Japanese collectable monsters fighting each other definitely sounds like a familiar concept. This time, however, we are not talking about the famous Pokémon franchise. With an accompanying manga and anime, Yo-Kai Watch has already achieved huge success in its country of origin. Now, it is slowly approaching the rest of the world with its cute little critters called Yo-kai.
While being easily comparable to Pokémon, Yo-Kai Watch differs in many ways. Sure, you are also a small boy or girl, thriving to collect a daunting amount of little creatures while fighting to make your team even stronger, and yes, these creatures are absolutely adorable and force you to take your 3DS with you wherever you go. However, Yo-Kai Watch is much more bound to Japanese culture, as Yo-kai are not randomly invented monsters, but rather based on ghosts and spirits of eastern folklore. Even though Yo-Kai Watch may seem like a game especially tailored for children, the charming characters and the beautifully designed area – which allows to explore an incredible amount of content – can definitely also catch older audiences’ attention. With countless of side quests, befriending more and more Yo-kai, leveling up your new friends, and collecting items all over the city called Springdale, Yo-Kai Watch allows you to enjoy multiple hours without any boredom on your 3DS. Especially fans of the already mentioned Pokémon franchise will find a neat alternative to catching and collecting cute monsters, since Yo-Kai Watch‘s gameplay turned out substantially different.
Grab your stylus
After receiving the wearable Yo-Kai Watch, you can explore different kinds of areas to look for those little creatures with the help of the watch’s Yo-Kai radar and the Nintendo 3DS’ touchpad. Since Yo-Kai are invisible for humans, you can swipe your stylus over the touchpad to reveal hidden Yo-kai. The revealed Yo-kai either wants to be your friend or immediately attacks you and your team. In fights, you never have direct control over your team and their abilities. As a passive observer, you support your Yo-kai by using items and triggering their special abilities through playing extremely short mini-games like popping bubbles on the touchpad. However, although the combat system seems pretty creative and unique in its own way, it still gives you the feeling of playing a cheap mobile game while performing those sometimes really annoying gestures with your stylus to unleash your Yo-kai’s most powerful attacks. Performing that much on the 3DS’ touchpad can be quite a nuisance, as you are hardly able to focus on the actual battle. Therefore, it requires a lot of attention to master timing your team’s abilities.
You have a friend in me
Do you remember the joy of actually catching a legendary Pokémon with a Pokéball? In Yo-Kai Watch, you will certainly miss this feeling, as there’s no such thing as catching critters. Yo-kai have to be befriended, and this takes a lot of effort and time. Compared to Pokémon, there aren’t any random encounters, as each Yo-kai has to be found by completing a mini-game at certain points of the map. Only specific allies provide you with random encounters to train your team for later battles. However, expanding this team with the Yo-kai of your choice is a torture, as befriending is a lot less approachable than catching something. You have to feed your enemies food items and hope that they will eventually decide to join forces with you. Yet, when they finally accompany you in battle, you will have a much stronger bond to them, since each Yo-kai represents its own personality and has a certain story attached to it.
Gotta befriend ’em all
Yo-Kai Watch appears to be more than a simple attempt to copy the popular Pokémon franchise. It’s a very special homage to Japanese culture and presents this in a charming and accessible way. The biggest flaws lay in the part where it tries to be unique by distinguishing itself from its competition, but achieved to be a worthy pastime for many hours anyway. If you have a heart for collectable critters of any kind, Yo-Kai Watch will find its way into it.
What we liked:
- Yo-kai design
- Japanese folklore influence
- Approachable for all ages
- Unique charm
What we didn’t like:
- Stressful combat
- Befriending Yo-kai can be painful
This article was written using a 3DS review code provided by Nintendo. What do you think about Yo-Kai Watch? Would you consider it a serious competitor for the Pokémon franchise? Tell us in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter!