Out of nowhere it seems, KOEI and Nintendo decided to combine two beloved series into one; Nobunaga’s Ambition and Pokemon. The result is Pokemon Conquest, a turn-based strategy RPG where you are a warlord and have Pokemon partners. The game takes place in the all new Ransei region and features nearly 200 Pokemon spanning across all 5 current generations. You play as the new Warlord of Aurora and are quickly challenged by a few warlords from a neighboring kingdom.
You, with your Eevee, and Oichi, with her Jigglypuff, make quick work of these challengers. You eventually go on to conquer a couple more kingdoms before you learn that Nobunaga is doing the same up North. You may be wondering why exactly all these kingdoms are going all out against each other. Legend goes that whoever is able to conquer and unite all 17 kingdoms of the Ransei region will have a very rare, legendary Pokemon come to them. While the player’s character is doing this for the good of the region, Nobunaga’s intentions are much more sinister as he just wants to destroy the entire region. He’s Oda Nobunaga, the demon king, don’t question it.
The battle system is very basic, as you would expect from a Pokemon game, but the battles get progressively harder and actually will take somewhat deeper thinking and tactics than normal Pokemon games. As opposed to the turns being taken be each individual unit (Pokemon) on the screen, the army’s take turns using all of their units before ending their turn and allow the other army to move/attack. This keeps the traditional turn based RPG feel while still making it an SRPG. Each Pokemon has one attack that grows stronger as they form stronger bonds with their trainer(warlord). Each warlord has a special ability that can range from increasing how far the Pokemon can move to increasing attack to healing all allies and almost anything in between. The traditional element advantages still apply and each Pokemon has their own trait like in the main series games as well.
Recruitment is pretty simple in this game. To recruit Pokemon, a warlord must form a link during a battle. You can see how compatible the warlord is with particular Pokemon by a medal that appears above their head; none is lowest, then bronze, silver and gold. Each warlord has a certain number of Pokemon they can link with at one type, the maximum capacity being 6 though most warlords’ capacities are lower than that. The bonding process is done with a rhythm mini-game of sorts. You must tap the A button as an orb of light passes over a certain point on the bottom screen until the warlord and Pokemon grow close enough to form a bond.
You can also recruit enemy and wandering warlords as well. This is done in one of a few different ways. You must either defeat them within 4 of your turns, defeat their Pokemon with a super effective move or defeat them without sustaining any damage from them. There are also special officers that will wander after you boot them from their kingdoms and they can only be recruited by fulfilling special conditions, often just doing all three requirements for a normal recruit.
Pokemon and warlords all have different link gauges. The link gauge determines how compatible Pokemon are with their respective warlords. This lets you know how strong they can be compared to their maximum strength. Their is also one Pokemon (and its evolutions) out there for each warlord that will have a perfect link which means its link gauge can go all the way to 100%. Along with determining how strong a Pokemon is/can be, the link gauge is this game’s form of leveling system. Different Pokemon will evolve at different percentages (or by holding an evolution stone during battle). When Pokemon evolve their move that they use will change.
Pokemon Conquest is one of the best of the Pokemon spin-off games. The amount of unique playable characters (Pokemon) is still amazing for an RPG even without having every Pokemon from the series in it. The game even has a level of difficulty that is enjoyable by both veterans and new comers alike, much like the main series titles. It is a great way to get into the Nobunaga’s Ambition series and a good introductory title to SRPGs in general. This is one of the few Pokemon spin-off’s that I wouldn’t mind if they turned it into its own side-series with multiple titles. The character art is absolutely gorgeous and then overall experience is one that gamers are sure to remember for a long, long time.
- Great, simplistic gameplay
- Nearly 200 Pokemon spanning all five generations
- The link system is new but easy to pick up and understand
- A few fan favorite Pokemon are missing
- Capacity limit for warlords
- Some gamers may not like the tactical battle system