Pokemon Conquest: Conquering Japan, Nintendo Style

The Pokemon franchise remains one of Nintendo?s most successful and longest-running game series from the 90?s to today. I?ve continued to follow the series on the same logic that I?ve invested in most of Nintendo?s long runners, that I?ll stop buying new installments when they make one I don?t enjoy. So far, I have not yet been disappointed, but I?ve always wondered if part of that had anything to do with ignoring the many spinoff games each pokemon installment brings with it. This curiosity led me to give one of the latest spinoffs, Pokemon Conquest, a try. I?m told Conquest is technically a crossover between Pokemon and a Japanese turn-based-strategy game called Nobunaga?s Ambtion, but I had never heard of the latter going in; you don?t need to know anything about Japan?s unification period to enjoy the game, but it can provide some amusing context to what the historical characters do.

Pokemon Conquest takes place on the fictional-but-obviously-Japan island nation of Ransei, inhabited by warriors that can communicate with pokemon. The warriors have split the nation up into seventeen warring provinces, each believing that the warlord to conquer all seventeen provinces will become capable of summoning Ransei?s guardian god. The player takes the role of a novice warlord in a small corner of the map, starting out simply defending their home from greedy and belligerent neighbors. Your character?s adviser, however, kicks off the plot by suggesting you unite Ransei to put a stop to the fighting. As you conquer half of the landmass, befriending new warriors in that typical Pokemon fashion by beating them up to earn their respect, your goal to save Ransei crystallizes when you find out the other half of Ransei has already fallen to a powerful rival. To win the game, you must find and befriend the crap out of Oda Nobunaga.

I tend to enjoy turn-based strategy, and I was pleased to find Conquest is no exception; there aren?t any resources to manage, and the clashing forces are much smaller than most strategy games I?ve played, but there Pokemon?s RPG elements step in to provide more planning; battles are mostly about the combination of warriors and pokemon you prepared beforehand to have an advantageous matchup with the defending force and your usage of the environment on the battlefield itself. The combat is very easy to pick up and play with, and I have very few complaints with the battle system Conquest runs on beyond the often-arbitrary time limit on the attacking army to take down the defenders, which can sometimes combine very annoyingly with one or two poorly-designed levels that require luck to properly advance. The game is very newbie-friendly, and it won?t take long for a competent player to master it; like most Pokemon-related games, Conquest makes accessibility a priority without becoming insultingly simplistic. A lot of players will likely find the main campaign of the game a little too short and simple, but in many ways the initial story mode is like an extended tutorial; beating the game unlocks a massive number of post-game ?episodes?, each another campaign in its own right. The varied goals and available armies from episode to episode make for an interesting experience that accounts for most of the game?s runtime, and I had a blast playing through them.

All in all, I rate Pokemon Conquest a solid 9/10. The game isn?t as difficult or ambitious as some hardcore gamers would prefer, but it is executed quite well and provides a lot of fun for players in any age range.

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