Have you ever accidentally said something mean, suddenly forgotten something important, or felt hungry regardless of how much you have eaten that day? Well, Yo-kai are the reason behind that. These critters wander our world but remain invisible to most of us, but, when something goes wrong in our lives, it is usually because a Yo-kai is feeling particularly mischievous.
One way to see them is to wear a Yo-kai Watch which Nate, or Katie if you choose to play as a girl, receives when collecting rare bugs in Mount Wildwood for a summer science project at school. Stumbling upon a disused gacha machine that somewhat eerily asks you to feed it money, you nervously open the prize capsule that you receive to release Whisper into the world.
This pun-loving Yo-kai butler is a loyal companion on your adventure around Springdale, helping you to learn more about Yo-kai now that the Yo-kai Watch he gifts you lets you discover them.
That is done by paying attention to the Yo-kai Radar, on which a needle flickers as you near a spot where one is hidden – whether that be up a tree, or under a parked car. Once you have identified the suspicious area, you then pull up the Yo-kai Lens which you trace across the screen to reveal the unsuspecting Yo-kai. When spotted, a gauge will slowly fill and you have to track their movement as they try to escape your gaze.
If successfully filled, players are then thrown into a battle scenario. This sees your selected Yo-kai team face off against those that you have just discovered, with your otherworldly friends striking up a formation on the Yo-kai Wheel. The three at the top are those that will automatically attack your enemies, with the player free to rotate as necessary to respond to any threats or when a Yo-kai’s HP is depleted.
Victory against tougher foes will often require you to call on Soultimate Moves, which are unique to each Yo-kai and require that their Soul Meter is full. Once selected, players will either need to spin, tap glowing orbs or trace symbols on the touch screen to activate them, unleashing a deadly flurry of attacks on your opponents or Inspiriting them with negative status effects.
Your own Yo-kai can become Inspirited, which, in responding to , will see you rotate them from your front line so that you can choose the Purify action. This again puts the touch screen to use in rubbing and tapping your Yo-kai to free them of their potent burden, before you can fling them back into combat. Beyond this an enemy can be pinned as a Target for your Yo-kai to focus their attacks on, while Items can be used in typical ways.
Battles feel relatively uncomplicated, but there are factors to consider such as the eight tribes that they are associated with. Those with the same tribe fight better when placed together, and, if you position three in your front line you can benefit from speed or power boosts. Strategy underpins the game, and choosing the right team will soon become important.
Players will also need to upgrade their Yo-kai Watch at Timers & More, increasing their rank to unlock Watch Locks and discover higher-ranked Yo-kai to befriend. With more than 200 types waiting to be collected in your Yo-kai Medallium, players will surely enjoy spending time discovering them all with their unique designs.
Away from the chaptered story missions that touch on how Yo-kai impact your friends, family and the local town, Yo-kai Watch otherwise looks to keep you busy with bug catching, fishing, or fusing your Yo-kai together to create new ones. Insects and fish that have been caught can be sold or exchanged for items, while fused Yo-kai will see you continue to fill the Medallium.
Play Coins can be spent to use the Crank-a-kai to receive a Yo-kai or item, while StreetPass will allow you to talk to wandering Yo-kai received by other players that you have passed. Beyond this you can play PvP matches against another player, and snap photos of Yo-kai Inspiriting your friends with the Yo-kai Cam.
Yo-kai Watch has been heralded as the second coming of Pokémon, but that is much a disservice to the wondrous worlds that Game Freak and LEVEL-5 create. This latest adventure leverages their creativity in breathing life into Professor Layton and Inazuma Eleven right through to Ni No Kuni, and is as much a joy to behold as you cycle down Springdale’s bustling city streets.
It is clear to see why Yo-kai Watch has become such a cultural phenomenon in Japan, and, while it may become more refined in its successive sequels, this colourful tale with plenty of charm, a cast packed with character and a chuckle-worthy localisation to boot.
Yo-kai Watch revels in the mischievous world that it inhabits, in equal parts charming as it is kooky.