Yo-kai are mischievous creatures that inhabit our world, invisible to all but a special few. Nate Adams is an average elementary school student, ignorant to the presence of yo-kai until he acquires the mysterious Yo-Kai Watch, a tool that allows him to see the spirits hidden throughout the town of Springdale. It turns out yo-kai have a penchant for meddling with the lives of humans, and Nate, along with his yo-kai companion Whisper, decides to investigate the mysterious and maligning happenings during his summer vacation. Yo-Kai Watch is very much a game with kids in mind, but Level-5 portrays this perspective intelligently, ultimately producing a compelling and unique adventure that doesn’t busy itself with grandiose narratives or complex conflicts.Yo-Kai Watch‘s story plays out in episodes, each with a central plotline and focus. Like any good episodic story, however, the game also offers players smaller secondary tasks they can complete at their leisure, and it’s here that Yo-Kai Watch begins to consume your time. You’ll often come across people in need while you trek through town, and helping them out yields items and experience points that make your larger goals that tiny bit more attainable.
When it comes to Graphics, Yo-Kai Watch is a very colourful game on the 3DS, however the star of this title are the Yo-Kai themselves who have this outrageousness to their appearance with some being cute, scary or even completely crazy. I also love the stills and cut-scenes which help progress the story like the colourful watch to when you befriend a Ko-Kai to the friendly combat system of using soultimates, targeting enemies, purifying or accessing items.Audio supports the title well, especially the music and sound effects that truly gives the title this Japanese feel to it. Voice acting is another highlight and the actors definitely give it their all. All in all, Yo-Kai Watch is a good looking, sounding and playing game on the 3DS.
There are over 200 yo-kai in the game, all members of one of eight tribes. Each tribe excels in certain elements of combat, be it physical attacks or debilitating techniques, and along with the variety of personalities each yo-kai can possess, there’s a ton of variety throughout the roster. Players can equip stat-boosting items to their yo-kai pals and even evolve them, both by leveling-up and by fusion, but Yo-Kai Watch is frustratingly vague when it comes to actually befriending new yo-kai.
Players can appeal to wild yo-kai by feeding them food during battle, but even then the spirits will often disappear without a word of thanks. It was incredibly frustrating to toss ten different types of food at one yo-kai in hopes of winning its favor and still not know if my efforts were paying off; Yo-Kai Watch lacks the visual feedback of Pokémon’s health bar, which alerts players to status ailments and hit points, information that can help inform the likelihood of catching a certain Pokémon. Befriending Yo-kai felt far too random in Yo-Kai Watch, and for a mechanic so central to the premise of the game, that’s both frustrating and disappointing.Yoke-Watch has a fluid and engaging system, but the battles themselves are largely passive. Yo-kai each have four moves, ranging from physical attacks to performance-hindering inspirits, but they unleash them at their own volition, leaving players with little more to do than simply rotate yo-kai in and out as necessary. Each yo-kai does have its own Soultimate move, a trademark attack or ability initiated by completing a menial minigame on the touch screen, but those can only be unleashed after a yo-kai’s Soul Meter has been filled over the course of battle.
Yo-Kai Watch attempts to keep players involved on the touch screen while their companions fight, but the selection of minigames is so shallow and repetitive that all the spinning, rubbing, tapping and tracing quickly loses its novelty. It would have been great if Level-5 had included a way to acquire new, more challenging touch screen tasks to replace the game’s sparse rotation, but in their absence the combat system quickly becomes boring, repetitive, and far too easy.
Yo-Kai Watch is an extremely fun game. It’s a fresh of breath air for Nintendo and I can see it being a successful franchise for years to come. It’s suitable for all types of gamers and will surely make gamers in the way that Pokemon did so many years ago. My main criticism would be that the battles can get repetitive, but it’s fun for the most part.