Review

Yo-Kai Watch Review

  • First Released Nov 6, 2015
    released
  • 3DS
Alexa Ray Corriea on Google+

Paranormal activity.

At first glance, Yo-kai Watch resembles Pokemon: you collect cute--and sometimes terribly ugly--critters, battle them against other critters, and use your newfound masterdom of said critters to defeat your nemesis. But Yo-kai Watch adds some interesting wrinkles to the formula, resulting in a quirky, engaging experience that brings a smile to your face.

Yo-kai Watch's is designed for younger players--but don't that let discourage you from giving it a go. You play as a little boy or girl who releases a ghost named Whisper, a self-professed "Yo-kai butler," from his enchanted prison. He gives you the titular Yo-kai Watch, a piece of equipment that allows you to see and speak with Yo-kai. These Yo-kai are everywhere you go--under vending machines, in trees, harassing your parents and friends--and after a while it becomes apparent that something sinister is going on with the more evil-minded of these beings.

You find Yo-kai by following your watch's radar and closely examining areas where it frantically beeps like a metal detector. Using the stylus, you move a lens, like a magnifying glass, over the screen until the Yo-kai appears in your sight. In order to bring it into the open and initiate combat, you have to keep its image in the lens for a few seconds; however, they will try to run away, making the simple act of initiating contact a brief, exciting challenge.

Whisper never shuts up. Never.
Whisper never shuts up. Never.

Along the way you collect these Yo-kai by befriending them, allowing you to call upon them in battle against other Yo-kai. Instead of ensnaring them in a trap, you try to befriend Yo-Kai by giving them foods they enjoy at the start of battle and then defeating them. If you're successful, they ask to be your friend when combat ends. Unlike Pokemon, which you have to forcibly capture and do little more than chatter their own name when not in combat--Yo-kai are more engaging. They speak your language and will banter with your and their opponents.

What makes them so entertaining are their individual personalities and the different effects they have on humans; Dismerelda is an unkind giant purple blob that makes people fight for no reason; Hungramps is a tiny old man that gives people the junk food munchies; Noway, a walking stone wall, makes someone stubborn. I was tickled to discover Cheeksqueak, a Yo-kai that had a butt for a face and a fart attack to match. Additionally, you can only find certain Yo-kai in specific areas or if your Watch Ranking (read: how well your watch can find more powerful Yo-kai) is high enough. This encourages exploration of your town as you search to find and befriend them all.

Combat in Yo-kai Watch is in real-time and battles move very quickly. For combat, the 3DS bottom screen displays a wheel with six spokes, with each spoke being an available Yo-Kai in your active party. You have three Yo-kai at a time on the battlefield, and can rotate this lineup by spinning the wheel. The placement of each Yo-kai on the wheel has major effects on combat, as setting Yo-kai of the same type next to one another grants a stat boost to the party, such as higher attack speed or stronger hits. Your Yo-kai will randomly attack on their own--you can't choose which moves to use--and each hit slowly fills up their Soultimate gauge. A Soultimate is a powerful signature move that deals much more damage than a regular attack. Depending on Yo-kai placement on the wheel and the boosts they have, you could have most of your six creatures ready for their big attack at any given time and rotate them in and out as they are ready.

There's a lot to keep track of during combat.
There's a lot to keep track of during combat.

The ability to rotate your Yo-kai on and off the field is an excellent feature because it allows you to stock your wheel with Yo-kai equipped to combat any kind of enemy. Think you'll run into a fire Yo-kai? Keep an ice Yo-kai handy. Is there a big boss coming up? Keep a few heavy-hitters in your line-up and keep them in reserve until the boss is weak, then bring them out swinging. It allows for a deeper battle strategy than simple one-on-one combat can offer, and being able to switch on the fly keeps you thinking and on your toes.

The Soultimate gauge and rotation abilities keep you on your toes during combat, but it's how you execute those Soultimate attacks that really makes you sweat. To use a Soultimate, you complete a number of minigames on the bottom 3DS screen. Minigames include using the stylus to quickly trace three shapes, pop gold bubbles, or rapidly spin a dial. The seconds in which you complete these minigames sometimes mean the difference between life and death; if you're fighting a powerful Yo-kai, there's always the chance he will target and knock out the Yo-kai you are prepping to Soultimate while you're mid-charge. Using minigames to charge and execute an attack is way more fun that simply mashing a button and biding your time.

In addition to the Soultimate attack, Yo-kai can Inspirit each other, an attack that hampers attack speed and effectiveness. Sometimes Inspirited Yo-kai won't attack at all. Your Yo-kai can Inspirit enemy Yo-kai, but opponents can also Inspirit your Yo-kai. When your Yo-kai is Inspirited, you have to bring him off the battlefield and "purify" him using the same minigames you use to launch a Soultimate. This adds another layer of strategy, but it gets frustrating against stronger enemies that are constantly Inspiriting your party. It's exhausting whipping through your rotation for minutes on end, purifying constantly without being able to squeeze in a Soultimate, but it does add a greater sense of urgency to battle.

While you can't choose attack order in combat, you can train your Yo-kai to behave a certain way. Leveling them up adds to basic stats like health and how powerful a Soultimate is, but using certain items can completely alter their personality. For example, Yo-kai who are prone to "loafing," or refusing to attack, can be "read" a book item that makes them more proactive. Yo-kai that are timid in combat can be taught to be cruel and aggressive, executing double the attacks they previously did. You can equip Yo-kai with items as well, like bangles and bells that boost basic stats like speed. The depth of customization for Yo-kai is one of the game's most enjoyable aspects, as it allows you to truly personalize your team to your tastes.

I dunno man...
I dunno man...

While Yo-kai Watch's sidequests are often monotonous affairs--most of them scouring the corners of town searching for three Yo-kai to beat up--the main story quests play out like traditional role-playing game dungeons. You explore multi-floored construction sites, museums after dark, abandoned hospitals, and sewers, picking up rare consumables and battling new kinds of Yo-kai. Every main mission ends in a boss battle as unique as the location of the mission itself. The abandoned hospital end in a chilling encounter with a demon disguised as a doctor, who gets you on the operating table for a "change of heart." A search through a construction site reveals the presence of a Yo-kai so massive, you only battle his face--that's all that fits on screen. No story segment ends in the same way, and each boss demands different combat strategy, making for a delightfully unpredictable time.

But the map is not good; it shows pictures of streets and buildings but labels nothing. You only know where you are once you enter the area and a text box pops up, and without some semblance of directions it can be tedious and frustrating completing more involved quests. You can set a waypoint towards story missions, but not side quests.

The Yo-kai Watch.
The Yo-kai Watch.

Despite an odd map system, Yo-Kai Watch features a few small touches that give it a quirky flair. If you don't obey the town's traffic laws, running into oncoming cars and blowing through crosswalks without a walk signal, a powerful Yo-kai appears and punishes you by knocking out all your Yo-kai if you're not strong enough and giving you a game over. Some stores and side quests are only accessible during the game's day/night cycle, encouraging you to circle back around at different times of day. And the writing is smart and cheeky, with characters that banter, bicker, and develop playground crushes on each other. Whisper, your constant companion, chatters constantly, offering you advice or cracking a joke often at your expense.

My only big gripe with Yo-kai Watch is that even if you meet the conditions to befriend a Yo-kai, capture isn't guaranteed. In theory, you give a Yo-kai its favorite food at the start of battle to win their friendship. I found which food Yo-kai liked through trial and error (or, since the game has been available in Japan for two years, checking the internet). If you give them their favorites, after defeat, they should approach you to be friends. I did this repeatedly with several Yo-kai, but success was inconsistent. Sometimes I didn't feed a Yo-kai, but they befriended me anyway. Some Yo-kai also only appear in certain places in limited numbers at certain times of day, so failing to catch them the first time around means a long wait until they appear again. Capturing is left mostly up to chance and it forces you to grind in an unfun way.

Yo-kai Watch is driven by the personalities of its Yo-kai, and it's easy to get wrapped up in training your Yo-kai to your specific tastes and tackling tougher demons. The writing is delightful, combat is unique and entertaining, and even though the map leaves much to be desired it's fun to follow along with the story looking for the paranormal. Although navigating the world can be tedious and frustrating, the allure of building a diverse team of exotic Yo-kai pushes your exploration forward. You're constantly moving, searching for a specific Yo-kai, hunting down a mysterious item, or working your fingers muscles executing Soultimates. It's a neat twist on the creature-collecting game with a lot of heart.

Alexa Ray Corriea on Google+
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The Good
Smart, cheeky dialogue is entertaining and often funny
Combat is unique and has many layers of strategy and urgency
Whisper is an excellent companion
Small quirky touches give the game deep personality
The Bad
Map system is ineffective and you're often lost
Side quests have no real incentive to complete them
Capturing Yo-kai depends more on chance than strategy
7
Good
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

Alexa Ray Corriea was once a part-time paranormal investigator for extra cash. She completed Yo-Kai Watch's main story and most of its side quests, clocking in around 35 hours with the game.
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Avatar image for geremiasbn
geremiasbn

I wish Pokemon were this cute

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

Having seen more of this game, I think that its main appeal lies in the visual designs and personalities of the Yo-kai. There's Yo-kai that looks like a limp sword, for example, and it's understandably nonplussed about having to do whatever it has to do. There is also a hell lot of word-play, or possibly deliberately oddball translation, especially in the English localization; there's "nasty medicine" in the game, for example.

Yet the gameplay seems cookie-cutter to me. The game does nothing that Pokemon, Digimon or even Persona has not done already, and it's not the first game that has the player snapping shots of invisible things.

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Silverline62

Well hopefully Yo-Kai 2 comes westward soon cuz I heard it fixes many problems that were present with this first one.

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Sunuva22

fair review from what I have played, I would give a 7-8. I am definitely liking this game, but the map needs a legend with more details so I can be less lost during side quests.

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Coldpain

My copy arrives today. I'm SO EXCITED!!! Jibanyan is the cutest thing since tickle me elmo.

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lenyora-sama

very good review. i've been keeping my eye on yo-kai watch for a while now,and have been enjoying the animated series. im still on the fence about this game though,is there an ultimate goal to befriending all the yo-kai? is there something like in pokemon where you get to battle the elite four near the end of the game? i like the franchise (the first level-5 produced property i've ever liked) but the game seems ultimately pointless to me. anyone please feel free to correct me if there is.

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Coldpain

@lenyora-sama: The battles in Yo-kai Watch are more like mini-games or side activities. There is a lot more to do than just that.

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megakick

It is odd that Assassin's Creed Syndicate an action game that has bad combat gets a 9.

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maikopoulos

Are there people playing such games outside of Japan (its their culture after all, so I cant judge them) and/or older than 10 years? I' ve been gaming since the Atari era but can't imagine myself playing this Pokémon bla bla bla style thing. Nintendo has to invent something really new and innovative to win back gamers, not recycling this piece of Japanese subculture. I' m probably wrong, but just looking at the game's title and characters makes me wonder who plays these things.

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Shadowmax889

@maikopoulos: this game was not made by Nintendo, it's a third party exclusive by Level-5

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CoLdFuSioN167

@maikopoulos: This is a very enjoyable game for all ages. I've been playing since the Atari/ColecoVision/Odyssey era's too and this game is still a lot of fun for me. I downloaded the demo and enjoyed it, so I went ahead and purchased the game off of the eshop. I'm already a few hours in and I'm liking it. It's hard to get a sense of what the game is like by reading about it..

Avatar image for abHS4L88
abHS4L88

@maikopoulos:
Lol "new and innovative to win back gamers?" Since when has gamers been drawn to the "new and innovative?" Look at what the best selling games and systems have been for the past 5 years, almost NOTHING "new" (new in terms of something original) nor innovative, just more of the same old same old. Splatoon is easily one of the most creative and original games to come out in the past few years yet the sales pale in comparison to your average hyped up AAA mainstream game.

Also Nintendo almost NEVER really highlights Japanese culture in their games so I don't know what you're talking about.

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Bigboi500

@maikopoulos: People that enjoy video games, maybe? Most don't play games that are exact mirrors of themselves exclusively, because what's the point? Do you only watch movies about people your exact gender, age and race? Of course not. Games are about leaving the real world behind for an entertaining adventure, or to experience something outside of reality.

People can re-live parts of their childhood with games like this, so there's nothing wrong with grown adults playing games of any kind.

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lenyora-sama

@maikopoulos:there's a pretty big market of people who love japanese video games as well as japanese entertainment mediums in general,it's because it is so unique that many people are drawn to them and support them. as for pokemon,where were you in the late 90s during the whole pokemon craze? a whole generation of kids (including myself) grew up with and loved pokemon,and still continue to support it to this day. i can't say for sure if yo-kai watch will be as big in the west,but im pretty sure it will be a relative success thanks to people who love japanese things.

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GH05T-666

Better than Pokemon or not? @alexarayc

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Manbaku

@GH05T-666: Why does a monster game have to be compared to pokemon to be worth interest?

I swear if gamers were this fickle even a few years ago Persona 3/4 never would have got up off the ground.

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@GH05T-666: Not. You shouldnt even have to ask, nothings better then Pokemon, come on bro.

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advocacy

Imagine if the character were an emotionally damaged teen, and the story (and quests) were written by the Witcher team. Boom, money.

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Gelugon_baat

@advocacy: I would rather prefer that Level 5 collaborated with Studio Ghibli again.

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GH05T-666

@Gelugon_baat: Ni No Kuni was amazing

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abHS4L88

@Gelugon_baat: If that were to happen, please improve the companion AI. It was that alone that made Ni No Kuni a potentially favorite JRPG of mine to something that was weighed down by sometimes infuriating gameplay due to my party being idiots.

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Ntwha

@abHS4L88: All they needed to do was keep the combat from the DS version and it would have been right up there with Dragon Quest 8 as one of my favorite RPGs of all time.

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DanZillaUK

@Gelugon_baat: Every single yes in history is for you right now.

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rikku45

Why are people upset about the score? last time I looked 7/10 was still pretty good. its better than average so that is a good thing in my opinion. Also people take scores to seriously, just because something received a lower score doesn't mean that you wont like it.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@rikku45:Some of them are actually directing their ire at the reviewer's recent reviews instead. Would it change your perspective if you know that the reviewer very much liked Assassin's Creed: Syndicate?

Of course not. I see that you like that Ubisoft game a lot too. :\

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rikku45

@Gelugon_baat: I don't see why it matters if I liked the game. I was just trying to point out people seem focused on game scores rather than trying things themselves.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@rikku45: Ah... but there is a hole there in your argument. Have you considered that people may have played the game already (or at least seen more than enough of the game in action while it's played by other people) and disagree strongly with the verdict?

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Shadowmax889

@Gelugon_baat:O_O youuuuuuuu.. my goooood.

You were the last person i thought to not defend a reviewer against the coment section in this site.

Who are you and where is @Gelugon_baat?

;)

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i-rock-socks

This looks like a shitty Jade cacoon 2. Pass

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Silverline62

@i-rock-socks: Jade Cocoon wasn't that great of a game really, I played back then but it was pretty meh.

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i-rock-socks

@Silverline62: better than this garbage by a country mile

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Silverline62

@i-rock-socks: So I assume you played Yo-kai Watch to be saying that with such conviction?

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i-rock-socks

@Silverline62: the demo yes. What's with all you jackasses assuming I haven't played it. You think the games SO good that the only way to not like it is to not play it?

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Manbaku

@i-rock-socks: The vast majority of people criticizing it ARE people who haven't played it, so their assumption was pretty founded.

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i-rock-socks

@manbaku: That assertion isn't pulled directly out of ur ass is it? Cause if so I don't wanna touch it.

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Silverline62

@i-rock-socks: Well it's just that you sound like a little spoiled girl about it, and no shit sherlock; how can you criticize something if you haven't even tried the thing? Ignorance is a bliss.

Avatar image for i-rock-socks
i-rock-socks

@Silverline62: better than being a butthurt bitch. I don't like the game, get over it. And I did try it, or do demos not count to ur douchyness? And I never said you can criticize things without experiencing them, work on ur reading comprehension, dumbass.

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RabbiSchmuley

@i-rock-socks: L-5 is a solid studio, with few missteps. Their average effort is better than most companies' best efforts.

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i-rock-socks

@RabbiSchmuley: then they can come up with better ideas then this dreck.

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megakick

@i-rock-socks: looks better than poke'mon.

This property is very popular in Japan as well and no trapping monster animals and making them fight for pleasure is a better message...

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@megakick: Really? You are making a remark about a thematic issue?

Avatar image for abHS4L88
abHS4L88

@i-rock-socks:

Because you've experienced it to know that it's "dreck" right?

Avatar image for i-rock-socks
i-rock-socks

@abHS4L88: demo was shit so yes I have " experienced" it, douchebag. Game is a poor man's jade cacoon 2. Not even worth comparing to Pokemon.

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RabbiSchmuley

@i-rock-socks: maybe it's good. Maybe you'd like it more than you can say to the contrary

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@RabbiSchmuley: I recall that Level 5 has done far, far better. This game seems like a Persona and Digimon mashed-up knock-off. It just seems like some side project on Level 5's part.

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Ntwha

@Gelugon_baat: This series is actually Level-5s bread and butter in Japan, and we've had access to the demo for a few weeks now. The one thing that have me pause when I was playing was the all touch screen combat. I didn't like that at all.

Avatar image for Gelugon_baat
Gelugon_baat

@ntwha: Then, man, a certain consumer base has some pretty low demands.

Avatar image for RabbiSchmuley
RabbiSchmuley

@Gelugon_baat: a good effort is what I see. Presentation is nice, gameplay is solid, the shortcomings aren't anything specifically wrong with the game, maybe just the absence of certain intuitive features.

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Yo-kai Watch More Info

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  • First Released Nov 6, 2015
    released
    • 3DS
    • Android
    • iOS (iPhone/iPad)
    O-KAI WATCH game is about hundreds of sometimes cute, sometimes spooky, and usually mischievous Yo-kai that inhabit our world. Yo-kai are not ghosts, monsters or creatures. Yo-kai are, quite simply, Yo-kai. They cannot be seen by the human eye, but they are everywhere. Whether born from the soul of a deceased human, or an everyday object discovering its higher purpose, their personalities are distinctly humanlike.
    8.7
    Average Rating15 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Yo-kai Watch
    Developed by:
    Level 5
    Published by:
    Nintendo, Level 5
    Genre(s):
    Management, Role-Playing
    Content is generally suitable for ages 10 and up. May contain more cartoon, fantasy or mild violence, mild language and/or minimal suggestive themes.
    Everyone 10+
    Comic Mischief, Mild Fantasy Violence