Yo-kai Watch 3 is a weird mix of stereotypes about American culture, tributes to film genres, and a strange return to a world I adore. There’s a lot that’s questionable but lots to love, too, particularly the catchy song that plays in Sparkopolis.
For the 40 or so odd hours I’ve spent befriending Yo-kai and solving dozens of quests, there’s been much to scratch my head over regarding this third installment of the series. The game’s long time protagonist, Nate Adams, moves from the familiar fictious Japanese streets of Springdale to the slow-going neighbourhood of St. Peanutsburg, a take on American living. Nate Adams (Zarnyx, as he’s known in my game) is joined by a newcomer to the franchise, Hailey Anne Thomas (Bugh, for me), a nerdy girl who lives in Springdale.
While Nate’s adventure has been filled with stories involving zombies, a silly take on The X-Files series called The Y-Files, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn-style rafting tales, and an It inspired clown who chased me in a graveyard after midnight, it’s Hailey’s world—and a theme song that speaks to her geeky nature—that I’d like to talk about.
Hailey is, unabashedly, a nerdy girl. She loves the Sailor Cuties, a fictional anime series based on Sailor Moon. She’s into mecha and dreams of piloting one (and in this world, her dream comes true!). She’s a lover of cute, cuddly things and frequents the city of Sparkopolis, the Akihabara of Yo-kai Watch 3's world. It’s here the upbeat song plays. Take a listen:
As I’ve surely stated before (and it’s a no brainer, really), a great soundtrack will have a song that fits the mood, and conveys whatever location or situation your characters are in. Here in Sparkopolis, the anime mecca with a maid café across the street from its anime and model toy store called Anime Chum, the theme song that plays is perfectly matched. I move Hailey at breakneck speeds on her bicycle through Sparkopolis’ colourful, cluttered streets. She runs a detective agency in this bustling city center, right next to the J-Pop, all-girls band’s concert hall.
Sparkopolis is lively, and has a curious, go-getter of a girl to represent its playful nature. She’s one who likes to build robots and agrees to solving mysteries without planning and does just about everything on a whim, her feet carrying her to one crazy scheme after the next with Sparkopolis’ joyful xylophone beats underscored by calculated robotic blips to soundtrack her wild city travels.
As if it couldn’t get any happier, the 39 second mark brings in more of the futuristic sound that takes over and ascends, catapulting the modern theme of all things anime and imagination to new heights before cooling down and looping on what sounds like a search for a brand new adventure.
I may not enjoy getting caught up in Zombie Night, or understand just yet where Nate and Hailey’s tales are headed now that they’ve finally converged at the point in the game I’m at. But I’m really loving just being back in Yo-kai Watch’s universe, even with some of the recycling the game indulges. Playing the game means entering familiar territory that’s comforting but also discovering new areas to explore, and new songs such as Sparkopolis’ theme which keep me smiling.