Available On: Nintendo 3DS
While Yo-Kai Watch’s older brother Pokémon drops you into completely new worlds in each new game, Yo-Kai Watch 2 brings you back to the familiar city of Springdale.
More yo-kai, new features, and improved abilities build upon the successful ideas in the first game. But even time-travel doesn’t save it from the feeling that you’ve already done all of this before.
I Ain’t Afraid of No Yo-Kai
Yo-Kai Watch 2 begins with one of the cringiest clichés of the JRPG – the amnesiac protagonist. Your chosen hero (either Nate or Katie) has their titular watch stolen and memories erased, creating a terribly painful prologue sequence for anyone that’s previously played the first game.
Yo-Kai Watch 2 wrestles with trying to appeal to newcomers as well as veterans of a game that was just released last year outside of Japan. The new yo-kai you meet are often well-designed additions, but you’ll also stumble upon a lot of repeats from the first game’s roster.
Combat and gameplay largely remain the same: finding, befriending, and battling the various yo-kai that inspirit the world. A new watch lets you activate M-Skills, which are Soultimate moves that consume all three soul meters of your front yo-kai.
You soon get your memories and friends back, but the plot takes forever to get going. Eventually you travel 60 years in the past to hang out with your surly pre-teen grandpa and fight a war between yo-kai gangs. But the main story often stops and forces you to complete mostly boring side quests. Too many of them simply teach you about the sequel’s new (or returning) features, like Fusion, Baffle Boards, and Gates of Whimsy.
Exploring and completing quests is a big draw – except you already know the city of Springdale by heart. New locations like pastoral Harrisville and coastal San Fantastico are nice, and time-travel does afford some neat visuals, but none of those areas are as large or fleshed out as your familiar hometown.
Yo-Kai Pad Apps
Throughout the main quest you constantly gain access to new features and gameplay modes, now called apps. This has the unfortunate side effect of encouraging you to stick to the main quest rather than exploring and completing side activities.
The sequel adds some robust online features including battles, trading, and a co-op arcade mode called Yo-Kai Blasters. Online battles balance everyone to level 60, and limit you to two A-rank and two S-rank yo-kai – meaning you pretty much have to have already beaten the game to even have a chance at competing.
Yo-Kai Blasters looks nifty but is limited to local wireless connections only, so I couldn’t even try it. For being a series that so cleverly incorporates 3DS touch-screen features and modern gameplay design, these online modes really should’ve been there in the first game. They’re nice to have, but they should be expected by now.
Other helpful apps include in-game achievements called trophies, checking up on catching various yo-kai criminals, and activating the 3DS camera to see if any of your friends and family are suffering from yo-kai maladies. The menu is organized like the Nintendo 3DS home screen. It’s very easy to find what you need with the press of a few buttons.
Both versions of Yo-Kai Watch 2 have been rated E for Everyone by the ESRB. They include Comic Mischief and Fantasy Violence. The themes are very much that of a modern kid’s cartoon show. The sequel also takes after the anime much more closely, with lots of silly jokes and quips from our heroes. It’s actually far more funny and enjoyable than annoying.
In many ways the first Yo-Kai Watch was a breath of fresh air for fans of Pokémon-like monster battlers. Despite improving the overall experience, the sequel doesn’t do enough to change up the formula of the first game. For newcomers this is the entry you want, but fans may be left feeling like they just played Yo-Kai Watch 1.5.