Now that I’ve finished it, I can confirm Yo-Kai Watch is fun (and definitely not a Pokémon clone). However, it isn’t perfect.
Yo-Kai Watch is set almost entirely within a city. Don’t worry, though. It’s a large, open city, and more sections of it are unlocked as you play.
There are hidden areas, dungeons, a day/night cycle, fish to catch, bugs to catch, yo-kai to battle, and lots of other little things to make exploration exciting. That brings me to my first criticism: the map. It’s a large world and almost nothing on the map is labeled. You can’t scroll it, either. Fortunately, the sidequests are marked, because you’ll get a lot of them.
Sidequests come in several forms. Some are minor fetch quests, others require you to battle certain enemies, and one entertaining quest chain sends you out to find specific locations described through riddles.
The majority of quests, however, revolve around yo-kai.
In the world of Yo-Kai Watch, yo-kai affect humans by inspiriting them. The effect they have depends on the yo-kai. For example, a yo-kai might make you afraid to go outside. Another might make you so carefree you forget your responsibilities.
Nintendo’s Very Important Meeting marketing campaign captured it pretty well.
As you might guess, Yo-Kai Watch has a fairly humorous, lighthearted tone (though not without darker moments). You’ll often have to defeat yo-kai to free people from their effects, or bring yo-kai to inspirit people.
These often have amusing outcomes, such as when you use Noway to help a boy stand up to his girlfriend, only to have him declare there’s “no way” he can say no to her. The humor learns toward irony and sarcasm.
Despite Yo-Kai Watch’s fun writing, though, the story leaves much to be desired. It’s structured like a TV show, with new central yo-kai mischief on each day. These events loosely meander toward an overarching plot, which suddenly rushes to the forefront in the final chapter.
A little more foreshadowing early on and a little tighter storytelling could have made it fun. As it is, though, Yo-Kai Watch’s story is barely present for me to comment on.
Normally in RPGs, I try to complete as many sidequests as possible before I continue the story. I don’t recommend that with Yo-Kai Watch. Oh, don’t rush the story (it won’t let you rush too much, anyway), but don’t be afraid to march through it. Helpful mechanics, like fast travel, are unlocked later in the story, and you can keep playing in the post-game.
The post-game is also where the difficulty ramps up. Throughout the main game, I rarely had trouble with battles. After the final boss, however, the strongest yo-kai show themselves. And they are tough. Plus, the bonus dungeon is Hell. Literally.
(Okay, so it’s the Infinite Inferno.)Battling is fun and fairly unique. You have six yo-kai in your party at a time. The three on the top screen are active. They’ll attack on their own, although you can trigger their powerful “Soultimate” moves.
You manage the battle’s strategy by rotating who the active members are, using items, charging up Soultimate moves, and purifying inspirited yo-kai.
Yes, yo-kai can be inspirited too, which basically is this game’s version of status effects. To heal them, however, you don’t use items. Instead, you must rotate them out of active combat and purify them. This is done through the touchscreen. Examples include tapping a glass dome around your yo-kai until it shatters or rubbing away purple fog.
Purifying a yo-kai not only removes the status effect, it also awards you bonus experience points for the battle. This is the only game where I looked forward to status effects!
Items can be used both on your team for beneficial purposes, and on enemy yo-kai to try to befriend them. I didn’t enjoy this at all.
Yes, Yo-Kai Watch is about befriending yo-kai and building your team to battle other yo-kai. Its core concept is my least favorite part.
Unlike Pokémon, where you lower your opponent’s health and toss Poké Balls until you catch it, Yo-Kai Watch has you befriend yo-kai by giving them food. Food increases their affection, especially if it’s their favorite (which is not hinted at, so you’ll just have to try different food items–one per battle–and guess).
It also relies heavily on luck.
I’d give a yo-kai its favorite food and end the battle without it befriending me. Sometimes a yo-kai I ignored in the same battle befriended me instead! The randomness was so annoying, I eventually quit doing sidequests that required me to catch different yo-kai. I didn’t care and I wasn’t having fun. Besides, I’ve never been much of a “catch ’em all” player in these sorts of games.
Yo-Kai Watch is a fun, charming game that I really enjoyed… despite some annoying flaws. However, I’ve heard the sequels fix at least two of my complaints! Yo-Kai Watch 2’s story is said to be much better, and they’ve greatly improved the befriending system.
In that case, I can’t wait for Yo-Kai Watch 2!
This is already a pretty long review, and there are still aspects of Yo-Kai Watch I haven’t covered. The Yo-Kai Watch, Terror Time, catching yo-kai outlaws… for a simple game, it’s packed with content. Therefore, if you have any questions about Yo-Kai Watch or aspects I didn’t explain, let me know in the comments!
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