If you played the Yo-Kai Watch demo, you may have noticed it offers something of a hands-off approach. The team is already set for Nate. The characters act of their own volition in a fight. All a player seems to do is shift the dial to determine which three appear in battle, pin a target, or participate in a brief minigame so one will unleash a Soultimate attack. Trust me when I say there’s more to it than that.
First, characters appearing in battle all belong to different classes, with each class specializing in certain things. The Charming class has swift attackers like Cadin and Jibanyan, two of the first Yo-Kai players will recruit. Eerie characters like Dismerelda and Coughkoff, two other Yo-Kai that will be among the first recruits, rely heavily on inflicting status effects. The other classes include Tough, Brave, Shady, Heartful, Mysterious, and Slippery. If you’re going into a boss fight, having a Tough Yo-Kai like Robonyan can help, since his Soultimate attack boosts defense and makes enemies target him. Setting up the right team is important and going with whoever you get first won’t help much in the end-game.
I won’t deny that letting the characters do their own thing in battle is probably for the best. But coordination going into a fight is key. For example, on my dial I have Cadin and Jibanyan next to each other, because they’re both Charming types. This boosts their speed. Robonyan is next to them, since I usually have those three appearing first. If the enemy they’re facing is exceptionally strong or a boss, I’ll switch in my three Eerie class characters, Dismarelda, Coughkoff, and Buhu, so they can inspirit the enemies and lower their abilities. Then, I shift back to what I like to call my “cat” team and let them go to work.
Using Soultimates like crazy isn’t advised. You can, but it isn’t really necessary. In most ordinary encounters, you’ll find the battle almost over by the time the minigame is finished. It’s really most helpful for bigger battles, and the key is to know what each Soultimate attack is capable of. As I mentioned earlier, I use Robonyan as a tank. Guard Meowde protects him, while his Steel power Inspirit increases the defense of all allies. This attack, as well as Dismarelda’s strength-sapping Dismartillery, are best to use at the start of a battle. Jibanyan’s offensive Paws of Fury is best saved for a mid-battle or finishing strike.
Not to mention, Pinning can end up being one of the most effective tactics in a Yo-Kai Watch player’s arsenal. In the demo, it basically tells people to use it to target a specific foe. It doesn’t say why this is important. In the case of some bosses, you may notice one part of their body may take more damage than others. Pinning that part directs your Yo-Kai friends’ attacks. In an ordinary match, you might see a Yo-Kai you want to befriend. Tell your team to target another enemy, then toss some food to it in order to hopefully put that foe into a better mood. Sometimes, wisps might even float across the field. Jabbing a pin in them during a fight will offer some sort of reward. (Hope for the one that makes enemy Yo-Kai a little more friendly!)
I guess the best way to think of the Yo-Kai Watch battle system is more of a real-time strategy interface than a traditional RPG affair. You’re the commander directing the flow of battle. You can purify allies who were inspirited by enemies, so they’ll be effective again, determine targets, send in provisions and supplies, and direct special attacks. But, since you aren’t actually doing any of the attacking yourself, you can’t go and directly tell your people what to do. It makes sense, when you think about it.
It’s also often unnecessary. Yo-Kai Watch offers a number of side quests. These completely eliminate the need to level grind. If someone wants, they can only enter into a battle when they see the on-screen Yo-Kai is someone they haven’t befriended yet. Enough experience can be gained from supplemental actions to prepare the group for boss battles. In this way, people who aren’t fans of the battle system can still enjoy the game and keep up without feeling forced to participate in activities they don’t enjoy.
Yo-Kai Watch comes to the Nintendo 3DS tomorrow on November 6.