Review | Pokemon Conquest
As a rule of thumb, Pokémon spin-offs usually miss the mark.
Sure, there are sometimes a few fun ones like Pokémon Pinball, but outside of the main series the games can normally be ignored.
However, Pokémon Conquest for the DS is one of the titles that definitely needs to be checked out by Pokémon fans and strategy fans alike.
The game is a mix of Nobunaga’s Ambition in Japan and Pokémon. You’re a lord in Ransei, an area that looks very similar to feudal Japan, complete with samurai and other lords.
In this world, though, samurai don’t attack each other. No, they let their monsters do the dirty work for them. This means lords fight for control of land with creatures, not with armies with swords.
Leading the way is Nobunaga, who you’ll eventually have to defeat to claim all the areas of the world to try and end all battles. To get the chance to face him, you’ll have to conquer all the castles along the way.
The battle system is also a bit different than expected. It’s more of a simplified Final Fantasy Tactics or Tactics Ogre than the traditional Pokémon formula. The battlefield is a square grid that you move your team’s creatures, up to six, around to try and get strategic advantage to attack the opponent’s Pokémon. The ground also features various types of land that certain types of Pokémon can stand on to add to the strategy.
I said a simplified version of the games mentioned above because the creatures only have one attack. Granted, that can be supplemented with skills and items during battle, but both of those things are a one-time use. The attacks do vary on Pokémon (some attack close, some reach a distance, some have multiple hits) but each one still only uses one.
As you progress to new areas, you can capture Pokémon and recruit soldiers. To do the first, you have to find a Pokémon in the wild and get close to “link” with them by performing a timed button minigame. To recruit soldiers, you must satisfy conditions, like beating them in a set number of turns or with a Super Effective attack, you can get a chance to recruit the character to your team or to stay at the castles. If you fail, though, don’t worry, you can come back on your next turn and see if they’ve reappeared. It should be noted that, if you capture a Pokémon you can still only use one per character at a time.
Overall, there are 200 Pokémon in the game ranging from the start of the series to the newest entry. Each has different skills and abilities, allowing for a bit of customization in parties and what to bring to a battle. Like Pokémon games, each type is effective against another type and weaker against another. Plus, Pokémon can Link with soldiers to become more effective in battle, letting them do more damage and have more health. Also, some Pokémon can evolve like in the regular series.
As you progress through the game and get new soldiers, you can leave them at castles to earn gold or train their Pokémon. They can also defend your castle from an enemy counterattack, but those don’t happen very often in the original game.
Like I said earlier, the strategy in the game is fairly simplistic, but it helps to give it the Nintendo charm to make it easy to pick up and play. Even if you haven’t played for a while, you can pick up the game and quickly remember how to play and get through a few battles.
Once you beat the main story, which will take about seven hours, you’ll unlock 32 more episodes that you can play. These extra episodes sometimes have different goals, like capturing certain areas, and enemies are more prone to try and attack your castles. After beating the episodes, there’s also one more final mission to take on.