After waiting for two years, the original Yo-Kai Watch game finally made it’s way out of Japan late last year. Given that I greatly enjoyed Level-5’s first foray into the bizarre world of Yo-kai, the emergence of a sequel less than a year later is very welcome. The only question that remained to me was how well Yo-Kai Watch 2 (YW2) matched up to it’s predecessor.
The story in YW2 begins with the player character having the titular watch and memories of the first game stolen by a mysterious pair of villainous Yo-Kai. This effectively acts as a reset button, with all Yo-Ka – even the humble butler Whisper – disappearing. All is quickly set right again, but this odd beginning establishes an undercurrent of repetition through many of the game’s early chapters.
Much of this is the result of being initially confined to Springdale, the setting of the original game. Luckily things expand as the story takes players to a couple of new places. Train travel is introduced, opening up the rural mountain village of Harrisville and the coastal San Fantastico. Neither is as large as Springdale, but there is a consistent enchanting quality throughout the entirety of this wider world.
Time travel is also introduced, with a new Yo-Kai by the name of Hovernyan recruiting the player for an intriguing mission sixty years in the past. In the interest of steering clear of spoilers, I will simply state that the story is used as a vehicle to introduce a weird and wonderful cast of characters. They lend a wholesome quality to the narrative that makes it a refreshingly positive experience.
This sense of zeal is furthered by the game’s vibrant colour palette and chirpy score, both of which share a consistency with the original YW. The theme tunes for every environment and the brilliantly pun-filled Yo-Kai all ooze charm. Both of the new locations are gorgeous to explore, which makes it a shame that there aren’t more new areas. Thankfully, there is so much joy to be had in every detail of YW2’s immaculately polished presentation that it is easy to forgive some repetition.
Both the capturing and combat mechanics in Yo-Kai Watch are identical to those in the previous game. While there is a lack of innovation here, the core gameplay worked excellently in the first game to leave radical changes unnecessary.
The Yo-Kai Lens is the mechanism by which Yo-Kai are found in the wild. A radar in the corner of the screen indicates a nearby Yo-Kai, with a mini-game where they need to be followed, which will then bring them into battle. Defeating a Yo-Kai in battle gives an opportunity to befriend them. The chances of this happening can be improved by feeding them their favourite snacks.
Combat is a simple real time battle system where your chosen team of six Yo-Kai choose their actions automatically. Despite this, players are also incredibly active by choosing which three Yo-Kai are on the field, when to unleash Soultimate moves, and keeping Yo-kai healthy by purifying inspirited team members. There is also a couple of additional functions with the Yo-Kai Watch Model Zero. The Poke function allows the Soultimate meter to charge faster by prodding loafing enemies, while Moxie allows allows Yo-kai to sacrifice their Soultimate to charge up their ally’s.
There are also customisable Yo-Kai attitudes which determine what actions each will use most regularly and how their stats grow. A rough Yo-Kai, for example, will attack most often and receive bonuses to their strength stat, healers need a Tender attitude that will boost HP. A secondary attitude determines how often they will loaf around. There is a great deal of depth to combat for those who wish to delve into it.
Where YW2 outpaces its predecessor is in the implementation of online gameplay modes. This charge is led by the introduction of competitive online battles. Whereas the the original game only featured local wireless bouts, players now have the option of battling not only friends but also the wider community. There are added incentives as knocking out opposing Yo-Kai provides points that can be traded for worthwhile rewards. Only time will tell if it gains the traction it deserves, but online multiplayer offers a great way to take the surprising nuances of YW2 combat to new heights.
The offering of competitive multiplayer is complemented with a co-operative mode for up to four players. Called Yo-Kai Blasters, YW2’s co-op is an adaption of Terror Time which is the random invasion of evil Yo-Kai during the player character’s nighttime wanderings. Instead of a human character however, players select Yo-Kai from one of four classes; Fighter, Ranger, Tank, or Healer. Players must work together to stay alive until an exit appears, all the while collecting Oni Coins for a chance to earn new Yo-Kai and items. This mode lends the overall package a greater diversity with some frantic fun.
YW2’s Yo-Kai Watch also features apps that deliver a great deal of added functionality. The Wanted Yo-Kai app keeps track of the most troublesome Yo-Kai, while a weather app predicts the likelihood of a downpour. There are also trophies to track important milestones, libraries for music and cutscenes, as well as a medallion trader for swapping creatures with friends.
At its core, YW2 offers a number of incremental improvements to the formula established in last year’s original effort. The addition of new Yo-Kai and environments alongside a well told time travelling story make for a well executed single player experience. YW 2 is also a more well-rounded package than it’s predecessor with cooperative and competitive online multiplayer. Yo-Kai Watch 2 is proof positive that this is a stable franchise, that ably executes a safe but satisfying sophomore effort.
Mark received a physical copy of Yo-kai Watch 2 from Nintendo for review.