Platform: Nintendo Switch
Developer: ELF Corporation (original) / 5pb (remake)
Release: Dec 26, 1996 (original) / Oct 1, 2019 (remake)
Price: $60 USD
So I guess I’m now a regular reviewer of visual novels. Heh, well I just got another good one to add to my review collection.
Yu-No: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world (unwieldy title, I know) is a classic game that originally came out for the beloved NEC PC-98 in Japan back in the mid 90s. It was originally an Eroge game that got the sex scenes removed and re-released as a just a regular visual novel with a lot of perverted dialogue and scenes still intact. Yeah, similar to how Muv-Luv also turned from an Eroge into a beloved visual novel series I guess. This game has now been remade and released in Japan in 2015 and now released here in the West this year 2019.
But man, there are still alot of perverted scenes left in. I don’t mind it too much – but some people might take offense to it. It’s literally just the sex scenes removed and the rest of the Eroge dialogue remains intact – and yes the boobs/skirt/legs are almost always clickable on a woman.
But other than that, it’s a great game. A pioneering time travel / sci-fi visual novel that must have been the inspiration for Steins;Gate and so many others.
Plot: So the plot is that your father Koudai Arima is reported dead – but you, Takuya Arima ‘the walking libido’, soon receive a package containing a time travel device called the Reflector. You suspect that your father is not really dead at all and he’s somewhere – but you must find him.
The main goal of the game is to collect 6 different jewels in different timelines – you already start out with 4 jewels in the device – making 10 total. Each jewel can be used at any point to essentially ‘save’ the game so that you can come back to it later. But you have to make sure you don’t use up all the jewels – if all jewels are used then you are stuck and you can’t power the Reflector device anymore. Loading up a jewel frees up that jewel so that you can use it again. So there’s essentially a limited number of save slots and you have to be careful with where you save. Using the Reflector device was a little confusing at first but then I figured out how to use it and man it must have been pretty revolutionary at the time for visual novels to have such a feature.
Similar to Steins;Gate you can essentially time travel between different parallel worlds – there’s a certain time limit that you have before you get ‘chaos corrected’ back to the beginning of the game – but you retain your items from each timeline – this is essential because there are parts in one timeline that might require items from another timeline. There are multiple endings within each route. You need to go through all the endings in order to get all the items you need to get all the jewels which are hidden within each route. Once you get all 10 jewels – you are transported to the Epilogue – which is another lengthy playthrough in itself but its quite a different experience from the main game – so this game definitely has a lot of replay value to it. When you get to the Epilogue, there’s no more mysteries to solve so the jewel finding goal turns into a goal to search for [not going to spoil it, you will have to play through it ;)]
Gameplay: It’s a point and click adventure style game, similar to Root Letter and other mystery / investigation type games, so its more interactive than the typical visual novel.
Characters: Well, similar to Muv-Luv this was originally an Eroge – so obviously its full of women wearing short skirts and school uniforms. But you knew that right?
-Takuya Arima – the main protagonist, who is a bona fide pervert, but also a guy who is driven by a desire to find his father and solve the mysteries of time travel.
-Ayumi Arima – the stepmom of Takuya and Geo Technics manager, who is a romance option in this game, despite the incestual overtones of it
-Kozo Ryuzoji – the headmaster of the school and the main antagonist of the game
-Mitsuki Ichijo – a former lover of Takuya’s and Ryuzoji’s secretary, who is also a romance option for him.
-Mio Shimazu – a spoiled ‘princess’ type girl and Takuya’s classmate, who is also a romance option for him.
-Eriko Takeda – Takuya’s homeroom teacher who may know more about time travel than she lets on…
-Kanna Hatano – a classmate of Takuya’s who always behaves very mysteriously. She is also a romance option for him.
-Masakatsu Yuki – the obligatory ‘annoying best friend’ character of Takuya’s
-Kaori Asakura – An investigative journalist trying to get down to the mysteries surrounding Geo Technics
-Hideo Toyotomi – An annoying employee and subordinate of Ayumi at Geo Technics
-Sayless, Amanda and the namesake character Yu-No are actually characters that you will have to play to the Epilogue to find out who they are, so I won’t spoil them here.
Graphics: I’m torn. The original graphics from 1996 just scream 80s/90s Japan. the NEC PC-98 is famous for these kinds of graphics. I am a 90s anime lover so naturally I prefer the old look better. It has such a nostalgic charm to it. But the remake isn’t bad either – it’s done in a more modern style and you can take a look side by side to see which you prefer. I wish there was an option to use the old graphics though.
Music: Amazing. You can choose between the remade soundtrack and the original soundtrack from 1996. I prefer the original – but the remake is done pretty well. It perfectly fits with the mystery / sci-fi style of the game.
Conclusion: This game is a 10/10 from me. I literally could not put it down since I started it. I am a sci-fi visual novel lover and a big fan of Steins;Gate so its obvious that this game would peak my interest as well. This was the original sci-fi visual novel that was very influential on subsequent visual novels. I wish there was an option to use the original graphics but the remake does pretty well recreating all the characters and scenes, the music is awesome, the gameplay has a lot of replay value and the characters – while not super original – you have to remember it was originally an eroge title – are ok for what they are which is bringing the story together. There’s a lot of perverted dialogue and scenes – but if you are comfortable with that, it’s not that bad. A solid game that will take you a while to reach 100% completion (and a bonus if you do!).