Yo-Kai is too big for the Nintendo 3DS to handle on its own, so the next game in the franchise is headed to mobile.
Level-5 revealed today that Yo-Kai Watch: Wibble Wobble launches on iOS and Android on March 24. This is a new puzzle game where players must tap on jellified “Wib Wob” versions of the characters from the 3DS original to make them perform attacks in battles. This takes the monster-collecting, Pokémon-like action of the core Yo-Kai Watch and makes it play more like the mega-lucrative Puzzle & Dragons, which makes around $1 billion annually primarily from players in Japan. Level-5, working with developer NHN PlayArt, is moving this franchise into the $34.8 billion mobile gaming market to cpature younger players that are moving from Nintendo portables to Google and Apple smartphones.
Yo-Kai Watch finally came to the West in November. Nintendo published the game, and Disney is broadcasting the animated show on its DisneyXD cable channel. This has helped the brand build up traction in the United States — although Yo-Kai is still far more popular in Japan. The series reached phenomenon status in its home country shortly after its 2013 debut.
But despite that initial popularity, Yo-Kai Watch isn’t quite as strong in Japan as it once was. Level-5 launched Wibble Wobble in Japan in October, and it has never really cracked the top 10 highest-grossing games chart, according to data firm App Annie. Today, it is No. 28 in terms of top-grossing apps for iPhone in Japan. That’s not a terrible ranking, but Japan is a market where the top two or three games make up around 70 percent to-80 percent of all spending. That doesn’t leave a lot for No. 28.