Outside In: Yokai Watch 2 User Reviews Edition

The recent zeigeist in Japan is mostly deemed fun, but overly costly.

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The trial run for Outside In as a new ongoing feature here at Gematsu continues today, bringing you all the word on the Japanese e-streets about player reception towards Level-5’s Yokai Watch 2 on the 3DS this time around. Formatting wise, this post will more or less resemble that of previous ones now that a lot of the structural kinks have seemingly been worked out thanks to the gracious feedback of many, many kind readers. If you’re just joining us for the first time today, however, I suggest taking a look at the inaugural post here (check the comments section for clarifications on questions you likely have, too!), as well as yesterday’s post to understand how user reviews sourced from MK2 specifically work, as their philosophies are markedly different from most other sites.

Having said that, one thing that readers who have kept up with this series will likely notice today is the distinct shortage of reviews sourced from MK2; it’s not uncommon that Amazon customer reviews outnumber those posted to MK2, given the more stringent posting standards of the latter. This case is an extreme one, though, and while I did admittedly state yesterday that normally I wouldn’t run future editions of Outside In without more material from MK2 to work with per reader expectations, much of this post was originally drafted prior to even the first post featuring Freedom Wars being published. So as to not toss that research away, I’m running what I have and will add in remarks from MK2 where I can, although no visual data from that site will be published so as to not put an overt amount of importance on such little available material with which to work. Regardless, I apologize for this lack of foresight. Hopefully this won’t be a recurring problem too much moving forward.

With that comparatively brief introduction out of the way, let’s get to work!

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Yokai Watch 2: Honke/Ganso (Screenshots)
3DS
Developed and published by Level-5
Released in Japan July 10, 2014

Review Scores

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Famitsu Score: Both Versions 36/40 (9,9,9,9 each)
Average Amazon User Review Score* (as of August 20, 2014): Honke: 3.9/5 stars, 122 reviews total; Ganso: 3.8/5 stars, 87 reviews total
Amazon Review Score Breakdown:

  • 5 Stars: Honke: 61 reviews; Ganso: 39 reviews
  • 4 Stars: Honke: 21 reviews; Ganso: 15 reviews
  • 3 Stars: Honke: 18 reviews; Ganso: 18 reviews
  • 2 Stars: Honke: 10 reviews; Ganso: 5 reviews
  • 1 Star: Honke: 12 reviews; Ganso: 10 reviews

MK2 Ranking and Average Score: Ranking N/A (see yesterday’s introduction for why), 50 points; 1 review total**

*Amazon Japan sells new copies of both versions of the games in two slightly different editions, meaning that while the content of the two games themselves is otherwise the same outside spirit lineups, the reviews have been split up between what people ordered. The review averages and star breakdowns have combined the relevant numbers for easier readability, although in the case of the former, the final total diverges slightly from what Amazon would normally display due to a lack of visible star increments smaller than 0.5 stars.

**MK2 combines the Honke and Ganso versions onto one page; the one review available as of this writing doesn’t otherwise specify which one was played.

Consumer reception towards Yokai Watch 2, while not as strongly positive to the universal degree seen in the Famitsu scoring, is still by and large warm. A lot of people are buying the sequel as their gateway into the franchise as a whole and are finding that there are reasons for Yokai Watch being so trendy in Japan lately with both children and adults. Coupled with the sales successes that the game has seen in recent weeks, it looks like Level-5 has found another series it’ll likely be fostering for years to come like the Professor Layton and Danball Senki series before it.

The Good

Among those who have played the prequel, Yokai Watch 2 is routinely said to better fulfill the potential of the underlying gameplay premise. Practically speaking, this means that the game more or less expands upon what people already liked about the franchise. Chief among these things, naturally, is the fact that there are more spirits to recruit, topping out at over 300 now, as well as more areas to explore and more minigames to play. Players are especially keen on having those new locations to check out, including optional ones that don’t directly tie in to the main story beats. To hear Amazon’s Fancia put it as the top-rated positive reviewer, running around in the added places is a fun pastime in and of itself, with the events and activities waiting to be discovered in them just icing on the metaphorical cake. For all intents and purposes, Level-5 has by and large doubled down in a lot of ways on what made the previous game click with people and it seems to be largely working.

The Criticism

The game isn’t without some criticism, however, with some of the points being routinely raised potentially worrisome. Lots of people are especially irked at how the game is being sold this time around, as the Pokemon-style two game split wasn’t done with the original game. Beyond needing copies of both the Honke and Ganso versions in order to collect every last spirit, however, players have to own the two games in order to access one of the optional dungeons in the game. Additionally, a lot of people have expressed opinions stating that many of the new spirits are most just pallet swaps or variations of the franchise’s cat-like mascot Jibanyan. There are still uniquely new demons to be found, but apparently the clones of other spirits are prominent enough to give people the impression that the game is padded in that regard.

A somewhat prominent minority also expresses frustration at aspects of Yokai Watch 2’s pacing, especially with respect to character speed and the stamina system, which, when compounded with the game’s tendency to impose a lot of fetch quests on the player that also require backtracking through familiar environments, especially from the first game, tends to prove to be irritating. This can eventually be rectified with an unlockable bicycle, but attaining it is said to take more time than it should, making it an appreciable feature that shows up too little too late. Additionally, because there are story-based limitations on where the player can go at times without much warning in advance, it’s entirely possible to miss out on spirits to befriend and items to purchase, a limit that, at least in the latter case, isn’t said to be universally lifted even after beating the game. In the only review available on the site as of this writing, MK2 user Kawanishi Kawako points out a related problem that many others also bring up in their reviews, specifically how exits during Demon Time segments operate on a time limit and can disappear if players aren’t quick enough to reach them. Others also mention those same exits also taking a significant amount of time to appear in the first place, arguing that it layers on an unnecessary level of difficulty to those portions of the game.

In the most highly rated critical review of the Honke version, user Kamatama also notes that the game seems to employ a mechanism whereby cartridge copies specifically of both versions, not just the eShop edition, of the game tie their data specifically to the first 3DS unit that they’re played on. Should the game be played on a different 3DS unit, error messages get thrown up mentioning that aspects of the game such as daily events will be rendered unplayable. As of this writing, there’s no consensus as to why the error appears or why such limitations are necessary; the main theories going around are that they both relate to either the previously mentioned dungeon that requires copies of both versions to play or that switching out cartridges affects Streetpass functionality. An update was recently issued for the game online, but whether it addresses these issues remains unknown.

Conclusion

Most somewhat negative reviews seemingly still hover around 3 star scores and mainly harp upon the split nature of the content while otherwise praising the raw fun that the good parts of Yokai Watch 2 have to offer. With it becoming increasingly clear that Yokai Watch is becoming an institution in Japanese pop culture and with Level-5 becoming increasingly serious about exporting the franchise to overseas markets in some capacity, it’s entirely possible that if games are going to be involved in an international push that this one or the surely inevitable sequel could be the one that marks the series’ global debut.

That’s all for today’s edition of Outside In! Come back tomorrow for the fourth part of this trial run where I’ll be discussing what Japanese players think of Senran Kagura 2: Deep Crimson for the 3DS! In the interim, feel free to keep sending feedback in my way, whether it’s games you’d like to see showcased, parts of the feature you feel could use improvement, whatever!

[Editor’s Note: This article originally mistranslated some remarks from PP_GGR’s Amazon review, specifically with respect to how Yokai Watch 2 sometimes limits access to spirits and purchasable items. This error has since been corrected and we apologize for the oversight.]

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