Review by BigReed
"Slow and limited combat bring down an interesting matchup of franchises"
Pokemon Conquest is an interesting idea. Take Nobunaga's Ambition, maintain the historical aspect of the story, and slap a Pokemon theme on it. As a Pokemon title, it does not stray too far away from the core gameplay of the main titles. Mainly because in the main titles there is turn based combat, and the same can be said about Pokemon Conquest. Except this time the game is a strategy RPG and takes place on a grid system.
Sadly, the concept of Pokemon Conquest is the most interesting thing about it. When it was first announced nobody knew what to make of the unexpected mash up. Normally the Pokemon franchise stand on its own with real world inspired areas, tons of pokemon, and characters unique to the franchise. But this time Pokemon feels like it is simply being lent out to Nabunaga's Ambition. Personally, I'm more of a fan of the Pokemon franchise and I would have liked to see more ideas from Pokemon being utilized during the game.
One SRPG that I thoroughly enjoyed that had similar collection elements to Pokemon is Devil Survivor. In DS you are able to easily and quickly purchase Demons to add to open slots for each character. While the main characters move around on the grid in a similar fashion to other srpgs, when the battle begins you and two of your demons all act as separate party members. Pokemon Conquest could have had a similar style considering in the main series your Pokemon can have multiple moves that work in different scenarios. Instead however, your pokemon are only afforded a single move which in my opinion limits the strategy found in previous iterations of the series.
The core gameplay of Pokemon Conquest is slow. You'll spend three or four turns slowly inching your Pokemon up so you can avoid hazards and also being surrounded by the opposing warlords. Rather than incorporating interesting strategy elements balanced move pools or multiple pokemon per warlord, the player is encouraged to slowly move around to bait the enemy. Most warlord battles require three turns moving your Pokemon up only one or two spaces at a time so you won't be surrounded by an opponent with more Pokemon. Considering the emphasis on move pools, balanced types, and setting the field, it would have nice interesting to see a more diverse combat system rather than having one pokemon and move per warlord.
The lack of moves however is offset by a ton of variables on the battle fields. I haven't played many SRPGs that have had this many different dangerous obstacles and other hazards you can use against the enemies.While Pokemon Conquest may have slow and simple combat, it does maintain many aspects that fans of SRPGs are known for.
Once again Nintendo has announced a popular DS title over a year into the life of their new portable the 3ds. They were smart to include backwards compatibility with the 3ds so games like Pokemon Conquest and Pokemon Black and White 2 can be played on those that traded in their DS systems for Nintendo's newer portable. The downside of this however is that the 3ds is much more powerful in terms of graphics and sound than the DS.
So Pokemon Conquest is very pixelated and is using a very old and simple sound chip. I would say that the graphics in Pokemon Conquest are slightly worse than the main series DS games. The sound is heavily influenced by Nobunaga's Ambition. While the graphics and sounds of Pokemon Conquest aren't bad, they also aren't anything special to the system. They fall into the middle of the DS library.
Pokemon Conquest ends up being a love or hate game, with very little middle ground. Pokemon battles in the main titles can be over in as little as a minute. Fast, fun, and with a full team and move sets. In Conquest however battles are much slower and require more thought with every move. Moving one Pokemon too quickly can result in a quick defeat.
Pokemon Conquest is a game that fits better as a rental or a game you borrow. For the asking price of forty dollars, the game doesn't offer anything that makes it a must play title. However, if you're a hardcore fan of the SRPG genre then you'll find familiar ground and gameplay mechanics that you already know and enjoy.
Reviewer's Rating: 2.5 - Playable
Originally Posted: 06/29/12, Updated 07/03/12
Game Release: Pokemon Conquest (US, 06/18/12)
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