Pokemon is a franchise that is loved by both the young and old. I personally have been collecting the little monsters ever since Pokemon Red and Blue was released on the Gameboy. With each new entry in the series we got more monsters, enhanced features and of course better graphics. But every franchise branches out and tries to expand on their formula and Pokemon is no exception. One of the first attempts at this was Pokemon Snap were your main goal was snapping pictures of various Pokemon. They went on to puzzle games and a Gameboy version of the trading card game. Pokemon Mystery Dungeon was a fantastic dungeon explorer where the player themselves were a Pokemon. So when I heard Pokemon was getting yet another spin off I got excited.
Pokemon Conquest is a strategy rpg but still keeps what we know and love about the series. The game is a crossover with Pokemon and Nobunaga’s Ambition in which your goal is to conquer all 17 regions in the Ransei region to unite it as one nation. It is believed that if a person is able to do this, the legendary Pokemon will appear who created the land. The various Warlords you encounter throughout your adventure are based on real Japanese figures in history. Nobunaga himself is a take on the real Oda Nobunaga.
The game play is like most any other strategy rpg. You can have up to six Pokemon on the field and you move around on a grid. Each Warlord you recruit has a Pokemon and each monster has one move only. That’s a big difference from the Pokemon games we are used to but it works surprisingly well. You get the option to move each monster and of course fight. The range of each attack depends on the Pokemon and the attack itself. Each Warlord has a special ability that can help your little critters out in battle.
Once you successfully take over a castle you can then go about recruiting Warlords for that castle. This is done by beating a persons Pokemon in four turns or less. Each castle has a battlefield were you are able to encounter random Warlords and attempt to recruit or you can simply train your Pokemon. Some castles have shops where you are able to purchase potions and other power ups to use on your Pokemon during battle. You can also buy items to equip your Pokemon with to enhance stats or provide various other forms of protection. Once you acquire a large amount of castles you are able to begin delegating what each castle can do. You can have them train, go out in search of Warlords and Pokemon or dig for gold (money).
A Pokemon game wouldn’t be a Pokemon game without collecting the monsters. This isn’t done your traditional way with Poke balls. In fact, Poke balls aren’t even in the Ransei region. Instead you must form a “link” with them. This is done by getting next to a wild Pokemon and selecting the link command. A screen will pop up with little energy balls scrolling to the right. You must time correctly and hit the “A” button when the energy reaches the circle silhouette. Once the link bar is full the Pokemon will join you. Each Warlord can have only three Pokemon and only one can be selected for use on the battlefield at a time. If you link to a fourth Pokemon you are forced to let one of them go. There is no experience in this game either, instead you are given a “link percent”. After each battle the percent will rise resulting in a strength boost and sometimes your move will be strengthened. Your Pokemon will evolve once they reach a certain link percent but it varies by each Pokemon.
While the game is a nice refreshing take on the franchise, it still has some issues. I found myself getting annoyed that if you chose to fight first you weren’t allowed to move afterwards like in most other tactics games. The battlefields also are rather bland and are basically the same every time no matter what castle you are in. The shoulder buttons would have been a better choice to control the camera rather than holding down the “X” button and pressing a direction to move it. But these are minor complaints that are easily overlooked once you get into the groove of things.
Overall the game was an enjoyable experience. Longtime fans of the series will love the fresh take and it will also appeal to fans of strategy rpgs. I do see younger Pokemon fans purchasing this assuming it’s like the regular Pokemon games. As a result we COULD see a large amount of used copies in our local game shops. To prevent this, parents need to research and inform their kids this isn’t the game they are expecting. But then again you never know, this game could turn kids into fans of a whole different genre!
- A great new take on the Pokemon franchise
- Hours of portable Pokemon goodness
- Great replay value
- An easy pick up and play game
- If you pick fight first you can’t move after
- The Warlords names are hard to pronounce
- Managing all the castles can get tedious
- Limited moves for the Pokemon
Final Score: 4/5
This review was written with material provided by the publisher.