One of Japan’s most popular gaming franchises, Yo-kai Watch has received a release date in North America for November 6th, 2015. Australia and Europe are also expected to receive a release of the first game in the franchise some time in 2016.
Developed by Level-5 the developers behind the incredibly popular Professor Layton series, Yo-kai Watch soon overtook the puzzle solving detective in terms of popularity in Japan. Similar in structure to the world popular Pokémon franchise, in Yo-kai Watch you meet and battle a number of imaginary creatures while making your way around the world. What separates Yo-kai Watch from Pokémon is its base in Japanese mythology.
Unlike the Pokémon of Pokémon, the Yo-kai of Yo-kai Watch are more akin to ghosts or spirits than animals. The fascination with myth and legend particularly those surrounding spirits in Japan is particularly popular with children here, though fears that this cultural idea would be difficult to localize has prevented a western release of the series despite its popularity until now.
The second game in the series has already been released last year in Japan, with a release date for the third to be stated as Summer 2016. Rumor has it that the third game in the series is to be based in America, perhaps trying to reach a more western audience. Level-5 will likely watch the success of the sale of the original game in the West closely before deciding on whether to localize the other 2 offerings in the series.
Here in Japan you are never more than 100 meters from Yo-kai Watch and its related merchandise with the main character Jibanyan keeping an ever watchful eye. It surpassed Pokémon long ago in popularity and it’s surprising that localization didn’t happen sooner. I’m certain that Yo-kai Watch will be popular the world over and I wouldn’t be surprised if the second and third game see a western release soon.