In the last few years Yo-Kai Watch has become wildly popular in Japan with its hit anime television show, and is seen by some as the next big gaming craze. The series finally makes the jump to North America, but will it have the same success here as it did in Japan? While it may be too early to tell, Yo-Kai Watch brings a unique and innovative style of gameplay, and pairs it with great voice acting and an interesting cast of characters. There is still some work to do before the battle system is perfected, but the foundation has been laid for the Yo-Kai craze to hit North America.
You begin Yo-Kai Watch as a young boy or girl trying to collect rare bugs to impress your friends. As you wander deeper into the forest, you come across an old coin-operated vending machine. Curiousity gets the best of you so you toss in a coin, crank the handle, and out pops a capsule containing your new best friend, Whisper. Whisper is a mischievous spirit called a Yo-Kai, and with his help you set off on an adventure to learn more about these mysterious beings.
Yo-Kai are all around us, although they are not visible to the human eye. They are spirits that take on many forms and have various different personality traits. Yo-Kai spirits can also influence how you feel, making you angry, forgetful, or even tired. The only way for these spirits to be seen is by using the Yo-Kai Watch. The watch is equipped with a radar that senses the Yo-Kai’s aura, and a lens that is used to make them visible. To befriend a Yo-Kai, you must first defeat it in battle. Once defeated the Yo-Kai will offer its friendship, and you will receive the Yo-Kai medal and be able to add them to your party.
The battle system in Yo-Kai watch at first can seem confusing and has a lot going on at once. You enter battle with a party of six Yo-Kai, and have three actively battling at once. The six party members are displayed on a wheel on the touchscreen, and by spinning that wheel with the stylus you will swap out the party members during battle. The battles are mostly automatic, with mainly healing and performing special moves being your only tasks. As mentioned before, your Yo-Kai each have their own personality traits, and they can inflict those traits on other Yo-Kai during their attack. For example a Yo-Kai spirit that has sickness traits, its attacks will cause opposing Yo-Kai to become sick and lethargic.
Your special moves are called “Soultimate”, and can be performed when the Yo-Kai’s gauge is full. These Soultimate attacks are mini game based attacks, that rely heavily on touchscreen inputs. These mini games involve spinning a wheel, tapping rapidly, bursting bubbles, and tracing shapes to complete attacks. These mini games can get tiresome after a while, but you have to appreciate Level-5 stepping outside the box and trying something different as opposed to the traditional turn-based combat.
If you enjoyed the visuals of Level-5’s Fantasy Life, you’ll definitely be impressed with the visuals of Yo-Kai Watch. The majority of Yo-Kai Watch is exploring the bright, vibrant city of Springdale. The city is flooded with color, and looks excellent in 3D. The larger cut scenes for the game are essentially pulled straight from the Yo-Kai Watch anime television show, and feature some excellent voice acting, particularly for the Yo-Kai characters.
There are over 200 Yo-Kai spirits to encounter throughout the game, and the game does an excellent job of giving you interesting little backstories on most of the Yo-Kai. Unfortunately it is hard to find Yo-Kai that are visually appealing enough to fill your party. Some of the Yo-Kai character designs lack creativity, and you can be stuck with them in your party for the first few chapters of the game. Just to give you an example of some of these characters, one of the starting Yo-Kai you encounter at the beginning chapters is Snotsolong, a crane-like bird with, well, snot pouring out of its nostrils. Of course, as you progress in the game and upgrade your watch you will unlock new areas and be able to encounter stronger Yo-Kai, so don’t invest too much time leveling your party until you have your team set in stone.
Will Yo-Kai Watch become the next big thing? That remains to be seen. While it may never hit the level of popularity of Pokemon, Yo-Kai Watch is an addicting adventure with a cast of interesting characters and a unique battle system. If you’re tired of the same old turn-based combat on the 3DS, give Yo-Kai Watch a try and see if you get sucked in the adventure.
Review code for Yo-Kai Watch was provided by Nintendo