I love to integrate strange, scary, seasonally appropriate video games into my family’s month-long celebration of Halloween. (Of course, I love to play weird, spooky games all year round too, but that’s neither here nor there.) Thankfully, this year sees a trio of timely releases from Nintendo to keep your Switch and 3DS systems humming throughout this most horrifying of holidays.
Yo-kai Watch Blasters: Red Cat Corps and White Dog Squad
Who You Gonna Call?
Originally released as Yo-kai Watch Busters in Japan back in 2015—savvy gamers may notice similarities between this property and a certain other successful supernatural-comedy franchise—the domestically retitled Yo-kai Watch Blasters arrived stateside just last month. Based on the Blasters mini-game from Yo-kai Watch 2, this spinoff forgoes the roles of Nate and the series’ other human characters in favor of focusing on the mysterious, mystical Yo-kai themselves.
Either solo or with up the three friends (local or online), you’ll take a party of four Yo-kai out into the wider world to
bust blast enemy spirits and series Big Bosses. Along the way, you’ll encounter established Yo-kai Watch touchstones like colored coins, Crank-a-kai machines, over-the-top Soultimate Moves, and, of course, an ever-growing stable of your own allied Yo-kai.
While clearly meant to be played with friends—just like Yo-kai Watch 2‘s Oni-
busting blasting secondary mode—even solitary players will likely find success thanks to a competent ally AI. Just like its previous Pokémon-inspired outings, Blasters comes in two distinct flavors, with fan favorites Jibanyan and Komasan heading up their respective squads.
In traditional MMO fashion, different Yo-kai are more properly geared toward specific party roles like Attacker, Healer, Ranger, and Tank, and with over 400 new and returning spirits, it’s easy to tailor a squad to your preferred play style. Completing missions will earn items and Oni Orbs that can be used to outfit and level up your fighting force, adding a nice RPG-lite veneer to what could’ve otherwise been a simple, repetitive beat-’em-up.
Unsurprisingly, both the Red Cat Corps and White Dog Squad versions offer some exclusive content, but a trading system means you’re not just limited to what’s on your cartridge. You can also link save data from Yo-kai Watch 2 to befriend additional powerful Yo-kai. And if that wasn’t enough, Nintendo recently released the free Moon Rabbit Crew downloadable expansion, available to owners of both versions of the core Blasters game.
A New Look for an Old Favorite
In other ghost
busting blasting news, this week Nintendo’s perennial second banana is back to relive his first epic supernatural adventure. Luigi’s Mansion arrived in 2001 alongside the release of the Nintendo GameCube, and, on a purely personal note, it’s long been one of my favorite titles. It was followed up in 2013 by Dark Moon, with another sequel currently in development for 2019.
While we anxiously await that one, I’d encourage fans of the original and series newcomers alike to explore Luigi’s Mansion, now available on the Nintendo 3DS. With increased visual fidelity and in eye-popping stereoscopic 3D, this opening chapter of the saga has never looked better!
With the help of Professor E. Gadd and his crazy creations—most important among them, the ghost-sucking Poltergust 3000 and the spectral-scanning Game Boy Horror—Luigi proceeds into a hilarious haunted house in search of his missing brother. This means challenging tons of troublesome spirits, uncovering the weaknesses of boss baddies (another perk of the Game Boy Horror), and, y’know, overcoming Luigi’s trademark cowardice.
But don’t think that enhanced graphics are the only thing this new version has going for it. While the core gameplay remains unchanged—stun a ghost with your flashlight before wrangling them into the Poltergust—it’s been cleverly tweaked for this on-the-go format. Luigi’s movement and the all-important pull of the Poltergust 3000 are handled via the left circle-pad, while aiming and camera controls are mapped to the 3DS motion sensor and to the secondary analog nubbin of the New 3DS.
There’s now limited amiibo support, with four Super Mario Bros. franchise figurines providing helpful buffs when scanned. The Strobulb, originally introduced in Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, makes an appearance too. You can use this modified flashlight to more effectively stun some enemies, though you’ll have to charge it first by holding the A button. There’s also a new Gallery Battle Mode, a boss rush that pits you against previously defeated “Gallery Ghosts”—the special spirits E. Gadd wants you to recapture for his growing gallery of ghouls.
And let’s not forget the arrival of a two-player mode. During the game’s opening, an expanded cinematic sees Professor E. Gadd receive a video call from… future Professor E. Gadd. (Don’t think about it too much, folks, just accept it and move on.) This is simply a fun way to reveal that, for the first time ever, you can team up with a friend and take on Luigi’s Mansion in tandem—with them taking on the role of a slime-green Luigi doppelganger.
As much as I loved Dark Moon, being able to revisit the original Luigi’s Mansion in a perfectly portable package is a true treat!
The World Ends With You: Final Remix
Fresh to Death
Luigi’s Mansion isn’t the only notable remake to appear just in time for Halloween. Interestingly enough, while that title made the jump from console to handheld, Square Enix’s The World Ends With You: Final Remix, originally a portable release, has now been reimaged for console and on-the-go play on the Nintendo Switch.
Initially released in 2007 on the Nintendo DS, The World Ends With You is an urban action RPG with a narrative slant that’s pure anime angst. Players take on the role of Neku, a misanthropic teen pulled into an otherworldly contest simply called “The Game” on the city streets of Shibuya. Pursued by sinister, supernatural Reapers, Neku and a series of partners must form pacts, strong bonds that allow them to combine powers and overcome the Reapers’ obstacles—mainly, Noise, harmful creatures that seek to impede their progress.
While combat is key, the true heart of The World Ends With You is… well, fashion. Each Shibuya district has its own look and feel, and to excel, you’ll need to dress to impress. Hell, even your attacks are tied to your accessories—Psych Pins that hold within them the elemental and martial powers needed to survive the Game.
The World Ends With You: Final Remix combines all the content of the DS original, its 2012 mobile remake, and a brand new suite of exclusive features. Newly remixed selections from the game’s outstanding soundtrack, new enemies, and a brand new chapter keep Final Remix fresh (despite some distinctly early-aught fashion that hasn’t exactly aged well on their own).
Unlike its DS iteration, The World Ends With You: Final Remix confines all the action to a single screen, which necessitates a whole new control scheme. Players can take on the action using Switch touch controls or simulate those same sweeping motions using the Joy-Con and an on-screen cursor. Plus, there’s a new co-op option that can make fighting for your life in the Reaper’s Game feel a little less solitary.
With its wasp-waisted, chunky-shoed cast and tribal tattoo iconography, The World Ends With You was a bit of a strange choice for a modern remake, but the game looks spectacular even if the visual direction comes across as a little dated. So pick up your copy when it drops this Friday, October 12 to get your fill of amnesiac protagonists, hot house music, and throwback street fashion.
In fact, you may discover that your very life depends on it.
Review materials provided by: Nintendo of America