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What is it that women truly buy at the pleasure district?
- System: Nintendo Switch
- Publisher: D3 Publisher
- Developer: D3 Publisher
- Release Date: Feb 01, 2018
Who it Caters to
It’s a new year and with that, we have new games. This time around, we have a new otome game, The Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya. The Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya has previously been released on mobile phones and Steam, but now it is playable on the Nintendo Switch as of this last February 1st. If you are a fan of bishounen, visual novels, and otome games,you might want to give The Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya a try. Stay tight for our own thoughts on this otome game.
What to Expect
The Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya is an otome game and visual novel, so be prepared for text heavy gameplay. This doesn’t appeal to everyone as it can feel like reading an interactive book, so keep that in mind. However, the dialogue is rather fun to read and The Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya has simplistic dialogue and narration making it an easier visual novel to read that most. There just isn’t as much text as games like Steins;Gate or Chaos;Child.
That being said, there are 5 playable routes with one of the routes having a 2nd season. For this otome game, you can simply pick the bishounen or your dreams rather than having to make a selection of answers that will lock you into your route. There are also only 2 endings, both of which are positive so this is more for casual play unlike games like Amnesia: Memories. Added onto that is an extra date scene per each character and a sequel. This doesn’t even include the fact that Iroha has a 2nd season!
Also, don’t miss the M for Mature rating! This game is set in a brothel and you do not want to be surprised!
The Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya Opening Movie
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The Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya is set on an island on which there are few men. This has led to the culture centering on the Pleasure District, a district in the middle of the island where the men are located. These men are meant to either fulfill a woman’s desire for children or love if only for a single night. The Pleasure District is where dreams are sold in the forms of lies, but everyone is a willing buyer.
On this island, we have our main character, whose default name is Hidetomi Misao, who ends up in the Pleasure District by pure accident. Mistaken for someone else, Misao is given the opportunity of a night in the Pleasure District. Picking her favorite courtesan, our main character is in for quite the romance as everything is about to change with this one night.
So let us share our thoughts about The Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya. As a visual novel and otome game, The Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya is very casual in its gameplay. There are 13 chapters plus 2 different happy endings, a sequel, and a substory per each love interest with a total of 5 love interests, one of whom has a 2nd season. While this may seem like a lot, the chapters are relatively short without most of the game playing out in short dialogue. Having the ability to know how many chapters there are per playable love interest also allows the player some idea of what to expect in terms of length and gameplay.
Like most visual novels, the game progresses as a story and you guide your route based on the choices you make throughout the games. Each chapter has about 2 choices and with each choice made, your likeability goes up or stays stagnant. If the likeability gets high enough, you can see the Super Happy Ending, and if you don’t quite get there, you get to see the Happy Ending. Both endings provide CGs so you’ll want to play them both. Luckily, if you don’t want to replay the entire story, you can just start the game from the last chapter and you’ll get to see the Happy Ending because your likeability is 0%, although this won’t work if you want to pick the Super Happy Ending as you need a higher likeability rating. We recommend shooting for the Super Happy Ending and then quick jumping to the last chapter to get the Happy Ending after as that will be less work than starting all over again.
The game itself doesn’t outright tell you if the choices you pick are right or wrong, but you can quick load to go through all of the scenarios so that you can see how high they bring up your likeability. It makes it easier to aim for the highest likeability and thus, the Super Happy Ending. Many of the replies appear to be similar so do not rely on character response to get you on the right route!
As for the characters, not all of the male characters are introduced during the prologue. You can just jump to the main story and pick your favorite bachelor off of a menu screen like an entree with a description of what you are getting. This means you don’t even have to go through the prologue, although we do suggest doing so as you might be confused about some of the story’s plot. For our first route, we selected the childhood friend, Hayato, as we were not keen on playing one of the flashier and more arrogant characters. It was a rather cute route, although since the game itself is based off of a mobile game, there wasn’t as much character development. Still, it was enjoyable to watch unfold and since this is the childhood character route, there wasn’t much to develop since the characters knew each other.
However, taking on what appears to be the main route (Iroha), the story takes on a different plot and different tone. While with Hayato, the plot was all about their childhood memories and continuing the romance that they never got to have, Iroha’s “true” route was more about….how much Misao wants to have sex with him, but Iroha refuses. As the story continues, we get to actually learn more about Iroha personally and why he refuses to sleep with Misao. It’s an interesting story compared to Hayato’s rather simplistic one and we can understand why Iroha gets a 2nd season outside of the substory, date scenarios, and sequel. All the same, this is just a reminder that The Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya is an M rated game and not suitable for children.
Then we come down to the story itself. The Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya is quite different as it is based on an island where the majority of the men who exist are enslaved in the Pleasure District. It is reminiscent of the stories told of geisha in the history of Kyoto, but these men have less freedom and only work to finish off their contract and run to the mainland.These men are also “courtesans” as they are called, but to be less eloquent and more direct, they are sex slaves. Women come to this Pleasure District to either run away from their own problems and buy a night of romance similar to how a woman might go to a host club, while others go to the Pleasure District in order to become pregnant and have children. This makes the “courtesans” like animals forced to bend to a buyer’s will. Still, all the same, the game makes light of this rather dark subject and the men seems to have great freedom when in fact, they do not. Whether or not you are OK with this subject is something quite personal, but for an otome game, it really brings about a point of taboo that would otherwise not be contained in the story.
We’d also like to note that due to this premise in the story, there are a lot of innuendos and remarks about purity. In particular, Misao’s “purity” and “flower” are constantly being remarked upon by the members of this particular brothel. This may be a major theme in the game as the Pleasure District is a place where men are enslaved and taken advantage of but they manage to find a form of white light in our heroine.
Adding more to our musings about the story, there was one thing that really bothered us in the otome game and no, it wasn’t the innuendo and lack of artful writing hinting at sex. It was the constant syntax and spelling mistakes that would pop up every so often. You’d be going through a beautiful scene and then suddenly, you are left to interpret what a word was supposed to mean or you see these two words crammed together and wonder to yourself how difficult it could be to add a space when proofreading. As a writer, this can be irksome, but it doesn't completely take away from the gameplay.
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We’ve said a lot about The Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya, but in the end, we really quite enjoyed it. The Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya was great for casual visual novel play without all of the text heavy gameplay that is common for games like Steins;Gate or Hakuoki. It does take away from the beautiful descriptions, but this also allows it to be easier to play casually, much like a mobile otome game. With 5 character routes and all of the extras, it’s safe to say that you’ll get over 25 hours of gameplay in total! It’s not long, but that’s perfect for a casual game.
If you want a game like Hakuoki with wonderful descriptions, character development, and well developed plots, that’s not what you’re going to find, but in The Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya, you’ll find a creative plot, great characters, and an easy to follow story with direct routes similar to your favorite mobile game. As such, Kikuya wins our seal of approval.
With all of that, we have given you our opinion about the newest addition to the Nintendo Switch library. The Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya may not be the wildest visual novel, but it is the Switch’s first step into the VN world and we expect there to be more! For those of you out there who enjoy visual novels and otome games, what do you think of The Men of Yoshiwara: Kikuya? Do you want to play it? Do you think it’s worthwhile? Or maybe you played it on Steam when it was released. Please share your opinion in the comment below!
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