As many of you long-time readers would know; us here at SnapThirty set our sights on Level-5 and Nintendo’s “next big thing” Yo-Kai Watch for as far back as we can remember. Ever since it first hit the big time over in Japan, we’ve kept a close eye on it, making sure to keep tabs on the “goings on” of this, at the time, exciting new franchise. It’s now been something along the lines of a year and a half, since the beginning of the website, and only now after all this time has the first of a series of many Yo-Kai Watch video games hit the West.
North America is the first Western continent to get their hands on a localised version of Yo-Kai Watch and, like any die-hard fans, us here at SnapThirty have scoured the web in the hopes that the North American gamers who’re currently playing through the new game are enjoying it. Yo-Kai Watch is a Japanese role-playing game that revolves around battling and befriending quirky creatures, and it seems as though many currently with the game are enjoying it just as much as Japanese audiences did when it was first released.
Now while the general public are liking this game, it seems as though many critics across North America have some fairly big issues with it; the most predominant of which is that, well…it’s not Pokemon. From the sizeable amount of reviews we’ve read, it seems as though most of the complaints regarding the newly-released game eventually boil down to it being different to Pokemon. From it’s battle systems, to the Yokai themselves, it just looks like Level-5’s Yo-Kai Watch simply cannot compare to that of Game Freak’s Pokemon franchise…but why the hell should it?
Look, the game does share similarities with that of Pokemon, in the way that it revolves around a young protagonist who comes into contact with strange creatures that can be fought and added to one’s team. Unfortunately this ultimately inconsequential common element between the two franchises is what will mark the downfall of Yo-Kai Watch, seeing as though it seems many important voices out there cannot look past a simple common element which, as you may be aware of, is actually quite prevalent in many video game titles, not just in Pokemon.
Pokemon, Digimon, Monster Rancher, Dragon Quest Monsters, Yo-Kai Watch: What is it that all these titles have in common? The each revolve around the levelling and evolution of monsters. Now, would it be fair to compare Pokemon to that of, let’s say, Shin Megami Tensei? Across the board, in all Shin Megami Tensei titles, you’re a young protagonist who has been given the strange ability to befriend and battle monsters, adding certain ones to your team and using a unique evolution mechanic to have them grow, becoming more powerful in the process. It sounds kind of familiar doesn’t it? Why is it that a game like Yo-Kai Watch gets compared to Pokemon, but a game like Pokemon doesn’t get compared to the Shin Megami Tensei franchise? Is it simply because the two franchises are directed at different audiences? If that truly is the case, I have to say…it’s quite the weak one at that.
Western audiences as a whole tend to enjoy comparison, that’s the cold hard truth. This is why, after starting strong, Digimon fell off of the radar despite the fact that, in Japan, it is still just as popular as it was when it first started. There may be more than just one reason as to why it didn’t retain a constant stream of popularity but you cannot deny that it being compared to Pokemon worked sorely in it’s eventual Western demise.
Fact is; you can compare Yo-Kai Watch to Pokemon as much as you wish, but history has a habit of repeating itself, and you’ll find that the franchise you only disliked because of it’s small resemblance to Pokemon has returned to Japan to prosper in the country that accepted it from the very beginning for what it was and not what it could be compared to, simply giving us another great franchise to admire from afar.
You may not realise this BUT most of what the West turns away because of reasons such as this are the titles we eventually begin to long for. Bandai Namco Entertainment are releasing the once PlayStation Vita exclusive Digimon Story: Cyber Sleuth outside of Japan because of such high demand from Western fans, and yet many years ago it was seemingly went missing because of a lack of popularity. What I’m trying to say is to simply give Yo-Kai Watch a fair chance to be itself, rather than comparing it to a game that has had an extra decade and a half to naturally be superior.
Yo-Kai Watch isn’t about “catching” Yokai, they are not creatures that get told what to do or how to do it. Yo-Kai Watch is about meeting and forming a friendship with these creatures who, if you ask them nice enough, will be glad to put themselves in the line of fire for whatever it is you wish. Now while I can sit here all day and list the reasons why Yo-Kai Watch is a huge departure from that of Pokemon…I wont. This is just something you’re going to have to experience for yourself, it seems like the only fair way.
Yo-Kai Watch is now available across North America, with an Australian release set for the 5th of December, just in time for the holiday season. Chances are, if you are a fan of any of the title that have been mentioned throughout this article, you’ll also be a fan of Yo-Kai Watch. The key to enjoy it, and any game like it, is to let it speak for itself instead of immediately comparing it to something else. No game would seem worthwhile if all we did was compare it to another, so enjoy it for what it is. We at SnapThirty can guarantee that you’ll find something about it that you’ll enjoy, so you can take out word; Yo-Kai Watch is great!