Think back to your Primary School days; it was a time in each of our lives wherein which making friends was as easy as sharing the same lunchbox contents. Perhaps you and your pal at the time had the same flavour of juice box which, for a pair of seven year olds, was more than enough to start what could grow to become a life-long friendship. One of my oldest friends and I have a relationship built upon what class we happened to be assigned to, and what desk it was that we were told to sit at. There was no preconceived notion of one-another’s character, there was no prejudice based on personal beliefs, it didn’t even matter that we came from vastly different home lives, all that mattered was our physical placement in the classroom and an inexplainable need for friendship.
As a twenty-two year old, making friends is…much harder. Between my somewhat cynical outlook on life, and my constant quest for an easily-maintainable lifestyle, making friends as an adult doesn’t come easy. Now, it isn’t that I’m in any need for more friends, I have a small but solid group and I’m happy that way, but being a product of the 90s nostalgia rules my daily life, and the warm memories of newfound friendship constantly urge me to try it one more time…but it’s way to difficult! Instead, I look towards games like Yo-Kai Watch; a video game based upon the magic of solidarity and the simple act of making friends which, might I add, I can play alongside my already existing friends to greater strengthen our relationship. That makes things easier!
Nintendo and Level-5 have recently released the second iteration of the Yo-Kai Watch video game franchise across the world. The new games, following in the footsteps of Pokemon, have been released in two versions: Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls. Thanks to Nintendo of Australia, us here at SnapThirty have been given the chance to review these games, and to, once again, experience what it’s like to make so many friends with so very little, though this time around, making said friends…ain’t as easy as you’d imagine.
Find, befriend, and battle more than 350 new and returning Yo-kai. Hop on a train to seek out new towns and new Yo-kai. Teaming up with the heroic cat, Hovernyan, travel back in time to save Springdale, and witness the origin of the Yo-kai Watch! – Nintendo
Unlike the first video game in the series, the storytelling presence in Yo-Kai Watch 2 is far more prevalent. As you may remember, the first game was based mostly around exploring and encountering Yokai only to shift close to the very end into a story about another young boy and his connection to the underworld. With Yo-Kai Watch 2 it is less about mindless exploration and more about working towards a series of goals that, despite their seemingly disconnected nature, all relate to the game’s finale. You, as the main character, must go back in time to team up with your Grandfather, the creator of the Yo-Kai Watch we all know and love, to stop a great Yokai war which is, in essence, being orchestrated by a time-altering evil whose heart is set on universal domination. Past, present, future, this Yokai’s only goal is to conquer it all, and it’s up to you as the wearer of the Yo-Kai Watch to stop it.
Level-5, as a development studio, has this strange but effective ability to create contemporary video game titles that also make you feel an overwhelming degree of nostalgia. This is why I loved the original Yo-Kai Watch, despite it’s thin storytelling, and it’s why I very much enjoyed the storyline of Yo-Kai Watch 2. While, as mentioned, the first game urges players to ride around town, exploring, and making friends, Yo-Kai Watch 2 tells a compelling story not only about time travel and the presence of great evil, but about the importance of friendship as a whole. We play alongside the protagonists Grandfather who, like yourself, can see, battle, and befriend Yokai, but has developed an inferiority complex thanks to a lack of self-confidence brought about by a single devastating loss against a new form of enemy; the Wicked Yokai.
There aren’t many other video games directed “solely at children” that will bring to the table this heavy a character attribute, nor would others have what it takes to tastefully deal with an issue of this kind in an uplifting and educational manner. Had Yo-Kai Watch 2 decided to follow the story of Nathaniel, your Grandfather, instead of the protagonist I would have been even happier, with his story being one with great heart and a fantastic level of realistic development. Regardless, Yo-Kai Watch 2 allows you to experience pieces of this story which, at the climax of the game, make it more than worth the time you’ve put into helping the seemingly unwavering mentality of this tortured soul.
Truth be told, the way in which Yo-Kai Watch 2 plays is, more or less, the same as the first game. The only real differences are small alterations to the original mechanics that, ultimately, do not get used as much as I’m sure the developers were hoping. This, unlike what some people would imagine, isn’t a bad thing at all: The first Yo-Kai Watch game hit the nail on the head with it’s mechanical layout, and I believe that you shouldn’t have to fix what isn’t broken. The small additions that were made did not take away from the game play experience but also didn’t add too much either, so for those of you out there who were hoping for drastic modifications…you may be disappointed.
My only real issue with the original game and, as it turns out, with Yo-Kai Watch 2 is the befriend rate of Yokai across the entire game. I found that the first game made it far too hard to befriend Yokai, and what I expected was it to be changed with the release of the sequel, but what I got instead was, arguably, a harder way to befriend Yokai. I recall spending hours on end attempting to befriend certain Yokai, giving them their favorite food and defeating them in the order that most delights them, but in the end having to give up simply because I was wasting too much of my time and in-game resources only to get nowhere. This, unfortunately, did make for somewhat of a fairly bad experience. Often when I would put the game down after a session with it, it was out of anger and not satisfaction, having to leave it for several days until my agitation died down.
Apart from that, however, the game played wonderfully, and, as mentioned, was much like the original in it’s overall layout. If you did like the way in which the first Yo-Kai Watch game played, this one will delight you about as much seeing as, well…they’re practically the same in that regard. You may enjoy the added brawling mini-game Yo-Kai Watch Blasters, but I found it far too difficult to go at it with any less than a four-player party, so unless you have a group of friends all with the game, you probably wont touch that feature too much. One of the fantastic additions to the game is the Medal Swap feature which, like many games of this type, allows you to swap Yokai between friends. The only real difference between the two versions of the game is that of the Yokai you can encounter, so having the Medal Swap as an accessible option early on truly does aid you if your personal mission is to befriend all the Yokai. Apart from this, though, the games are practically the exact same.
Most of what has been said about Yo-Kai Watch 2’s gameplay can also be said about both it’s audio and visual presence. There isn’t too big a jump in graphics with the release of the second game, the only real difference is that it features a few more cutscenes throughout the story, but not enough that you really take much notice of them. Leading on from that, the game’s soundtrack is also very much the same as the first, with small additions here and there with the introduction of new elements and new characters. For the most part, the original game and it’s sequel are practically in par in regards to these two elements but, once again, that doesn’t necessarily make it a bad thing.
Regardless, the graphics in the first game, and therefor it’s sequel, are absolutely brilliant, using everything the Nintendo 3DS has at it’s disposal to bring about the greatest visual experience it possibly can. Environments look fantastic, and considering you’ll be spending all your time travelling with a cinematic camera as your view into this world, you’ll definitely notice the work put into it. While character models aren’t as sharp as they could be, they do not take away from the experience in any way, so their average quality isn’t too detrimental to the game as a whole. The soundtrack of the first game, featured now in this way, is just as enjoyable a second time as it was the first, and the few new tracks introduced just make for more delightful experiences as you eventually learn their tunes and hum along. Once again; why attempt to fix something that isn’t broken?
There truly isn’t too much more that can be said about Yo-Kai Watch 2. It IS a fantastic game that really only has one downfall in the befriend rate of Yokai. Apart from that the game performs wonderfully and delivers an experience enough like the first one that it instantly captures your attention but different enough that it keeps it for the duration of it’s story. It’s a perfect combination with one shortcoming that, honestly, can be fixed with little more than a patch, though I highly doubt that will. The game deals with themes that can be understood and appreciated at any age, and it is accompanied by a level of humour unparalleled by most modern games. Yo-Kai Watch 2 has a great deal to say, and a great deal to teach to young minds, but does it in a fun and exciting way that doesn’t come across as preachy or heavy-handed. It’s subtle, it’s quirky, and it’s fun, which is what Yo-Kai Watch knows best and it has stuck to it with Yo-Kai Watch 2.
This series has developed a specific audience that likes what it has to offer on a deeper level than most will think. Yo-Kai Watch 2 features all those things that captivated you throughout the first game, this time building upon them ever so slightly so as to ease you into change which, not to bring this review too much into reality, is how many people should learn and transition from one stage of life to another. Yo-Kai Watch is seemingly following that progression, and while it’s hard to see straight away, merely pondering it for a short amount of time will make it very much obvious. Yo-Kai Watch, at it’s core, is a loveable game that can be enjoyed by anyone willing to open their hearts to it, and Yo-Kai Watch 2 is very much the same. It’s not perfect, but not many things are, and it can still be enjoyed regardless of that.
Yo-Kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls is now available to purchase thanks to Nintendo: Click Here