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Yo-Kai Sangokushi photo
Yo-Kai Sangokushi

Yo-Kai Watch is getting yet another spinoff with Yo-Kai Sangokushi


Coming later this year in Japan
Jan 15
// Chris Carter
Despite the fact that we don't really have a whole lot of info regarding the franchise's fate in the west, Yo-Kai Watch continues its domination in Japan. In addition to three core entries and multiple spinoffs,&nbs...
Dark Cloud 2 photo
Dark Cloud 2

Dark Cloud 2 is coming to PS4 next week


Relive the joy that is Spheda
Jan 14
// Ben Davis
According to the latest PlayStation Blogcast, Dark Cloud 2 (or Dark Chronicle in Japan and Europe) will be joining the PlayStation 4's steadily growing list of PS2 emulations on January 19. They already released the first Dar...
Level-5 photo
Level-5

Level-5 will announce a sequel to a 'very popular series' in 2016


I'll take it
Dec 29
// Chris Carter
As part of 4Gamer's end of the year interview blitz, they managed to briefly talk to Level-5 president Akihiro Hino, who, among other Japanese developers, promised big things for 2016. According to Hino, "all kinds of new tit...

Review: Dark Cloud (PS4)

Dec 18 // Chris Carter
Dark Cloud (PS2, PS4 [reviewed])Developer: Level-5Publisher: Sony Computer EntertainmentMSRP: $14.99 Released: December 14, 2000 (PS2) / December 5, 2015 (PS4) Dark Cloud is the classic tale of good vs. evil, very much in the same vein as the Legend of Zelda series. The comparisons start with the story of a young boy with a green cap on an epic quest to save the world from a giant evil being, and permeate throughout with comparisons to Ocarina of Time's lock-on based battle system. In essence, a nazi awakens a genie, and it's up to Toan, our hero, to save the world. It's not exactly inventive, but the personal angle of all of the subplots really sell it. It may have all of the makings of a standard fantasy narrative, but true to Level-5's name, nearly everyone you meet along the way is charming enough to bring a smile to your face. This goes for the great supporting cast of playable heroes and any old random NPC you'll meet along the way. The fact that you can skip cutscenes is an excellent feature in hindsight, especially for veterans who play it regularly. The gameplay loop mainly involves dungeon crawling and world building. If you don't have the mental fortitude for hack and slash games like Diablo, the former may be a bit too repetitive for your liking. Dungeons have a randomly generated feel to them, with basic tunnel-based layouts and enemies peppered about. Every level is the same -- you'll need to locate a key to descend to the next stage, which is guarded by a random enemy on the floor. Your job is to basically explore everything, and just happen upon a key. [embed]327832:61573:0[/embed] Thankfully, dungeons are littered with engaging hazards and unique gimmicks to help nudge you along. I especially like that when coming upon a chest, players can "guess" the trap instead of using a key, potentially triggering an explosion or something to that effect. It's a neat mechanic, as you can basically guess the least desirable option in an effort to possibly force something else if your choice is wrong. Subsequent concepts like this really make you think, because sometimes, crawling can get particularly hectic. For instance, on one run, I had just been poisoned, and my water supply (which reduces HP steadily at zero) was nearly gone, so I had to hastily find my way back to a pond that restores your H2O stock and health. To do this, I had to expend an item that allows players to run faster, as well as some emergency food. Dark Cloud isn't the toughest action-RPG around, but it can get taxing depending on the circumstances. Combat does feel a bit rough by modern standards. While the lock-on feature does work well enough, the complete lack of a dodge button makes fights feel less engaging. Sure you can block and manually dodge if you want, but it's inherently slower and less flashy. Also, I never liked the finite weapon durability system, which can completely break your weapon if you aren't careful with your repair powder. The fact that weapons can evolve and accept socketed elemental gems is a nice touch however. The weapons themselves also have a ton of personality, especially Steve, the talking slingshot. The other big part of Dark Cloud is the creation element, using special items from dungeons to craft towns of your own. Since the big bad has destroyed most of the villages across the world, it's up to Toan to use his newfound magical powers to put them back together. It's sort of like a Sim-light, in that you can zoom out to view individual plots of land, and "place" objects like houses, trees, rivers, roads, and even people at will. After plotting out towns, you can go back into third or first-person mode to view your creations, which provides an immense sense of satisfaction even to this day. It's very limited in the sense that plots aren't too large, there's usually a small item limit, and since you need to meet "requests" (certain villagers like to live near specific landmarks for instance), you don't have a full sense of freedom when placing. But even then, the switch from creation to free roaming is insanely fast (quicker than I remembered), and the fact that not many games even have this element to date is important to note. Dark Cloud is a massive RPG overall, and the 100-floor endgame dungeon (Demon Shaft) is among my favorite locations in any video game to date, with an insanely satisfying optional superboss fight. As far as the PS4 port goes, I haven't run into any major issues. There are some hiccups (specifically this scan line appearing on-screen every 15 minutes or so), but nothing major. While the art style is inherently dated due to the PS2's engine, the character designs hold up, and the framerate is perfectly fine. In fact, the entire affair runs much smoother than I'd expect for a game from 2000. Keep in mind that this is merely an upscaled port though, and not a full HD remake. Having played the PS2 version side-by-side this week, I'm not convinced that there's a significant draw to getting it on PS4 outside of convenience. If you haven't played Dark Cloud yet, now is a perfect time to jump in. Sure, you'll encounter some relics of old school design, but if you're willing to overlook a few antiquated concepts and really dive in, you'll find a rich RPG that will last you as long as you're willing to put into it.
Dark Cloud PS4 review photo
Level-5's first game is reborn
Before Level-5 was creating its Yo-Kai Watch Empire and dazzling Nintendo fans with Professor Layton, it was creating amazing RPGs in the early 2000s. Among classics like Dragon Quest VIII, Jeanne d'Arc, and Rogue G...


Yo-Kai Watch photo
Yo-Kai Watch

A third Yo-Kai Watch movie is coming next year


The train continues in Japan
Dec 07
// Chris Carter
When I was in Japan, Yo-Kai Watch was everywhere. Ads, merchandise, and even general chatter from locals was abound, and that massive impact doesn't seem to be slowing down at all for Level-5. It has just announced a thi...
Revenant Kingdom photo
New Level-5 RPG coming to PS4
I was just thinking recently about how quiet Level-5 has been with Ni no Kuni since 2013's Wrath of the White Witch and, well, there's that. During the PlayStation Experience, Namco Bandai (its international publisher) annou...

Yo-Kai Watch photo
Yo-Kai Watch

The tragic backstory of Yo-Kai Watch's Jibanyan is based on a real-life incident


You're famous now, kitty!
Dec 02
// Ben Davis
Jibanyan, one of Yo-Kai Watch's most popular mascots, has quite a sad tale to tell when players meet him in the game. He was once the loving companion of his owner, a girl named Amy, before he got run over by a truck and turn...
Yo-Kai Watch photo
Yo-Kai Watch

Yo-Kai Watch has shipped 10 million games worldwide


Go go Level-5
Dec 02
// Chris Carter
Oh my swirls! The Yo-Kai Watch series is a phenomenon in Japan, and it looks like it's still doing quite well. Level-5 is reporting that it has shipped 10 million units to date, which is an increase from March, when it t...
Level-5 photo
Level-5

Level-5's Snack World is supposed to be the next Yo-Kai Watch craze


We'll see
Dec 01
// Chris Carter
Although we already got a look at the English version of The Snack World earlier this year, it's getting ready to actually come to fruition soon. Snack is the latest "cross-media" project from the publish...
Level-5 photo
Level-5

Level-5 CEO dishes on possibility of Wii U, NX games


Go go Yo-Kai Watch
Nov 25
// Chris Carter
Level-5 is no stranger to Nintendo platforms. While they got their start making fantastic games like Dark Cloud and Jeanne d'Arc, they shifted over to the DS with Professor Layton, and saw great success there for many ye...

Quick tips for making friends in Yo-Kai Watch

Nov 15 // Ben Davis
The main thing you'll want to do when trying to befriend a certain Yo-Kai is figure out which type of food is its favorite. This can be a bit difficult, as there's no way to know for sure without throwing a bunch of different things at it and seeing which one it likes best. Plus, there are a ton of food types to choose from (rice balls, bread, candy, milk, burgers, ramen, vegetables, meat, and more). Some of them are easy to guess: for example, Mochismo, the Yo-Kai based on mochi, likes rice balls; and Chummer, the shark Yo-Kai who can be seen eating grass, likes vegetables. For everyone else, it might be simpler to just look up a guide rather than waste a bunch of food trying to figure out what they like the most. The best guide I've come across can be found here. When using food during battle, press the Y button to use the food on an enemy rather than a member of your party. The food will usually be eaten by the center enemy in battle, so if you're looking to befriend a different one, either defeat the middle Yo-Kai first and then use a food item, or place a pin on the enemy you want to focus on. Strangely enough, it can sometimes end up that a Yo-Kai other than the one you threw food at will ask to be friends after the battle, which can be annoying, but it happens. Another good tip for making friends is to try and find a Yo-Kai with the Popularity skill. This skill makes foes more likely to become friendly after battle, so it's always a good idea to have someone with this skill on your team while hunting for new pals. Yo-Kai with the Popularity skill include Cupistol, Casanuva, Shmoopie, and Pinkipoo. But make sure you don't have Casanono or Pookivil on your team, because their Unpopularity skill might scare potential friends away. Cupistol and Shmoopie can be found relatively early on, so they will probably be the best bet for players just starting out. Cupistol is a rank D Yo-Kai who can be found in the Downtown area around Graduate Street to the north. Look around the trees there for a rank D to appear on your watch. Cupistol will also sometimes appear along with Happierre, a rank C Yo-Kai who can be found in the trees in that same area. Make sure to bring lots of bread when trying to befriend Cupistol. Shmoopie is a rank C Yo-Kai who can be found in the grassy patches of Mount Wildwood. I believe this one always appears alone, so no need to worry about accidentally befriending someone else. Shmoopie likes hamburgers, so stock up on those before hunting for him. The other two, Casanuva and Pinkipoo, can only be found later in the game. Casanuva can be evolved from a Cupistol if fused with the Love Buster item. Likewise, Pinkipoo can be evolved from Shmoopie when combined with the Love Scepter. They can also be found in the wild. Casanuva likes to hang out in Nocturne Hospital, sometimes alone and often as a counterpart with Betterfly or Compunzer. Pinkipoo can be found in the final area of the game, which is maybe a bit spoilery so I won't get into it here, but you'll know it when you see it. Both Casanuva and Pinkipoo enjoy the same food as their unevolved forms (bread and hamburgers, respectively). The final tip is a bit more unreliable, but if you get lucky it can really help. Occasionally during battle, a floating wisp will appear which can be hit with a pin for various rewards. Sometimes, a bunch of hearts will pop out of the wisp, which means foes will be much more likely to become friendly after the battle. It's not something you can count on, but if you ever see a wisp during a fight with a Yo-Kai that you really want, be sure to hit it with a pin just in case! Of course, even after doing all of this, there's still a chance that the Yo-Kai will not want to be your friend, which can be frustrating. But these tips should increase your chances significantly. I found that after obtaining a Casanuva, I was spending way less time grinding for friends, so apparently the Popularity skill works well, especially when combined with food. Just keep at it and eventually you'll have all the friends you could want!
Yo-Kai Watch tips photo
Just be my friend already!
Yo-Kai Watch recently released in the west earlier this month. I've been having a blast with it, but I've also been having some difficulties as well. So far I haven't been able to find any good guides to help walk me through ...

Yo-Kai Watch photo
Yo-Kai Watch

Do you care about Yo-Kai Watch's western launch?


It's big in Japan, but will it catch on?
Nov 06
// Chris Carter
I've been noticing a lot of downwards trends when it comes to the western rollout of Yo-Kai Watch, starting with its US release today. People don't seem to be paying as much attention to it when it comes to news in parti...
Yo-Kai Watch photo
Yo-Kai Watch

The Yo-Kai Watch anime will be available for free on YouTube starting this week


With a one month delay from Disney XD
Nov 05
// Chris Carter
Level-5 has announced that they will be airing full episodes of the Yo-Kai Watch anime, for free, on their official YouTube channel. The show is currently airing on Disney XD on Monday nights, but if you're keen on ...

Review: Yo-Kai Watch

Nov 04 // Chris Carter
Yo-Kai Watch (3DS)Developer: Level-5Publisher: NintendoMSRP: $39.99Released: July 11, 2013 (Japan), November 6, 2015 (US), TBA 2016 (EU) For those of you who have never heard of Yo-Kai Watch, its premise is actually quite easy to explain. The gist is that a boy named Nate (or a girl named Katie, if you opt for the female lead), unleashes a mysterious Yo-Kai butler out into the world (Whisper) after an innocent stroll in the woods. As a result, Nate gains access to a special watch that allows him to interact with other Yo-Kai, which are part of actual Japanese folklore, and are a mix of sorts between a spirit and a gremlin. From there, you'll embark upon a "catch 'em all" style journey with a loose storyline woven in for good measure. Everything, from the tone down to the gameplay, is a lot more lighthearted than your average RPG. Instead of catching characters and forcing them into tiny living spaces, you'll obtain "friendship tokens," which allow you to summon them at a moment's notice. They still lead their own lives, and you'll often find them roaming around town at their leisure. The fact that the voice cast consists of the same talent from the TV show really adds to the game's charm, and I adore the dynamic between the protagonist and Whisper -- it makes for some surprisingly funny dialogue. Yo-Kai Watch doesn't technically take place in Japan (it's even called Springdale in the international version), but said country's personality is most definitely a core element of the adventure. Even little things like shoes being left at the door of every house you enter, temples and shrines with stray cats, and vending machines on every street corner constantly remind you of Japanese culture. Having visited Tokyo recently for the first time, I really resonated with it, and I was surprised at how alive Level-5's rendition felt. It's done in such a way where anyone can pick up the game and not get confused, and the localization did a great job of not neutering the content for a western audience. It's one of the best balancing acts I've seen as of late, actually -- when a team keeps in dancing toweled men in a bathhouse boss fight, you know they did the right thing. [embed]317946:60945:0[/embed] Do note that this is a game from 2013 however, so while the art still holds up, the engine is very dated, and despite the spot-on 3D, it looks like a DS game. You'll quickly get over that fact as the presentation as a whole is delightful, with bright, vivid colors galore and a catchy soundtrack. I also started to get attached to a lot of the characters in a way that I haven't before in similar games, mostly due to their infectious personalities and engaging personal storylines -- like Jibanyan, a cat that was ran over by a car and is constantly trying to prove his worth to his former master in death. As for combat itself, it's a very odd mix of classic JRPG tendencies and touchscreen-based minigames. The operative word here is "odd," because while combat is real-time, your party members will attack automatically. Players can control item management, choose targets, and queue up occasional special abilities (by tapping balls on the screen or tracing specific patterns), but your party members will still attack at their own leisure. It sounds overly simplistic, but there's a lot of nuance to it particularly when it comes to party management. For starters, you can have six Yo-Kai in your active team, but only three can fight at a time. As a result, you'll have access to a wheel of sorts where players can cycle new combatants in, and spin old ones out. Since each character has a type (similar to Pokémon's fire and grass elements, for example), and similar types power each other up when they're in combat together, this mechanic can get really tricky both in and out of fights. Also, a lot of character's specials (which again, you can engage manually) have unique status effects, like poison, so choosing when to act is key. Where I got most of my enjoyment out of Yo-Kai Watch however is exploration. It really reminds me of the best parts of Mega Man Battle Network when it comes to roaming around town, and it's so easy to just walk around and hunt Yo-Kai at any time. To find them, you don't need to walk around in grass patches, as they're openly located around the world. There's a perpetual "hot and cold" radar up on the screen at all times, leading you to locations like trees and underneath cars where you can search for companions or battles. Additionally, dungeons display enemies front and center on the screen -- yep, there's no random battles to sift through. There's no barriers to entry for recruiting party members either, as you don't need a specific capture item, though there is still a random chance of befriending them after the battle is concluded, so success isn't always guaranteed. There's also tons of fun, rewarding sidequests to participate in (that often bestow good rewards like new characters or shops), secret areas, fishing and bug catching minigames, special Yo-Kai to catch, post-game quests, and hidden items. There is a multiplayer battle component but it's very limited, and doesn't feature online play (that ability is reserved for the sequel and beyond). Yo-Kai Watch isn't the second coming of Pokémon, and that's perfectly okay. If you love to sit by the fire and train your Pokémon for hours, perfecting their EV and IV levels so you can be the very best, you likely won't find the same depth in Yo-Kai. Its world and philosophy is much simpler than that. But as a result, none of it feels frustrating or like work, and I'm constantly tempted to jump back into my adventures with Nate and Whisper. [This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]
Yo-Kai Watch review photo
Gera Gera Po
Over the course of the last month, I've gone from knowing next to nothing about Yo-Kai Watch to falling in love with it. My wife and I watch the localized version of the show, I have the theme song stuck in my head perpe...

Yo-kai Watch photo
Yo-kai Watch

This Yo-kai Watch TV spot explains what a yokai is


Haha, I'm enjoying the show
Oct 27
// Chris Carter
I'm enjoying the Yo-Kai Watch anime more than I thought I would. The dub is actually pretty good (it helps that the always talented Johnny Yong Bosch is voicing Nate), and the localization team kept in a lot of the...
Yo-Kai Watch photo
Yo-Kai Watch

Yo-Kai Watch is nearly here, see what it's all about


Actual gameplay
Oct 22
// Chris Carter
Thousands of people all across the western world have seen the cute pictures of Yo-Kai Watch's characters, heard that there's an anime, and most likely know that it's the work of Level-5. But a lot of people I've talked to st...
$40, 10 songs photo
$40, 10 songs

Who's responsible? Ubisoft, Level-5 Yo-Kai Watch joint is barren


$40, 10 songs
Oct 19
// Steven Hansen
Ubisoft has earned Electronic Arts level hate as a publisher, but I am curious who bears responsibility in this meager Yo-Kai Watch offering. Level-5 has been going fucking ham on the seemingly Pokemon-popular Yo-Kai Watch. E...
Nintendo photo
Nintendo

Nintendo unveils new $99 Yo-Kai Watch 2DS bundle


Launching in November
Oct 19
// Chris Carter
Nintendo is heavily invested in Level-5's Yo-Kai Watch, which is interesting as it's basically Pokemon's biggest competitor. In addition to handling the overseas publishing, it's also launching a new 2DS bundle next month on ...
Yo-Kai Watch photo
Yo-Kai Watch

Yo-Kai Watch demo confirmed by Nintendo, releases next week


Erroneously dated for yesterday
Oct 14
// Chris Carter
Yesterday, Nintendo of America tweeted out that the Yo-Kai Watch demo would be available later in the evening, but as it turns out, it was a mistake. After deleting the tweet the company subsequently noted the new, presu...
Yo-Kai Watch photo
Yo-Kai Watch

It looks like Nintendo is planning a Yo-Kai Watch demo


Found on a classification site
Oct 12
// Chris Carter
If you want to see what all the hubbub is about for Yo-Kai Watch, it looks like you don't have to spend any money. Given this Australian Classification listing, Nintendo, the publisher of the game outside of Japan, seems to b...
Yo-Kai Watch Busters photo
Yo-Kai Watch Busters

Yo-Kai Watch Busters is so popular that it's getting a third version


Moon Rabbit Team
Oct 12
// Chris Carter
[Update: Level-5 has confirmed that it will be an update for the existing games.] Yo-Kai Watch is so popular in Japan that they can get away with the "multiple version" concept like every Pokémon game before it. I...
Level-5 photo
Level-5

Level-5 forms new company for world domination


Studio sets up subsidiary in California
Sep 30
// Kyle MacGregor
Level-5 and Japan's top advertising firm Dentsu have formed a new company, Level-5 Abby. Located in Santa Monica, California, Level-5 Abby aims to bring Level-5's video games and anime to a global audience, promoting popular ...
Pokemon photo
Pokemon

The Yo-Kai Watch anime debuts in October in the US


The next worldwide Pokemon?
Sep 22
// Chris Carter
There are a number of reasons why Pokémon took off overseas (the games were pretty damn good for one), but there's no doubt that the massive success of the TV show and movie series have played their part. Now, Nintendo...
Yo-kai Watch photo
Yo-kai Watch

Yo-Kai Watch launches in the west in November on 3DS


No longer 2016
Aug 19
// Chris Carter
The original Yo-Kai Watch was originally supposed to be released in 2016, but Nintendo bumped it up recently to "Holiday 2015." Now we have a firm release date courtesy of Nintendo of America -- November 6. Lev...
Yo-kai Watch photo
Yo-kai Watch

Here's your first taste of the Yo-kai Watch Just Dance mashup


Level-5 and Ubisoft together at last
Aug 19
// Chris Carter
You've heard of the Yo-kai Watch Just Dance mashup, now you can see it in all its glory. In short, it's the wonderful art of Yo-kai mixed with the garish "humans" from Just Dance -- in other words, exactly...
Yokai Watch x Just Dance photo
Yokai Watch x Just Dance

Yo-Kai Watch Dance: Just Dance Special Version is a thing that is happening


Surprise!
Aug 11
// Kyle MacGregor
For the love of money, Level-5 and Ubisoft are joining forces to put out Yo-Kai Watch Dance: Just Dance Special Version, a crossover (for Wii U of all things) that's a sure-fire bet to sell millions.
Yo-Kai Watch photo
Yo-Kai Watch

Yo-Kai Watch Busters is selling like gangbusters


Sorry.
Jul 19
// Kyle MacGregor
Yo-Kai Watch Busters, unsurprisingly, was the top-selling game in Japan the other week, notching over 693,000 physical sales in its debut, according to the latest data from Media Create. The Nintendo 3DS exclusive is the late...
Yo-Kai Watch 3 photo
Yo-Kai Watch 3

Yo-Kai Watch 3 is at least a year away


Coming to Japan summer 2016
Jul 09
// Kyle MacGregor
Yo-Kai Watch 3 is on its way to Japan next summer, Level-5 announced today. Ad interim, the publisher will be trying to take this already insanely popular franchise to the next level. That begins tomorrow with the anime's Sea...
Yo-kai Watch Busters photo
Yo-kai Watch Busters

Get a closer look at Yo-kai Watch Busters


Who you gonna call?
Jun 24
// Chris Carter
As if the prospect of a Yo-Kai Watch Ghostbusters parody wasn't hilarious enough, you can now watch ghost cats suit up and fight giant monsters in the newest trailer for Yo-kai Watch Busters. I want it! It's due out in ...
Nintendo at E3 photo
Nintendo at E3

Yo-Kai Watch bumped up to a 2015 release in the west


Holiday 2015
Jun 16
// Chris Carter
Nintendo revealed to the world a few months back that the first Yo-Kai Watch game from Level-5 would be localized all across the world, but only gave a nebulous "2016" release date for the US. Now we have a slightl...

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