First introduced to western audiences at E3 2015 was the first mobile game to dethrone the Pokemon series, Yo-Kai Watch. Yo-Kai is reminiscent of Pokemon‘s monster-collecting and battling, featuring a similar turn-based combat system and team-building strategies, and Nintendo has finally announced a release date: November 6th, 2015.
While most of the western audience hasn’t heard of it, Yo-Kai Watch has been around in Japan since 2013 and has since exploded in popularity. It has already spawned a hit manga, anime series, and line of various toys and merchandise, even a sequel. Responsible for development of the game is the studio responsible for the critically acclaimed puzzle series for 3DS, Professor Layton, as well as Ni No Kuni, the PlayStation RPG series that has accumulated a bit of a cult following, the studio known as Level-5.
The game puts players in control of a boy who is one of few humans capable of seeing the invisible Yo-Kai, ghost-spirit-monster-creatures that take the forms of both animals and inanimate objects. They fill a roster comparable to the Pokemon franchise on its own launch, introducing more than two hundred Yo-Kai in its first iteration. Composing the combat system is a turn-based structure featuring attack types and a set of advantages and weaknesses and offering depth on par with other comparable monster-fighter games. The player goes around locations in Japan and helps the helpless with problems related to the more mischievous individuals of the Yo-Kai.
Regarding the creatures, Nintendo has clarified that:
[Yo-Kai] are not ghosts, monsters, or creatures. Yo-kai are, quite simply, Yo-kai. They cannot be seen by the human eye, but they are everywhere. Whether born from the soul of a deceased human, or an everyday object discovering its higher purpose, their personalities are distinctly human-like.
Statements like these should reinforce confidence in the series among fans, as they are evident of a great level of care for the intellectual property as a whole. Western audiences will be treated to a television show as well, as Disney will be airing an animated comedy series to coincide with the release. According to Nintendo:
[The show] follows the hilarious misadventures of an average human boy and his involvement with the mischievous Yo-kai all around him. Our young hero obtains a special watch, empowering him to discover and summon Yo-kai, befriend them and then work together to solve everyday problems … problems that are often caused by other troublemaking Yo-kai!
Whether the series will take off in the west as it did in Japan has yet to be seen, but 3DS owners will be able to play the game starting November 6th, 2015.