Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Adamant Ditto Review: Pokemon Conquest

 So, it's not as wizard as Ricky's release day reviews, but I still nabbed a copy and played the hell out of it so we can talk about it here. With that out of the way, who's ready for a new Pokemon game? Everyone apparently, since this game is selling like metaphorical hot cakes.

For those of you who are unaware, Pokemon Conquest is actually a crossover game with an almost entirely Japanese series called Nobunaga's Ambition, a grand strategy RPG where you play as a feudal warlord seeking the unification of Japan. That said, when this crossover was announced, there wasn't a single one of us who questioned if this game would see an American release. Now that it has, be excited. Be very excited.

The game play is actually a marvelous integration of the two series'. You play as the new warlord of of Aurora and aim for the unification of the Ransei region to protect it from its destruction under the control of Nobunaga. Each province you control can hold up to six Warriors, each of whom bring one Pokemon to the battlefield. From there it diverts from the typical Pokemon game as all of your selected warriors enter the battlefield at once. Each Pokemon has a set number of spaces it can move and has just one attack and each is accompanied by its Warrior which has its own ability and item. In here lies the game's brilliance because you have to constantly consider more than just which Pokemon is out and which Pokemon it's facing, but all of the Pokemon on the field, their abilities, their positioning, which order your Pokemon take their turn, battlefield hazards and traps, even how much energy your Pokemon have and how many Warriors you've distributed to your various castles; it can all be confusing and overwhelming at first, but since most of the people playing this game are already familiar with Pokemon, it's an intelligent way of weaning you into this more complex style of game play.

Expending your army becomes essential to conquering other areas. You can find wandering warriors and defeat them quickly or "link" with wild Pokemon to make sure that each warrior has a Pokemon that can be used to its full potential. The main story is certainly long enough to justify the game and it actually gets really tough later in the game. I actually lost a battle early in the story which opened my eyes to the amount of strategy you need to put into each fight. Once you finish the main story, though, there's dozens, DOZENS, of additional stories to play after that, not that I wouldn't just play the main story over again, since your Pokemon is Eevee which opens up a bit of variety right upfront (though I about danced for joy when it evolved into Glaceon).

One of the things I found surprising was that the game didn't do much Romanization of character names, but considering many of the character names are actually taken from real world Japanese Daimyos, I ended up liking it. If there was one gripe I had to give it's that there is not nearly enough Pokemon. While the bulk of them come from First and Fifth Generations, a smart move, there are still hundreds of Pokemon not used, Pokemon I'd very much like to see. Sure I'm not disappointed to not see Stunfisk, but where the Muk is Cyndaquil? or Magnemite?

Pokemon Conquest is a very engaging strategy game that I wouldn't have taken another glance at if it weren't for the glaring Pokemon in the title, which makes this, in my opinion, the best kind of crossover game, one that brings my attention to another series of games and makes me genuinely interested in the games it produces in the future. So go ahead and spend the... 30 bucks? Dude, maybe this is why all the ones in my city are GONE.

Kyle thought this game was...

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