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Hands-On Pokémon Conquest [Import]
Nobody would have thought, that the first two Pocket Monsters-Games on Game Boy would be such a great success when they were released in 1996. Starting with an Anime over Movies to Manga, candy, plushies, paper, card games and many more. But the root of it all are the games. When gamers today can't get into the RPG-Genre anymore as much as back then, they can have fun with Spin-Offs like the Ranger or Mystery Dungeon games instead. In March 2012 a game was released in Japan that doesn't fit into the RPG-Genre anymore at all: Pokémon + Nobunaga's Ambition. By now there's a localisation named Pokémon Conquest announced. Reason enough for us to take a look at the Japanese DS-Version of this game.
But what is Pokémon Conquest exactly? We can explain that if we look at the second part of the Japanese name. Nobunaga's Ambition is a series that Tecmo Koei created, in which you replay different eras of the Japanese history. Usually the player controls a warrior with the goal to defeat the evil warlord Nobunaga. Those games aren't really suited for kids, since violence was a standard at that time. How can this be combined with those cute and cuddly Pokémon?
You start your journey as a young male or female warrior in a small kingdom, which is surrounded by antagonistic empires. Main goal of the story is to conquer every territory to bring peace to Japan. Your Pokémon for that quest is an Evoli; a girl, who owns a Jigglypuff, accompanies you. But before you start your campaign, you should find some allies, since an Evoli and a Jigglypuff are not that impressive compared to an evil warlord. New Pokémon and warriors can be found inside a kingdom. You chose a part of the land and fight wild Pokémon and other enemies. The battles are turn-based. You move your Pokémon on a small area to one of the adversary Pokémon and try to defeat it. You only have one move to do so, but every attack is different. While you have to stand in front of an enemy to use Scratch, you better take a step back when you use a different move or it will miss. While you simply have to defeat a warrior with a Pokémon to have the chance to befriend them, you need to „link“ wild Pokémon.
But not every Pokémon can be linked with the protagonist. Some warriors have better connections to some Pokémon than others. It's shown on the Touchscreen, if you have the chance to befriend someone. Then you have to repeatedly press the A-button in a certain rhythm. If you managed to do it right, you get a new Pokémon, otherwise you don't (sounds logical, hu?). When you managed to get six allies, you are able to begin a war. A battle like that is similar to finding new allies. You'll find yourself on a bigger map this time and you have to defeat your enemies. If you manage to win the battle, the kingdom is yours. Sometimes you have to collect flags and protect them. This is the only way of winning battles like that. The number of turns you have to win is also limited, so you better not slack off. With some luck you can befriend old enemies and win better allies. Anyway, your own Pokémon will get stronger eventually. When they grow stronger, you can decide to evolve them or not.
It's also possible to catch new Pokémon and warriors in the area you just conquered. The game doesn't change much in that case, until you conquered every single castle. But the areas, which you fight on, are different every single time. For example you will encounter a desert with some towers in it and a sandstorm raging about, which will make the fight tough for you. There are some flags on those towers which you have to collect and protect. But the strong wind will blow you away before you can reach the flags if you hesitate, so you need to plan out your attacks. As you can see, this game is pretty challenging.
Let's get to some points I want to criticize. You can only conquer one kingdom on one virtual day. Your Pokémon are exhausted after that one battle. You depart unused Pokémon in other Kingdoms which are still strong enough to get used for fights, but since you can only conquer one kingdom a day you have to find something else to spend your time on. You can send those Pokémon into a stone pit to earn more money, which you can use for Items or you drink some soup. Sadly, you can't just assign those works to all Pokémon in every kingdom. You have to go through every single kingdom, find your warriors and carry out the work. That's annoying.
Another thing I want to talk about are the controls. I don't mean the controls during a fight, which are pretty good. You decide, if you want to play with buttons or the Touchscreen, which works very well. But what is really annoying, are the travels of your warriors between the different kingdoms. You need to depart your warriors with their Pokémon in a kingdom next to the one you want to conquer. If you already assigned six Pokémon to that kingdom, you have to move them to a different place first. That doesn't sound bad, but the more you have to do this, the more it gets annoying. It could have been solved better, like in the original Pokémon games.
Let's get to the technical parts of the game. Since it's a DS-title, you shouldn't expect the most beautiful graphics. But the 200 Pokémon and 200 warriors are nicely drawn and look good in their own style. The fields which you fight on are nicely done, too. I really like the soundtrack, it's very well done and you will hear lots of nice songs, which will be stuck in your head for a long time.
After you finished the game after 15 hours and defeated Nobunaga, well, then you managed to complete the most exciting tutorial of all time. Yes, the game just begins to really start after the credits. You get access to over 30 new episodes + new missions you can get via WiFi-Connection. But you aren't playing your own character any more in those missions but your old enemies. While you finished some of the "regular" episodes in less than two hours, some of those after credit missions are as long as the main part of the game. The complexity of this game is huge. You will have to play over 100 hours to REALLY finish this game. Sadly, you won't meet your own protagonist anymore in those missions, only in one of the last missions. But the good thing is that the game saves the level of your Pokémon. Another point of criticism is similar looking missions, since you always have to conquer a castle or need to gain a certain amount of new Pokémon. So a big variety is not given.
Conclusion (8): Well, what should I say now? You pay 40 Euros and get a game for an old handheld which comes with an enormous range of things to do and which can be played for over 100 hours, if you get a hang at the way of playing it. The graphics are really nice, every single one of the 200 Pokémon is picked very carefully from the available ones (I really LOVE the final Boss-Pokémon!). The soundtrack fits the game perfectly. Only the repetitive missions can get annoying. But for every Pokémon fan, this game could be a real revelation and is a Must-Have.