For a lot of gamers, Yo-Kai Watch 2 is going to feel super similar to the first effort. We got that one last year, and with less than 12 months between the original and this new pair of sequels, I understand the potential derision that might spook up on each of us.

Having played that original game and this sequel, I'll say that this new title feels different enough to be worthy of your time and money. It achieves that sense of difference without changing the core formula that made the original Yo-Kai Watch work so well.

There are two things to consider here before we move into the meat of the review. Yes, this game feels like a decent next step for the franchise's pre-existing fans. Yes, Yo-Kai Watch 2 is perfectly playable for those who didn't play the first. Watch an episode or two of the show on Netflix, and you're good to go.

Yo-Kai Watch 2 is a lot of fun, regardless of the player's age.

What are the big hooks that should push players to pick up this second Yo-Kai? The game feels like Level-5 mostly took what worked in the original and blew it out on all sides. For older players like me, that meant capturing the spirit of youth and exploration just like they did in the original. That sentiment has been expanded with a story that remains fun, a world that's even bigger than before and a charming adventure with subtle jokes and jabs throughout.

184 new Yo-Kai? Oh my!

You'll get 184 new types of Yo-Kai to seek out, befriend and battle in Yo-Kai Watch 2, though some are specific to which version of the game you get. Yes, Level-5 elected to split Yo-Kai Watch 2 into two separate titles with the sequel, and in the West they're known as Fleshy Souls and Bony Spirits. I chose which to play based on the exclusive Yo-Kai that I thought looked particularly hilarious. More serious players looking to battle online might want to consider Bony Spirits, as I've read that the game packs a tough-to-get Yo-Kai that can really control the flow of battle.

These new Yo-Kai? Some of them are fantastic, while others feel like simple reskins of the original batch. There are more than enough to say that Level-5 did a solid job creating a second generation of spirits, though some will absolutely feel a bit cheated by the simple recoloring of an already lame Yo-Kai.

The battle system is essentially the same, though later in the game players will get a unique watch variant that adds mechanics to the Soultimates (special moves, basically). Players will build a team of six Yo-Kai on their watch, paying attention to type, linking with other Yo-Kai, abilities and rank. Rank really matters if you're going online as you're only allowed to play with 2 S or A tier Yo-Kai on your team to keep things fair.

Fix the sprint feature, please.

You'll set your team, and then you'll engage in battle. Just like before, the Yo-Kai will attack automatically. It's your job to rotate your team members to the front when you want to use their abilities, and you'll need to Purify Yo-Kai that are afflicted by some ailments, target specific enemies, throw out food as necessary and perform little in-battle minigames to activate Soultimates. It's the same thing we all did the first time around, and it still feels fun.

Yo-Kai Watch 2 takes place in the same locale as the original, though new areas have been added to expand the world out on all sides. I won't go into specifics, but there's also a time travel mechanic that will put players 60 years in the past, shedding a new light on the world in the process. I welcomed that addition with open arms, and seeing the world through the lens of the past and catching old Yo-Kai was a lot of fun.

What isn't fun, however, is the super fetch-questy nature of this game. Just about every time you move to push the story forward, you're either met with key quests that force you to run all over the place doing favors, or the main quest itself requires you to do tons of backtracking to pick up meaningless items.

This fetching wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't for the completely unnecessary stamina mechanic. You can't run forever in Yo-Kai Watch 2, just like the original. Sprint for too long and your stamina meter will drain away. Once that happens, you have to walk around to recover. It's annoying, and that annoyance is only compounded by the fact that the game sends you everywhere constantly.

You will eventually get access to a bike, but it comes hours into the game. It's faster than running, and the bike actually has a sprint feature in this sequel. However, that sprint feature is hampered by the same stamina meter. The bike comes along too late for my tastes, adding layers of inconvenience to a game that's otherwise so fun.



When you're not walking or biking from point to point, you'll have time to take stock of what's to do in Yo-Kai Watch 2. There's tons. Too much almost. Yo-Kai Watch 2 is absolutely packed with quests, minigames, side-stories and adventures. It's almost ridiculous how much you can do in this game.

There's the story, of course, befriending Yo-Kai, battling online, trading, fusing Yo-Kai to make new Yo-Kai, catching Yo-Kai criminals, collecting bugs, racing bikes, tracking down Gates of Whimsy, answering Yo-Kai quizzes (thanks, Google), going for Trophies, using the 3DS' camera for AR Yo-Kai stuff… the list goes on.

With so much to do and almost all of it introduced within the first three or four hours of play, I'll openly admit that I was initially overloaded with information. If this is a game you're considering for a younger player, take heed of the fact that they will be hit with a barrage of info. It's nothing they can't get over, but be ready to answer questions and look at the help menu built into the game. As a kid, I loved it when games gave me so much to do like this. Talk about bang for buck, Yo-Kai Watch 2 has enough to go around for the holiday if you're looking for a single game for your kid to play this year.

Or you, for that matter. This is yet another RPG brimming with content, as if we needed more of those this year. Oy.

Yo-Kai Watch 2 is a game I have no problem recommending.

I'm sort of in love with Yo-Kai Watch 2. It's exactly the type of light, easy going adventure I want on my Nintendo 3DS. It fills that need for something to play while chewing on so many other games at once for me perfectly.

I'm an oddball, and I know that. I play a ton of games for work, and that means I love little distractions like this one. Yo-Kai Watch 2 improves upon a lot of the original's faults while making the game bigger and adding some new spirits to the mix. It doesn't fix everything, and I definitely feel like the decision to split the game into two titles instead of keeping it as one came as a cash-grab on Level-5's part.

Ultimately, I don't care. Completionists might, though, and I feel their pain.

There's so much to do in this title that it's easy to forgive its issues, and I know that I'll be sticking with the Yo-Kai Watch franchise as long as Level-5 is making them and Nintendo of America is localizing them.

I do wish there were more anime cutscenes, though. I miss those.


Disclaimer: We received physical copies of both Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls from Nintendo for this review.