Yo-Kai Watch is filled with charm, monsters to befriend, unique battle mechanics, and gameplay that keeps players engaged. Still, the title is filled with redundancies.
There have been many franchises billed as the Pokemon killer, but no one really believed it could be done – that is, until Yo-Kai Watch arrived and promptly outsold the Nintendo-owned blockbuster in Japan. Seeing this success, it’s no wonder that the Big N has hopped on publishing duties for the title outside of the land of the rising sun, and now the RPG title has landed on store shelves across the globe for the Nintendo 3DS.
Despite the hype, however, the gameplay in Yo-Kai Watch runs out of steam rather quickly, with redundant tasks making themselves known throughout a user’s playthrough. Even then, the charm of the characters that fill it, the unique battle system, and the number of collectible monsters make for a constantly engaging atmosphere that many will find quite enjoyable.
First and foremost, consumers will be introduced to the title’s combat system. Allowing the user to utilize a six-monster team for each battle, players will have to constantly swap out their Yo-Kai to keep their squad healthy. Up to three characters can participate in a battle simultaneously, with an entire team being placed on a wheel – allowing players to rotate different Yo-Kai into the fray at a moment’s notice. Various creatures are also weak to the different natures that each beast can have, with chemistry building between adjacent pairs of monsters that fall within the same category.
One of the most engaging aspects of this layout is how intense the fighting can become at times, and this holds especially true during boss encounters. These giant behemoths are monsters that can’t be added to one’s party, but they are tough enough to take on entire teams. As a result, they make for some of the best challenges in the game, and ensure that those playing have their full attention on the in-game confrontation.
Of course, much like the aforementioned Pocket Monster RPG that it is often compared to, the meat of this title comes from obtaining creatures and battling with them. There are a number of monsters present in the final game, although befriending all of them is a rather difficult challenge. As players will quickly learn, adding wild Yo-Kai isn’t as easy as throwing a Pokeball at them. Instead, players can give these spirits food items to increase the odds of them befriending the player afterwards.
This system is engaging in the sense that it’ll keep players grinding to gather every Yo-Kai medal in the game, but it’s still incredibly challenging to gather some of the creatures. Fortunately, the story itself constantly awards users with a medley of different beasts that keep their team strong and their collections stocked. Those that aren’t obtained through the story, however, just give reason to explore the in-game world in search of them.
Fortunately, the world is one of the most engaging aspects of the entire title. Aside from finding and completing side missions throughout Yo-Kai Watch, the ever-progressing narrative is surprisingly dark given how cutesy the game is. Along the way, the main character witnesses their parents arguing thanks to the interference of one hideous (yet befriendable) beast, while the series’ mascot, Jibanyan, is the spirit of a cat that was struck by a vehicle and must now take on traffic at any given chance. There are some truly dark backstories for each character, but the presentation keeps all of these stories incredibly appropriate for younger players.
Despite the attractiveness of the world in which the title takes place, Yo-Kai Watch‘s missions quickly become redundant. Time and time again the protagonist will find him or herself completing tasks by tracking down unseen Yo-Kai, taking on a boss monster, or gathering items, and the game falls into this predictable trend for its entirety. This is easily the biggest drawback to the title, although being introduced to the various characters makes it a little easier.
Yo-Kai Watch is a different take on the standard RPG formula that’s currently in place, with an ample amount of appeal through the world it has created. That said, many of the tasks end up requiring the same thing over and over, which makes the gameplay itself lacking for those that want to be able to proceed through the story. With fast-paced battles and a new approach to the genre though, Level 5‘s latest is certainly worth paying attention to.
Yo-Kai Watch is currently available exclusively on the Nintendo 3DS.