How can it be that a game that is such a huge success in Japan, still hasn’t been released in the West? The game I’m talking about this time is Yokai Watch, a game that was released in Japan on July 2013.
The game wasn’t an immediate success, but since the anime series with the same name aired in Januari 2014, sales have doubled in two months’ time. It has been leading the Famitsu charts for videogames for some time now, and in April this year they even reached more than 1 million retail copies (downloads through eShop not included). They even announced Youkai Watch 2, to be released in July 2014.
It can best be compared to Pokémon. For starters, this game is also supported by a popular anime series in Japan. You gather a team of ghosts to battle for you and hope that new ghosts will join your team. As far fighting goes, this game is different from Pokémon. No turn based battle, and you don’t have to choose which move will work best. The only way you can help your ghost friends is by making sure their HP is replenished, doing a little mini game so that they are able to do their special attack, and lift any status ailments they got. But you do have a hand in which ghost does the fighting, and what’s even better, you can switch them in and out of the battle anytime you wish. You progress through the main storyline (charming story) and meanwhile do a lot of side quests, battling and exploring. No gym battles to complete, but you do fight a boss after every main quest.
The greatest difference with Pokémon games is that the storyline is much better in my opinion and the graphics are excellent. Which makes perfect sense when you know that Level 5 ( Professor Layton games) is behind these games. I really enjoy playing it, and to me it’s a pity that I miss a lot of the conversations in the game because my insufficient knowledge of Japanese. I would even go as far as to say that I’d buy it again if it was released in the west!
Level 5 has trademarked the name in the West, and recently gauged interest for the localization of the game via Twitter. So we can always hope!
There are just SO many beloved series & franchises in Japan that never reach our shores (in the West), and it has a lot to do with culture. Nintendo has tried to test the waters before, in outside markets, for their popular Japanese releases, but for whatever reason they’ve not caught on. I think it’s a matter of “I just don’t get it” kind of thing – i.e. some of the title names, character “looks,” and local humor – are not proven in this market (not in the US, at least), but on the flip-side, we don’t know what we’re missing, either! ..Finally, after (what I’ve heard is) the enormous popularity of Starfy character in Japan, we got a Starfy game here..tho, it sadly didn’t take off. :-/ (The game was cute, my daughter said..tho Super Princess Peach which featured him, first, here – as a cameo – was certainly better). It’s a shame, too, because I can only imagine which titles I’ll never play that I’d surely probably love!
I think you are right, Sarah, that it has to do with culture. Such a pity too, because they have such good games! And others, for instance Pokemon, which is definitely Japanese in style, does so well here!
That’s true. That series is a worldwide phenomenon, and definitely has proved its staying power. I remember when it first hit the US — and I was standing in line at a Taco Bell with my then-boyfriend, noticing the Pokémon promotion they were doing. I thought to myself, what in the world is that? Not realizing how much it was soon going to take off here..and never imagining I would one day play it (addictively) myself! For years I didn’t, but boy, when that bug bit me, it BIT lol. xD I still miss my “Platinum” days..