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3DS  header logo

Yo-Kai Watch - Greatness is dawning

For: 3DS

We'd go back four seconds

Product: Yo-Kai Watch | Developer: Level-5 | Publisher: Nintendo | Format: 3DS | Genre: RPG | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Yo-Kai Watch 3DS, thumbnail 1
Yo-Kai Watch earns immediate brownie points from me. Why? Because it forces you to wait for the green man to cross the road.

Jaywalk enough times, and you'll be thrust into a boss battle you have no chance of winning.

The game recognises and embraces the age range of its audience and chooses to impart an important lesson to them early on.

It's also made clear that this is a game of consequences - but it's also one that does some smart things with a well-established genre, putting a unique spin on things to occasionally great effect.

You're over-selling this aren't you?

Actually, no. Yo-Kai-Watch is already a huge hit in the East.

It's also developed by Level 5 - it of the fabulous Ni No Kuni and Professor Layton series - and has spawned numerous spin-offs, sequels, and anime.

Yet us Europeans are only now seeing the first entry in the franchise, a title that originally released way back in 2013.

Still, Yo-Kai Watch's ideas remain very creative and fresh, a testament to the game's original vision. It also looks extremely rich and vibrant, with brilliantly realised 3D effects, crisp animations, and surprisingly detailed background assets.

It all takes place in Springdale, where a boy named Nate is in the middle of a bug-catching competition. His mates have got the biggest bugs in town - from daddy long-legs to dragonflies - and poor old Nate is starting to feel a bit left out.

With net in hand, you have to help him grab some creepy crawlies of his own from tree trunks, trashcans, and nearby bushes.

The smart thing about this mechanic is that it's teaching you how to control the game with stylus and touch-screen, timing your movements and reactions precisely.

While exploring, Nate befriends a Yo-Kai called Whisper, a giant, floaty entity that's a cross between marshmallow fluff and the Boo ghosts that haunt Mario and friends.

Whisper gifts Nate a mysterious-looking watch which lets him see and interact with all the Yo-Kai in Springdale - something no one else seems able to do - enabling him to fix the problems they leave behind.

For instance, Nate comes home to find his parents arguing over some trivial matters because a gloomy glob in a grump has darkened the mood in the immediate area.

To stop the bickering, you have to recruit more Yo-Kai allies and challenge her to a duel, beat her, and eventually recruit her to face the larger, stronger Yo-Criminal threat.

The game tasks you with solving people's individual problems and mysteries through favours and requests, but also by hunting down hidden Yo-Kai with a special lens.

You mentioned fights. I like fighting. How do I fight?

This is where the game comes to life. The top screen shows a 3 vs 3 battle battle between your Yo-Kai and rogue Yo-Criminals flying through Springdale.

What's most interesting is that you can have up to 6 Yo-Kai in rotation at any one time using the Yo-Kai wheel. Each one has its own special Soultimate and skill-set.

Soultimates are like Limit Breaks from Final Fantasy in that they need to be charged up through the course of a battle. Yo-Kai will auto-attack, so it's your job to activate the Soultimate when it's charged.

Equally, you need to make best use of your Yo-Kai's abilities, ensuring they're most effective against the current set of enemies.

Each Soultimate will have its own set of instructions and is powered using the Stylus and Touch Screen. You may need to swirl the screen, draw patterns, or tap on flashing coins in order to fill your watch and unleash your Yo-Kai's full power.

But if the Yo-Criminals are resistant and the three starting Yo-Kai aren't working to full-effect, you can simply turn the watch-face on the lower screen and bring in new allies from your pre-defined roster, swapping them out in-between battles.

The combat system goes deeper still with Unity bonuses for combining Yo-Kai of similar tribes.

You can also develop individual skill levels to enhance health, strength, and defensive bonuses.

Your Yo-Kai will also evolve into new forms, making them stronger and more capable. You can even go online and fight friends in PVP matches, earning specialist titles for your efforts.

Well this sounds nice

It's all really well designed, and makes for a fresh, if sometimes familiar RPG experience. Unsurpisingly, it also feels right at home on the 3DS.

The problem with Yo-Kai Watch is that it's both overly simplistic in its presentation and production and ultimately feels a bit shallow as a result.

The setting is mostly compelling, the combat system is surprisingly detailed, and in-depth enough that it requires a degree of strategy if you want to be effective.

Ultimately, this is a world which explores surprisingly deep moral dilemmas, resolved with messages which impart genuine, heart-felt wisdom.

It's filled with a fairly generous chunk of content, all built into the foundations of a franchise on the cusp of becoming something quite extraordinary.
Yo-Kai Watch - Greatness is dawning
Reviewer photo
Ray Willmott | 5 May 2016
Yo-Kai Watch leaves a positive first impression, providing just enough creativity and content to help you see past most of its misgivings and flaws
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