Release date: September 30, 2016
One year ago, Nintendo and Level-5 graced us with the surprise hit Japan has enjoyed for a while by bringing Yo-kai Watch over to the west. This year, we’re getting Yo-kai Watch 2 in two separate versions: Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls. While Japan has enjoyed the second entry long before we got the first, it’s nice to see both titles finally making their way over in 2016 to give 3DS owners and fans of the original something to look forward to once again.
Before we go any further, let me start by saying that this review was made with a copy of Fleshy Souls. The difference between Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls mainly lies in their medals which come with the physical versions, as well as a few Yo-kai and quests that are specific to each game. Other than that, much like how Pokemon handles their varying versions, they are practically identical in every other way. If you plan on getting Bony Spirits, this review should still provide an accurate impression on what to expect from that version.
Jibanyan, Whisper, and the rest of the Yo-kai crew are back in Springdale to create mischief and embark on yet another goofy yet adorable and hilarious journey with Nate and Katie and their close friends. This time, we look at the origins of the Yo-kai Watch, all while ominously being followed and watched by a pair of evil Yo-kai sisters.
Right away what took me by surprise with Yo-kai Watch 2 is the fact that the first hour is mainly the original Yo-kai Watch all over again. Within the first few minutes, your memory is wiped by the aforementioned evil Yo-kai sisters Kin and Gin, and you literally have to repeat everything from the first entry, such as finding Whisper from the capsule machine, and Jibanyan from the intersection still trying to stop trucks – he’ll even tell you his story of why he’s doing it and how he became that way. This made me immediately feel as if – and this feeling is even more so amplified later on – Yo-kai Watch 2 is made to be the “definitive edition” of sorts of the first game, as not only does it catch you up within the first hour of everything that happened in Yo-kai Watch 1 since you’re literally playing through it, but you get acquainted quickly with the same cast and city. Everything is exactly how you remember it, and because of its polish and refinement compared to the original, it’s almost as if Level-5 wanted to make something that was not only accessible for everyone, but didn’t require people to play the first title at all.
It’s odd to see something like this happen in a sequel when normally consumer interest in the newer product of a recently released or upcoming title will usually cause them to spend money on previous iterations to either catch up, enjoy more of the lore, or simply experience more of what they loved. While I’m quite alright with the prospect of this so fans both old and new can enjoy this at the same time on launch day (as well as with future titles), in some cases it almost feels a bit upsetting that everything from the previous title seemingly felt like it was all for nothing and that you’re doing everything over again. This is the vibe I got anyways, and while the charm and everything I love about Yo-kai Watch in general is still here, that thought lingered with me throughout my playthrough – constantly feeling a sense of déjà vu because I had done all of this before.
This is, however, a fantastic chance for new players to jump in since it just feels like a cleaned up and much better experience of the first title. The story, albeit similar, is certainly better. The game itself is a lot more engaging and makes you want to stick through it until the end, and the humor that made the first entry so great is still there, and even turned up a notch in some cases. You’re granted with a multitude of Yo-kai this time around, bumping up the count from 200 to well over 350 you can befriend in Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls. The battle system feels a lot smoother and even adds a few extra perks later on that make battles even more exciting.
One of the best parts when it comes to battling in Yo-kai Watch 2 is its Blasters mode in which you and up to three other friends (you can play this by yourself if you want) get together to take on what’s essentially the Yo-kai Watch version of a raid. Here you can go around collecting orbs and try to survive until an escape portal opens up. It’s a crazy amount of fun and undoubtedly a highlight of Yo-kai Watch 2. If you have any friends that plan on picking up Yo-kai Watch 2, you’re bound to spend hours among hours in this mode alone. Of course, if raiding isn’t for you, there’s also online play and medal trading to help you hone your skills and beef up your Yo-kai Medallium further.
Despite all the similarities and copies that players of the original Yo-kai Watch will encounter, the saying “there’s no place like home” still holds true. It’s easy to remember where everything is since nothing has changed, and it’s cool to see all the differences this time around, even if you sometimes have to go out of your way to look for them. It feels great to be back where it all started and meet up with your friends and play the game again in a more intuitive fashion.
Yo-kai Watch 2 is a fun and incredibly charming experience perfect for the whole family, and a game where, if you have kids of your own, you should definitely buy them all copies and play along. If anything, it makes the hype for Yo-kai Watch 3 through the roof since there will be a whole new setting and adventure to take on. Maybe this was intentional to make you feel as if you really live in Springdale before Yo-kai Watch 3 comes around to give more of an emotional attachment to the title. Who knows! Either way, Level-5 has created a wonderful world and something special with Yo-kai Watch in general that’s great for people of all ages. If Yo-kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls is your first time jumping into the series, don’t worry – you’ll have a great time and be caught up in a flash.
While Yo-kai Watch 2 certainly gives off the déjà vu effect due to its large similarities with its predecessor, it’s certainly a more fun and engaging adventure this time around that fans both old and new can enjoy. Battling in general feels a lot more enjoyable and refined, as well as the inclusion of new apps and meeting new friends that overall bring the entire experience together in a well thought out way that makes the title feel whole. The charm and humor of Yo-kai Watch is as strong as ever, and with tons more to see and do, Yo-kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls serve as great follow-ups to the original, giving fans and newcomers countless hours of gameplay and plenty of smiles and laughs along the way.