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"Yo-Kai Wib Wob" mobile game initially charming, but quickly gets repetitive

"Yo-Kai Wib Wob" mobile game initially charming, but quickly gets repetitive

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"Yo-Kai Watch" is a series that I worried would never catch on in America. The series rocked Japan, with over 1.33 million units of the first game sold over there, over ten games (including apps and spin-offs), and Yo-Kai tokens featuring characters from the series that had people lining up for hours to get. The character designs in this adorable, fun, ghost-driven game were irresistible, adorable, and sometimes completely repulsive in the most fantastic way. But luckily enough, "Yo-Kai Watch" found extremely enthusiastic ground in the US, with fans eagerly clamoring for a sequel. 

Which is why it was curious that -- as a segue into "Yo-Kai Watch 2" -- "Yo-Kai Watch Wib Wob" was chosen to introduce the America audience to the new Yo-Kai. Originally released as an android exclusive in Japan back in October, this game plays very similarly to the Disney Tsum Tsum game from alone. Wobbly guys pile up, you link them to make bigger ones, you tap them, they go away. But when you tap these Wib Wob Yo-Kai, they unleash attacks on opposing Yo-Kai. Chain up enough, and you can unleash Ultimate Moves from the Yo-Kai that can hurt your enemies, heal your Yo-Kai, or even change the Wib Wobs on the board for an easier combo.

You can get more Yo-Kai characters to be your Wib Wobs via random chance at the end of battles.  Much like in the handheld, Yo-Kai can be given their favorite foods (i.e., candy, ice cream, meat, oden -- just to name a few examples) to influence your chances of befriending them. You can also befriend Yo-Kai with the ability to increase your chances of recruiting new Wib Wobs. There are rare Yo-Kai hidden behind missions, Yo-Kai you can only get from evolving your current Yo-Kai, Yo-Kai you can only get from fusing Yo-Kai with items, or other Yo-Kai (Some of these designs are fantastic and adorable. Like Nurse Tongus, a Pink fungus with a long tongue dressed like a nurse who heals your Yo-Kai. She's adorable.)

Mechanics-wise, "Yo-Kai Watch Wib Wob" is a typical mobile game in this vein. You move from level to level and the difficultly slowly ramps up until you face a boss battle. Each boss battle has fantastically unique mechanics that had me eagerly awaiting each upcoming fight. Some required you tapping certain items that would appear on your board before they would solidify, others had you making careful use of the targeting system within the game. All were unique and kept me on my toes.

Something else that I found exceptionally clever was the use of multiplication problems as a paywall guard when purchasing additional coins. This was smart enough to keep underage kids out, and enough to make me -- a half-awake art student dealing with finals -- stare blearily at it in confusion at 2 a.m. for a solid two minutes.

If I have to take a knock at "Yo-Kai Watch Wib Wob," I'd bring up that the game's charm can wear out quick. Once you get enough S rank Yo-Kai, things begin to feel stagnant. Levels can become repetitive strains, and even the thrill of encountering new Yo-Kai wears out as you begin to encounter the same ones over and over. On the same note, there's level caps that you can pay coins to get past, and it's somewhat difficult to save up enough coins to level up in later areas.

And then when you can just buy coins and get reminders to buy coins, "Yo-Kai Watch Wib Wob" takes on all the subtlety of a brick to the face when it comes to what the game thinks you should do. (You can't really blame them, though. Microtransactions are the name of the game on mobile devices.)

Likewise, there are certain Yo-Kai that you can only get, as far as I know, via making purchases- such as the Jewel-nyans (i.e., Versions of the series mascot Jibanyan themed after jewels like sapphires and diamonds). In a game that seems this heavy on a "befriend em all" feel to its creatures, it feels disingenuous to hide them behind a paywall. One in particular, called Pandanoko, costs a RIDICULOUS amount of money.

All in all, though, "Yo-Kai Watch Wib Wob" is a fun game. The events the game hosts are fun, and the "Crank-a-Kai" is a tempting, fun gamble to unlock Yo-Kai. This game is good for a week or so, but then burnout can set in. Check it out and see if it's for you. 

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