The Pokémon series is well known for having great handheld RPG games, but when it comes to the series spin-offs that is where things have always seemed to miss their mark (excluding Pokémon Snap of course). This time Nintendo has continued their relationship with Tecmo Koei, offering the rights to the franchise - fans were probably wondering what they were thinking. However, before Dynasty Warriors Tecmo Koei were known for making SRPGs that took place in feudal era Japan. Now if this is a confusing idea for you just imagine Final Fantasy Tactics or Disgaea's gameplay in feudal era Japan with warlords. Now, add some Pokémon and you have one of the best Pokémon spin-offs ever made.
The game has a relatively light story like most other Pokémon games, but this never retracts from the gameplay. You start off as either a boy or a girl with your Eevee and you are a young warlord in the Ransei region. The Ransei region is made up of 17 Kingdoms and legend says that if a warlord unifies these nations they will encounter a legendary Pokémon. You soon run into a young lady with a Jigglypuff named Oichi and she stays by your side for the rest of the game, as the two of you go from kingdom to kingdom. The story follows this premise pretty closely until you find out that there is an all-powerful warlord named Nobunaga out there who hopes to rule all kingdoms in the Ransei region through terror.
Despite being simple, the story is more than enough to keep your attention. One of the main reasons is the dialogue - it's hilarious. Going to all the different kingdoms and meeting all the ridiculous and sometimes super serious characters is just part of the game's charm. Also where the game shines is whenever you and Oichi are rising through the ranks. You can really tell how nervous you would be about being a young nation, but thankfully you become more confident with each kingdom you control. The story gave everything a nice background while not taking itself too seriously, which is nice to see in a game like this.
The gameplay of Pokémon Conquest is really quite deep with so much to learn, but the game breaks everything into little chunks, so you learn without thinking too much about it. By the time you are 4 hours in, you will be able to do just about anything in the Ransei region. As a warlord you, and other warriors you recruit with their own Pokémon, go into different kingdoms to find stronger warriors and better Pokémon to make a perfect link with.
Along with you and Oichi, you need to recruit as many warriors into your army so you can be as strong as possible. Each kingdom can have six warriors in it, but if you want to challenge another kingdom you have to have yourself and Oichi there every time. Even though there are a lot of warriors and kingdoms to control I never felt that I had to many things to do.Pokémon Conquest is all about linking your warrior with another Pokémon to make a 100% connection. Sometimes a warrior already has a partner that they could have a perfect link with and other times you will need to go out and link with stray Pokémon. When you have a perfect link you and your Pokémon are much more powerful.
There is also the evolving and breeding of Pokémon. This is quite similar to the standard Pokémon games, Pokémon types also coming into play during the battles. These standard features for a Pokémon game mixed with the new, help to create a deep and rich experience on Nintendo's venerable handheld console. The nice thing is that you don't need to worry about trying to link or recruit as many different types of Pokémon if you don't want to. The game lets you play as casually or seriously as you want, so don't feel threatened by this SRPG if you have never played one before.
The game has great presentation, with wonderful sprites used to show off your Pokémon in battle. The biggest highlight in the game's presentation is the drawings of the different warlords, warriors, and all new drawings for all the Pokémon you come across. The art style is very similar to the original games, but the feudal era Japan setting fits together extremely well.
This game has so much content with all the different Kingdoms to manage, even after story mode is done. Also even if you end up blowing threw everything and run out of Pokémon to catch and link with, you can download scenarios that will release through Nintendo Wifi events. Also there are many special passwords out there that will let you have the chance to link with even more new Pokémon and more passwords are being released each month. There's also local multiplayer packed in to keep you and a friend entertained as you battle to see who has the stronger army.
Pokémon Conquest hits almost every note as it blends the Pokémon franchise together with the Strategy RPG genre. It features deep gameplay, with great, but simplistic writing that will keep you wanting to expand your armies throughout feudal Japan. This still surprising mix has lead to one of this summer's biggest sleeper hits, on a console that's effectively on its last legs. Perhaps this spin-off could be the start of something big for Tecmo Koei and Nintendo.
|Deep gameplay that keeps things fresh.|
|Sprites and drawings.|
|Local multiplayer only.|
|Password input is annoying.|
|Multiplayer doesnâ€™t balance armies.|