While Bug Catching with their friends, the 11-year old protagonist (Nate if male and Katie if female) discovers an odd-looking gashapon vending machine near a shrine. After inserting a coin, something — or really, someone — comes out of the capsule. The ghost-looking being named Whisper claims to be a yo-kai. He gives the protagonist a special Yo-Kai Watch that can detect yo-kai. With that, the adventure starts.
This game provides examples of:
- Always Night: The Extreme Dare chapter. Since many stores are closed at night, the summer festival's food stands serve as substitutes.
- Bonus Boss: The Infinite Inferno contains palette swaps of the story bosses and one unique boss at the bottom: Wobblewok.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- Yo-Kai Watch is much different in tone compared the second and third games. Much of the humor of the first game is much more reserved compared to the Denser and Wackier sequels. In addition, several important characters have their personalities altered to be more in line with the anime (e.g., Whisper becoming the Know-Nothing Know-It-All in 2 compared to his well-informed self in 1). The second game is when the series began combining with anime canon.
- Until Yo-kai Watch 4 broke tradition, this was the only game not to come in multiple versions, international versions of Yo-kai Watch 3 notwithstanding.
- No Fair Cheating: A variant: if you mess with the system clock, Gargaros will show up to give you a stern lecture and that's basically all that happens.note
- Only the Worthy May Pass: In the final area the Yo-kai World, the path to the final boss is blocked by three gates guarded by the Terror Time Oni trio. Out of loyalty to late King Enma, you need to prove yourself worthy to each of them before you can pass through. In this case, your worthiness is determined by whether you've done enough requests for the people of Springdale, your ability to answer a question honestly, and if you've won enough battles.
- Peninsula of Power Leveling: One can gain access to a small section of the abandoned hospital, an A-rank Dungeon, while their watch is still only D-rank by climbing some vines on the western wall to get into a window on the third floor.
- Starter Mon: Jibanyan is strong for his rank, you only get one until the endgame, and of course, he's the Mascot Mook. Interestingly, he's not actually the first Yo-kai you befriend (that's a Cadin), but Jibanyan fills the usual starting mon tropes so thoroughly that he otherwise fills the role perfectly.
- Thinly-Veiled Dub Country Change: The game originally took place in a normal Japanese city but the translations changed that. The English version is set in USA. Besides westernized names and a currency change, there's almost nothing in the game that screams "USA". There are still Japanese shrines nearby, Japanese food sold at stores, and the environment is very Japanese. This almost came back to haunt the series when Yo-kai Watch 3 was revealed to be set in USA, but the translators instead sent Nate to a Southern state.
- The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: The the Yo-Kai World. However, after that, you have to go back into Uptown Springdale to make all of the cherry blossom trees bloom. However, all of the enemies there are scripted.
- Wham Episode: Funnily enough, because the games are broken up into discreet "episodes" rather like a television show, it's very easy for easy-to-identify Wham Episodes to exist. The game has the infiltration of the construction site and the confrontation with Kyubi, kicking off the wider Yo-kai crisis facing Springdale.