Chu*Review: Yo-Jin-Bo: The Bodyguards

When you think of the term ‘visual novel’, I can bet that at least most people think of what is termed as a ‘harem’ visual novel, meaning that the playable character is a man and there are several attractive female characters around him, most (if not all) of which the player is able to make the playable character get romantically involved with at the end. While this is a real treat for guys who like this kind of thing, it leaves us girls who might be interested in this concept out in the cold (unless we like that sort of thing).

Luckily for us ladies, there is also something called an otome, or ‘reverse-harem’ visual novel. This type of visual novel is just as it sounds; a story where the playable character is female and there are several attractive male characters around her, several of which you can most-likely hook up with in the end. The first one I ever heard of was Neo-Angelique Abyss, which has no English translation at this time. However, that led me to realize that there must be more than just one otome game out there. So I did some research and found one that was rather highly praised: Yo-Jin-Bo: The Bodyguards.

STORY

You start off as Sayori, a regular high-school girl. Sayori goes on an archeological dig with her classmates to the ruins of a castle to see if they can dig up anything that could tell them about the castle’s past. In the dirt, Sayori sees a shining pendant and picks it up, forgetting to tell her superior about it and bringing it home accidentally. Later that night, she has a dream of a feudal era princess begging Sayori to help her, and suddenly Sayori is sucked back in time, charged with the task of finding a way to prevent the princess’ death. During your quest you meet a rag-tag group of merceneries named Yozaburo, Jinnosuke, and Tainojo, whose nickname is ‘Bo’. They team up with the princess’ bodyguard Muneshige, a rather questionable priest name Mon-Mon, and an anti-social psychopathic killer (who is, incidentally, my favorite character) named Ittosai to save the princess as they uncover a large conspiracy.

The story never got boring to me, and even better is that it the story changes depending on which guy you’re gunning for at the end. The story doesn’t deviate too much on each story path of course, but they are different enough that it won’t get boring playing the game six times to get each guy. It’s also very easy to find a walkthrough for this game online that will outline which choices to make to get what character if you want to be sure that you don’t miss out.

And there is quite a bit you can miss out on. In addition to nabbing all 6 guys, there are also ‘bad’ and ‘death’ endings for each path, making a total of 18 possible endings.

CHARACTERS

Now while the word yojinbo means ‘bodyguard’ in Japanese, you can see they also used the main characters’ names as a play on the title of the game (The three main guys names are Yo, Jin, and Bo. Get it? HA!). A cheesy move, yes, but it sets the pace for one of the best parts of this game, and that is that this game doesn’t take itself too seriously. At all. This becomes apparent when we are introduced to the characters.

First of all, Yo, Jin, and Bo are such good friends that they fight and bicker at every turn, even during heated battles. This adds quite a bit of comedy to the story. The characters also make quite a number of pop culture references on things like Disney, boy bands, and Final Fantasy. They even break the fourth wall when they discuss Mon-Mon’s failing attempts to ensure he is an achievable love interest at the end of the game. I must admit that I was assuming the characters would be much more serious since the few pieces of art I saw before playing showed no signs of there being so much comedy, but I enjoyed the game’s light-hearted moments.

Because of the comedic liberties taken with these characters, they aren’t the most deep and interesting people you’ll ever encounter. However, as you play through each of the guys’ paths, you’ll learn more about them and will begin to see attraction brew between your chosen guy and Sayori. The game does a good job of making these interactions believable, and you do find yourself rather attached to the characters by the end of the story.

GAMEPLAY

This game plays through like a regular visual novel, clicking through text and having the ability to let the game auto-cycle through the text and to skip quickly through text to the next decision point. Those decision points, however, are where the game begins to get interesting.

The decision points are timed, giving you only a brief amount of time to make a decision. I haven’t played too many visual novels so I’m not sure if this is something unique, but I have never heard of or seen something like this in a visual novel before. It adds the tenseness of the situations you’re in, because if you were experiencing what was going on in the game in real life, you’d only have those few brief moments to make a decision anyway. It adds an interesting sense of realism to the game.

The game also has more than enough game save slots and a quick-save feature that you can use just by clicking a button. However, in my experience, the quick-save button only saves in the first slot, so if you’re using multiple slots you may want to leave the first slot open for quick-saves.

Another thing I like is that although it plays on full-screen by default, you can go into the configuration menu and change it to be windowed, allowing you to play while doing other things. I am always multi-tasking, so this was a big plus for me. You can also adjust the volumes of the background music, sound effects, and character voices to fit your preference. There is also an ‘extras’ menu where you can view collections of the images you’ve seen in the game and enjoy some other goodies as well.

ART AND SOUND

Because there is no actual moving animation in visual novels (for the most part), the music and still-frame art are two extremely important elements, and Yo-Jin-Bo does not disappoint.

The art is very well done, both with the characters and the backgrounds. The full-body shots of the characters are very limited (about only 2-3 a character) but the close-up faces that are put next to the text box are also done very well and have a variety of expressions. The design of the characters’ clothing and the backgrounds really make you feel like you’re in the feudal era, which works well to balance out the game’s pop culture references and to keep you grounded in the story while still appreciating that humor.

Now the sound in this game comes in two parts: the voice acting and the music. The voice acting is absolutely superb. The seiyuu in this game are very well-seasoned and well-known voice actors, many of them coming from big shows like Saint Seiya and Bleach. They voices they use work very well with their respective characters, and are chock-full of emotion.

As for the music, it also excels. It has a very feudal era feel to it and is very catchy and addicting. Even though they only have a handful of songs that they use several times, they never get boring and fit the scenes they’re used in perfectly.

OVERALL

Yo-Jin-Bo: The Bodyguards is a fun and entertaining visual novel to play. While its story and characters aren’t mind-blowing, the graphics, voice work, and music most certainly are. Couple that with a story that keeps your interest and some good comedy and you have a game that is fun to sit down and play diligently or play casually to relieve some stress at the end of a busy day. If you’re a fan of otome games, this is one title you have to check out.

FINAL SCORE: 7/10

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15 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Anonykin Skyballer said,

    Wow I didn’t know you were a blogger, and I have to say I am very impressed. This sort of game peaks my interest because I love all sorts of dating sim type games but that have a great story. Sounds like a great game to play and I am going to look it up later.

  2. 3

    Ritalove said,

    Hello. Cool review 🙂 Thank you very much.
    I just wanted to ask: Is it me or are some songs sung by the actual VA actors? Perhaps I’m hearing things lol. By the way Ittosai rules lol 😄

    • 4

      I’m ecstatic that you liked the review! Yes, the songs are sung by the seiyuu! I love it when you can hear them both act and sing in one place! And yes, Ittosai does rule. He had a legitimate vulnerable side but didn’t become out of character when the truth emerged. I really liked how they handled his story.

  3. 5

    Ritalove said,

    I loved the moment when BO’s song begun during his fight with the ninja. I think the songs were well done 🙂
    I think also, that they made the character really believable, I hate when in some games they make the bad boy sudently change => like: “OH ! thanks to the magic of the love I will now save the weak and repent !” lol.

    Bi the way, do you play other games ? Like RPG (Mass effect ? Neverwinter nights) [they have romances] or only visual novels ?

    🙂

    • 6

      I play all kinds of games, but I don’t really play too many WRPGs like Mass Effect, e.t.c. although I do enjoy watching others play them! I play a lot of stuff like Final Fantasy and the Castlevania series.

      Getting into otome visual novels is something new for me, it’s hard to find them in English! Do you have any visual novels you can recommend to me?

  4. 7

    Ritalove said,

    Do you also like Yaoi ? Because I mostly know good yaoi visual novels.

    • 8

      Ritalove said,

      [Sorry about the new comment, I should have replied lol. I’m really new to this site]

    • 10

      I’m not too wild about yaoi, but I don’t mind it if the story is good and the characters are interesting.

      • 11

        Ritalove said,

        There are some that I find good. Not slash.

        Otome :

        -Fatal Hearts: (the art is not bad and the story is interesting)

        There are many good otome games like “Hiiro no Kakera”, but all are in Japanese 😦

        Yaoi:
        – “Animamundi Dark Alchemist” : Beautiful art, interesting characters, a good story (a bit dark) => English with Japanese voices << english

        – Darkness of the Moon – Kuro no Tsuki (+16) (cool characters, good art, a bit dark story) => English patch

        -DNd Poisoned [fanmade] (Superb art, death note character if you like it, not too long, multiple endings)=> english

        – Silver Chaos (+18) Good story, gorgeous art, interesting characters (dark story)=> English patch

        – Togainu No chi (+18) Really good story and universe of the game, gorgeous art, interesting characters, and sooo more lol => only japanesse but there is an english patch being made lol

        Not Yaoi:
        -Chaos Heads (+18)(really good dark and mysterious story)

        I hope that you will like at least one of these 🙂

    • 12

      (I cannot reply to your other post for some reason lol) I actually have Animamundi in my computer ready to play! =D The art looked gorgeous, I was aware there was yaoi in it.

      Chaos Head is made by Nitro+ who made Saya no Uta, my favorite VN of all time =D I have been dieing to try that one! I am most certainly checking out all of those you suggested, thank you!

      • 13

        Ritalove said,

        I cannot wait to see your next reviews 😄

        Togainu no chi is also made by a division of NITRO. I love their games, always a bit dark but with a hell of a story lol.
        I hope you will like Animamundi, I advise you also to use a guide when you play Animamundi. 🙂

  5. 14

    Meiko said,

    Hi! I really loved your review for the game! Thank you ’cause i could understand a lot of things! 😀

    Do you have the english version? I got my english ver. today and i was very disappointed because i can’t hear the voices! (i’m already in the 3rd chapter) ;o;
    I’m searching in youtube and the videos of the game hadn’t voices either, but in your review you talk about the great work of the seiyuus 😥

    I went to the menu and the voices were on… i though the english ver. had english text and japanese voices >.< Am i wrong or is something bad with my game? T^T

    • 15

      It sounds like something is wrong with your game. I got the English version and heard the Japanese voices (the only character that doesn’t have a voice is Sayori). You might need to update your sound drivers, otherwise you can contact Hirameki, the people who distribute the game and look through their FAQ and website to see if anyone has had similar problems or (if you got this game by legal means) you can maybe contact them and see if they can help you.

      Other than that, I’m glad you enjoyed the review! Thanks for reading!


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