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The faster gameplay and more focused story mode (taking a good chunk of GX's story) make this a big step up from Nightmare Troubadour. But it still shares some issues with things like packs being too random with no way to make a deck outside of generic beatdown until at least half way through the game. It's weird that at a certain point packs start packaging obvious synergy cards that can make a deck, even if not a good one, like Dark Scorpions, while early packs are just "here's some normal monsters". And yet the strong spells and traps like Mirror Force are also thrown into these early packs.
You'll also be expected to face the same few opponents over and over, though that does make the unique story ones more exciting. They do also weirdly make some characters inaccessible to duel for way too long though. Why is Jaden of all people only faced in like 3 story-specific duels until the post game? Why do characters like the gym teacher require you to get a decent chunk of the way through the game before she'll duel you, despite showing up on the map way earlier, meaning she'll only serve to waste time every time you interact with her (which will be often as you can't tell who a person is on the map until you register them, which you can only do by duelling them a few times).
An enjoyable experience overall for the Yu-Gi-Oh time period though, and even if it takes a while to be able to make themed decks, the AI provide a chance to use decks that would never work on human players.
The spirit mechanic is great in theory, but somewhat ruined by them being very rare to find (especially when characters like Banner constantly pop up and waste your time) and even rarer to actually recruit. I only ended up recruiting a single one other than the starter one in the well.
There's a lot I like about Yo-Kai Watch, like the fact it takes place on a much smaller scale than a lot of JRPG's. For example the whole game takes place in one city and its outskirts, so instead of a scaled down city that you can fully explore in 20 minutes, this one really feels like a liveable place. This also means dungeons are just stuff like old mansions, or abandoned hospitals.
The Yo-Kai themselves vary a lot in quality. They're far from my favourite set of monsters in a creature collecting game, but there's some good ones. A lot of uses of recolours though. Where they really shine in their actual role in the story, be it in the main story or in side quests that make use of their unique gimmick powers effecting the world around them. Sometimes they even act as a gameplay mechanic, like the mirror yo-kai which you can use as a fast travel system.
What I don't like about the game is the battle system. Yo-kai will attack randomly with either a physical, elemental or status move (either good things for your allies or bad for the opponent). They have those 3 moveslots and will never learn anything new. The 4th slot is the only manually activated one, which is the "soultimate", which as the name implies is an ultimate move. Since the moves are chosen at random you'll get dumb shit like a physical yo-kai using special moves, or using a status effect instead of finishing off an enemy. Each one does have a personality type that will effect which move they're more likely to choose in battle, but that only takes you so far, and you're ultimately left just watching as your creatures act like idiots.
Activating the soultimate will generally one shot most common enemies, but even this gets tedious since every time you do one you have to do a little mindless mini-game with the cutscene and there are exactly 3 different prompts. So you can expect to do these 3 tasks over and over and over, and it just becomes a pain in the ass. They're as simple as just spinning the stylus in a circle.
So generally there's little strategy actually in battle, and most of it takes place in the team building. You want a team that synergies well. Each monster has an "tribe" and if you put yo-kai of the same tribe next to each other in battle they will get a little boost to a stat depending on the tribe. You can also obviously use ones that have movesets that synergise well, such as something that has a status effect that makes a team member more likely to be targetted by enemies and a wall with huge defenses, that way your glass cannon can be more likely to survive. Only problem is, since moves are all chosen at random I don't know if the AI is even smart enough to have the status effect be put on the wall and not the glass cannon (I have to give them the benefit of the doubt here since I never tried anything like that).
Bosses are definitely where the game shines. Since these battles take much longer you can't just end them with one soultimate. Even using all 6 of your team members at the start of the battle will likely only do around 20% of the total HP, then for the rest of the fight you're constantly micromanaging your members health bars, reviving dead ones, and "purifying" them when they get a negative status effect (this involves moving them out of rotation and playing a similar touch screen game to rid them of the effect). All the while finding chances to use the soultimates again once they've recharged. It doesn't matter that your yo-kai attack by themselves in these battles because you as the player are left with so much to do just keeping them alive. Also the bosses will have different areas you can target to take advantage of weak points, like blinding a giants eyes so his accuracy is lowered, or attacking hearts in the background of the fight so the boss can't use them to heal.
Perhaps my least favourite thing about the game is the horrendous RNG when it comes to befriending yo-kai. You have a random chance to get one of the 3 yo-kai you defeat in a battle to walk up to you at the end and ask to join you. There's some ways you can improve the chance, like having a team member with a specific skill, and using the enemies favourite food on them (which have different tiers). But even when you use all of the tools in your arsenal, using the highest possible rarity of food that is a particular enemies favourite (which by the way you'll have no way of knowing without a guide or trial and error) you can still fail dozens of times in a row. Like even AFTER you boost the chances it feels like throwing a pokéball at a legendary when its at full health, it's just that bad. It's even worse when you throw food at one yo-kai, only to have a different yo-kai you didn't want be the one to approach you at the end.
So yeah, cool vibes, a lot of side content and things to do, a decent, though heavily mixed, bag of monster designs, but a battle system that's boring outside of boss battles and an RNG system that makes trying to get what you want extremely frustrating.
At least it has monster fusing which is something I've wanted out of Pokémon for ages.