NS Review- YO-KAI WATCH (3DS)
YO-KAI WATCH is an RPG on the Nintendo 3DS that is finally being released to the west after Japan having it for years. It sports bizarre and eccentric creatures called Yo-kai that inhabit our world and have strange effects on people, and upon discovering and (begrudgingly) befriending a spoopy Yo-kai named Whisper, your character (who can be a boy or a girl, I seriously cannot thank Level-5 enough for making this an option) is forced to look at a jarring new view on the world.
Visually, this game is adorable; the characters and scenery are bright and colorful, with each scannable location I’ve come across being charming in its own way- the diversity, design, and vibrancy in this game’s locations really are beautiful. I adore the icons for items and I think the character proportions of the humans work wonderfully in this game’s favor. There is an excellent use of body language present in the main character which I genuinely feel a lot of other games could learn from. Unfortunately this game, like many other titles on the 3DS that utilize the 3D function, suffers from lacking depth when the 3D is turned on. Flat pictures placed on one another, rather than a fully 3D model in some instances. The inhabitants of this game, specifically the Yo-kai, are quirky, to say the least. Each one is a bizarre mashup of an animal or item (or both) blended into a very strange outcome. Many of them sport very bold personalities ranging from honorable warrior to dismal bird…thing. Some even made me want to claw my retinas out and genuinely made me recoil in real life upon discovering them.
The opening theme and video was honestly horrendous for me. I frantically mashed all buttons hoping to skip and sat there cringing wondering why on earth I was being made to witness such a sight, being made worse by how the singer really does sound like he’s not enjoying himself. The voice acting in this game isn’t awful, but I didn’t find anything particularity noteworthy either. It works for what it is, and tends to do its job. The sound effects fit the tone of the game and continue the well-executed theme of not using your dialogue to spell everything out.
There’s multiple praise for this game to be had in terms of its gameplay. While it does start immediately with slightly drawn out flat text instructions, it does evolve into something better. There’s still a lot of debate on what the best way to teach a player how to play is, but I really cannot commend the usage of bug-catching to teach you such an important part of the gameplay enough. On top of this your character can immediately travel with impressive speeds, and even break into a run that is borderline uncontrollable. Unfortunately this game does see the return of the dreaded stamina-lime, so if you didn’t like that feature in Skyward Sword, you probably wont appreciate it too much in YO-KAI WATCH. I can’t thank the designers enough for allowing such good initial movement speed, especially given it still seems to be something many games have problems grasping. I do however find the unrelenting presence of the objective, as useful as it is, considerably patronising. The battle methods in this game are creative and fun- just try to avoid playing on the bus if you don’t want to be judged like I was.
Since the birth of the 3DS there seemed to be a strange aversion to fully utilizing so many of the features the console boasted, from poor or no 3D, to no motion controls, to no touch screen support. Understandably this is sometimes down to the game developers rather than Nintendo, but to me it does somewhat scream defeat before they’d even begun. I really feel this game could have benefit from using motion to hunt for bugs and Yo-kai and think it’s quite a shame and missed opportunity it wasn’t included, however I do applaud them for giving the option of touch screen or control stick in this situation regardless. The world of YO-KAI WATCH is impressively vast upon starting, but I think it’s a bit of a shame when a game throws you into such a large world only to immediately shut off most of it to you, especially as the way it is closed off is just via invisible walls. Something like utilizing an item or powerup here and locking the game behind inexperience, thus heightening the drive for acquiring the item/powerup that would further unlock the game could have been implemented here instead. Please don’t wave a cake in my face if you only intend on giving me small a fistful of it.
YO-KAI WATCH sees the continued success of RPGs and utterly nonsense creatures. It was hard to feel down while experiencing the visual beauty this game had to offer and was continually wowed by new places. Even though the tone can be a little embarrassing or downright peculiar I wouldn’t say it was ever too bad. If you want to be bffs with clinically depressed avians and pink sludge, or just want a snazzy new watch, then I’d say you should probably get on this game. Drop us a comment or tweet me @MattiasMay with your thoughts on this game, favorite location, favorite Yo-kai, or whatever you fancy.
YO-KAI WATCH is available for Nintendo 3DS in the EU on April 29th. Many thanks to Nintendo for providing a copy of this game to review.