Despite the release of the all-powerful hybrid Switch, the 3DS keeps on chugging along. You’d expect the handheld mode of the Switch to eat the 3DS’ breakfast, but nope, the little handheld that could is hanging in there. Solid releases like Metroid: Samus Returns certainly don’t hurt, of course, and RPG fans have something new (or something old, as the case may be) to love in Yo-Kai Watch 2: Psychic Specters.
You know how Pokémon tends to have two versions of a given game with different creatures available to encourage trading (or buying extra copies of the game)? Sure, and you know how there tends to be a third version with additional enhancements released some time after the first two? Psychic Specters is the third, enhanced version to Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls‘ initial launch, meaning that it’s really a better choice for newcomers to Yo-Kai Watch 2 or hardcore fans. Players who were tepid on the initial set of games probably won’t find that Psychic Specters is going to change their minds.
The story doesn’t change all that much, though you’ll find new cutscenes here and there that expand on things a bit; this is still an RPG where we follow a kid who, with the help of the Yo-Kai Watch, interacts with and befriends ghosts. Popular characters like Whisper and Jibanyan are present and accounted for, engaging in the usual slapstick antics. It’s presented in an episodic format somewhat similar to how the Megaman Battle Network games worked, meaning it tends to feel a bit like the Saturday morning cartoon it’s aiming to be. There’s an overarching plot that comes into play later on, but generally speaking it’s a sort of monster-of-the-week thing where plotlines tend to be self-contained; your mileage on this may vary, but I found it to be pretty endearing.
Combat is definitely more hit-or-miss, and just as in my original review I wasn’t exactly sold on how automated the whole thing is. Yo-Kai will fight on their own, and while you’ve got some input such as tossing pins to direct your partners’ attacks, divvying out healing items and swapping out tired Yo-Kai, this is no Pokémon; you’re a manager more than a trainer. Sometimes your guys just aren’t going to do what you want and dealing with these occurrences is part of doing well. If you come to Yo-Kai watch straight after playing another RPG, you’re in for a bit of system shock.
What does Psychic Specters change, then? Well, there’s new Yo-Kai to befriend, a few new areas to check out including more time travel and a few new bosses to fight. The closest equivalent would be the post-game additions made by Pokémon Emerald; a lot of the new content is for players who want more after they’ve finished the original games. Players of the previous versions of Yo-Kai Watch 2 are also able to import their save files for further bonuses – the largest of those, of course, involves not having to replay the entire game again to check out the new content!
Yo-Kai Watch has apparently really taken off in Europe and I’m sure it’s got some hardcore fans here in the States as well, so it’s not surprising that we’re seeing this release. If you haven’t dived in by now then this is a great starting point; the episodic format means that you don’t really need experience with the original game to get something out of this one. If you can get used to the usual combat system (or if it ends up being your cup of tea to begin with) then there’s loads of Yo-Kai fun to check out here, especially with the new content added in Yo-Kai Watch 2: Psychic Specters.