Platform: Nintendo 3DS Family Systems
Category: Action & Role-Playing
Release Date: July 11, 2015 (JP) / September 7, 2o18 (EU & NA)
Blasters move out!
Attempting to come up with a new IP is never easy, not when you live in a day and age where everyone, including the indie developers, are compelled to go bigger and better, but when you do create something amazing, execution of the idea is simply half the battle.
Not every idea and game, take off the way that they should. Some can go unnoticed and have years pass by before gamers realise just how incredible it really is and fortunately for Level-5, Yo-kai is an IP that refuses to stop climbing in notoriety.
Between the first game being revealed in 2011 at the Tokyo Game Show, then releasing on the Nintendo 3DS in 2013 and now, the Yo-kai IP has managed to go from being a singular game to a huge “mixed-media franchise,” which is just impossible to escape from.
From games to mobile apps, toys, a movie with three more in the works, an anime and mangas, Yo-Kai Watch is everywhere and it is essentially this decade’s version of the Pokémon brand, especially now that in the last couple of years, the series has built a huge following in the West. A following so huge in fact that we’re finally getting a port of two games that released three years ago.
We may have been denied the likes of Yo-kai Watch Busters: Red Cat Troupe and Yo-kai Watch Busters: White Dog Corps when the games released on July 11, 2015 but now under the name of Yo-kai Watch Blasters, the wait is over and to answer the obvious question, they are more than worth the wait.
Granted they’re spin-offs and have a different way to play, but to the games’ credit, the change of pace is a welcomed one. Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t anything wrong with the established core gameplay mechanic that the main series games all use, but the different gameplay in Yo-Kai Watch Blasters comes across as feeling open, approachable and not to mention it feels like the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon game I always wanted.
I realise that reference could get me some hate as not everyone is keen on Yo-kai being compared to Pokémon, especially when Yo-kai are inspired by Yōkai of Japanese folklore legends, but if you have never played a Yo-kai game, or know anything about it, Yo-kai Watch Blasters just looks and feels like the love child of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon and Sushi Striker in terms of the former’s gameplay and premise and the latter’s whimsical creativity, visual presentation and humour.
Furthermore, although it helps to have played a previous game/read one of the mangas/watched the anime, to have a better understanding of the franchise, you go into Red Cat Corps and White Dog Squad completely blind, and still immensely enjoy playing them, whilst not having to feel bad because you put off experiencing the franchise for so long.
Also, if you are new to Yo-kai and have no idea what a Yo-kai even is, Yo-kai are supernatural creatures that come in many forms and take inspiration from Japanese folklore. In fact, in Japanese folklore, there is a class (if you will) of spirits and monsters which are actually referred to as Yōkai. These Yōkai are said to be demons, phantoms and downright bizarre apparitions that can be as nice as pie and bring good fortune or be utterly evil.
As for the appearance of these Yōkai, they can appear as being mostly human, to having animal features that includes wings or appear as inanimate objects or have no “discernible shape” whatsoever, thus enabling Level-5’s Yo-Kai to be designed in any manner of the developers choosing.
Moving on and back to the Blaster games themselves, it might delight fans to know that they are inspired by the mini-game that appeared in Yo-kai Watch 2. Only, instead of just featuring some of the same concepts such as having up to teams of 4 Yo-kai players have befriended, having to fight Boss Yo-kai and getting Oni Orbs, Yo-kai Watch Blasters is a full-blown extension that comes with plenty of new features that results in two very large content packed titles.
Only on top of players being able to manoeuvre their Yo-kai across the games’ levels and settings, in teams of four, be it on their own, locally or online with others, gameplay goes far deeper than that. The directional D-pad is used for targeting enemies and allies, Y, X and A are your inputs to have your Yo-kai attack and while the top screen presents a good close up look at the battlefield, the bottom screen can offer players a look at the area’s map and access fun things like swapping your current Yo-kai and using Soultimate moves, when ready.
You can also use items you equipped before rolling out to undergo missions or those that you’ve found in the field. You can even opt to zoom out or zoom in on the map for a better look at your surroundings, guiding yourself toward enemies, items and Oni Orbs, not to mention the fact you can also skip dialogue if you so wish it.
With regards to beating the missions, they can vary based on what the mission’s objective is, but the majority of the time it is a case of beating a required number of specific enemies that show up as black on the map or beating a specified big bad Yo-kai.
As you play, a door will show up, acting as a means of escape for players who wish to leave early. By leaving you can keep anything you collected in terms of Befriended Yo-kai, Oni Orbs and Items, as failing the mission (all 4 of your Yo-kai dying,) will see you lose everything you acquired during the level.
In the event you stay the course and clear the main objective, a timer will then appear in the corner and you will have 60 seconds to get to the door and escape. If you fail to do so, you have nothing to worry about as you will escape naturally and keep all that you have earned.
The only time you will need to worry about time ticking down is when doing Patrol missions, where you can walk freely upon a given area, completing small missions to earn plenty of Oni Orbs and befriending Yo-kai when given the chance too. The reason why you will need to concern yourself with time, is because these set of missions, have a set amount of time in which you’re allowed to play it and when time is up, you will lose everything because of your lack of escaping.
Patrol are not the only missions that feature a set time, as Story Missions and Boss missions have them as well (the latter mode is a series of levels where you can beat bosses you’ve already beaten and on varying difficulties to earn great awards) only the difference with them and Patrol is you are welcome to leave Patrol at any time as there is no main objective you need to accomplish first, whereas leaving a level in the other modes will cause them to go unresolved.
As for the whole purpose of the levels and modes, they all play a part in the game’s overall story. It is the tale of a team of the worst Blasters in the world, and the journey that awaits them thanks to the likes of Sergeant Burly, aka Sgt. Burly and his friends.
Shaping them into a team of Blasters of note is no small task, but thanks to intense training (the missions,) your team of fighters, healers, rangers and tanks (classes of which capacity Yo-kai serve in when battling,) will become the defenders of the weak that Blasters are renowned for being and it’s because of things like that, which make the game’s hub world all the more enjoyable.
You may not be allowed to wander around a town, as the game’s hub is limited to the building the Blasters base themselves in and it’s various floors, but there is plenty to do nonetheless.
From bottom to top, we have the Wayfarer Coliseum on B1, where players can compete in battles to earn insignias for their chosen team (Red Cat Corps and White Dog Squad, depending on which version buy.) On 1F there is Blastermobile, as well as reception, the means to use get gifts, scan QR codes, and even input passwords.
Over on 2F however, is where things get better, as based on how far players have progressed in the game, a shop will open up, weapons and items can be crafted and strengthened and there’s a gym. With the LvGym, players can create Soul Gems, make them stranger and of course level up their Yo-kai, even evolve them and even fuse them, but all of this does require the use of Oni Orbs and neither service in the gym comes cheap.
The third floor, aka 3F, is the lounge where players can answer the phone for more messages and talk to Hapierre if they wish to alter their team set-up and the like by addressing their Move-Out Members. Over on 4F however, is Command where Sgt. Burly lies in wait, along with your next mission, and every other mission that are currently available. (Only talk to him if you dare.)
As for the final floor, that is the roof, a place where you can eventually meet with Houzzat, a Yo-kai skilled in renovating and will help you out if the price is right. It’s also the place to go to access the Oni Crank-a-kai and Lucky Crank-a-kai, in a bid to try and get the “hard-to-find Yo-kai” and items.
Only, that’s not all you can do when back at base, as players can also use the lower screen to quick travel to any floor of the building and press X to access the Yo-kai pad. With an app for almost everything, which are unlocked via progression, not only can you watch movie scenes, but you can listen to music, check out your Yo-kai Medallium, access Help for elaborated details on everything and of course, save your game.
It’s worth mentioning that you will want to interact with the building’s various features at every opportunity, since some services provided do have a rank and by ranking up, they can become more beneficial to you. So on top of having to raise your Blasters Rank by beating Big Boss Yo-kai on the final level of each chapter, but there are plenty of other ranks to raise as well.
However, having said all that I have already, there are a few things I have left unsaid and do need to cover quickly, since they’re very important. Yo-kai Watch might sound complicated, but compared to a lot of current games, it is easy to pick up and is light-hearted enough for anyone to enjoy. It also comes with the pleasing visuals that the 3DS games are known, the infectious soundtrack and the voice acting is not abysmal at all. Some accents might be a tad tedious, but the fact of the matter is the Blaster games are rounded and picking up this month.
Furthermore, whether you choose to go with Red Cat Corps or White Dog Squad, aside from version exclusives, these Blasters games are so large in size that you will need to sink more than 20 hours into it should you wish just to beat it, with up to another 30 hours at least, to even try and fully complete it and befriend all available Yo-kai.
Without a doubt, both Blasters games are something you can lose yourself in and just keep going! Especially since there are Patrol Missions, Sub Missions and not to mention it will also have the Yo-kai Watch Blasters: Moon Rabbit Crew content added as a free update that’s out in Europe and North America on September 27, 2018.
Naturally, because there are two different versions of Blasters, there are exclusive Yo-kai to each version, as well as game exclusive bosses and a different opening theme for each game. However, just because White Dog Squad is my preferred choice because of Whisper, trading is supported, including online trading and just in case it’s not enough that you can befriend the Yo-kai from Yo-kai Watch 2, but by linking Blasters with save data for Yo-kai Watch 2 games, players can obtain special Yo-kai as well.
By linking with Yo-kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits players can befriend Jibanyan S, with Yo-kai Watch 2: Fleshy Souls giving you the means to access Komasan S and Komajiro S provided you have Yo-kai Watch 2: Psychic Specters save data. So, on the off chance you wanted to pick up Yo-kai Wacth 2 but couldn’t decide on which version, maybe the bonus Yo-kai for Yo-kai Blasters can help you in that decision.
Now, although it may be a shame that Blasters aren’t on Switch as that will affect its sales, but with the second screen being a huge asset to Blasters, even if it had a dual system release, odds are the 3DS version would still be the better platform to play Yo-kai Watch Blasters: Red Cat Corps and Yo-kai Watch Blasters: White Dog Squad on.
Whether you’re an adolescent looking to pick up a game for yourself, a parent looking for something your child can play, or are just a veteran gamer looking for a new fix, the Blasters is something you should certainly look into to. Whether playing alone, locally, or with others online, Yo-kai Watch Blasters is a game that comes packed with hours upon hours of content and is addictive enough to make “just one more level” be the first of many “one more levels” before you save your game and get on with the rest of your day, whilst wearing a decently sized smile.
The VERDICT: 8/10
*Review Key Provided by Nintendo
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This post was written by Solid Jack