Recently Nintendo announced that it would be bringing the popular video game series Yokai Watch to the West for a November 6 release date. 

Yokai Watch is a media franchise in Japan that encompasses anime, games, toys, and other merchandise. There's even a feature-length movie coming out in Japan later this year that's been breaking all kinds of sales records. But what is it, even? What do you need to know before jumping in and getting started with the game? 

Here are four things you need to know about Yokai Watch before jumping right in, including a brief explanation of the plot and what the games offer. You might want to share it with all those friends you've got who have no idea how culturally impactful it could end up being. This could be the next Pokemon, you guys. 

The Story
A young boy named Keita Amano happens upon a bizarre capsule machine one day while playing in the woods searching for bugs. He opens one of the capsules, expecting a toy inside, and instead meet a yokai (spirit) named Whisper. Whisper gifts Keita with a special item known as the Yokai Watch, which effectively allows him to see spirits and communicate with them. It so happens that there are tons of different yokai around Keita in the world, and with Whisper and his cat yokai Jibanyan, Keita sets off to meet several different kinds of yokai with whom he can befriend or even battle. Sound a lot like Pokemon? You'd be right, except there's even more of a supernatural element to this plot, and it makes for some pretty freaky ghostly friends. Throw in a dash of lessons to be learned, growing up, and silly adventures, and you've got a recipe for surefire success.


The Games
The upcoming Yokai Watch for 3DS is actually the first in a series, complete with spinoffs. It was developed by Level-5 (Ni no Kuni) and is being published in the West by Nintendo. You can create either a male or female avatar and you search around town to befriend yokai and take them into battle with you. Once you defeat a yokai, you get its Yokai Medal to summon them. You can also get them at random with a special capsule machine. There are several different classes of Yokai that you can collect and battle against, complete with evolutions and even more powerful abilities. There's currently two main Yokai Watch games available as well as a third one in production. The spinoff Yokai Watch Busters is on its way as well.


The Anime
The game may have started it all, but it spun off an anime series that's still running in Japan right now. It's become crazily popular, and there's an anime film coming at the end of the year. It will be accompanying the English-language launch of the 3DS Yokai Watch game, and will be airing in North America on Disney XD. A second season of the original series has already premiered in Japan as well, with a brand new model of Keita's original Yokai Watch called the Yokai Watch U and even more new episodes and yokai to watch the heroes befriend. You can barely go anywhere in Japan without seeing some kind of promotional merchandise surrounding the franchise, so get ready for that kind of blitz when the anime premieres here in the West.


The Appeal 
Yokai Watch is a series revolving around tons of different cute, interesting, terrifying, and sometimes just plain bizarre creatures. Pokemon, Digimon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and other series have found great success here in the West because of their collecting elements, and Level-5's game, the anime series, and Hasbro's marketing push will likely elevate this to hysterical levels. Plus, the games are downright great RPGs. They're excellent entries to the 3DS library and there are even smartphone apps to go with them. It's easy to see why you'll soon be seeing a whole lot more of that crazy red cat and the normal-looking boy he often accompanies. Mark my words.

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