I guess fart jokes are still in, who knew?
I’ve been wanting to play Yo-Kai Watch for a while. It’s hugely popular in Japan, and while it hasn’t gained much traction in North America, the games looked fun enough that I wanted to give them a chance. There are many things to like about the latest sequel, Psychic Specters. There’s lots to explore, the graphics are wonderfully vibrant and there’s no shortage of things to do. But at the end of the day, it’s really hard not to compare it to Pokemon, which manages to do things just a bit better than Psychic Spectres.
The story takes place shortly after the first game, with antagonist Nate and his Yo-Kai pals all getting together once again after mysterious spirits come to his house one night and erase their memories. They soon find out more about new forms of Yo-Kai called Wicked Yo-Kai, who as the name suggests, are up to no good. Over time, Psychic Spectres evolves into a huge story featuring time travel, warring factions and other various elements that delve deeper into the story, all while a more devious plot threatens to disrupt Nate’s world.
Presentation wise, the game is great. The graphics are colorful and vibrant, with each new locale you travel to looking wonderful. Environments are big and plentiful, with a ton of side missions and mini games to take part in. Travelling to these places can be a big chore at first, as it takes a long time to cover the distance and you don’t get a bike until later on in the game. There’s even a stamina meter to hinder you further, which I don’t really get as it hampers the experience for no real reason. But once you get the bike, things do get a bit easier.
The writing is definitely aimed toward a younger audience, with plenty of fart jokes and other ridiculousness that probably isn’t targeted to someone as sophisticated (or as old) as me. But though most of the writing is pretty silly, there's a certain charm to it that makes it kind of endearing.
Befriending Yo-Kai is a big part of the game. Much like Pokemon, the goal is to battle and befriend other Yo-Kai to join your party. Each tribe (or Yo-Kai type) likes certain items that’ll help them become friendlier, but it's an unintuitive process and tough trying to figure out which tribe likes which kind of candy. It isn’t overly difficult, but for someone new to the series, it’s kind of a chore, and not nearly as simple as just throwing a Pokeball.
The battling in Yo-Kai Watch 2 is simple and easy to follow, but not particularly engaging. You can have up to six Yo-Kai during battles, and you get a bonus for having two or more of the same type in your party. Battling is easy, but a bit too simplistic at times. The three main goals during battle are for your Yo-Kai to dish out special attacks, rotating them out and purifying them in case of a status ailment, or replenishing their HP with items. It’s not a cakewalk, but not that interesting either.
Psychic Spectres is a follow up to Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls, which came out in North America last September. There aren’t major differences between this and the other games from what I understand, though there is a new mode called Yo-Kai Blasters (which has you team up with people to take on Oni and other Yo-Kai) and there is also a new tribe that can be befriended.
It’s hard not to compare Yo-Kai Watch with Pokemon: they both feature creatures to collect (or befriend) along fun, colorful environments with a relatively cheery demeanor. Yo-Kai differs in a number of ways that makes the experience a bit more drab. There isn’t much strategy when it comes to battling, and I wish encountering and befriending Yo-Kai were a little more intuitive. Yo-Kai Watch 2: Psychic Spectres is a solid title that overall was a pretty fun experience, but it does have its flaws.