OK, so if you have no idea what Yo-Kai Watch is, watch this:
Alright, that video doesn’t do much to explain what the series is all about, but if you found it as charming as I do, keep reading.
The popular/easy explanation of Yo-Kai Watch is “Pokemon with Japanese ghosts,” but it’s more than that. Thanks to word of mouth, passionate fans, and some shrewd marketing by Level-5, Yo-Kai Watch is an absolute phenomenon in Japan right now.
Everywhere I’ve been, from convenience stores to shrines, has had some sort of Yo-Kai Watch goods for sale.
There are two mangas, an anime series, a collectable card game, and so on, but what interest me the most are the 3DS games. While the first Yo-Kai Watch had a poor launch, it sold more and more over time, building hype for the sequel, which sold 1.3 million copies in its first week of release.
Finding myself charmed and intrigued, I picked up a copy of Yo-Kai Watch 2.
When you begin the game, you are able to choose from either a boy or girl protagonist. The story starts, as any good JRPG does, with the sleepy main character being woken up by their mother.
You’re able to explore a decent amount of the modern Japanese town where the game begins right from the get-go. After hanging out with your friends and catching bugs for a bit, you wander into a strange shop…
…and purchase a strange watch…
…and start accumulating Yo-Kai.
The methods for getting Yo-Kai to join you seem to vary so far. Some do automatically (after finding them with your watch sensor), some after defeating them in battle, and others after completing quests. In the two hours I’ve spent with the game so far, the bulk of the gameplay has been quests, mostly of the “fetch” variety. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing though- the situations are sometimes pretty funny, and the characters in the game are really well-animated and expressive. I guess I’m just a little bit surprised at how little combat (which plays out in a fairly typical turn-based fashion) there has been in the game so far. Again, not necessarily a bad thing!
To be totally honest, my Japanese ability kinda sucks, yet I’m able to play Yo-Kai Watch 2 fairly easily. There are a few reasons for this- for one, it’s a game made for kids. The characters are mostly kids who have the vocabulary of kids. The game text uses furigana, so all of the kanji have the corresponding hiragana above them. Knowing hiragana and katakana definitely helped me out a lot with Yo-Kai Watch 2.
The game also marks objectives on the bottom screen map, which is very helpful.
One part of the game that deserves special mention is the music. I was immediately impressed by the game’s OST, which just has that great “adventure-y” style that I love in JRPGs.
I’m definitely enjoying Yo-Kai Watch 2 so far. It’s certainly a kid’s RPG, but I think it’s creative and charming enough to appeal to JRPG fans of all ages. I really hope Level-5 and/or Nintendo opt to bring it out in the west!