A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Yo-Kai Watch is a role-playing game for the 3DS and the first release for the popular series outside of Japan. The game lays the foundation for Nintendo's latest franchise, with supporting anime, toys, apparel, and other merchandise. But the game's story also has a strong focus on qualities such as developing friendships and helping others in need. It's about developing bonds with those you come across and how teamwork can overcome any obstacle. Online play is limited to local wireless matches, though it should be noted that players can give unique names to their Yo-kai, possibly exposing kids to potentially offensive content.
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What's it about?
In the world of YO-KAI WATCH, people's everyday lives are subtly (and sometimes not-so-subtly) influenced by invisible spirits called Yo-kai. After accidentally encountering a particularly friendly Yo-kai, you're given a device called the Yo-Kai Watch. With it, you can see and interact with the Yo-kai. After earning a Yo-kai's trust, respect, and, most importantly, friendship, you'll be gifted with its medallion, adding that spirit to your collection and allowing it to be summoned at a moment's notice. You'll help the people of Springdale deal with their spirit-induced problems and threats, while seeking out and befriending more than 200 unique Yo-kai.
Is it any good?
This role-playing game is the first title in a franchise that's heavily steeped in Japanese mythology. Yo-Kai Watch has been a massive hit in Japan, even outselling Nintendo's other collectible-creature juggernaut, Pokémon. But the question is whether or not the game can maintain that same appeal when translated for an international audience. The answer? It absolutely can. The world of Yo-Kai Watch is a treat, and the colorful, animated style feels like you're actively taking part in a cartoon. It doesn't hurt that the voices in the game are the same as the animated series. All the characters are full of personality, too. It's hard not to get attached to the different Yo-kai you come across throughout the adventure.
There are a couple of things some players will need to adjust to, though. For starters, you don't directly control your Yo-kai team's actions but, rather, take more of a coaching role. You tell the team which foes to target, heal and "purify" hurt Yo-kai, and play short mini-games to charge up powerful "Soultimate" moves. Otherwise your team pretty much fights its own battles. In a lot of ways, Yo-Kai Watch is more about strategy than action. Also, the game has a bit of a learning curve. The in-game help does a great job of explaining the basics, but a lot of the more nuanced gameplay is likely to come from trial and error. None of this takes away from the experience, though. Yo-Kai Watch is still one of the best all-ages experiences to come to the 3DS in some time.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the Yo-kai. Do kids believe in things such as spirits, and do games like this have a role in that belief?
Talk about different cultures. The Yo-kai are based on Japanese mythology; what are some other cultures' beliefs, and are they something kids might want to research?
- Platforms: Nintendo 3DS
- Subjects: Language & Reading: following directions
Math: patterns, statistics
Social Studies: cultural understanding
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: logic, solving puzzles, strategy, thinking critically
Communication: friendship building
Responsibility & Ethics: respect for others
- Price: $39.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Not available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: November 6, 2015
- Genre: Role-Playing
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Comic Mischief, Mild Fantasy Violence
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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