Yo-kai Watch 3 has finally received a worldwide release, and it introduces a few changes to the formula. One of the biggest is that this time, the heroes are more defined. In the previous two titles, people could choose between Nate and Katie. Here, we have Nate returning and the new protagonist Hailey Anne. By introducing two defined characters with distinct personalities, it helps make the game and its storylines more involved.
As a refresher, the previous two Yokai Watch games didn’t really define the avatars. While Nate features prominently in the anime series and the second game does involve the lead’s grandfather, we don’t really know too much about them as people. Their personality traits in the games were somewhat muted, in favor of them acting more like Pokemon-style self-insertion opportunities. It meant the Yo-kai and their conflicts were the main draw, which might have made it difficult to really engage if you didn’t care about specific people.
Having Nate and Hailey Anne being so distinct works to Yo-kai Watch 3‘s benefit, as the story allows us to see a little more of the struggles they are personally dealing with and more of what makes the unique, rather than them mostly reacting to the supernatural activities around them. Each one has their own sort of story involving a kind of mystery, and the role they get to play may be more appreciated.
This change is most noticeable with Hailey Anne. Since she is completely new to the series, there aren’t any constraints on her. There’s no need to adhere to any history. She can have this distinct personality, and we can really see her stand out. This is a girl who loves anime series, visits maid cafes, and is also super into the idea of aliens. She is unabashedly nerdy. It is a situation where we have a protagonist who is a lot of fun, knows how to properly investigate situations, is devoted to her friends, and has this passion for the hobbies she loves. But, she’s also flawed, which makes her more interesting to watch. She can get carried away and sometimes is a little oblivious in a way that can result in her tripping over herself.
Things are a little more difficult for Nate, because he is a previously established character. He’s still a bit of a generic protagonist who is generally likeable, has funny and extreme reactions, and goes out of his way to help others. He doesn’t really have too many flaws. The story structure here is more about giving us a chance to see how he grows when taken out of his element. Yo-kai Watch 3 begins with him being taken from Springdale to St. Peanutsburg in BBQ. Until he meets Lionquist, a Yo-kai that specializes in languages, he has trouble understanding the southern dialect in his new town. (As an aside, the BBQ areas really lay the accent on thick. It initially isn’t handled as well as some of the Dragon Quest Nintendo DS localizations, but does pull back a bit. However, the voice acting is still often over the top in a distracting way for BBQ and ‘Merican Yo-Kai.)
Their respective stories help us appreciate how the two characters adapt to their situations. Nate is a Yo-kai expert who is starting over from scratch, due to him acquiring a new model watch. He is in a region with entirely new ‘Merican Yo-kai. He also has to deal with a FBI (FBY) agents Blunder (Mulder) and Folly (Scully) investigating a Y (X) Files UFO case in the region. Seeing his experience offers a different perspective on the possible alien situation and new characters. Meanwhile, Hailey Anne is entirely new to the world of Yo-kai, but her fascination with anime means she is handling the introduction to the supernatural incredibly well. She’s embracing it and founding her own detective agency with Usapyon. There’s a tenacity and drive there that it feels like Nate lacks, and the contrast is nice. Especially since you can switch between the two stories (up to a point) at your leisure.
Yo-kai Watch 3 shifts the focus a bit. Instead of giving us an avatar that seems left purposely generic so we can better imagine ourselves in the role, we have a breakout heroine who is very distinct and a returning character who gets to do a bit of growing. Nate gets a chance to take his expertise to a new region, introducing us to a new region of new Yo-kai and showing us how he handles a major life change while dealing with a new supernatural event. Hailey Anne’s story gives us this vivacious heroine who is passionate and caught up in this new world and the opportunities it presents her. She’s much more distinct than Nate, while still being approachable and offering a great introduction. The new focus on giving these characters more personality really gives the story more places to go and allows for better reactions.
Yo-kai Watch 3 is available for the NIntendo 3DS.