible in the next few months before university begins again. Thank you for visiting my website and reading my work. It is your support as readers that continues to inspire me to write.

I plan to mainly write reviews, walkthroughs and news in the visual novel community at the present moment. But, I may venture into other topics as well if that is what you guys would like to read. As the site is still under construction, there will be a few tabs that are empty (for now). In the coming weeks with the new posts rolling in, they will quickly be filled up with content.

I hope that you enjoy reading my website!

Love Always,

Cherry