“Yo-Kai Watch” Phenomenon Says It’s Time To Hit America
Ask anyone over in Japan what the hottest thing is right now, and you will get a unanimous answer of Yo-Kai Watch. Level-5′s franchise has brought forth massively popular video games, a hit anime series, and even films that have broken certain box office records once held by Hayao Miyazaki. Now after two years of being exclusive to the Land of the Rising Sun Yo-Kai Watch is coming to the States, and from what I was able to go hands-on with it is practically destined to be the next Pokémon.
On the E3 showroom floor Yo-Kai Watch is being presented via a few of Nintendo’s wandering booth employees, a surprise considering how big of a deal it is that this series is coming to America. The demo lasts ten minutes, but in that short time you get a good feel on what the whole game is bound to be like. You play Nate (or Keita in the Japanese version), who discovers a magic watch that can summon yo-kai, creatures based on Japanese folklore monsters. With the help of his ghostly butler Whisper you must gather over 200 different yo-kai that are in the area. Your magical watch can carry up to six creatures at a time, all of which can be summoned during battle and rotated as the fight progresses.
Initially the demo wanted me to take on a quest that would’ve had me go north of town, but I was too curious to see what my surroundings were like. I activated my watch, and proceeded to search for any yo-kai in the vicinity. The more the dial gets closer to red, the closer a yo-kai is in your vicinity. Once near enough, you must reveal the location of the yo-kai, which will sometimes lead you into a battle with it. In various cases it can lead to a simple defeat for your opponent, but if you are lucky enough it will ask if it can join you on your adventure.
The battles are paced rather nicely, as you can rotate your roster during the fight and call upon their unique techniques and healing capabilities for your injured yo-kai. Calling upon their more powerful attacks will have you interacting fast with the touchscreen, scratching and tapping away to get the biggest bang out of your special move. Some of these can be pretty awesome to watch, others leaning towards the silly. (A stun technique involving a grandma-like yo-kai blowing a nasty kiss at you got a giant chuckle out of me as I watched.)
A tad bit of sadness was thrown over me once the demo was over, as the urge to find out what happens next to Nate and Whisper was quite large. Yo-Kai Watch‘s gameplay is incredible fun to watch unfold, and its anime visuals are as vibrant and gorgeous as anything you can catch on your TV at this moment (or Hulu and Crunchyroll if you have a subscription to either). What’s more: you feel like you learn something about Japanese myths and stories as you play, as each yo-kai contains various unique traits that set itself apart from one another.
Yo-Kai Watch is due to hit the US this holiday season on the 3DS, with the anime series and toy lines coming from Hasbro sometime in 2016. Trust me when I say that if the house of Rainbow Dash and Optimus Prime are one of the companies responsible for bringing this franchise to America, you can make a safe bet that it’ll be increasingly difficult to get away from Japan’s biggest sensation.