Yo-Kai Watch is a brand new Nintendo 3DS title that has become widely popular in Japan across various forms of media. Nintendo released a manga series and anime show with the same characters and events that appear in the game. Yo-Kai Watch on Nintendo 3DS has a lot of welcoming details to its presentation and overall design that will appeal to most fans of role-playing games.
While many will inevitably draw a lot of comparisons to Nintendo’s Pokémon series, Yo-Kai Watch has some unique parts to its approach of collecting and battling with supernatural creatures. There are some problems that showed up for me here and there, but none of that prevents Yo-Kai Watch from being an interesting original game for Nintendo’s handheld system.
The game centers around a young boy that interacts with supernatural beings known as yo-kai, Japanese spirits that linger around in the human world. Yo-kai can be found everywhere you can explore through the use of the Yo-Kai Watch, a magical watch that gives you sight into the supernatural world to detect roaming yo-kai. Unlike Pokémon that has random battles in different areas, Yo-Kai Watch has you searching for yo-kai battles yo-kai using the 3DS touchscreen. Encounters in the game are more like conscious decisions rather than frequent random battles. Defeating a yo-kai in battle gives you a chance to befriend them and add them to your party.
Yo-Kai Watch ’s battle system is definitely intriguing. Battles happen in real-time rather than turn-based, which also utilize a small handful of motions on the 3DS touchscreen to execute a variety of actions and special attacks. Instead of using one yo-kai at a time, the game allows you to switch the arrangement of your whole group of yo-kai during battle.
This is an interesting approach to making battles seem more interactive, however the necessary attention to drawing motions on the touchscreen can be very distracting from the effects battles. I constantly found myself taking lots of damage and sometimes losing battles because I was trying to draw complex motions on the touchscreen and never notice my yo-kai’s health drop.
The most disappointing part was feeling I never had direct control over the yo-kai in my party. While I would draw motions for special attacks and switch my yo-kai around in battle, the yo-kai themselves would attack and defend automatically. At times the yo-kai would even lounge around and do nothing in battle, forcing me to switch them with another to keep fighting.
This can be hit or miss during key points of the game when you have to take on a tough enemy, forcing you into scenarios where you can’t win. The game never truly punishes you for falling in battle, but rather encourages you to try better next time.
The presentation is where Yo-Kai Watch really stands out. The 3DS touchscreen displays a map of the whole area around you, which also displays key points of interest and waypoint to your next objective in the story. Towns are populated with NPCs and friendly yo-kai you can discover using the Yo-Kai Watch.
There is even a day and night cycle that is tied to the events of the story and opens up a whole new side of the game behind its kid-friendly aesthetic. Everything has a clean and simple design to convey important information. The overall look of the menus, the map, and environments feels like the next logical evolution of what was established in the Nintendo’s Pokémon series.
Yo-Kai Watch is definitely a unique Nintendo title for anyone who likes role-playing games. The battle system may be more simplistic compared to games like Pokémon, but it has a world with characters that is enticing to explore. The game’s difficulty is low, but this is helpful for keeping your attention on the story rather than the challenge. Although its not the very best like no one ever was, Yo-Kai Watch brings definitely something interesting to the 3DS library.
This review was based on a digital copy of Yo-Kai Watch for Nintendo 3DS provided by Nintendo.