Yo-kai Watch Review

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Aina Prat Blasi
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On April 12, at 18:50 pm, the first episode of the Yo-kai Watch cartoon was broadcast on Cartoon Network, kicking off the invasion of the new series created by Level 5. As we announced earlier this month in a special special, this is just the beginning of the phenomenon of new monsters: the next stage of Jibanyan's march will be on April 29 on the European Nintendo 3DS, with Yo-kai Watch, the video game that in Japan marked the birth of the brand in the 2013 and which in June will reach the third chapter. We have spent the last three weeks in the company of Nathan, Whisper and more than two hundred Yo-kai and now we are finally ready to talk to you in detail about the title for 3DS.

A watch to see them

While hunting for insects on Monte Selvoscura, the young man Nathan (or sweet Katie in case we wanted to play a girl) runs into a rusty gashapon machine. Once a coin is inserted inside and opening the dusty prize, the child will get acquainted with Whisper, a purple-lipped spirit who is nothing more than a sealed Yo-kai two hundred years ago. The ghost will explain to Nathan that every strange event in his life has an explanation, most of the time it is the fault of a mischievous Yo-kai who enjoys messing with human lives. Thus began a series of adventures a Valdoro, divided into episodes as if it were a TV series, which will see the two new companions face everyday problems such as forgetting important work contracts, or investigating strange objects in the river. If the first hours of the game flow lightly, with apparently detached plots and aimed only at explaining the gameplay to the player, or providing him with new ways to explore Valdoro, in the last few episodes Level 5 will begin to baste a slightly more intricate story, even if a victim. of a final unfortunately too hasty. Nothing transcendental indeed, the whole story of this first chapter of Yo-kai Watch is suitable and designed for the little ones, managing to perfectly hit the target to which the game is dedicated. Let's also spend a few words on the animated series that unlike Inazuma Eleven, which traces the events of the game in detail, after a similar start differs greatly in proposing different misadventures for Nathan: if in the cartoon one of the protagonists Yo-kai is Jibanyan (the red cat that acts as the brand's mascot) in the game will be a spirit like any other to use in your team (although he is the only one to have a voice during the Energimax technique, but we will talk about it in due course) a bit like Pikachu in the animated transposition of Pokémon. This reassures those who do not want to revisit something they already know and reinforces the game's, albeit childish, plot making it unprecedented.

If you don't feel like rushing to the credits immediately, Yo-kai Watch is all to be explored: Valdoro is full of shops, alleys, hidden ravines and sewers and obviously in each of these places there are different Yo-kai to face and try. to make our friends. Not only that, Level 5 has filled the city with secondary missions divided between favors in which it will be enough to bring a certain food or defeat a specific sprite (repeatable several times) and real sub-plots that will lead Nathan and Whisper to run like crazy among the palaces and forests on the hunt for missing persons or mischievous Yo-kai. Once a secondary mission has been completed, the title will reward the player with experience points, money and items, and a bonus animated scene will appear on the screen with three possible endings (negative, positive and super) completely random that will give in the event of a favorable outcome an additional tool to add to your inventory. Unfortunately, apart from some truly inspired ones, there is a considerable background repetitiveness, especially after passing the first twenty hours of play: fortunately there is no limit to acceptable quests, allowing the player to complete them at any time even after completing the main plot. As for the things to do after the game, Level 5 has in fact also thought of the most mature players, making available the most difficult challenges and places accessible only by satisfying certain requirements.

A watch to find them

One of the most successful aspects of Yo-kai Watch is certainly the realization of Valdoro: the city of Nathan in fact extends over several districts, from residential to commercial, passing through forests, temples and even a network of underground sewers. All recreated with the same game engine as Inazuma Eleven Go, complete with a mobile camera that will follow the movements of Nathan and Whisper even in the narrowest alleys. In these ravines you will find wild Yo-Kai waiting for you, ready to battle you the moment you enter their field of vision. There is no shortage of specific history dungeons which, given the urban setting, are mostly hidden buildings and temples rather than classic caves (also present). If in these "dungeons" the Yo-kai are clearly visible, in the streets of Valdoro you will have to rely on the lens of the faithful clock and the game time (the alternation of day and night can be easily influenced from the bed of Nathan's house) when you will pass in front of a sprite, the radar will start to sound, indicating the object to be analyzed. The Yo-kai are hiding everywhere: rivers, trees, light poles, continuing in the plot Nathan will have to upgrade his watch and consequently meet increasingly stronger spirits (from grade E to S).

Hidden around the city in addition to the Yo-kai, chests containing healing items or equipment (also similar to those seen in the Level 5 football series), insects and fish, which can be exchanged for objects or food, and will be captured (one once in possession of the net and fishing rod) through a special mini-game. Initially Nathan will have to move on foot (he will then come into possession of a bike), and will be able to run keeping an eye on the stamina bar in order not to risk running out of strength, a fundamental action to escape whenever the Dream Terror were to be activated; while you wander around Valdoro, in fact, in a completely random way, the Yo-kai Watch could start a countdown, after which you will be chased by a huge Oni capable of knocking you out if it should catch you. The positive side of the Dream Terror is reflected in the chests of objects containing tools much rarer than usual but be careful, if you cross the path of the Oni above, and you fall in battle, you will lose everything you have collected during the escape. During this mode you will not have access to teleportation or even the bicycle, and you will have to rely on your knowledge of the streets of Valdoro to be able to safely reach the door of salvation.

A watch to bring them all

So we come to the gameplay of the battles, the real strong point of this new Level 5 ip. As we had already written in thepreview last year you will have a team of six Yo-kai who will attack the enemy automatically according to the rhythm imposed by their personality (modifiable through specific tools), the player's task to keep their spirits alive and use the Energimax (Soultimate) when necessary. Both for the use of special moves, and to cancel the opponent's spells that could seal the members of our team, the action will move on the 3DS touch screen through six quick and intuitive mini-games in which it will be necessary to track, turn, burst, break , press and rub as required by the game. The player can also move the shots from one monster to another, in the target mode thanks to the useful pins, with which he can also explode the energy globes that will release a random reward (money, friendship points, energy for the energimax or tools); the management of the pins is of vital importance against the huge bosses of the title, in which the player will be required to hit a certain point of the monster in order to inflict massive damage on it: every end-of-episode fight is fun and action-packed thanks to these strategies which make it more participatory than the classic battles. Finally, through the tools menu, you can choose whether to heal our Yo-kai, enhance them with temporary talismans or give food to opponents to increase the chances of obtaining their friendship (we'll talk about it shortly).

The player has full control of the Yo-kai wheel, deciding at any time which trio to deploy in attack and which to leave behind, once you have confidence in the control system, the Yo-kai Watch fights will become the real stars of the portable experience. , especially in the phase after the credits, in which no new opponent can be underestimated as in the past. To speed up simple battles while exploring in-game dungeons, you can also press X and double the speed of the animations.

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