Erroll is a writer with an enthusiastic love of Japanese monsters and the games which feature them, from Pokemon to Power Rangers to Pacific Rim and everything in between. You can learn more about this and plenty of other games and nerdy things by following @errollm
AbdallahSmash026 is an online YouTube personality and Nintendo Brand Ambassador known for his family friendly content and Nintendo coverage. He is perhaps most notable for being the biggest YouTube personality to cover the Yo-Kai Watch series. We talked to him about how he became interested in the series and what he thinks the future has in store.
So you’re pretty much the most popular Yo-Kai Watch related YouTube Personality. How did you become interested in the franchise and what made you decide to make videos about it?
“I heard of Yo-Kai Watch establishing its roots in Japan and being a fan of Pokemon, I was very curious about it’s popularity. Before the Western Release of (the first) Yo-Kai Watch, Nintendo reached out to me a few weeks before launch with a review copy of the game. I started playing and I instantly fell in love with the series! I noticed that not too many people were playing the game and there weren’t very many online resources, so I made it my mission to share the experiences I’ve had with the rest of the world in order to help out! We’ve helped spearhead and champion the franchise ever since by playing every single mainline and spin-off game, in English and Japanese, in order to spread the word of the series and what’s to come!”
Yo-Kai Watch has seen a bit of a decline in popularity in Japan and hasn’t quite reached the same level of popularity in other territories. All we know about Yo-Kai Watch 4 at the moment is that it will be on Nintendo Switch, have several playable protagonists, and change up the gameplay a bit. Do you think those three factors will be enough to help the franchise regain some of its lost popularity, and is there anything else that you think could help?
“I feel that Yo-Kai Watch is going to continue changing with the times. Take Shadowside for example, it keeps the core Yo-Kai roots, but packages it into a more teen/adult way, in order to cater towards a newer audience. Having the ability to change up the equation and keep things fresh is key to success and I believe that LEVEL-5 will continue doing so. As far as US popularity goes, it’s an uphill battle considering that everyone’s already used to Pokemon. I’ll continue supporting the franchise to the end!”
Do you have a personal favorite Yo-Kai? Which is it and why?
“I’d say that Shmoopie (shown above on the right) is my personal favorite! I loved his design and overall usefulness in a game like Yo-Kai Watch, were befriending Yo-Kai can be really tough without his Popularity ability! His anime cameo episode was also hilarious!” (Writer’s Note: Popularity makes it easier to befriend encountered Yo-Kai)
So the most recent mainline Yo-Kai Watch game released outside of Japan was Yo-Kai Watch 2: Psychic Specters, an updated version of Yo-Kai Watch 2: Bony Spirits and Fleshy Souls, would you recommend it to fans who have already played the previous versions and what are some of the improvements or differences that you would highlight?
“Of course I’d recommend it! There’s a lot to offer such as extended storylines, Psychic Blasters updates, more Yo-Kai to collect, and even more Yo-Kai Bosses to try to beat. It’s truly the definitive version of Yo-Kai Watch 2 that newcomers to the series should really start with.”
You’ve done gameplay walkthrough video series of both the Japanese and English versions of each mainline Yo-Kai Watch game so far, can you tell us about some of the difficulties that come with that?
“Playing through the English version of (the first) Yo-Kai Watch was a challenge, due to it being brand new and virtually non-existent online with guides or walkthroughs. I typically play all the games on my channel blind, so viewers can see the genuine reaction to difficult times and puzzle solving, so this was indeed a challenge. Take that concept and make it double-blind, where not only are you playing a new game without any reference materials, but you’re playing it in a language you don’t know how to read! That was my experience with the Yo-Kai Watch mainline titles (in Japanese)! It’s a fun time, due to the fact that if you know how to inference and follow directions, you’ll make your way through it. It also helped that there were a few fans out there that knew a lot about the Japanese games and could translate some of the main points for me to go off of. I still remember the livestream where I was playing the Japanese equivalent of Psychic Specters (known as Shinuchi in Japan) and I was at the mandatory train-riding storyline; I truly felt like a kid in another country who was tasked to go to Grandma’s house by taking the train: Didn’t know where to go, nobody to ask, or didn’t speak or read the language!”
Is there a game or franchise in Japan for Nintendo consoles other than Yo-Kai Watch that you’d like to see come westward?
“With the millions of dollars that the Fire Emblem franchise has been earning from their Free to Play Mobile game Fire Emblem Heroes, I’d really like to see the unreleased Fire Emblem titles get localized and put together in one big collection, similar to Mega Man Legacy Collection.”
What is the most important piece of advice you could give someone who wants to talk about games for a living — whether that be through writing about them, making videos about them, or a combination of the two?
“Find a way of making yourself stand out from everyone while still staying true to yourself! The market is super competitive out there, so keep working hard at it, no matter the odds!”
I thanked Abdallah for his time. You can check out his Yo-Kai Watch walkthroughs as well as his coverage of other Nintendo games on his YouTube channel. You can also follow him on Twitter. The action RPG spin off of Yo-Kai Watch, Yo-Kai Watch Blasters: Red Cat Corps and White Dog Squad launches for Nintendo 3DS on September 7. The expansion, Yo-Kai Watch Blasters: Moon Rabbit Crew, was recently announced for a western release on September 27. To celebrate the upcoming release, Abdallah is playing through the Japanese version of Moon Rabbit Crew, with daily double uploads until launch.