Yo-Kai Watch is a series that took Japan by storm and while the series has not taken off in the west, like some had hoped it would, the games are still proving to be fun and now that Yo-Kai Watch 2 Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls is out, does the fun continue.
Getting this out of the way first, no matter the version of the game you get, Bony Spirits or Fleshy Souls, you are getting the same game, with some Yo-Kai only being available in one game over the other, very much like Pokemon has been doing. The game once again takes place within the city if Springdale, but unlike the first game, which had to establish the city, this one expands it greatly, but don’t worry if you did not play the first game, you will not be left to wonder about things. You can chose to play as Nate, the boy character or Katie, the girl character, choosing one of the over does not change the game, its just an avatar change, but along for the ride are Whisper and Jibanyan and together you will spend your summer break putting a stop to the trouble that the rouge Yo-Kai are causing. Though there is more trouble brewing, which might lead to disaster unless stopped and that job falls to you.
While the game does start you off in the town of Springdale, it’s the places around it that are the big draw, with locations like Harrisville and San Fantastico offering up different locations to explore. While Springdale is here again, the location has been scaled back, but only in the aspect of alleys and hidden spaces are not around anymore, with that in place, the scale of the world now feels grander, but there are still plenty of secrets to be found, so don’t worry about that. You will also find yourself travelling through time, back 60 years into the past to discover Springdale as it was then, which can also be considered a fourth city to explore. The map of the towns are also greatly improved over the first game, but that is not something that could have been much worse, the directions are now much clearer, helping you find your destination with much less frustration than before. That same level of attention also carries across to the map system used for the train network, which you use to get from town to town, in fact it would not surprise me to see a map like the one used on a major real work train network.
Thankfully though, all that, while great is secondary to the systems in place for battling and collecting Yo-Kai, with the system here remaining almost unchanged from the first game. You have a team of six Yo-Kai in each battle, but only three of them are on the screen, with the other at the back and you can rotate them out, by simply rotating the wheel on the bottom screen. While each of the Yo-Kai will battle on their own, you will need to manage them, including when to use items and triggering the special attacks. You will also need to clear away any effects that your Yo-Kai get while battling, using the same mini game actions that were from the first. The big addition to the battle is in the form of the super movies, the M-Skill, which uses the power of the Yo-Kai selected, but also the allies near it, so it will need to be used sparingly, but at the same time, the rewards for pulling it off successfully are nothing to sneeze at.
While battling is a big part of the game, collecting Yo-Kai to help you out is the other part, but just like the first game, nothing to drastic has changed here. You will need to attempt to coax your targeted Yo-Kai out, offering up its favourite food is one way to do this, but even with those temptations, there is still a massive amount of luck to capture the Yo-Kai and most of the time it will feel like you are not getting the ones you want when you want, but the team did bring a new feature to add some balance to the game, Trading. Yes, the game now supports online trading, letting you swap a lesser used Yo-Kai for one you really want, but its not just trading that is new, there are also online mini games that you can play against other people, while interesting they are not really the reason you have the game.
Yo-Kai Watch 2 is not a reinvention of the series, more of a refinement, those coming to the series for the first-time wont struggle to discover what to do and those who return will be delighted at the refinement, but may feel that the refocused Springdale is less appealing than the first time around.