Yo-Kai Watch is something of an open world game. It’s strange to thing of it that way, but surprisingly accurate. Your hero, be it Nate or Kate, has free run of Springdale after a certain point in the game. There are different districts to explore, multiple side quests, and optional “dungeon” areas. It’s as easy to get distracted from the main story here as it is in a Fallout or Elder Scrolls game. But there’s something else important about this Level-5 game, and that’s the attention the developer paid to the things we do without thinking about in the course of our daily life.
You know how you take off your shoes when you enter someone’s home? It’s a universal action that happens in most regions. Being a Japanese game, Kate and Nate always take their shoes off when entering a home or appropriate building in Yo-Kai Watch. They need to pop into a bathhouse? The shoes are left by the front door. It’s a minor detail, but one that made me smile whenever I sent Kate in or out of a place. The little action reminded me of the manner in which Oliver ran up and down stairs in Ni no Kuni. It’s charming.
On rainy days, Kate and Nate wear raincoats. Townspeople pull out umbrellas. Sometimes, different Yo-Kai appear too. But it’s a special nod that makes a player appreciate that yes, these are people going about their ordinary lives. Sure, it rains in Pokemon games, but only in specific areas. It isn’t like the player characters do anything different when the weather happens either.
People do things at specific times too. For example, there’s a quest that involves catching fish for a little girl to help refill a pond next to a shrine in the forest. The little girl is only there during the day. Once players pass a certain point in Yo-Kai Watch, time matters. It’s like Fantasy Life, where enjoying the day is as important as savoring the nightlife.
Know what else is great? Yo-Kai Watch encourages players to push the cross walk button before crossing a busy street. I had Kate running around, sent her across, and Whisper actually scolded me for being reckless. It’s possible to approach the pole, push the button, and then wait for the sign to change so the character to cross. If a car is nearby, it will even stop. It helps maintain the illusion that yes, this is a real and ordinary world.
So do the supplemental activities. The initial objective in Yo-Kai Watch is to collect bugs for a school project. You then are able to continue bug catching throughout the game. There’s even a dungeon where, if you get through it by repairing a mine cart, you can reach an area where stag beetles crawl on trees. But that isn’t the only summer activity. Fishing is available as well, with some side quests requesting certain fish.
All of these things are indicative of a certain level of care that Level-5 obviously put into Yo-Kai Watch. The developer obviously knew people were going to explore this town they created, going into backyards and alleyways, searching every space, and wanted to add these extra details to mimic the affairs of everyday life.
Yo-Kai Watch is immediately available for the Nintendo 3DS.