Yo-Kai Watch Guide
Yo-Kai Watch has been in the states for about 2 years now and is a huge success in Japan that has even overtaking Pokemon in popularity. Still, in the states, it just now got to the point where Yo-kai Watch has gotten around to being a recognizable brand. Some of the biggest concerns with the brand are how it differs from the Pokemon franchise. The third game releases this week and is titled Psychic Spectors for the 3DS. So, let’s get you caught up on all the things about the series, shall we?
What is a Yokai?
Yokai are basically spirits or monsters from Japanese folklore. Yo-kai Watch takes these classic tales and morphs them into creatures for the game. Most of them have a cute or comedic look to them, but some go a more ghoulish route. Yo-kai all have a basis in real life lore kind of like Pokemon does with animals. This gives each creature a unique power and backstory for you to explore.
In the actual game world, each yokai can influence humans and disrupt daily life. These can go from small annoyances like losing your remote to destroying relationships or causing accidents. While Yo-kai Watch generally keeps away from the darker side of things you will see a few darker topics implied throughout the series. A lot of the time a Yo-kai display its power either in its behavior of appearance. This means just by looking at it for awhile you can probably take a pretty good guess at what exactly this creature can do to you. These creatures also have the ability to speak words and can communicate with the main character.
So, basically, the story revolves around a watch that can be used to see yokai which are normally invisible to the human eye. This all gets thrown out of the water during some kids bug hunting session. A young boy named Nate wander a bit too far into the forest trying to catch a bigger bug than his friends. He soon starts to hear a mysterious voice and then encounters a gachapon machine that asks him to free it. Freaked out, but curious Nate puts in a coin and turns the lever to release Whisper back into the world and begin the games weird story.
Once Whisper is freed he explains that he was trapped in the machine by a priest and gives you the Yokai Watch. It’s here he teaches you to use the device and helps you collect your first yokai from a nearby tree. Once you start your adventure you will slowly begin to learn that there are different types of yokai throughout the world. Yokai all have their own personalities and can be good or bad much like people. Due to this Nate gets pulled into a plot to help save the yokai world from being forcefully taken over.
Along the way, Nate encounters the series mascot Jibanyan who has turned into a yokai after being hit by a car. Part of the side story revolves around him coping with the fact that is owner made cruel comments to him after he was hit. In the anime, there is more of a focus put on Jibanyan story while it’s split across the first two games on Ds. Jibanyan also takes refuge in Nate’s room meaning that he becomes deeply tied in with a lot of the going on in this world. You soon encounter more prominent yokai like Walkappa who is based on the Japanese folklore of Kappa who live in the sea and river. The side stories give a deeper meaning to the story and are intertwined with the main quest of the game to give players more backstory on the world around them.
The story then takes a more sinister route as boss yokai start terrorizing the world and causing actual problems. As Nate leans on his yokai to fight through them a puzzle slowly unravels that points to problems in the yokai world. The yokai world is a land that the yokai can travel from freely, but some yokai have got it in their head that humans shouldn’t be allowed to be near their brethren and are trying to disconnect the two worlds as quickly as possible.
The whole first came is basically a climb to you reach the yokai world and take it back from the bad guys. This causes the two worlds to become unstable and makes it so yokai disappear for a bit. Of course, this is all fixed at the end and a rightful ruler gets to take over the realm of yokai guaranteeing that yokai and humans can interact pretty freely if they so wish.
The premise of the second game and Psychic Spectors is the creation of the Yokai Watch. This game offers travel between past and future Japan letting the player learn the origins of seeing yokai. The game also revolves around two warring yokai factions that you can choose between. The story is a little more serious than the first games, but it still has comedic moments for you to enjoy scattered about.
This title is a little mislead because you can’t exactly catch yokai. Instead, you have to befriend them by completing certain tasks or bribing them to your side. This process was extremely hard in the first game, but as of the latest entry has gotten a lot simpler. To get a yokai to debate joining you all you have to do is feed them. Each yokai has different likes and dislikes that you will need to figure out in order to trigger a scene after the battle where they ask if they can join your team. Getting a favorite food isn’t always a guarantee, but it will give you a pretty good chance of obtaining them.
When you catch a yokai they don’t stay with you, but instead, they give you a medal that Nate will put in the watch to summon them. Each yokai belongs to a different tribe and catching and using ones from the same tribe in battle will give you a boost. The game does allow you to catch multiple yokai so you can make an army of Noko’s if you want. Of course, just like with legendary Pokemon there are some yokai you can only get one per game of. These generally aren’t caught but befriended through special in-game events or gotten by using the gachapon you got Whisper from daily.
In America this franchise is heavily being marketed towards children. Don’t let that scare you away though as the RPG series is made by Level-5 who also made Ni No Kuni. The RPG and art elements are top notch along with the gameplay. While you may have just started hearing about Yo-kai Watch it already has a solid fanbase here in the US. In fact it mobile game Wibble Wobble is hugely popular due to the fun designs of the yokai!
The entirety of the Yo-kai Watch franchise only takes place over a few towns. In fact the first two games take place in the same town called Springdale with the second game adding in more locations and a classic Japanese village for you to visit. The town is made to be as vast as a normal Rpg and there are lots of places to explore to make-up for the lack of biodiversity you will find while playing Yo-kai Watch. While this may sound like a turn-off since it’s not a huge region you would be surprised just how time-consuming and addicting it is unlocking and learning new parts of the town.
Since Nate has lived in this town his entire life you have established friends that will show up throughout the game. These characters usually end up being the reason you find new yokai or have a quest to finish. The game makes itself a lot more believable by establishing a community who knows each other around the town. The world also features a lot of Japanese cultures that may not be all that common to players in the states. At times some things may get lost in translation since they are referring to things that only the Japanese audience will be familiar with.
The battle system is also a little strange for a monster collecting game. The combat is completely in real time and requires you to interact in different ways than the norm. When in combat you will have to do things such as watch the Soultimate meter that lets your yokai unleash special attacks. Once this meter is full you will have to play short mini-games to unease it on your opponent. Of course, there are healing moves that you will have to strategize out when playing in order to succeed. You will also have to watch your yokai’s status to keep them from being put out of battle. If your yokai gets a status effect you will have to play a mini-game to get them out of it. The good news is that these mini-games give you extra XP at the end of the battles.
The world will also force you to stay out of certain areas until you do quests to level up your watch. These quests usually involve killing X number of yokai to get x rank of the watch to get to x part of town. The formula is pretty simple to understand and will be the way your progress to the next piece of the story at times. Be sure to visit the in-game watch shop often to be able to upgrade as soon as you can. When you increase your watch rank you will also be able to increase what rank of yokai you run into. This means that you will have stronger friends to take into battle with you.
Yo-kai Watch also has spin-off games such as Yo-kai Blasters and an anime that follows the events of the game. The extended franchise doesn’t much affect the mainline story but does expand upon the yokai’s personalities and lore. The show is comedic and I do suggest watching the Japanese version as the American is targeted more towards children. There is also a manga that closely follows the story and has a few different twists on the different characters for you to enjoy.
If you are looking for a quick recap of the first game’s story then check out the movie. The Yo-kai Watch movie is currently available to stream on Netflix at your leisure and will completely catch you up with events in the story. The movie may spoil a little bit of the happening, but it is great at getting you into the world. If you’re not much of a Netflix person then I suggest watching the anime episodes that contain story elements to quickly get you up to speed for the new game.