Yo-Kai Watch Review
When I first heard about Yo-Kai Watch, I'll admit that I was skeptical. A game with funky monsters that you have to befriend and use to fight other monsters? Sounds like a Pokemon rip-off. But I couldn't have been further from the truth. When you actually pick up Yo-Kai Watch and really play it, you'll know that this is far from a carbon copy or poor knock-off of Pokemon. It's a series all on its own and should be treated as such.
Let Me Whisper In Your Ear
You take on the role of either young Nate or Katie, with the option to change their names. The game starts off with you and your friends trying to figure out who has caught the biggest bug and your character will say that he/she is capable of catching an even bigger bug. And as kids do (apparently), you'll go charging off into the woods to catch some whopper of a bug to beat your friends.
At some point you'll come across a 'gacha' machine that'll start singing to you. And I mean singing really creepily, but it's very entertaining strangely enough. For whatever reason, you'll deposit a coin into the machine, which produces a ball that contains Whisper, your ghostly companion. You'll encounter a cutscene, the first of many throughout the game, complete with voice acting that is a nice touch.
You'll get introduced to Whisper, who is a sarcastic yet witty character that will stalk you for what seems like the rest of your young life, with the intentions of helping you befriend Yo-Kai. Not catch, befriend. Yo-Kai have their own personal lives to attend to -- they're capable of speech, getting married, wreaking havoc, and being quite flatulent (I'm looking at you Cheeksqueak).
The Battle System
The battle system is extremely unique. It consists of six Yo-Kai, with only three being allowed to fight at any given time. You can switch out your Yo-Kai to form multiple combinations by using your stylus to spin the wheel around. Yo-Kai fight on their own, with you occasionally helping them use their Soultimate moves, or giving them items to heal, power up, etc.
Just because they fight on their own doesn't mean you can just sit back and relax. I've found my little Yo-Kai friends getting their rear ends kicked plenty of times when I first started up the game. No, you actually have to think about the placement of your Yo-Kai. They are categorized by their 'tribes', and Yo-Kai of the same tribe get specific boosts. For example, a group of three charming Yo-Kai get a speed boost when they are in battle at the same time. This can help turn the tide in some matches. Some Yo-Kai have skills that can aid in battle as well -- such as Telltale, who can heal Yo-Kai next to her when their health runs low.
Your Yo-Kai can inspirit enemy Yo-Kai, and they can get inspirited themselves -- which can be reversed by switching them out and 'purifying' them through a minigame that may include tapping the screen, tracing, or spinning the watch with your stylus. Using Soultimate moves will require similar minigames to make you feel like you play a bigger role in battles.
When it comes down to befriending enemy Yo-Kai, some may offer to be your friend after a battle, or you may have to throw food at them. I'm dead serious. They have food preferences -- some even like cheeseburgers. Personally, I think that's the best thing I've ever heard. I imagine it going something like this:
Player: *throws cheeseburger at Yo-Kai* "DO YOU LIKE IT?!"
Yo-Kai: "This tastes amazing, let's be friends!"
Strengthening Your Yo-Kai
In Yo-Kai Watch, your Yo-Kai are able to gain experience and level up by doing quests and fighting other Yo-Kai. Select Yo-Kai can even evolve and gain a new form after getting to a certain level. Others can fuse with other Yo-Kai and become even stronger while also acquiring a new form.
A perfect example of fusion would be the combination of Roughraff and Jibanyan, which creates Baddinyan, a cat that's extremely badass in terms of design. You can also fuse items together to make new items, and then you can fuse items with certain Yo-Kai to make new Yo-Kai.
The Yo-Kai Watch
It's the namesake of the game, so of course I would say something about the Yo-Kai watch. The mechanics of the watch within the game is incredibly simplistic to use. A radar can be found in the upper right corner of the top screen that will point to the red zone when you are extremely close to a Yo-Kai. Then you should look through the lens of your watch and try to find the hidden Yo-Kai.
Yo-Kai are ranked on a letter scale from E to S, with S being the highest. Your watch will automatically tell you the rank of the nearby Yo-Kai, which is quite handy. Your watch is also ranked the same as the Yo-Kai and can be upgraded to the next rank by performing a quest for Mr. Goodsight (oh I see what you did there Level-5).
Otherwise, the game prevents you from accessing areas that house stronger Yo-Kai with a watch lock that'll show you what rank your watch will need to be at to enter. I wouldn't fret too much about this, because a lot of the game is already open to you at the beginning. And when I say a lot, I mean a crap load of space to run around in, filled with NPC's who have their own little quirky comments about what's going on around them.
Playing With Friends and Streetpass
There is a post office within the game that'll enable you to battle against other players over local wireless connections. Upon winning, you may receive special items,
With Streetpass (after visiting Wayfarer Manor) you may begin to see other Yo-Kai within your game located at the Wayfarer Manor. Some of these Yo-Kai will bring you gifts in the form of items, others will fight you, and some, upon winning a battle against them, may want to become your friend.
Let me start by saying that I for one am a die-hard Pokemon fan. I have loved the series since the first game came out and truly felt left out when a game didn't come out this year. I thought Yo-Kai Watch would be a great replacement for Pokemon and you know what? It wasn't. Why? Because it's not Pokemon. The only thing these two franchises have in common is that they have monsters running amok, that's it. Those two games shouldn't even be put in the same sentence; I only compared them in this review for the people that seem to be in deep denial about this. Yo-Kai Watch has all the capabilities of becoming a competitor to the Pokemon franchise here in America.
Yo-Kai Watch is a beautiful game that needs to be given as much credit in the West as it has been given in Japan. The graphics are appealing and are quick to catch a person's eye. The screenshots do not do this game justice in terms of graphics. The music often has a 'spooky' yet fun theme to it that makes it quite likable.
The battle system is unique and different, a breath of fresh air to those who are used to turn-based roleplaying games. You'll always be kept on your toes in these battles instead of sticking to the same routine over and over again. It's thought to be only for young children, but it is compelling enough that even someone in their early twenties can be drawn in by it. The Yo-Kai have fantastic designs -- some are downright strange and some are even terrifying. But did you really want adorable cute creatures to beat the crap out of? I didn't think so.
There are plenty of side quests to keep you interested, and there is a day/night cycle in the game with different events occuring at specific times. Some of the advertising for Yo-Kai Watch can be a bit offputting, but don't let that ruin the experience for you.
The demo provided on the eShop doesn't do this game any justice either, as I've played the demo and the full game and they are to be taken as two seperate entities. Don't let the awkwardness of Cheeksqueak make you turn away from this game, give it a try.