Bad news, folks: Pokémon Sun and Moon aren’t due out for another month! Maybe you’re not as crushed as I am, but I’ll freely admit to loving that series and being bummed that I’m not playing it right this second. Nintendo heard my pain, though, and they seek to ease it a bit with the release of Yo-Kai Watch 2, the sequel to last year’s monster-hunting extravaganza from Level-5. This time the game comes in two flavors, a bit like Pokémon: Fleshy Souls and Bony Spirits.
Regardless of the version you play (they differ largely in which Yo-Kai are available to recruit, and for the record I played Fleshy Souls), Yo-Kai Watch 2 continues the plot of the original game. You’re a girl or boy, whichever you’d prefer, and you’re the proud owner of the titular timepiece. Aside from looking snazzy, the Yo-Kai Watch allows you to see Yo-Kai, normally-invisible spirits that have their spooky hands in pretty much every aspect of daily life.
Ever get the munchies? That might be Hungramps’ doing. People who can’t stop blabbing their friends’ secrets might have a Tattletell problem. Lazy folks might want to check around for Cutta-nah. You get the idea. Naturally, with great power comes great responsibility, though in practice this means that owning the Yo-Kai Watch entails having plenty of ghostly adventures. You don’t have the watch immediately upon starting the game, but it doesn’t take long before you’re reunited with both the Yo-Kai Watch and the series’ mascots Whisper and Jibanyan, then faced with plenty of new spiritual mysteries to solve.
Most of Yo-Kai Watch 2 plays out in a sort of episodic format, a bit like the classic Mega Man Battle Network Games; each adventure is largely self-contained. I found this to be pretty endearing, since the characters are entertaining and I never dreaded any scenes with any particularly annoying mascots. That can’t be said for every RPG, particularly when they’re intended for kids, so kudos to Yo-Kai Watch 2.
As for the gameplay, you’ll run around, chatting with people and exploring areas. The Yo-Kai Watch allows you to see spirits, as mentioned, so you can stop and look around for Yo-Kai to battle wherever the Watch starts reacting to them. Combat is similar to the original game. It’s a largely automated affair with your Yo-Kai beating on their foes, using skills, possessing them to cause status effects and so on.
You can intervene by throwing pins to direct your Yo-Kai’s attacks toward a particular enemy, removing possession and using healing items. Yo-Kai also have access to Soultimate abilities, powerful super moves that require you to do some gimmick with the touchscreen like tracing a panel, spinning a wheel or tapping bubbles. Victory in combat yields experience and cash; you might also recruit a new Yo-Kai follower and can improve the odds of this happening by using healing items on enemies.
Your mileage may vary here, since I wasn’t especially fond of the automated combat style, but there’s plenty of things to do in Yo-Kai Watch 2 other than fight. You can catch bugs, for instance, race bikes, train your Yo-Kai’s stats, or even run around as a Yo-Kai yourself in the Blasters minigame. That last one is surprisingly endearing, incorporating strategy and action elements, and it adds a lot of value to the game.
There’s a lot to check out in this game and it’s clearly seen plenty of polish, but Yo-Kai Watch 2 has also managed to crash for me a couple of times, both when opening up the game’s camera function. You’ll want to keep an eye out for that and make sure you save often. This isn’t reproducible at will so it doesn’t drop the game’s rating to a “Nay,” but as always, games that crash probably shouldn’t be released until they’re cleaned up a little.
Other than that, though, both Fleshy Souls and Bony Spirits of Yo-Kai Watch 2 are a solid choice if you just can’t wait to feed your monster-battling need. The significantly more Japanese take on things gives this game a much more unusual feel than Pokémon as well. Strap on the Watch and give this one a try.