"The Ultimate Spin-Off"
The region of Ransei is in a constant state of turmoil. Warlords seeking to expand their territory in order to fulfill an ancient legend, constantly engage in battles with neighboring castles in an effort to expand their territory and, hopefully, rule all 17 regions of Ransei. You take the role of a new warlord in the castle Aurora and set out on this mission to unite all of Ransei under your rule.
While the basic story of Pokémon Conquest is very simplistic in nature, that is by far its only shortcoming. The unique fusion of traditional and familiar Pokémon RPG elements and turn-based strategy battles works wonders in the game, and the balance of entertaining characters and addictive Pokémon-collecting promises hours of entertainment.
In Pokémon Conquest, instead of using Pokéballs to capture their Pokémon, Warlords use Links to recruit the pocket monsters to their cause. The Link system replaces both the catching and the leveling aspect of the original Pokémon games, which means that building a stronger link between partner and Pokémon results a more powerful combination overall. Despite this, each character has one particular Pokémon with whom they can forge a "Perfect Link" to maximize the potential power available. However, this is only learned through attempting different combinations between partner and Pokémon. Fortunately, some of these perfect links are easy to pick out, with certain Warlord’s sprites changing alongside the evolution of a particular Pokémon, and the main character you play will always form a Perfect Link with the Eevee you start with, which guarantees at least one Perfect Link during the game.
The battles of Pokémon Conquest will be familiar to anyone who has played many handheld strategy games such as Fire Emblem or Disgaea. You move all the units in your army during your turn, trying to get the best positioning on the map to both attack opponents and survive the onslaught of attacks your opponent will deal you. While there is an inherent amount of grinding in any Pokémon game, the battle system is quick enough to keep battles moving at a lively pace. If you want to quickly increase a Pokémon’s Link percentage, put it in battle against Pokémon with a type disadvantage and clean house as rapidly as possible. In addition, there is a heavy variety in battlefields available. While fighting Warlords, you’ll also have to contend with a varying number of stages depending on which Pokémon type you’re currently facing off against (17 Pokémon Types and 17 Castles in Ransei); somehow these stages present themselves as a challenge rather than a gimmick. Each Pokémon type will bring a sensible stage hazard, which provides a home field advantage for the resident Warlord save for a few which are a little random. These stages add a layer of difficulty which would be otherwise absent from the admittedly simple formula the Pokémon element brings.
The only complaint I can muster about Pokémon Conquest's battle system is the limit placed on Pokémon during battle. In effect, Pokémon are limited to a single attack and their ability during battle. Sure, there are Warrior moves that can be used for effects like healing or increasing movement range, but Pokémon has made a history based on limiting the player to just four moves to select from. While it’s sensible that some Pokémon would be inherently more powerful than others, this is easily solved by the 200 Pokémon limit instead of the near 700 now in existence. It just became a bore for my Eevee to constantly use Quick Attack, no matter what, and while this does mean that you can’t just bring one powerful Pokémon with a suite of moves to a fight, it also means that you’re sometimes limited in your battle options.
Overall though, Pokémon Conquest is a great game and easily the most fully realized Pokémon spin-off to date. If you’re a fan of Pokémon or strategy games, Pokémon Conquest will not disappoint you, and it will have you battling and strategizing in the Ransei region for hours to come.
GameDynamo's Score for Pokémon Conquest (DS/DSi)
|Joey Blackwell II
Avid gamer who's more passionate about writing. Hopes to be a renowned writing voice in the world someday, while still being addicted to games.
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