Yo-Kai Watch Review
If you have never heard of Yo-Kai before, I would not be surprised. Although the franchise is already a huge hit in Japan – two games, a TV show, and lots of merchandise – the franchise in North America is just getting off the ground. The TV show hit North America earlier this fall, and the first Yo-Kai game in North America launches this Friday. The real question is: Is Yo-Kai Watch on the 3DS worth your time? We think so!
When watching videos of the game or reading about it online, you might quickly liken the game to Pokemon. The comparison is often used, and rightfully so. Both are about a kid on a mission to save a region/city, both involve collecting monsters that are stored in balls/discs, and both have turn similar game mechanics. Yet, Yo-Kai Watch is definitly a different experience, one that even the most hard core Pokemon man should try.
The real travesty here in North America is that hardcore Pokemon players might stick to their own favorite franchise and begin something akin to the “Console Wars” of this generation. I am a Pokemon game fanatic, yet when I put in Yo-Kai Watch for this review, I was blown away, especially since early on, my expectations were pretty low.
The main character in the game is gifted a special watch that allows him to see Yo-Kai, monsters that are otherwise invisible to the general public. After your first encounter with your first Yo-Kai – Whisper – you will set out on a number of quests to help individuals around the city being influenced by evil monsters. Early on the missions are fairly trivial. For example, your friend lashes out at someone which you note is generally out of character for her. Your traveling companion – and overly talkative tag along – Whisper will inform you that perhaps evil Yo-Kai are influencing your friends behaviors.
Yo-Kai can only be seen through the lens on the watch; fortunately, you have one of these watches. Using the styulus on the lower screen, you will move the cross hairs of the watch around a specific area until you find the usually invisble Yo-Kai. Sometimes the Yo-Kai will remain stationary making it easy to uncover, and other times it will move around the screen. Essentially,each time you begin looking for a Yo-Kai, you play a simple hide-and-seek mini game. The game makes great use of the bottom screen in these intense, but I found that even the most common Yo-Kai could be frustrating to pinpoint.
The game quickly delves into a deeper, darker plot – of which I won’t spoil here – but be fair warned: you are getting your typical shallow Japanese RPG story, very similar to that which you find in Pokemon. This is rather disappointing, but in no way reflected the overall enjoyment I got out of this title.
Level 5 at it Again
Level-5 has done an excellent job of bringing this game to North America. For people who have played their previous 3DS game, Fantasy Life, the menus will feel very familiar. Level 5 did an excellent job laying out the game in an organized manner, which included not introducing too much, too quickly. Over time you will learn about your Watch Rank (from E to S) and Yo-Kai Rank, but it is gradual. You will never feel overwhelmed. In fact, at times I wish some of this information had been provided to me sooner. To fully comprehend all the different aspects of Yo-Kai Watch, those who play the game will be required to play more than 5 hours of the main quest. Even at the seven hour mark, I was learning new things about Yo-Kai Watch.
Words Don’t Justify the Battle System
Words can not accurately paint a good picture of how fun battles are in Yo-Kai Watch. The battles will play out on their own if you let them. Yo-Kai – both friendly and hostile – will take turns attacking each other. All normal attacks are automatic. There is no way to control them. What you can control is who will be available to attack, and their special abilities.
Your Yo-Kai Watch can hold up to six monsters, but only three can be on the field of battle at a time. At anytime during the match, you can rotate your Yo-Kai to introduce new monsters to the fight. For example, if your Yo-Kai are numbered 1 – 6, and the battle begins, Yo-Kai 1, 2, and 3 will be on the battlefield. If, for example, you are not happy with Yo-Kai # 1’s attacks against a particular enemy, you can rotate your watch just slightly so that friendly Yo-Kai 2, 3, and 4 are on the field of battle, while Yo-Kai 1, 5 and 6 are not.
Each Yo-Kai is from a different class, and placing Yo-Kai of the same class next to each other during a fight will yield even more powerful attacks. No attacks are more powerful than the special moves. When their meters are full, the player can unleash a special attack. To complete the special attack, and small mini game will pop up on the bottom screen. The three common games are tracing three objects, tapping on coins as they float across the screen, and drawing circles quickly. Similar minigames are used to reactive Yo-Kai hampered by status changes.
While this sounds confusing, I cannot reiterate enough how gradual the game play mechanics are introduced. Initially I was overwhelmed by the ideas, but they quickly fell into place.
There is so much to write about Yo-Kai Watch, and we will be writing more articles to post in the weeks and months following launch. If you are looking for something to play this Holiday Season and you enjoy collect-them-all monster games, there is a lot to love here. If you are looking for something that isn’t Pokemon or the Pokemon game play style, I would also recommend picking this up. Although a lot of what this game does sounds odd and weirdly complicated, it really isn’t. Give it a try and let us know what you think!