Confession time: I wasn’t the greatest of fans of the original Yo-Kai Watch when it debuted a while ago. That’s not to say I hated the game by any means, but I couldn’t quite get into the vibe that it was offering. Regardless, a lot of people certainly did, and the next thing you know, Nintendo had an international cash cow on its hands.
So, of course, the publisher obliged to come forth with a sequel. Well, rather, two sequels. Yo-Kai Watch 2 has two forms here – Fleshy Souls and Bony Spirits. They’re essentially the same game, only that each version has their own special Yo-Kai to collect. So if you feel like going after the game, one of the two will work just fine – unless you’re an absolute devotee with the need to…wait for it…”catch ’em all.”
Once again, you’re thrust back into the world of yo-kai, attempting to catch spirits that are wreaking havoc within the world. Your kid character is able to see these and interact with them in a number of ways, even capturing a few to use to your advantage. Yes, that’s a bit in common with Pokémon, though the creatures are far more extreme than your usual Pikachu. The likes of Dismarelda and Cheeksqueek (yep, as bad as it sounds) are sure to linger with fans for hours at a time.
The combat system from the original game is back in spades, where you use yo-kai to take part in battles with others. Again, like Pokémon, but with a spiritual approach, and a livelier battle system involving a variety of mini-games. That said, the system hasn’t really changed that much at all.
On the one hand, familiarity will be good with players coming over from the original. But on the other…um, this could’ve used something to show that the series evolved, instead of tackling the same old thing. It’s like Level-5 didn’t even want to take a gamble on new mini-game types – just stick with what works. The item management and character balancing hasn’t evolved too much either. It’s not broken, but I couldn’t help but wonder if something – anything! – new would surface.
There is one notable aspect, and that’s with the map, as you can find certain locations of yo-kai and other characters a little easier. And you can use the touch screen to easily access the options that are included, instead of simply guessing like in the original game.
But that still doesn’t make up for the game’s lack of creativity. Most of the quests are rather generic, and don’t really push the storyline in directions we haven’t been before. It’s mainly a matter of fetch quests, battles, backtracking and avoiding certain characters that can’t be toppled. There are some exceptions to the rule, but they’re few and far between – no matter which version of the game you play.
Plus, the characters in the world don’t really help much, as you’ll occasionally play the guessing game trying to figure out certain strategies with yo-kai. The map makes a difference, but is there any particular reason characters couldn’t provide better guidance? We’re not saying spell out the entire game for us, but, jeez, throw us a frickin’ bone here. (Dr. Evil shout-out!) Even the new side-quest markers don’t really help.
There also seems to be some familiarity with the game’s design. Not that the yo-kai world isn’t a fascinating one – it is, with lots of room to explore and roam about. But it doesn’t feel like a huge leap forward from the first game. Plus, the audio doesn’t do much to keep you involved, with a generic soundtrack and sound effects that seem rather lacking. I would’ve appreciated having the yo-kai characters express a bit more personality.
I understand that having familiar elements in a sequel is supposed to be a factor, as it helps players that enjoyed the first game settle in. But some form of evolution (sigh, there I go with Pokémon terms again) is appreciated, letting players know that the developer has listened to feedback and applied it for a better effort. That’s just not the case with either version of Yo-Kai Watch 2. It’s suitable for those that enjoyed the first game, but doesn’t really step out of boundaries enough to grow. It’s just…there.
Maybe with Yo-Kai Watch 3 – which is a sure-fire bet at this point – Level-5 can take off the safety gloves and really give us an adventure that moves the series forward. But for now, it just proceeds with caution, and buyers may want to take the same route.