New country, new Yo-kai
“Yo-kai Watch 3? What’s that?”
Yo-kai Watch 3 is the third main installment in the Yo-kai Watch franchise, which is developed by Level-5 Studios, the same minds behind the likes of Dark Cloud and the Professor Layton series. The series is a series of RPGs that works a bit differently compared to others. Though in each game you can play any of them without playing their predecessors, you would probably have to do a little bit of homework to understand some characters from past games. With that out of the way, onto the review.
The game begins with two agents talking about some reports regarding alien life within a folder known as “The Y Files,” as they come across a crashed UFO. It then quickly transitions to the main protagonist, canonically named Nathan “Nate” Adams, happily eating some food with his family. Shortly after the meal is finished, his father makes a big announcement, stating that he got a new job in another country, and that their move is today. The place they travel to is St. Peanutsburg (In the Japanese version, it is simply moving from Japan to USA.) Nathan’s mom starts acting funny shortly after arriving into their new home, with new hijinx along the way. Now while Nate is spending his new life in St. Peanutsburg, a girl who lives in Springdale, Hailey Anne Thomas, soon comes into contact with Yo-kai herself when she discovers a model known as the Yo-kai Watch U, though under a different name. She then meets her then partner, USApyon, who decides to rely on Hailey to complete his dreams of his former partner back when he was alive.
The game is an RPG with plenty of exploration with a little bit of gacha mixed in. It mainly involves going around St. Peanutsburg (Springdale for Hailey) solving problems and encountering various Yo-kai, who are the physical representations of everyday occurrences. (i.e. Kids trying to act like an adult or someone giving out a half-hearted apology.) The previous games in the series usually followed the battle system by having three Yo-kai in the battlefield, with three backups in case things get dicey for a total of six Yo-kai on a wheel. In Yo-kai Watch 3, however, that’s where things get a bit different.
You still have a total of six Yo-kai in the party, but now the battles take place in a 3×3 grid system. You can position the Yo-kai as you please before and during the battle. There are also bonuses for having Yo-kai positioned horizontally and vertically. Positioning them horizontally will having the Yo-kai in that line do a follow-up attack after the main one makes an attack, while positioning Yo-kai vertically will force the opponent to attack the one that’s in front of the column. Yo-kai can do basic attacks, Techniques (Elemental attacks), Guard, and Inspiritments. Inspirits are basically a way for Yo-kai to provide either buffs or debuffs to either side, whether it’s making an ally more likely targeted for attacks due to being so popular, or having the opposition take gradual damage due to shoulder pains. Another thing Yo-kai can do are special moves called Soultimates. The Soultimates can do a variety of things, depending on the one using it. This can range from attacking specific columns, healing the entire party, or raising the stats of the party. They will, however, take time to charge up, but the gauge can be fueled up faster by gathering blue orbs around the battlefield, which can be obtained when attacking an enemy that’s Inspirited.
The way you get Yo-kai is by befriending them. Now depending on the rank of the Yo-kai will depend the likelihood of them wanting to become friends with you and giving you their Medal. For instance, Yo-kai that are Rank E such as Ake and Pandle are more easier to befriend, while Rank C Yo-kai like Elloo and Urnaconda will be more difficult to befriend. You can, however, make it easier to befriend by giving them a food that they like, as well as having a Yo-kai that has a skill that is more likely to make a Yo-kai wanting to join you. Aside from a few quests where you can get a Yo-kai automatically and ones obtained through story progression, you can also earn Yo-kai by going to the old gacha machine in Springdale, or the Dream Wheel in St. Peanutsburg. By using the various Coins you can find in the overworld or by inputting passwords in a specific location, you can try your luck and see what prize you’ll get. New in Yo-kai Watch 3, however, you can have a chance to get many shots at the machine instead of the standard three. (Though there’s a chance that you may be unlucky and may get lower numbers.) Some Yo-kai, however, can only be obtained through specific means, with the gacha machine/Dream Wheel being one of various means.
Yo-kai Watch Blasters T
New to Yo-kai Watch 3 is the introduction of Yo-kai Watch Blasters T, which is brought in relatively early in the story. In this mode, Captain Burly, a Yo-kai Coach, and his crew discover a desert that’s filled to the brim with various treasures that are just ripe for the taking, but will need the help of various Yo-kai to get the job done. The gameplay is similar to one of its spin-offs, Yo-kai Watch Blasters, where you and three other Yo-kai go in an area (in this mode’s case, dungeons) and try to clear the objective, usually ending with a boss fight. Every Yo-kai fills one of four roles, which are the exact same as Blasters; Attackers, Tanks, Healers, and Rangers. Attacks are what they sound like: They’re the ones who will deal the most damage. Tanks are the ones who try grab the enemy’s attention, cripple their defenses, and/or have skills that decrease the amount of damage they take. Healers are the ones that make sure the whole group stays alive, providing healing techniques and possibly support skills. And Rangers are the ones who will be setting up traps for the enemy to activate, or find various goodies found within the area.
The theme in this mode is, of course, treasure. And there’s a lot of treasure to be found in the dungeons. Each dungeon usually has a total of five floors, the final floor ending with a boss fight. The bosses are found within the franchise’s history, be it from the main series, the original Blasters, while also bringing in new bosses to boot, be it from the story or Blasters T exclusive. Scattered around each floor is a wide number of coins that are the equivalent of $1, and there are treasure chests that can be obtained either sitting there to be taken, or a Yo-kai carrying a treasure behind them. While they may contain items like healing items or stat boosters, they may also contain items exclusive to this mode such as Weapons and Shields, or the game’s main item, Ar-T-Facts. These treasures are very special to find, and give out some of the more better prizes, ranging from secret treasures to even Yo-kai Medals, plenty of which can only be obtained through this matter. You can even befriend Yo-kai that you defeat in dungeons just like in Blasters, some of which can only be obtained in Blasters T, making the replayability pretty high.
The best part about this mode is that you can play this online, be it with friends or with random players. You and three other players can explore the various dungeons and do your best as a team to collect treasure and grab as many coins as possible. This is honestly really fun, and I sometimes find myself spending more time in Blasters T than in the main game due to how fun it is. This also makes it a perfect source of making a lot of money, as well as finding items that make you even more cash so that you’ll basically never have to worry about being too poor to buy a few items.
The Characters and Yo-kai
From Yo-kai Watch 2 and onwards, the main series seems to follow traits of the anime, such as Nate’s self-appointed butler, Whisper, always having to rely on a Yo-kai iPad to get information on Yo-kai they haven’t seen before, Hidabat living inside in Nate’s closet and having a lot of connections to famous people, to name a couple, but it does have its own set of characters that are exclusive to the game, such as one of the major characters in the game, Buck. The characters are entertaining in their own right, especially with the ones that are introduced in the games. I personally find Hailey my favorite. An optimistic child who seems to live in her own little world, greatly contrasting USApyon’s more formal and serious demeanor.
In terms of what Yo-kai are introduced, however, that’s where things get fun. In Yo-kai Watch 2, they introduced the concept of Classic Yo-kai, which are Yo-kai that are based on the Yo-kai of ancient Japan such as the Kappa or the Rokurokubi. In Yo-kai Watch 3, they introduce the idea of Yo-kai around the world. In St. Peanutsburg’s case, it’s ‘Merican Yo-kai, Yo-kai that have much more Western influence, such as the Cornfuzed, a Yo-kai in the form of corn that makes the Inspirited very confused. Or Tie-red, a Yo-kai in the form of a tie that makes people feel homesick after a long day of hard work. Though much like Yo-kai Watch 2, they introduce new Yo-kai that aren’t just ‘Merican Yo-kai, as well having new Legendary and ‘Merican Legendary Yo-kai, with the former only being obtained if the player acquires certain Yo-kai Medals in the Medallium, and the latter by acquiring a certain item. All the Yo-kai stand out and are very fun in design, with some only being obtained with depending on certain choices you make in the story.
In the end, Yo-kai Watch 3 is an exciting RPG that caps off the main trilogy of games. And with Yo-kai Watch 4 confirmed for the west and a Yo-kai Watch 1 remake in the works, it’s safe to say that the Yo-kai Watch franchise won’t be going away anytime soon.