Wishlist: Hopes and dreams for Yo-kai Watch 4
Published by Catarina White May 1, 2018
Yo-kai Watch 4 is coming to Nintendo Switch, so what would we like to see in the game?
Japanese game developer LEVEL-5 has announced that, beginning this year, its future games will all be developed and released for the Nintendo Switch. The company's CEO, Akihiro Hino, confirmed these plans, and was quoted by Nikkei Trendy (via Gematsu) as saying that in the future, "our main titles will all be released on Nintendo Switch" and that the groundwork laid by the company on Nintendo 3DS will "move over" to Switch.
While LEVEL-5 is well-known for its popular franchises including Professor Layton, Inazuma Eleven, and Ni no Kuni, the studio has also had new smash hit series as of late including Yo-kai Watch and The Snack World. It began its history in partnership with Sony before it started self-publishing games in 2007. The studio has been wildly successful, and is often touted as one of the top video game companies in Japan.
The announcement by LEVEL-5 that its future games will all be released for the Nintendo Switch is exciting for multiple reasons. Firstly, I am always excited to see third-party support for a console I love; without strong third-party support, the Switch would run the risk of following in the footsteps of the Wii U, whose unfortunate story most gamers are familiar with. LEVEL-5 is a heavy hitter in the world of Japanese game developers, and its announcement that all future titles will be on the Switch is a major win for Nintendo.
Another great bit of info from LEVEL-5 (via Gematsu) is that Yo-kai Watch is migrating from Nintendo 3DS to the Switch with the announcement of Yo-kai Watch 4 for Nintendo Switch, which will launch in Japan this year. The West hasn't received a localization of a Yo-kai Watch game since Yo-kai Watch 2, which has left a number of fans disappointed; if you want to play a Japan-only Yo-kai Watch game on the 3DS, you have to spend the money to purchase a Japanese region-locked 3DS, then import or download the game on top of that. With the new game being released on the Switch, region-locking becomes an issue of the past, and anyone can play any Switch game no matter where in the world it's released. Playing the new Yo-kai Watch game for Switch owners will be as simple as creating a Japanese Nintendo account and buying the game. Making the Switch region-free has been a brilliant business move by Nintendo, creating a truly global community for the system.
The release of Yo-kai Watch 4 opens up the series to exciting new opportunities. The hardware of the Switch allows LEVEL-5 to develop a beautiful world and pleasing renderings of our favourite Yo-kai. I'm a huge fan of the series myself, with many hours invested into Yo-kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits, and I certainly have some items I'm hoping to see in the new game.
I look forward to seeing the design choices that LEVEL-5 makes, and I'm sure I'll enjoy whatever they choose, but I hope to see them take full advantage of the Switch's processing power and give us a game as visually pleasing as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. I realize that seems like a tall order, but the nature of the Yo-kai series is rooted in anime, so I believe they can produce something visually unique and beautiful that is a creative (rather than an exact) reflection of the anime. I would love for them to incorporate traditional Japanese art similar to the art used for their Japanese Medal set "The Plan to Turn Humans into Yo-kai One by One".
I sound like a broken record asking for this format for the game, since every gamer and their mother asks for an open world version of their favourite game. That being said, if you have the processing power to do it, you should do it! Nothing would please me more greatly than the ability to play an open-world Yo-kai Watch RPG, wantonly befriending my favourite Yo-kai as I prance by citizens fighting over whether they should have Spirit or Soul Donuts.
Incorporation of the darker anime story
The new Yo-kai Watch Shadowside anime has been sold as following a more mature, darker storyline. This is great news for older fans of the Yo-kai Watch series (me) who enjoyed the 3DS games thoroughly (also me) but yearned for a more mature story and gameplay incorporating darker, complex elements. LEVEL-5 seemed to confirm in their comments that Yo-kai Watch 4 will contain elements from, and be focused on, the new direction for the franchise dictated by the new anime series; I hope this is the case.
LEVEL-5 is moving full steam ahead with development for Nintendo Switch; in the coming weeks and months, we will likely hear specifics for their plans that were missing from the initial Japanese interviews. Here's hoping we continue to receive announcements from other major third-party game developers in support of the Nintendo Switch!