I’m about 6 hours into Yo-Kai Watch, and I can honestly say that my love for this game has surpassed my adoration for Pokémon, even in that very short period of play time. This is obviously going to stir up some debate, but it is easy to see the lessons Yo-Kai Watch learned from Pokémon’s vast catalogue of games. In many ways, I feel that Pokémon hasn’t evolved (pun intended there) since 1996, much to Yo-Kai Watch’s benefit. Here are 5 reason why I think Yo-Kai Watch is better than Pokémon.
1: Character Development
While both games have companion television shows, only Yo-Kai Watch brought storytelling into the game. The number one task in Pokémon is to gather a team of ultimate fighters and battle your way to the top of the gym chain. If you’ve never ever watched the anime, you will have no connection to Ash, Professor Oak or any other character beyond them giving you said task. The pokémons themselves also have no personality; they don’t have a voice, they don’t show emotion, they don’t have any cute anecdotes that draw you into loving them beyond their illustrations on screen. Yo-Kai Watch ups the ante by giving you a task through narrative. Your spirit friends the Yo-Kai have voices, personality and attitude. The game is split in episodic missions that explain why you are trying to befriend Yo-Kai as well as explaining their personality traits. Through this narrative, you discover the drive and connection between your character and NPCs which gives purpose to your gameplay.
2: A Richer World to Explore
The world of Yo-Kai Watch is much more intriguing than Pokémon’s. There is more to see and do, more places to explore, more people to talk to and more tasks to complete beyond the main storyline.
3: Hunting For Yo-Kai is More Natural
If you can even say that LOL. But honestly,the whole watch mechanic is much more sophisticated than just walking aimlessly in tall grass. The watch alerts you if a spirit is nearby, then you actively hunt for the Yo-Kai by exploring the space using the stylus (or analog stick) with a magic magnifying glass, chasing them down on screen to trigger a battle. There are no random encounters. If you get hit by a rogue Yo-Kai, you’ll see it run after you on screen. All in all, it feels much more natural and realistic, if you lived in a world with troublesome spirits running around that is.
4: The Battle System
A Yo-Kai battle is much more involved than a Pokémon one. In a traditional RPG battle system (as seen in Pokémon or Final Fantasy), your strategy is based around attack and defensive moves that you execute in turns. If you put your console down and do not touch it, the battle is essentially infinitely paused. Yo-Kai Watch on the other hand, has your Yo-Kai battle while you choose between performing super moves, giving items, healing and targeting the enemy. The battles feel much more alive. Your ability to execute tasks on screen to trigger the super moves also makes the battle much more exciting. Whether you are drawing, tapping, spinning a wheel or swiping things off screen, your anticipation is heightened to give that extra rush and a better feeling of accomplishment when you do win a battle.
5: Yo-kai Are Weird Looking
This might be a personal preference on my part, but I find the Yo-Kai designs much more intriguing than Pokémon. Pokémon seem more like cartoon representations of animals and takes on other real life objects while Yo-Kai feel like creatures that could never exist in real life, mutants and demons that come from the imaginations of children. Although there are visible cues from familiar animals and objects, they push the limits, mixing up the designs enough to be extra interesting.
There will always be a spot in my heart for Pokémon, but after playing Pokémon Y, I really felt that the series is lacking growth. Yo-Kai Watch gave me what Pokémon failed to deliver: a familiar experience heightened by innovation. There is no way Yo-Kai Watch would exist without Pokémon, but it’s looking to be a step above the beloved franchise and is going to give its predecessor a run for it’s money.