Jibanyan and Whisper pair up yet again to bring a brand new fantastical tale set in a colourful world to your 3DS. However, does Level-5 do enough to ensure the formula doesn't become repetitive?
You play as the same protagonist from the first game: Katie Forester or Nathan Adams (depending on which gender you choose). Although I personally chose Katie, the story is the same regardless. She lives in the town of Springdale where Yo-Kai run rampant unbeknownst to anyone except Katie herself. Katie has the unique ability to see these hidden ghosts as they cause everyday havoc to those around them such as causing traffic accidents at intersections, making people's tummies rumble uncontrollably, and inspiriting random objects to make them do strange things. Yo-Kai Watch 2 follows the first game after Katie has her memory of previous adventures with Yo-Kai stolen from her, but she quickly gets it back after she's drawn again to the Yo-Kai watch. This game isn't just a repeat of the first because it quickly takes the story in a completely new direction as you travel 60 years into the past to meet Katie's grandfather, the creator of the first ever Yo-Kai watch.
The world of Yo-Kai Watch 2 is much bigger than the first game with the addition of 2 new towns and an alternate (past) version of Springdale. The towns and surrounding areas are just as attractive as ever, too. Vibrant colours are used throughout to paint the landscape and give each area a unique charm, keeping the lightheartedness very much alive. The map has been improved from the first, now allowing you to zoom in and see more detail to help you navigate. Not to mention the addition of better sidequest tracking where you can always see the next waypoint to continue your quest. The soundtrack and effects are top-notch with suitable silly tunes playing as you explore each area and battle Yo-Kai. The monsters look and sound awesome which reminded me of similar goofy designs that you'd see in something like the Dragon Quest series. The number of Yo-Kai has almost doubled in this sequel which is quite impressive considering the vast variety that are available to collect and train. Even Yo-Kai that are similar in appearance have enough differences to make you want more than one similar type in your party of 6.
Yo-Kai Watch 2's gameplay is split into battling Yo-Kai and fetch quests. The battles are engaging for the most part and have enough variety to keep you interested. It does a great job at slowly teaching you new skills that deepen the battles but seeing as it lacks the depth of other JRPGs, you may get bored with hunting for optional Yo-Kai fairly quickly. You pick 6 Yo-Kai that you've recruited and as the battle goes on, you decide which 3 of the 6 will fight the enemies, swapping them out when one gets hurt or you want to bring in a stronger Yo-Kai. You can also trigger special moves after playing micro-games right in the middle of battle (thankfully, there are new ones), which will momentarily take your attention away from the action as the other Yo-Kai fight on. None of this is unique to the second installment, though. The main new battle elements include the ability to trigger alternate versions of special moves as well as pinpoint weak spots on enemies in order to extract goodies such as extra experience or items. These additions make the battle system more engaging but not enough for me to want to keep playing and further my party's development.
The main problem in Yo-Kai Watch 2 is when it comes to what you do in between battles. You'll basically find yourself running from one spot to another, finding and delivering items to those who need them. Thankfully, there is a way to teleport around parts of the map but I found there simply weren't enough teleportation spots. I sometimes even put my 3DS down because I was bored of going back and forth. When moving between towns, you must take the train which will stop at every station before you get to your destination (unless you catch the express train which will skip a portion of the route for you). There really should be an option to skip the train journeys completely, especially when you've watched the same conversation between Katie and her Yo-Kai over and over again.
One thing that I can't miss mentioning is the humour. Level-5 is my favourite developer for a reason: they always deliver high quality, beautifully crafted games that don't fail to impress and keep me entertained. Yo-Kai Watch 2 delivers on that for the most part, especially the entertainment value. There are many moments where you'll find yourself laughing out loud at the absurdity of what's happening. For example, when I was taking the train from one town to another, a random stranger offered Katie a bat with nails coming out of it. Whisper (Katie's Yo-Kai butler that follows her around for the whole game) tried to convince me that the first Yo-Kai watch was made by a Shark named Steve Jaws, presenting me with a picture of exactly that - a Shark dressed in a black turtle neck with circular glasses unveiling the watch at a press conference. These moments are great, though I wish there were more of them.
When the main story is over, there's still a ton to do. Catching all of the Yo-Kai is a lengthy quest in itself, but you can also spend your time completing your index of fish caught in the river and bugs collected from trees and bushes throughout the map. When you're done collecting, there are optional quests and trophies to further challenge yourself. If all of that isn't enough, you can play the multiplayer portion with up to 3 friends where you must battle monsters together as you run for the exit.
There is no doubt that Yo-Kai Watch 2 is a fun game that will put a smile on the face of children and adults alike. It's charming, attractive and just plain delightful. If Level-5 could improve on the fetch quest portion and add some depth to the level-up and battle systems to keep the older fans hooked, this would be a gem that any RPG enthusiast should not pass up.
- + Beautiful, interesting world and characters
- + Map is expanded to 4 times the size
- + New gameplay elements switch up the battles and make them feel fresh
- - Too many fetch quests
- - Travelling the big world can be a chore
- - Battle system sometimes gets dull