When I played the original Yo-kai Watch in November 2015, I did so on a whim and found myself oddly charmed by its interesting premise and detailed world. Showing some formulaic similarities to the Pokémon franchise is unavoidable when your premise entirely focuses on both the collecting and fighting of crazy creature things, but it had such a uniquely odd personality that I was engrossed. I was a little apprehensive of the sequel showing up in two defined parts, again due to its overtly similar nature to the ‘other’ monster collection game – but it seems the real worry came when I actually sat down to play it.
Yo-kai Watch 2 sadly doesn’t quite manage to build upon the formula set up by its predecessor. There’s still a lot here to like, but I can’t help but feel that Yo-kai 2: Electric Boogaloo is an entry only diehard fans will leave truly satisfied. Oddball choices like opening the game with an amnesia trope to reintroduce the concept of Yo-kai might be helpful to those that entirely missed the previous game, but feels frustrating to those of us who are familiar with the concept. The déjà vu can be a little hard to swallow, and it really does set the tone for an experience that really boils down to two worrying words – bland and repetitive.
With all repetitive things however, if the repeated action is truly enjoyable it can still remain quite palatable, and as you traverse the city of Springdale you quickly come to accept the Yo-kai battles for what they are – regular breathing points along the game’s storyline. It never truly feels ‘right’ to experience what could be readily described as an ‘absentee’ battle system, as the player interaction is kept to a minimum during combat itself. Instead you approach the game’s encounters from a more management perspective, ensuring that you are working with the most efficient Yo-kai for a task so that the little interaction you can offer will have the most impact. During combat you will find yourself dispensing heath and buffs, and enacting powerful ‘Soultimate’ attacks – but the only real ‘fresh’ mechanic found here would be the newly introduced ‘M Skills’, which boil down to consuming all three of your active Yo-kais’ special meters for one particularly flashy (and often hard hitting) attack. But even these quickly come to feel nonessential, and largely meaningless when you realise you can instead dish out three servings of Yo-kai kickassery to perform some fairly impressive combos.
Old friends become new friends thanks to tragic, early onset dementia
Yo-kai 2: Electric Boogaloo is an entry only diehard fans will leave truly satisfied.
An engaging world that starts to diminish after repeated visits to familiar areas.
Truth be told, there is a hell of a lot of stuff to do in Yo-kai 2: Electric Boogaloo, with the story itself clocking in at 25+ hours on its own. I’d argue that a lot of this time may well be spent on the games sluggish methods of traversal throughout the world, but again the distractions come thick and fast in an attempt to do everything in its power to mask the point that you aren’t moving at a blistering pace. Couple this with the 350+ Yo-kai monsters in the game world, time travel shenanigans and the online battle options, you’d be hard pressed to find yourself with nothing to do. Even the post-story activities seemed to be robust and plentiful enough to convince me to keep digging around for Yo-kai, as I kept discovering areas and things to do long after I’d taken care of the game’s antagonist hag witch queens.
Damn these tiny screenshots!
I worry I may simply be too old to enjoy what Yo-kai Watch aims to achieve, and with a hefty amount of nostalgia banked on the Pokémon series maybe I am just too deadset in what I expect from a monster collection and cock fighting simulator to really give it the chance it deserves. These personal criticisms aside, it still doesn’t excuse the fact that the game’s innovations towards its combat systems still fall awfully short on what is expected by a knowledgeable gamer when approaching the next entry in a game that obviously intends to be a long running series. Some players will love it despite its issues, while many might find themselves feeling undeniably disappointed by the numerous similarities to its predecessor, and very frustrated by some of the more questionable gameplay mechanics that are rife within the title.
Maybe when Yo-kai Watch 3 finally gets localised it will blow my mind. Hmm.
Reviewed on Nintendo 3DS