Pokémon Conquest - Review
Pokémon Conquest falls straight under the fairly robust banner of Pokémon spinoff games. Don't let this deter you though, as Pokémon Conquest is not only a remarkable and solid strategical game, it’s also one of the best Pokémon spinoffs ever.
8 / 10
There is a legend that says if all seventeen kingdoms of Ransei are united under a single banner, the legendary Pokémon who created the world will appear. Nobunaga, a strong and powerful warrior, is extremely persistent in achieving the goal of conquering every kingdom and as the young warrior who has just been appointed the warlord of the Kingdom of Aurora, you begin your quest to conquer all seventeen kingdoms before Nobunaga does in order to reunite each region and bring peace back to the land of Ransei.
You begin your adventure moments after being proclaimed the Warlord of Aurora. Aurora is then attacked by the neighbouring kingdom of Ignis, and after defeating their warriors, you, along with Oichi, a young warrior who helps defend the Kingdom of Aurora, set out to conquer and unite each kingdom of Ransei. Each warrior in the game is linked to a Pokémon (but later are allowed multiple Pokémon). Your character begins his/her journey with an Eevee, and your partner Oichi begins with a Jigglypuff.
The conversations and banter between you, your warriors and those that you battle are quite enjoyable and the written dialogue from each character does a fantastic job at shaping and moulding those characters specific style and personality. The game by no means has a story-heavy focus, but the little bit of plot that’s present, is rather refined and has just enough to give you a purpose as to why you are traversing and conquering each kingdom.
Each warrior in the game has their own distinct personality and their Pokémon seem to match it.
8 / 10
In Pokémon Conquest, there are kingdoms to conquer, warriors to recruit, Pokémon to link with, and just like in the main Pokémon line of games, a plethora of things to do. Conquest is a tactical game that’s akin to games like Final Fantasy Tactics and Advance Wars, albeit with a very different feel. You may use your warriors and their Pokémon partners once per month, with a team of up to six. Each warrior can only use a single Pokémon per battle, but are able to link with more of the Pokémon available in the game which features a pleasant mix from the history of the broader series.
Your aim is to win each battle with the opposing kingdom, or enemies by defeating them or fulfilling certain requirements with your Pokémon. If you have ever played a tactical game before then you will know exactly what you’re getting into with Pokémon Conquest. The game starts out easy, and slowly moulds you into a more advanced player that can take on difficult battles. It does this by focusing you on a small objective at first. As you begin to succeed, you move into more kingdoms, defeating them as you progress, but as you take over more of these kingdoms, you realise that its also imperative to grow a large army in order to defend them. This is part of what makes the game more addictive and confirms your character’s leader role as a very important one.
The main battle field shows you your attack range, which varies from Pokémon to Pokémon.
During each battle, you will be able to recruit new warriors, as well as link new Pokémon with the warriors you already have. Each month you can send them to different kingdoms to protect or train in. If you are ready to take on the next kingdom though, you can build a team of up to six, which always has to include you and your partner. It’s very wise to keep a strong army moving forward to conquer, while your other warriors stay back at conquered kingdoms to train, develop or recruit new warriors. Once every warrior has completed their turn for the month, you move onto the next month and this is how the game flows.
The game does a pretty perfect job at satisfying those who want a rich and deep experience, and those who want a more swift and straightforward experience at the same time. You basically get to decide how you want to play. This is one of the really great features of the game as it allows you to skip certain battles if you are solely focused on moving forward. You can delegate your warriors to do certain things each month on their own instead, such as develop their Pokémon, build a stronger link with their Pokémon or attempt to recruit new warriors, but of course, you can manually take part in each battle if you choose. This will allow you to possibly do all three of those things during one month. Its important to note however, that there is no punishment for playing slow. You technically have an unlimited supply of months, so it never acts as a limitation.
When needed, you can switch your teams around so that you possess a certain advantage in battle. Just like the main Pokémon games, each Pokémon has a weakness and using that to your advantage as you move forward is both rewarding and satisfying. Pokémon moves, abilities and status effects all make an appearance and act as important mechanics during battle, although a lot of Pokémon have the same moves and abilities which makes it a little less varied in that aspect, not to mention that each Pokémon has only a single move. The game doesn’t necessarily falter because of this, though it would have created another layer of depth that would have been more than welcome.
Just like in most Pokémon games, Pokémon have weaknesses. This mechanic translates very well into Conquest.
Without spoiling too much, the post story is rather interesting and you’ll find many more hours of gameplay available to you, presented in a fresh and original way. It’s great to see that the developers chose to provide players with a rich post-game aspect.
8 / 10
Pokémon Conquest is a DS game and as such, its hard for it to compete visually with the Nintendo 3DS, which is already over a year into its life. For a DS game though, Conquest looks rather good, but it isn’t a game that needs to be overly powerful in its graphics. The attack animations look great, although not extremely varied, and all the Pokémon have a Conquest specific design to them that makes them all fit together perfectly. The popular Pokémon cries make an appearance in Conquest each time a Pokémon appears or is defeated, and you’ll be glad to hear the familiar sounds that are taken from the main line of Pokémon games.
Although not a graphically focused game, Pokémon Conquest still has its own great visual style.
During the game you will notice that many of the battle maps will repeat themselves. This is due to the fact that each area type (for example, a cave or a farm) uses the same map throughout the whole game, no matter what kingdom you are battling in. However, the main battles in the game in which you challenge the warlords of each kingdom have varied battle maps that aren’t used anywhere else. Battling in these maps influence your strategy because they have unique elements to them.
You can look up info on all the Pokémon and warriors that are not only in your party, but also in the wild and other kingdoms. It’s useful and you will use it often, but it seems rather limited at times. It would have been great if Pokémon Conquest had a Pokédex-like feature that would allow you to see which Pokémon you have/had and which warriors have battled for you. It would have been a nifty feature as there are almost 200 Pokémon in the game. You don’t actually catch Pokémon, so it’s understandable why there is no Pokédex, but nonetheless it’s something you will wish was there, especially if you are a perfectionist.
The map in Pokémon Conquest. Just a single part of the land of Ransei.
7.5 / 10
The Music in Pokémon Conquest is very traditional Japanese and the soundtrack is very similar to previous entries in the Nobunaga’s Ambition series (Which Pokémon Conquest stems from). The overall sound in Conquest though is slightly held back in comparison to those games, but it takes a more light-hearted approach, which fits with the Pokémon aspect to the games. There are a few tunes in the game that stand out as memorable, with the most notable track being the overall main theme, but if you had to compare the music with others in the broader Nobunaga’s Ambition series, it seems to be missing a certain quality of power that the other games contained, even though the music that’s present really does fit the overall style of the game.
Why you should buy this game.
- The best Pokémon spinoff in recent years.
- Lots to do for those willing to invest their time with the game.
- A solid strategical game that proves DS games can still compete with the recently new handheld generation.
Why you shouldn’t buy this game.
- It only has less then a third of the Pokémon in the franchise
- If you’re looking for a familiar Pokémon experience
- If Pokémon or strategical games aren’t your thing
Overall - 8 / 10
The overall score is not necessarily an average
Pokémon Conquest was released on June 21st in Australia for the Nintendo DS.
Written by Michael Villalon for ‘The VG Island’.