Jumping into the world of Yo-Kai Watch you’ll immediately notice similarities to other monster catching titles, but don’t write it off just yet as Yo-Kai Watch brings a lot more to the table than just catching monsters or, in this case, spirits and then calling upon them to help you in battle against opposing spirits.
What are Yo-Kai really?
First off, what exactly is a Yo-Kai. To put it simply, Yo-Kai are spirits that can only be seen with the Yo-Kai watch. These spirits inhabit or influence humans with their abilities making people say and do things that they would not usually do. Within every society there are good and bad people which is the same within the Yo-Kai world. It is up to you to stop these Yo-Kai and bring peace to Springdale. Befriend as many Yo-Kai as you can to build your army and battle it out against the mischievous and evil Yo-Kai.
Welcome to Springdale
The first thing you’ll notice upon starting the game is that the world looks beautiful. If you’ve ever played Ni No Kuni you’ll appreciate the art style in Yo-Kai Watch. Level-5 obviously took assets from their previous projects and utilized it within this game, which actually worked out pretty well. The world is enriched with items waiting to be discovered, secret paths, people going about their daily business and yet in need of assistance from mischievous Yo-Kai.
In the beginning you’re closed off to a certain area within the game but after a few hours in you’ll start realizing just how big the town actually is as it pans out with new areas opening up constantly. The design and structures are well thought out. With super markets littered around for you to purchase all your battle items as well as other stores for you to discover and stumble upon. The game also seems well paced out in terms of mechanics, just when I became frustrated because the world opened up a bit too much for me to walk/run to a certain point and back again, the game gave me the solution, the first means of transport – my trusty bicycle. As you progress further into the game and more areas start opening up and will introduce more means of transport which is a blessing no matter how well developed the game world is. Sometimes you just want to get to the mission objective.
With most monster battling/catching titles you’ll have to try and befriend (in essence capture) as many Yo-Kai as possible. To do so you’ll have to battle them and throw food at them before or during each battle. If you were successful in acquiring that Yo-Kai’s interest it’ll approach you after the battle and request to be your friend, in turn giving you its medal allowing you to summon that Yo-Kai in future battles.
The battle system in Yo-Kai Watch by far was the most intriguing part of the game for me. Being an avid Pokémon fan I expected the battle systems to be similar and was gladly surprised when I discovered it was not the case. The only elements I could find that are remotely similar is that, just like Pokémon, Yo-Kai Watch allows you to only keep six Yo-Kai within your battle team. Unlike Pokémon however all six Yo-Kai are utilized for battle simultaneously. Your battle screen is set out where the top screen of your Nintendo 3DS displays the actual battlefield where you’ll see three of your six Yo-Kai facing off against three enemies. The bottom screen of your system will display the second three Yo-Kai which will be charging up their special attacks or you’ll be curing them by way of a mini game because of petrification, while everything on the top screen keeps flowing.
It’s quite an intense battle system with it being in real-time, so the biggest challenge is keeping an eye on your top three Yo-Kai’s health while trying to power up or curing your bottom three and then substituting them out onto the battlefield. Admittedly it is quite a challenge at first but, as with any new game or battle system, once you learn and pick up on the mechanics you’ll start creating strategies that’ll soon leave your enemies in the dust. One thing that truly helps with the battle system is that the Yo-Kai attack automatically allowing you to focus on building up their ‘Soul’ meters to unleash their special attacks known as “Soultimate”. To unleash these attacks is also quite a bit of fun as each time the meter fills up, and you’re ready to activate their special moves, you’ll have to use the stylus on the bottom screen to either trace across signs, pop what seems like golden coins or swirl the stylus across the screen creating a sort of whirlwind to unleash the Yo-Kai’s Soultimate.
The boss battles combined with the battle system makes for hours of fun. Each boss will have a certain trick to them, some can only be damaged once you’ve dislodged their legs from the ceiling of the room for instance and others will have allocated weak spots which you’ll have to keep grinding at until it opens up for you to deal damage. Although this might sound tedious and time-consuming it is a lot of fun as you’ll try to keep your Yo-Kai from fainting or being petrified, as being petrified will block the Yo-Kai from using it’s Soultimate attack.
Yo-Kai Watch starts off slow and I believe it is with good reason as to teach the player the mechanics. The true story unfortunately only seems to pull through much later on into the game as within the first ten hours of the game I found myself running around fulfilling more quests that seemed to feel like chores more than having any meaning to them. However this being said if you hang in there with a little patience, you’ll experience the true pleasure of building your Yo-Kai team and saving Springdale. The battles can become a bit tedious at times but also retain the fun with each Yo-Kai bringing a different aspect to the battle with regards to abilities, natures and typing variants. Although the game does not demand for you to collect every item or complete every mission within itself, I do see myself going back in from time to time to try and ‘befriend em all’ and further my Yo-Kai collection. This is one light-hearted ghost story that’s fun for the entire family.