Last year, we reviewed Yo-Kai Watch, a game that was a take on the Pokémon “Collect them all” style of gaming. I thoroughly enjoyed it at the time, and so it was with great joy I got a chance to review Yo-Kai Watch 2. Let’s find out what’s different about this game, shall we?
Yo-Kai Watch 2 comes in two flavours: Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls, and although the story is the same, there are a number of Yo-Kai that are different between the two. For the purposes of this review, I played Bony Spirits, but the two games are functionally identical. Also, many of the points I made in my review of Yo-Kai Watch still apply to this game, so if you’re feeling lost, I suggest you go back to that review.
Yo-Kai Watch 2 starts with two evil spirits, Kin and Gin, removing the Yo-Kai watch from existence while Nate (or Katie, if that’s who you’ve chosen, but I’m going to assume you chose Nate here, because it’s easier to write the review on this basis) is sleeping. The next day, Nate is happily going out with his parents, having forgotten the watch. It’s school vacation time, and the day afterwards he is in town when he finds a strange antique store, which sells him the Yo-Kai Watch and gives him a coin for the capsule machine outside, where Nate becomes reacquainted with Whisper, his Yo-Kai butler. Their quest to figure out who would want the watch gone takes them further afield than they’ve been before, and even takes them into the past to confront the maker of the original Yo-Kai Watch. All of this is wrapped in a metafiction battle between two factions of Yo-Kai, Fleshies and Bonies.
If you’ve played the original game, you’ll be in very familiar territory, because the game plays almost exactly the same as the first. You go around the area fighting and befriending Yo-Kai, using them to help you catch other Yo-Kai, or using them to help fulfill requests from the residents of Springdale. You can also experience a slightly updated Terror Time, where you’re presented with a new Oni Crank-A-Kai capsule machine at the end for collecting a Oni tokens. The feed-Yo-Kai-to-make-friends mechanic returns to this game again, but this time it’s a little easier to know what they want because the target pin actually shows you what works on them. To complicate things, though, there’s a couple of new food types that can be difficult to obtain. The Springdale you know and love is the same town with the same shops, but with a number of expanded locations and some new shops to visit.
Completely new to Yo-Kai Watch 2 is the ability to take the train to two new regions: Harrisville where your Grandmother lives, and San Fantastico, a small fishing village. There are a number of stops along the way to either place, but you can’t leave the station platform at any of these other stops. The train line is fairly realistic in that you have to switch lines to get to certain locations. The past versions of Springdale and Harrisville are also new, and so completely different that you could be counted as an extra two regions to the game. Naturally, there are some puzzles and requests that are based on time travel. Also new are a couple of new Soultimate and Purify minigames. And of course, across the two flavours of game, Yo-Kai Watch 2 almost doubles the number of collectible yo-kai.
There are also a number of new features that bring Yo-Kai Watch 2 on par with Pokémon. The first is the ability to battle Yo-Kai over the world. The battle mode differs a little from Pokémon’s in that, in the interest of equality, everyone’s Yo-Kai is powered up to level 60 for the duration of the fight. You can participate in friendly one-on-one fights with people you know, or contribute to the global Fleshy vs Bony factional fight. Another nice feature is the ability to trade medals back and forth across the internet. I wasn’t able to find anyone to trade with unfortunately, but I understand it’s a good way to get rid of medals you don’t want and obtain medals you don’t have.
Yo-Kai Watch 2 happily addresses the one thing that I had a major issue with in the first game: there is now an overarching, connected and cohesive story that runs through the whole game, giving you a good reason to do the things you do. Well, a better reason than the disjointed mess of chapters in the first game. The story itself is pretty decent, though, and the time travel end of things ties in quite nicely without being a burden on the story.
On the other hand, a good number of problems with the first game comes back to haunt the second game. I still feel that the battle system is way too passive. Soultimate moves take long enough to regenerate that you can’t use it all the time, and your team don’t get inspirited often enough to get through the purification minigame more than a handful of times (at least initially–it goes way up in the other direction in the late-game phase). The favours and quests are little more than padding, and often enough you’ll need a very specific Yo-Kai to do the job, which means going to the ridiculous lengths needed to catch said blighter.
I have to bear in mind, though, that adults my age are not the primary audience, so I presented it to my 8-year old son to give me his verdict. He absolutely loves it and all the new Yo-Kai that come with the game. He also wasn’t as bothered by the initial amnesia part of the storyline as I was, and enjoyed putting together teams of Yo-Kai to battle it out with. He also loved the new areas to explore, but the train system got him irritated very quickly. So there’s all that.
Overall, I enjoyed Yo-Kai Watch 2, and I think it a worthy successor to the original game. Despite its shortcomings, it’s still a lot of fun to play, and the new features make a great addition to the game. If you played the first one, you’ll enjoy a return to Springdale and the greater freedom of the surrounds, although the rail system gets old after awhile–thank heavens for teleport mirrors! If you’re a newcomer to Yo-Kai Watch, you won’t have to feel too out of it for not playing the first game, since you’re given a gentle enough introduction to things here. And of course, if you’re on the fence, I suggest you try the demo, which gives you more than just a decent idea of how the game works.