It's finally here! The game that's reportedly so big in Japan, people can do the dance from the anime it's based on!
Level-5's "The Yokai Watch" reached us on the weekend I immediately went and bought it because I don't have to wait for Christmas because I'm an adult....Technically.
The basic premise of The Yokai Watch is not unlike Pokémon. But it's a completely different game. For a start, in this game, all of the Pokémon are dead, a bit more chatty and high maintenance. They give you coins if they like you and then you carry those coins around on the off chance you need to battle. In Pokémon, they live in Pokeballs if they like you, which you carry around in order to battle. See? Two totally different games.
Though this is how you meet your first Yokai....
Your job is to find Yokai, stop them from bothering people and ultimately save the world because this is a videogame and that's what you do in videogames. But the Yokai are also in need of your assistance. Save the Yokai, save the world!
Despite the fact that the majority of characters you meet are dead and some of those are actually horrifying monsters, it's certainly no Maiden of Blackwater.
All the bad guys are businessmen hellbent on destroying the spirit and human worlds due to their own greed. A metaphor for society? DUN DUN DUUUUN DEEP PLOT TWIST?! Probably not.
Getting into the....SPIRIT of the game.
From the names of the Yokai to the game dialogue, you're in for a PUN time withYo-kai Watch. There's more word play than you can poke a stylus at, from clever names and dialogue to outright shameless puns.
When you start out can choose between being a girl or boy, but that doesn't seem to change anything much for you. The watch style is different and the dialogue of characters around you changes slightly, but in the early stages, at least, it's no great difference. And no, it doesn't matter who you choose the puns are still there.
Despite the relatively cutesy kiddy feel, it's no walk in the park.
I mean, in the game you can and do walk in many parks, but other times you have to sprint through one in the dead of night because it's Terror Time and life just got real!
Yokai Watch won't let you live your life.
I don't mean that your character dies. (Or maybe they do at the end and if that's what happens then it will be the greatest plot twist since George R.R Martin thought “You know, this isn't a main character....”)
But it's more mundane than that. Once you've fought a boss or completed a certain part of a quest line, the game just transports you back to your room with no option to stay and look around. You can go back at a later time, but little restrictions like this feel strange after so many games where you're allowed to explore however you like.
Perhaps along the same lines, is the declaration that you have to obey the road rules. No, really. You will find yourself waiting for the light to go green so you can cross the road. If you don't, nothing bad seems to happen. But little touches like that lets you know the game cares.
To a lesser degree, Yo-Kai Watch also takes away your real life. It's quite addictive, so say goodbye to the 3D world that isn't on a screen....The Yokai are your friends now....
Every battle is a Death Match!
The Yokai are already dead, so technically every battle they have is a death match and as we all know “What is dead may never die”. It's still sad when that blue flame takes the place of the Yokai you failed by pitting them against an enemy they simply weren't prepared for.
The Yokai battles can be intense as well, especially with the bosses.
It's a 3 on 3 battle set up. The way you organise your team becomes important because certain Yokai being next to each other can give you bonuses and buffs. It also requires you to be more interactive than Pokémon, giving you mini games to complete to unlock special attacks for your Yokai.
If you're just getting started, be sure to build your team early either through levelling them up or finding strong Yokai to add, explore the environment and take all the opportunities to increase your levels. Don't rush to finish the main quest, even if that's what the game keeps pushing you to do, or you may find yourself severely under levelled to fight a boss which just becomes painful. Also, it leads you to say things like " Finally! My Yokai managed to properly attack that giant pig ghost's belly button and now I can return the underwear to the clock dude”.
Yay or BOOOOO?
If you enjoy Pokémon or think you would enjoy Pokémon but don't want to try Pokémon, then this game is for you. It's fun, the tutorials are easy to understand and while it is restrictive, it's a small point easily overlooked. The voice acting comes across as a little cheesy, but it's okay and mostly you're looking at text dialogue anyway.
7 cat puns out of 10.