It’s great to be back in Springdale. The riverside town with its bustling downtown business area and oversized pond has been the picturesque setting for the Yo-kai Watch series ever since Nate first released Whisper from the mysterious capsule machine in the forest. The problem is, it hasn’t been that long since we were last here.
Yo-kai Watch 2: Psychic Specters lures us back into the phenomenon just five short months after we slotted Yo-kai Watch 2: Fleshy Souls and Yo-kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits into our Nintendo 3DS systems. It’s easy to feel a bit burnt by that, and you have every right to be. But, it’s not all bad.
Those that have played either sequel won’t have to retread the same ground, as they can transfer their save data to Yo-kai Watch 2: Psychic Specters. This non-reversible process will let you carry across any progress made with the story and quest content, Yo-kai Medals, and your inventory. However, you’ll lose Random Battle victory points earned in the same week or unclaimed prizes – not that their loss will be bothersome to most players.
That means that you can pick up exactly where you left off, start all over again, or set out on a new adventure from scratch for those that didn’t scramble to buy Yo-kai Watch 2: Fleshy Souls or Yo-kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits back in April.
It’s easy enough to see that Yo-kai Watch 2: Psychic Specters is the definitive adventure, your second chance to return to the mischievous world of Yo-kai having the same relationship to the previous games as, say, Pokémon Platinum had with Pokémon Diamond and Pokémon Pearl.
That sees the same story unfold around evil twins Kin and Gin who confiscate the Yo-kai Watch, that results in protagonist Nate forgetting all about the Yo-kai and the curious spirits that he had befriended. After Nick Nack gently nudges him into buying a new one at the Memory Shop, twisting a Crank-a-kai outside reunites Nate with the ghostly butler Whisper and, soon after, they join up with the Chocobar-obsessed Jibanyan again.
It is the chance to travel back in time to discover how the original Yo-kai Watch was created that lends an interesting story arc after Hovernyan uses a Time Stone to turn the clock back 60 years. This allows Nate to meet his grandfather Nathaniel Adams for the first time but soon sees him thrust into a war between two Yo-kai factions – Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls.
It’s a story that holds plenty of heart and, away from the war over doughnut fillings, players will have a chance to learn more about how Jibanyan became a Yo-kai as well as unearth secrets around Whisper’s past. That being said, those that have already seen it through to completion may have a hard time justifying splashing out again to watch the same tale unravel. But, there is new content that may help to convince you.
That introduces 12 new quests, in which the main attraction is that you can discover more about Darknyan. Then, there’s a chance to befriend the 15 Yo-kai from the Wicked tribe for the first time, and to board the Hexpress to Gera Gera Land – a theme park resort packed with a roller coaster, theatre, and hot spring.
Those that own either Yo-kai Watch 2: Fleshy Souls or Yo-kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits can unlock new dungeons to take on special bosses with the chance to befriend exclusive Yo-kai, and, to round it out, the Yo-kai Watch Blasters mode has been updated for those that enjoy taking down bosses with friends over local multiplayer. That, collectively, means that there are 100 quests to take on, and more than 300 playable Yo-kai to fill your Yo-kai Medallium with.
There’s enough content, then. When you’re not catching bugs and riding in bike races, players are searching underneath every car, along riverbeds, and up tall trees for Yo-kai. The Yo-kai Radar will guide you to wherever they are hidden, and, with your six-strong team, encounters will see you rotate three Yo-kai to have a scrap with them. With the need to purify them when they become inspirited with negative effects and to call on your Yo-kai to unleash their powerful Soultimate moves to swing battles more in your favour, these battles continue to have a fast pace – even if that doesn’t leave younger players as much time to think about what to do next, something that the turn-based approach in the Pokémon series allows.
But, there are frustrations that haven’t been addressed. The trains, for one. This is regularly used to let players move between locations, but, with multiple stops along the way, it plays out almost as slowly as actually being on one. There is, perhaps, an educational slant to it, in teaching children how important it is to watch out for when to change at a station, but it bores me to tears. With no way to expedite these instances, it becomes the most significant complaint to be raised.
Yo-kai Watch 2: Psychic Specters is the definitive adventure between the three games, then. But, that’s to be expected. It isn’t without its shortcomings, but for those that are yet to return to Springdale, it’s the perfect place to start. Quirky and packed with charm, it’s the best Yo-kai game to hit Nintendo 3DS.