The arrival of Yo-Kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits provides fans with a familiar experience that changes very, very little when compared to the first iteration of the series.
Initially billed as the 'Pokemon killer' following its stellar performance in Japan, Yo-Kai Watch arrived in North America to mixed fanfare. The hyperbole surrounding the initial entry wasn't all for nothing though, as the series has found an audience – or at least enough of one to warrant a dual sequel release in the form of Yo-Kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits and Yo-Kai Watch 2: Fleshy Souls. While that's great news for that aforementioned fanbase, the final products feel like more of the same rather than true sequels.
Those that have played through the first iteration of Yo-Kai will find the opening of Bony Spirits a rather tedious retread of past materials. Users awake in the same house, with a newfound sense of inspirited amnesia, and the same desire to go catch bugs right from the get-go. This is clearly implemented to introduce new users to the mechanics of the game, but it appropriately sets the tone for the rest of the campaign. Simply put, Yo-Kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits is more of the same, although that's not always a bad thing.
Much like the issues stemming from the first game, the monotony associated with the quests composing the main storyline are left unaddressed here. Very little changes during the entirety of the 18-hour long narrative from quest to quest, with most issues simply being addressed by a battle or a brief interaction with a nearby Yo-Kai. Although this is hardly unexpected, an unwavering sense of tedium sets in quickly thanks to the simplicity of the fictitious world and the actions associated with each in-game day.
Those unfamiliar with the battling mechanics will find themselves rotating up to six characters in their party around amidst the heat of battle. Truth be told, the system in place is rather basic, although certain sections require a bit of juggling in order to best some of the stronger Yo-Kai inhabiting the world. Developer Level-5 Games has attempted to keep these fights engaging through the implementation of minigame-influenced power moves and curing sidelining plagues known as 'Soultimate' attacks and 'Purifying', respectively. They task players with going through a limited set of motions repeatedly, which works for the title's intended demographic (presumably younger gamers). Still, it lacks depth that more experienced fans may enjoy.
Where Yo-Kai Watch 2 really shines, however, is the world Level-5 has created and the characters that inhabit it. Every inch of this adventure is charming, and the Yo-Kai that players befriend are adorable and wacky in some of the best ways possible. Some of these demons are instantly standouts (like the ever-popular face of the franchise, Jibanyan), while others are a little on the bizarre side (like the loosely robed and forever sweaty Swelton). Regardless, they help to tackle rather adult themes in a new light, and the story unfolding fleshes them out even more.
As for the core selling point of Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls, there are unique Yo-Kai that inhabit each game. There aren't many, so completionists on a budget won't be too stressed by this realization, but those hoping to secure certain monsters will want to look into their options prior to committing to either version. Other than that, there's not much differentiating the two iterations of this sequel, so those concerned that they'll miss out won't be out that much at the end of the day.
With all of that said, Yo-Kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits is an incredibly charming, albeit dull affair. It changes almost nothing when compared to its predecessor, and throws users into a tedious set of missions that will play out every single time they boot up the game. Those that enjoyed the original will need no excuse to go back to the world of Yo-Kai Watch, but those that took issue with the series' debut won't find much reason to come back.
Still, Jibanyan, his friends, and the universe they inhabit are unquestionably adorable. Perhaps that's worth the price of admission for some.
Yo-Kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits and Yo-Kai Watch 2: Fleshy Souls are both available now, exclusively for the Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo 2DS.
Nintendo provided Game Rant with a physical copy of Yo-Kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits on Nintendo 3DS for review purposes.