The Yo-Kai Watch series of games have found immense popularity in Japan for a few years now, but the US is playing catch up following the release of the first game last fall. Taking the approach of the somewhat similar Pokemon franchise, Yo-Kai Watch has split itself into two different entries for the relatively familiar feeling sequel at launch, which are known as Yo-Kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls in the West.
Yo-Kai Watch was a fun game that definitely seemed to take inspirations from other series, but its charm and enjoyable Yo-Kai creatures made it a worthwhile, albeit relatively short experience. This seemed like it would serve as a solid foundation to build upon for subsequent sequels, and while there are some ways that this was done well, there are also aspects that feel way too similar to the first.
Sequels typically follow up directly on the story of the previous game, but Yo-Kai Watch 2 approaches this a little differently by almost making the game serve as a somewhat reboot. At the start, the main character, whether you choose the boy or girl, does not remember the events of the previous game. This is kind of confusing at first, but after a little opening segment, their memory is restored as you come across your faithful companions Whisper and Jibanyan, though the rest of your Yo-Kai that you befriended in the previous game are lost. The Jibanyan encounter specifically almost recreates perfectly how he was introduced in the first game, so it gives a little insight for those that didn’t play before.
Unlike the singular first game, Level-5 decided to go with two different options between Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls. There are Yo-Kai that are exclusive to each one, just like Pokemon, but really the only big story change involves a decision early in the game. Near the beginning, you are asked to choose between two different donut shops, with your mom and dad each preferring one over the other. It asks you to choose, but the choice is predetermined based on the version of the game you have. This is almost like Fire Emblem Fates with the choice depending on the game, but it doesn’t really alter anything like in those games.
Before long, you as the player will discover that someone had wiped the memory of your character and the story goes on from there. Just like the first game, the story itself is rather simple throughout, with the Yo-Kai themselves really being the standouts. This is fine for a game that is targeted at a younger age group, but it would have been nice to have a little more depth here.
Battling in Yo-Kai Watch 2 is still one of the weaker aspects of this series, as it leads to a way too passive type of experience. Just like the first game, you have the ability to pick up to six Yo-Kai to be on your team that are set around a wheel that you can rotate at anytime during battle. As you rotate it, the top three will come into battle and fight the opponent.
The problem with this battle system though is that you really have very little control whatsoever over your team. You can activate their special Soultimate move when the meter fills up, but the rest of the moves they make are completely on their own. This can get incredibly frustrating when they keep healing or inflicting status effects like Inspirit on opponents when they could just as easily be using attack moves that would finish off the enemy outright.
This wheel setup is almost comparable to the Paradigm shift system in Final Fantasy XIII, where your pre-battle setup is what matters more than anything. This does add a lot of strategy to not only which Yo-Kai you have on your team at any given time, but the placement of them on the wheel to where you can get special bonuses and such. It does help that you also can target a specific enemy or part of an enemy, with the latter coming more into play in boss battles.
One new aspect of the game’s battle system is the fact that you can take it online for the first time. In the first game, you were limited to local multiplayer with friends, but now you can take that to the next level by battling those friends from afar. In addition, there is a new 4-player local multiplayer mode that you can check out as well.
The often times over the top designs are even better here than before
Where Yo-Kai Watch 2 drastically improves on the original is in the number of different Yo-Kai that you can come across. Across the two versions, you’ll find more than 150 new Yo-Kai to battle against and hopefully befriend. While some of these are just palette swaps of existing Yo-Kai, there are plenty of these wacky creatures to find in the game. The often times over the top designs are even better here than before, making it very worth the player’s while to find as many as they can, even if actually getting them to join you requires a lot of luck.
Yo-Kai Watch 2 features a mission structure that is very much like that found in the original, which are broken down into quests, favors, and story. The quests include key quests that are necessary to advance in the game, which often require a lot of movement around the map and backtracking. Having so much variety in mission types helps to improve on the flow of the first game, with the early game pace being much improved this time around.
While the quests are varied throughout, the movement between these can get pretty annoying. Yo-Kai Watch 2 utilizes the same stamina based system that was found in the first outing, which only allows you to run very short distances before getting tired out. Thankfully, the basic movement of the character is still a decent speed itself, but the system still could have worked so much better if it was like Pokemon’s Running Shoes, as you can also get a bicycle here later as well that vastly improves the experience.
The world found in Yo-Kai Watch 2 should feel pretty familiar in parts, but it does open up more as the game goes on. On top of visiting other towns and locations, time travel is even brought into the mix to where you can see the past version of an area in the game. You will certainly be going back and forth between these different locales too, as backtracking plays a big role in the game when completing the various quests and favors.
Just like its predecessor, Yo-Kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits & Fleshy Souls are mostly enjoyable games from beginning to end. The sequel does introduce a number of new Yo-Kai and a follow-up story. However, this second entry is too deeply rooted in the original to where many of the same faults are still present, with it really feeling like Level-5 played it way too safe in Yo-Kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits & Fleshy Souls.
Yokai Watch 2
- Available On: Nintendo 3DS
- Published By: Nintendo
- Developed By: Level-5
- Genre: RPG
- US Release Date: September 30th, 2016
- Reviewed On: Nintendo 3DS
- Quote: "While the game does introduce a number of new Yo-Kai and a follow-up story, this second entry feels too deeply rooted in the original to where many of the same faults are still present, with it really feeling like Level-5 played it way too safe in Yo-Kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits & Fleshy Souls."
- Many more Yo-Kai
- Quest variety
- Too similar to the first game
- Stamina system