Yo-Kai Watch 3 Review
Although the Yo-Kai Watch franchise is gaining some traction in the West – more so in Europe and less so in the United States and Canada – there are still many gamers and anime fans out there who know little, if anything, about the franchise itself. To them, the name Jibanyan and Whisper mean nothing, and if you mention the town of Springdale, most people are likely to ask, “Do you mean Springfield, like in the Simpsons?” Yet, these games continue to make their way West, and more and more fans are jumping on board, and for good reason. Let’s take a look at Yo-Kai Watch 3 on Nintendo 3DS!
A code for this game was provided by Nintendo of Canada for the purpose of this review; a secondary code was also supplied by Level-5.
I’ve had the privelege of playing through all the main games in the Yo-Kai Watch franchise, and have thoroughly enjoyed them all. What makes developer Level-5 so fantastic is that they aren’t afraid to alter the formula a bit, even if it seems to be working OK. This is a company that always wants to innovate and bring new ideas to the table, while keeping a sense of familiarity for longtime fans. In Yo-Kai Watch 3, this is achieved in numerous ways.
For the first time, the game is actually split into two, sometimes intertwining, stories played out by two protagonists. While there are some challenges to this approach – trying to remember which Yo-Kai reside with which character, as well as money amounts, items, etc. – it does allow Level-5 to create a brand new world to explore in St. Peanutsburg, BBQ (a play on the United States), while also maintaining the charm and familiarity of Springdale. Nate, who moves with his family to BBQ for his dads work, explores the new world with new Yo-Kai and interesting dilemmas, while Hailey remains in Springdale to continue the work that needs to be done there.
While not that similar to the Pokemon franchise, it is about the best comparison available for this experience. You will collect ‘monsters’ and use them to battle others in an effort to collect even more ‘monsters.’ While that idea sounds familiar, the way it plays out in Yo-Kai Watch is much different. I’ll reference you to Abdallah Smash’s introductory Let’s Play below for how that plays out.
The big change in Yo-Kai Watch 3 is the battle system. In previous games, players would use a wheel to spin Yo-Kai into and out of combat, and although there was nothing wrong with that approach – which I found enjoyable by the way – I’m pleased to see Level-5 experimenting with something new. Gone is the wheel, and instead players are given a 3×3 grid on which to place their 3 battling Yo-Kai, with the option to have 3 others swap in when necessary. Characters are all on timers, limiting their Soultimate attacks, as well as how often they can move around the 3×3 grid. Lining up three Yo-Kai in a row will give bonus hit points in attacks, and placing one Yo-Kai behind another will provide that specific character some extra defence. It’s a system that is intuitive and easy to understand, and ultimately it works very well!
Is Yo-Kai Watch 3 a difficult experience? By no means, and those looking for a really deep RPG are probably going to be a bit disappointed in what Yo-Kai Watch 3 brings to the table in terms of difficulty. Some bosses require a bit more work then others, but when it comes to run-of-the-mill Yo-Kai battles, you can often just leave your team to fight, and most of the time you will come out victorious.
But in reality, Yo-Kai Watch is more than just collecting characters to battle with others. There are a loads of other things to do as well, including catching bugs and fish, solving mysteries using clues you find around both towns, and finding hidden treasure using treasure maps. In fact, Yo-Kai Watch 3 is packed with more things than you’d usually find in a video game, and while some might argue this makes the experience to busy and hectic, I argue it just extends the life of the game in your system. With so much to do, you’ll likely get sidetracked from the main story more times than you might like, and that’s perfectly OK.
There is some dedication that is required to get going in this game, however, which can be a nuisance to some. I did a little extra exploring during my early moments with the game, and was still unlocking new features about 8 hours in. That’s a long haul, but in a game that could easily deliver over 100 hours of content, I’m not sure how to approach this issue. While it wasn’t a problem for me, I could easily see others getting really annoyed that features aren’t available until hours into the experience. If you aren’t looking for a long haul title, Yo-Kai Watch 3 might not work for you.
Yo-Kai Watch 3 is an incredibly deep experience with tons of things to keep you occupied. If the story ever becomes a drag, or you lose a bit of interest, there is plenty to do on the side until you feel like seeing where Nate and Hailey’s stories are likely to take them. With the intrigue that surrounds both St. Peanutsburg and Springdale, it’s inevitable that our two protagonists will connect and the story will have an epic conclusion.
But that isn’t for me to spoil! Don’t treat Yo-Kai Watch 3 as an experience that requires you to play 1 and 2 (although the video below can get you up to speed). This is a standalone title that can be enjoyed for longtime fans and new fans alike, and outside of a few references to past titles and the anime, there won’t be much that flies over your head!