The battle system remains unchanged, and regretfully so. Unlike Pokémon, yokai do not follow demands but move entirely on their own. The only thing you can do is slightly enhance their chances of winning by tapping 'Soultimate', which releases the inner power of the selected yokai. When tapping Soultimate, you are prompted to do a mini-game such as popping bubbles, which after successful completion will allow the yokai to use its special move. Even though the minigames are short and quick, you may often find the battle is already over before you completed a minigame.
Whilst this battle-system is certainly unique and very different from Pokémon, it feels a lot less exciting to be a mere bystander. Prompting Soultimate moves may enhance your chances of winning, but it's often not necessary - without pressing a single button you will easily win battles.
New to Yo-Kai Watch 2 is time-travelling, a feature you need to complete the main quest in this instalment. This, along with the quirky writing, slightly helps us forget the tedious, all too familiar side-quests that make up the majority of the game. The main plot doesn't get addressed for a long time, leaving less exciting content for players already familiar with Yo-Kai Watch 1. Don't expect an epic battle when the main plot finally unfolds - similar to all other battles in Yo-Kai Watch 2, it's fast and easily won.
The sequel also offers online multiplayer battles. Whilst a long overdue feature, the problem of feeling like a passive bystander remains. Since there is little to no excitement to be found here either, this feature was easily forgotten.
The core elements of the game are the same, which isn't necessarily a problem - when a concept is successful, it won't need much changing. Pokémon focuses on capturing and training monsters - the setting and evil organisations you save the world from may change, but the core stays the same.
This is likely why Yo-Kai Watch 2 feels no different from its predecessor: the core elements are presented in the same setting with the same characters and largely even the exact same gameplay across both games. With a passive battle-system, tedious travel system and a questline that starts slow and ends before you know it, we found it hard to grasp where the hype had come from.
In 2014 Fleshy Souls and Bony Spirits outsold Pokémon Alpha Sapphire and Pokémon Omega Red in Japan. Whilst this is again likely due to yokai being a huge part of Japan history and folklore, it could also be due to the fact part 1 and 2 were not released as close to each other, making the game feel less repetitive. The anime series and tons of Yo-Kai Watch merchandise, ranging from toys, cards, to even Yo-Kai Watch creature-shaped cupcakes sold by bakeries in Tokyo, will certainly have aided in its massive popularity.
We can definitely see alluring aspects of the game too: the humorous writing, outright whacky creatures, and the happy town of Springdale, all are fun for young and old players alike. Adding online battles is certainly a step in the right direction, however there is still much room for improvement. Perhaps Yo-Kai Watch 3, set to release in Japan on December 15, 2016, will provide a better experience if and when it gets released in Europe.