Yo-Kai Watch as a franchise is actually a pretty fascinating stab at the crown that Pokémon wore so many years ago. An era where the late 1990s and early 2000s were dominated by every single kid-friendly cartoon around, from Yu-Gi-Oh’s Duel Monsters through to…erm, Duel Masters. But Yo-Kai Watch has an interesting hook to it at least.
The idea of kids interacting with spirits and befriending them despite their phantasm shenanigans has done gangbusters in the East where such culture is still revered. Its done alright in the west and its more secular havens, with plenty of merch to go around. A video game adaptation was inevitable, with the first such entry on the Nintendo 3DS being neither under or overwhelming. Just the right amount of whelming.
Yo-Kai Watch 2 doesn’t stray too far from that formula. In fact, it barely deviates at all, as it pretty much plays exactly as the first game did, down to the smallest details: A self-contained world, quests and new Yo-kai to add to your collection. To its credit, Yo-Kai Watch 2 does fix plenty of problems from the first game, while paradoxically amping up some of the more persistent annoyances as well.
Do you like fetch quests by the way? You don’t? Good news! Yo-Kai Watch 2 has TONS of them this time around! Did I say good news? I’m a bit of a bastard when it comes to delivering bad tidings. Most of Yo-Kai Watch 2 has you stuck in a fetch quest hell, your chosen avatar sprinting between objectives as you desperately wish for fast travel options to unlock quicker.
This gripe multiplies into aggravation when you realise that the larger world in front of you means more hours of questing with a puny stamina meter that runs out of juice quickly, combined with train missions that have you twiddling your thumbs as the minutes tick by. Yo-Kai Watch 2’s pacing is downright terrible and runs the risk of derailing the entire experience, but at least there’s salvation in the world itself.
The idea of battling via the use of mini-games for ultimate purifying attacks is as good as it ever was, while most of the Yo-Kai ooze personality. I’m still somewhat hilariously mortified at the idea of Jibanyan, a ghostly cat who regularly attempts to destroy the truck that ran him over in a previous life.
One of the bigger features on the online side has players trading Yo-Kai with one another and doing some quick battling in Watch Blasters mode. It’s all good simple clean fun, with the sequel being an odd place to actually experience Yo-Kai Watch for the first time ever. Just prepare yourself to fetch ;em all by the time Yo-Kai Watch 2 kicks off its storyline properly.