Yo-Kai Watch 2 - Review  

Love, Courage, and Moxie!
by Robert Sinclair

40-60 Hours
+ Quirky charm
+ Lots of Yo-Kai
+ Plenty of optional content
+ Fantastic music
- Terror Time sucks
- Befriending is too random
Click here for scoring definitions 

   With major pushes in toys, a second season of the anime, and the release of Yo-Kai Watch 2 Fleshy Souls/Bony Spirits, the Japanese phenomenon looks to be sinking its teeth deeply into the western market. While the first game was all right, the second was said to improve on nearly everything and I think I can say that the sentiment isn't far off.

   The story follows the young protagonist boy or girl who uses a special watch to see spirits of all sorts. After briefly losing the Yo-Kai Watch, the hero is quickly reintroduced to Yo-Kai butler Whisper and adorable cat Yo-Kai Jibanyan and thus begins the adventure. Though the story is usually lighthearted and upbeat, occasionally there are serious issues tackled that stand out, but not necessarily in a bad way. Jibanyan's backstory or the events leading up to the final boss fight are less funny and cartoony, but feel important and thankfully never make the mood too heavy for what is a goofy world. Luckily, even the serious moments are sprinkled with humour, which really gives the game its charm.

   Yo-Kai Watch 2 takes place in Springdale, which is mostly the same as the first game, until the hero is shipped out to Grandma's house in Harrisville, where he encounters a Yo-Kai friend of his grandpa. The map always gives direction in where to go for story progression, so getting lost is almost impossible, even with every location available. There are a few times where the story gets locked behind some other quests that need to be completed first, but that's uncommon. While it is pretty easy to go straight for story, there are a ton of side quests in this game, ranging from simple battles to having to travel through time. Every quest rewards the player with experience, money, items, or equipment, so it's often worth the time to complete them.

   Yo-Kai Watch 2 is a surprisingly open world to explore. Thanks to the myriad quests, bugs to catch, fish to reel in, Q boards, and mysterious hidden doors to open, hours can fly by in between plot points. There are also over four hundred Yo-Kai to recruit and evolve, meaning that there is tons of content to enjoy.

Don't worry, he doesn't eat kids. He just clubs them. Don't worry, he doesn't eat kids. He just clubs them.

   Battles are virtually identical to the first game, so series veterans will know what to expect. The player has a team of six Yo-Kai that can be used in battles. Using the L or R button, the party can rotate out a Yo-Kai for another team member based on where in the team's circle it is. The team will attack, heal, and inspirit on their own, while the player manages item use, special soultimate attacks, purification of bad inspirits, and the aforementioned team rotation. How your teammates act in battles is dependant on their natures, which can be changed via usable book items, and their abilities, which can't be changed. Even with the books, it's impossible to make Yo-Kai act exactly as desired.

   The bulk of the busy work in battles comes in the form of soultimate attacks and purifying inspirits. These actions require successful completion of a short touch screen mini game, such as making circles with the stylus, and usually only takes a few seconds to finish. There are some new mini games that appear in battles: chain breaking and pointing the hands of a clock onto a glowing number. Both of these require very little repetitive movement and are far less strenuous on hands and wrists compared to the first game.

   While it looks very similar to the first game, Yo-Kai Watch 2 still has style and charm in spades. With new attack animations, a load of new Yo-Kai, and new extra scenes at the end of every side quest, you can tell that every detail was lovingly crafted. The graphics are definitely limited by the hardware, but the 3DS has few games that look as good as this. It may be cartoony, but it suits the game perfectly.

   Musically, the game is fantastic. Even the cheesy English theme songs are delightful. The music in battles is energetic, the boss music is suitably tense and ominous, and the different area themes are perfectly suited to running around aimlessly for a while.

That is one big kitty cat! That is one big kitty cat!

   While the music in Yo-Kai Watch 2 is delightful, the same can't be said for a certain mechanic that has been brought back for this sequel: Terror Time. The player will randomly be drawn into a mini game that requires evading oni and their detector eyes while gathering treasure. Terror Time now provides bonuses based on how many oni orbs have been collected before exiting. For those who absolutely hate it, it is very easy to find the big boss and just end it quickly. Luckily, Terror Time doesn't occur nearly as frequently as it did in the first Yo-Kai Watch.

   Another unfortunate issue that Yo-Kai Watch 2 retains is the recruiting system for collecting Yo-Kai. Players have to defeat the enemy in battle and hope that it pops up afterwards and tries to join. Feeding them their favourite food can help, but it's still random. Thankfully they included a new function for the watch that allows poking of inspirited Yo-Kai. Poking either damages, increases friendship, or increases money, and this can improve the odds somewhat. The problem is, even with this small improvement, the recruitment process is still painfully random.

   Despite some mechanics that didn't get the necessary fix they sorely needed, Yo-Kai Watch 2 definitely is stronger than its predecessor by leaps and bounds. While the recruitment system is still a sore spot, the wealth of content and freedom of exploration in Yo-Kai Watch 2 builds a much more solid foundation, making it a great sequel and a worthwhile purchase.

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