‘Yo-Kai Watch’ game review
By Lauren Paulsen, Senior Columnist
While looking at new games that were coming out this autumn, I came across a Nintendo 3DS game called Yo-Kai Watch. The premise is cute: after saving a yokai, the Japanese version of supernatural creatures, the main character is given a watch that helps them find more yokai to befriend. Once you have befriended a yokai, they will help with various things, most notably battling other ones. It sounded similar to Pokémon to me, but I looked more into it to find out if it was a clone. What I found out is that it has been extremely popular in Japan, rivaling Pokémon with its success. Still, I was concerned that it might be too childish. Yet, I decided to get the game. That was a very good decision on my part.
Yo-Kai Watch is extremely enjoyable to play. There are definitely similarities to Pokémon games, but Yo-Kai Watch has its own quirky and endearing qualities. One of the first things that stood out to me were some of the details in the game. For example, whenever you are in your house, your shoes will be at the front door. As soon as you enter the foyer area, the shoes end up on your feet. I don’t know why I found this so charming, but I did. Another detail is that at certain crosswalks there are pedestrian lights. You can press the light button and then all of the cars will stop and allow you to pass. I didn’t really see much point in this because there aren’t a lot of cars and if you just run across the street they stop anyways. After my character jaywalked multiple times, I soon learned that there were consequences to my actions. I don’t want to ruin it for you so that you can find out for yourself, so I’ll just say that I learned my lesson.
The fighting can be quite exciting as it is fairly fast-paced at times. The yokai that you summon to battle will actually invoke attacks on their own without assistance from you, but unless you are much stronger than your opponent, I don’t recommend leaving them entirely on their own. I unfortunately experienced many KOs as I was getting used to the fighting system. There are so many things going on at once during a fight that you don’t have the luxury of thinking through all of your moves. Your yokai can attack, guard, loaf (they do this if they need to rest), or inspirit (their way of causing status effects) without you, but to pull off any specials or to use items they require your help. You can rotate between six main yokai, with three in battle at a time.
Besides the main storyline, there are also side quests to help people, usually because of some sort of yokai problem. You often need to battle yokai that are inspiriting people, but you also need to befriend others. Befriending can be frustrating when you want a specific yokai because you can’t just throw a ball at it and catch it. The yokai has to decide to befriend you itself, usually after you have beaten it in a battle. You’re supposed to be able to feed the enemy its favourite food to increase the chances of it asking to become your friend and giving you its medal (your means to summon it), but I haven’t noticed any difference when I feed them. More often than not, you’ll walk away without a new medal.
There are quite a lot of other activities in the game as well. You can catch bugs and fish, and trade in for items that help upgrade your yokai’s skills or boost its stats. Catching them isn’t too complicated: you’re presented with a circle with various tabs around the circumference that you must aim to hit as the wheel moves around it. The harder-to-catch ones have fewer tabs, but you can increase the number of tabs with syrup and fish bait. I’m still sometimes confused about where the wheel ends up at times, as it doesn’t always land where you’ve pressed the button, but I still manage to catch quite a few critters, so it’s not that big of a deal.
I can’t really find fault with this game. Yo-Kai Watch offers hours of enjoyment. I can definitely see why it has been so popular in Japan, and I imagine that its popularity will spread.