TL;DR Plot Synopsis
One day, while out catching bugs, you discover a ghostly spirit who tells you he’s a Yo-Kai. He then gives you a watch that allows you to see other yo-kai, which you fight and befriend.
Sort of like Pokemon, but roughly a million times better.
- charming characters
- cute stories
- dynamic combat
- enough side quests that you’re not forced to fight for all experience
- works well in short bursts
- map sucks
- combat can get loud with all the frantic tapping
- befriending Yo-Kai is more of an art than a predictable science
On January 1st of this year, my mom was rushed to the hospital for some major surgery. Severe repercussions emerged from an operation she’d had a decade before, so suddenly that all of us were taken by surprise. She could have died if it had taken much longer to get her to the surgeons, and it was a scary point in time for the whole family.
She had to stay in the hospital for a while for recovery, since the surgery left her essentially helpless. My dad and brother were there to help her, but my brother is still in school, so he wasn’t around during the day and Dad didn’t need to be doing everything, so I took a few days off work to go down and stay with her.
On my way to the hospital, I stopped and bought Yo-Kai Watch. My favorite GameStop employee had recommended it as soon as it came out, but I was holding off until the price dropped. But a hospital is a boring and scary place, and I decided to treat myself to some happiness to carry me through an emotional ordeal.
YKW was exactly the game I needed. It’s engaging without needing copious amounts of focus, so I was able to keep an eye on Mom while she slept to make sure everything was fine. It was easy to put down while helping her to and from the bathroom, and while talking to her during her brief periods of wakefulness, and easy to get right back into when she fell asleep and I picked it up again.
The game took me out of the emotionally difficult place that the hospital room was and allowed me to enter a world that was charming and funny, where all problems were caused by misunderstandings with adorable little spirits that caused mischief in the human world. And I wasn’t even forced to fight for all my experience, since there were plenty of side-quests to do that offered experience and money. Because while the fighting in the game is super fun, surrounded by all the pain and hurt in the hospital made me want to be a little gentler sometimes.
When Mom was well enough to go home and I came back up to my own house, I was happy to find that the game was just as fun when not contrasting a horribly stagnant and stressful room. And playing it with sound (since I had it muted so Mom could sleep and was afraid to put in headphones in case she called for me) enhanced the already excellent game. I love the music and sound effects in this game, which I’ve come to realize make a bigger impact on me than I would expect.
The basic mechanics of the game – find Yo-Kai, fight Yo-Kai, befriend Yo-Kai – are a lot like Pokemon. But unlike Pokemon, the fighting is fast-paced and interesting, the Yo-Kai have distinct personalities (that don’t require a show to see), and there’s an interesting, if somewhat basic, story.
Grab It If
- You like Pokemon and want to play something similar, but are ready to shake it up a little.
- You’re looking for something light-hearted and funny.
- You need a game that lends itself well to short bursts of play.
Skip It If
- You’re looking for a complicated and/or deep story.
- You don’t feel like playing something cutesy.