Just as you wait the entire company’s history for its first Men of Yoshiwara game, the Switch has got its second instalment in a matter of weeks of the visual novel series.
The Men of Yoshiwara: Ohgiya is another offering of more of the same from D3 Publisher, and picks up from another of the games originally released a few years ago on Steam.
Like the other game, Ohgiya tells the story of a girl who visits the brothel of Yoshiwara and is astounded by the wonders of the men as her potential suitors within. It’s a gender role reversal of brothel culture of real life, of course, and a lot of these men are portrayed as particularly loose.
The slight difference in the depictions of the two female protagonists between the games is that in Kikuya, she is there to bring a package and gets caught up in amongst all of the men when she knows she isn’t really supposed to. However, in Ohgiya the girl is quite deliberately there as she needs an heir for her family, leading to her reaching its head.
It’s a slight change, but the storyline changes here are really the only differences between these pseudo-games. Like in the first game, you have to select the courtesan that you want to be the subject of your affection, and then sit and read through the entire story with a few interjections at points where you can make choices on how the story is going to go. This impacts the endings you get with each story, which is of course the only sense of ‘gaming’ reward the game offers.
I couldn’t say if this is a good or a bad thing, as it totally depends on what the player/reader is looking for, but there certainly is nothing close to a realistic depiction of male characters going on in the stories. While there are a number of story options and arcs to choose from, none of them are radically different in terms of the men that they present.
Yes, they have their own characteristics which are outlined in the brief story summary at the start, but there’s no macho males going on here – they are mostly sexually aggressive but in a way where the female reader is meant to want to engage with them and not be totally put off, in the way that is more than likely to be the case were most of their quotes to be delivered out loud in a real-life situation.
The protagonist is a bit of a drip – she falls into love almost immediately with each of the men, and her thoughts are almost entirely on the men for the whole of the game’s duration, which is a long time if you’re sitting watching it go by on autoplay. She’s by no means a strong female lead.
With this being openly targeted at women according to the developers, it only makes sense to ask a lady for her thoughts. And that I did – my friend Kate Hale agreed that female players would get far more out of the game than men, but added that she would have liked the characters to have demonstrated a little more expressiveness – this is no Phoenix Wright game when it comes to the animation stakes.
The Men of Yoshiwara: Ohgiya
As a premise, the Men of Yoshiwara games are something we should see more of – novels and particularly decide-your-destiny type books would be more than welcome on Nintendo’s system. There’s not enough new here to justify a purchase if you already have the first game, though – go for one or the other unless you’re a genre fanatic.