Pokémon Conquest isn’t your average Pokémon game. In fact, it’s a brand new pocket monster twist that pushes new life into an old franchise while aptly turning our beloved japanese creature collection game into a Final Fantasy Tactics-esq strategy game, and thank the Nintendo overlords, it works very well.
The main protagonist, generic anime boy or generic anime girl, starts the adventure as the chosen warlord of the Primus Kingdom. Your glorious goal, is to set out across the Ransei Region to take control of the other 16 kingdoms in hope of uniting everyone against the evil Nobunaga who plans on destroying the entire area. Each kingdom represents a different type of pokemon ie: electric, grass, water, and is chock full of annoying warlords who hope to defeat you in epic larger-than-life Pokémon battles. It’s up to you to lead generic anime *insert gender*’s kingdom and restore peace to a world at war and discover the secrets of Pokémon!
Pokémon Conquest‘s story mode(s) are in my opinion the weakest link. Character dialogue is the exact definition of campy, and the entire game is almost completely forgettable. Nobunaga reveals himself to be the deepest character and still has no personality. Each warlord likes to make random remarks during combat, and while I find character-to-character dialogue can be interesting and inviting, it gets repetitive.
At first, Pokémon Conquest seemed shallow. Each Pokémon can only use one skill, have one passive, and one warlord power. The main ability can be a variety of different things ie: lightning bolt, flamethrower, or flame crash. Every ability has it’s own targeting area, when using lightning bolt you hit a target two spaces away, flamethrower burns through the three spaces in front of the Pokémon, etc. After evolving the skill changes, and trust me you want to evolve. Passive abilities can be somewhat boring. My Jolteon (the only real Evee evolution) could absorb lightning attacks – which seemed useless when hes already resistant to lightning. Warlord powers ranged from extremely useful to basically pointless and are usable once per match. My favorites included increased movement, attack damage, and a team-wide heal. Once you get into the game, you realize that it has an insane amount of depth.
While taking control of the Ransei Region you can recruit new warlords by beating them within certain restrictions, such as defeating their creature in under 4 turns. Building an army of warlords will help you spread a selection of troops across all of your captured kingdoms. Enemies will try and assault your empire, without defenses they will immediately take control and can become quite a nuisance. Inside of the kingdoms lies open fields (which contain new Pokémon and warlords), food shops (to raise happiness for link gain and evolution), and some sort of side mini-area (such as gold mining). Maintaining and improving warlords becomes a hassle until about a third of the way into the story when you can have each kingdom automatically perform as task (find Pokémon, gain happiness, increase link percentage, etc.).
I couldn’t put this game down just because I wanted to see what every kingdom had to offer!
Kingdoms each have their own battlefield’s based off whatever type they are connected too. Battlefields were diverse, and interactive. Ramps could throw units across floating platforms in the sky, plants could eat things and spit them back out on the other side. I had a lot of fun using each zone’s strengths. My only major complaint is the steel kingdom. Trust me, it is one of the worst designed tactical RPG maps ever. Different kingdoms even have different win conditions, which was amazing! Playing capture the flag on a raised platform brought new levels of strategy. I couldn’t put this game down just because I wanted to see what every kingdom had to offer!
Instead of the traditional RPG experience leveling system, Conquest uses a link percentage. The link between your warlord and their Pokémon grow after every battle. Stronger link percentages increase the Pokémon’s power, and can lead to evolution (if the Pokémon in question is also happy.) Capturing new Pokémon for your warlords is rather simple. By going into melee range and press the ‘link’ button, you engage into a button mashing rythmn mini-game that connects the warlord to the new target. If you succeed you can now switch between those linked creatures for each warlord. Switching out Pokémon to keep a warlord’s power can be a strong move. Jigglypuff was terrible, but the group-wide warlord heal proved to be extremely useful, so I linked to a much more useful Charmander.
Each Pokémon can carry an item into battle. New items can be picked up on the field of battle or purchased at shops in kingdoms. Potions can be useful sometimes, but the items in the game seems extremely useless. Gold was even more useless, and after the entire game I only made one purchase! I needed upgraded food to increase my Emboar’s happiness. Emboar is my boy, yo.
The game is very easy to pick up, and still somewhat of a challenge in the later stages for an experienced tactical RPG player.
The game is very easy to pick up, and still somewhat of a challenge in the later stages for an experienced tactical RPG player. Once you have a powerful team of six the game turns into a stomp fest. I rushed through the game and finished the main campaign in 7 hours, but includes a plethora of additional content and side stories after completion.
For anyone wondering, this game offers 200+ different Pokémon from EVERY generation. So, no matter what your favorite generation is, this game caters to your needs! This was the main factor in my decision to buy the game and brought a whole new level of awesome to Conquest.
Conquest looks great. Sprites are colorful and stay true to the original games. The battle maps are varied and lively – giving a much needed Pokémon feel to what seems on occaison to be devoid of anything Pokémon. Each attack animation is mixed and fun but movement looks strange for some Pokémon. The art direction out-of-combat is detailed and sundry, in fact it’s darker than it’s counterparts, putting Conquest into its own little niche.
There is nothing wrong, or exciting about the music. It’s a pretty standard semi-boring lineup of tracks. Not once was I enthralled or sucked into the world thanks to the music, quite the opposite actually. Pokémon sounds on the other hand are enjoyable. Attacks sound like they do in the games, and when a Pokémon faints it plays the Pokédex entry noise. I was shot right in the nostalgia.
I was shot right in the nostalgia.
Overall, this game deserves a 4/5. I had more fun playing Conquest than any of the Pokémon games in the last couple years. If you are a veteran to tactical RPGs or a newcomer, I highly recommend this game. It’s easily one of my favorite in the Nintendo DS line-up and hopefully a sign of what’s to come.