Pokemon Conquest Review

Pokemon Conquest's fun setting and rewarding strategic elements are hampered by slow, overly simplistic combat.

by

The Pokemon franchise has thrived for decades as a collect-'em-all adventure, but the potential for more outlandish experiences has always been there. Enter Pokemon Conquest. One part management simulation, one part combat extravaganza, this new approach to the expansive universe forces you to think beyond the rock-beats-paper routine that has been a staple since red and blue were the only colors that mattered. Although this dose of inventiveness breathes some fresh air into a sometimes stagnant world, the combat has been simplified to such an extreme that much of the fun is sapped away.

Fire walk with me.

Pokemon Conquest takes place in the faraway land of Ransei, an island country modeled after Japan. You begin as an up-and-coming warlord. It's important to note that in this universe, warriors and warlords aren't highly trained soldiers that terrorize the battlefield--they're special individuals with the innate ability to train and control Pokemon to do the terrorizing for them. The local legend states that once Ransei is united, a legendary, incredibly powerful Pokemon will appear, and there are those who want such power for themselves.

The characters in the game are based on real-life historical generals from Japan's tumultuous Sengoku era (though copious liberties have been taken with their portrayals), and much as they did in reality, they are constantly fighting over territory in Ransei. The primary villain, Oda Nobunaga, is likely familiar to anyone who has played a game in this setting before, and he's out to wreak havoc by using the legendary Pokemon to destroy Ransei. It's up to you to conquer and unite Ransei's kingdoms under your banner and put a halt to Nobunaga's ambitions.

You shift between two primary game modes in Pokemon Conquest: simulation and combat. In simulation mode, you're in charge of managing your kingdoms, warriors, and resources by moving a cursor about a map of Ransei. Each kingdom has an array of facilities, including shops, energy-restoring Ponigiri dealers, and unique structures that confer stat boosts or produce bonus items. Up to six warriors can be stationed in a given kingdom, and the arena lets you recruit and train new warriors as well as new Pokemon.

Never underestimate the strength of a Tepig with a historical pretty boy behind him.

The simulation mode is turn-based, with each warrior getting a single action per turn, thus forcing you to think carefully about how you want to spend your time and resources. For example, do you want to spend a turn feeding a warrior's Pokemon to raise its energy for a while, or instead risk sending it into a skirmish in a weakened state to try to boost its strength? Using your time wisely and strategizing effectively helps you expand your kingdom and build your Pokemon army's strength, and seeing the results is satisfying. The simulation sequences are enjoyable, though they may take some getting used to since some of the elements of this mode aren't explained well in-game.

What will ultimately determine your success as a unifier of Ransei, however, are the combat sequences. These play out in typical strategy-RPG format: you and your opponent take turns moving characters around a grid-based combat arena, using your Pokemons' movement and combat skills to try to either eliminate your opponent's troops or perform another victory objective within a certain turn limit. Things like spacing, arena height, and positioning all play a key role, because certain Pokemon use exclusively ranged or crowd-clearing attacks, and friendly fire can and does happen.

Pokemon also come with individual abilities that affect their combat performance, such as getting stat boosts with low HP or dealing more damage when surrounded by allies. Furthermore, each warrior has a unique special ability--increasing movement range, curing status ailments, and so on--and the ability to use a held item, both of which can be activated once in each battle. Pokemon become stronger after each battle, though specific warriors have limits on whether they can "link" with certain critters and how far, putting a cap on their strength/evolutionary capabilities and forcing you to search for more suitable partners in pugilism.

What's he holding behind his back? Frisk him, Squirtle!

The combat has some interesting elements, such as dynamic arenas with specific gimmicks, that must be taken into account: floating islands with springboards that send your Pokemon bouncing all over the place, or a mechanical castle with passages that open and close as Pokemon step on gears. The problem is that, for the most part, the combat is slow paced and limited. Movement and attack animations are slow, with no option to turn them off entirely, only speed them up slightly (which you definitely want to do).

Though strategy RPG combat rarely moves at a brisk pace, the small arenas and limited combat capabilities of the Pokemon exacerbate the already slow action, making it feel constricting and dull. Unlike in many strategy RPGs where characters gain more abilities as they level up, the Pokemon have only a single type of attack of set range they can use, and it is all they will ever be able to use until they evolve and it changes into a different single type of attack. Since you can only take up to 6 troops into combat and you're usually fighting in tiny spaces, you don't have a lot of options when it comes to how you want to tackle your foes, which kills a lot of the fun involved in strategizing.

If you're an experienced strategy RPG veteran, you'll find Pokemon Conquest to be quite easy. The web of Pokemon types and countertypes, where certain moves have greater or limited effects on Pokemon of certain types of affiliations, is in full effect in Pokemon Conquest, so conquering enemy kingdoms is usually just a case of bringing an army of counter-picked Pokemon strong against that territory's affiliation. Later battles try to throw a wrench into things by having the opponent use at least one Pokemon that counters the types you're most likely to pick, but this is easily handled by bringing in a strong all-purpose Pokemon that isn't weak to anything the opponent might use.

Pikachu can only stare in horror as the brutal carnage of Pokemon combat plays out.

Other kingdoms can invade your territory, but this usually doesn't happen unless you leave a castle in a vulnerable location woefully underprotected. Even then, your lost territory can be easily reclaimed the next turn. Eventually the whole game starts to feel repetitive and by-the-numbers, with your foes content to just sit and wait until you're strong enough to invade and conquer them.

Pokemon Conquest's concept and setting are unique, and the curiosity factor alone adds a good amount of appeal and fun to a fairly standard strategy RPG. It's a shame that the combat doesn't live up to the potential of its theme, but if you can get past the limited, simplistic battles, there is certainly enjoyment to be had from this Japanese-flavored exercise in animal army conquest.

The Good
Territory expansion and kingdom management are satisfying
Plenty of precious Pokemon to collect
Puts classic Pokemon themes in a new setting
Gimmick-filled fighting arenas make for unique battles
The Bad
Combat is far too slow-paced and easy
Pokemon combat abilities are too limited
Certain gameplay elements aren't explained well
6.5
Fair
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Elena_The_Turk
Elena_The_Turk

Purchased, played a couple hours, got a refund. This game is utter crap.

If you're looking for a pokemon game, any is better than this.


If you're looking for a turn bases sRPG, fire emblem, luminous arc, etc, are better than this.

bmz13
bmz13

Gamespot hates nintendo. always a bad review , never a high score

blobulus
blobulus

Gamespot gamespot gamespot... This is why I don't use this website anymore.

jospon991
jospon991

why is mewtwo in pokemon conquest if he was born in the 1st pokemon movie

 

zer0origin
zer0origin

7.5 would be the score I would give it, but this review is pretty accurate for the most part. If you do not like the kingdom conquering element, you're better off with the Devil Survivor series which has a much more in-depth combat system.

Wensea10
Wensea10

This game actually looks pretty addicting especially since its different!

SI3DN3R
SI3DN3R

love pokemon games, but this looks ridiculously stupid

knicks0320
knicks0320

I have to agree with the review for the most part; I enjoyed the game for what it was, but the combat was far too simplistic.  My favorite games on the DS are turn-based strategy RPG's such as Devil Survivor and the combat systems in those games are much more complex.  But all in all decent game if you like Pokemon more than SRPG's

Awe5someWarrior
Awe5someWarrior

i dont like it they just downgraded the pokemon games and it may feel like your playing the first one which i have played

 

EasterIslander
EasterIslander

This is one of the greatest games I've played in years, best on the DS period. I love pkmn and this is the best game since the original Gold Version.

 

ZeroDrawn
ZeroDrawn

There's plenty of instances in cinema of film critics giving their thumbs-down to movies, only to have audiences enjoying those very same productions as they go on to be a roaring box-office success.

 

It doesn't necessarily mean the film critic (or game critic, in this case) is wrong. It is just how subjectivity works sometimes, even so far as to create completely opposite viewpoints where neither party is strictly right or wrong. Just different.

soulless4now
soulless4now

Still seems like a fun game so I'll get it before it becomes hard to find. 

hugo2495
hugo2495

Pokemon games need to be a little harder. Theres no pull to the game if you know you're just gonna beat it without trying. Same reason Diamond+ didn't interest me.

Lincvattic
Lincvattic

The entire pokemon series needs a huge revamp to make it relevant. It's going the way of the Final Fantasy series, and is just way too dated.

lastaup
lastaup

i enjoy the game. and i kinda like that each pokemon have only one move. it makes it challenging and makes me to play with more tactics. i only wish there is a difficulty ratings.

csward
csward

Having played the game myself, this review is 100% accurate. Great job GS. I also found it way too easy and boring after a few hours. It's too bad because this game had great potential.

dracosummoner
dracosummoner

Okay.  If the review mentioned this, I overlooked it, and I apologize.  The combat is fairly simple for the main quest, but while I don't want to spoil anything, I must say that Pokémon Conquest has a LOT of content that only becomes available after the credits--I've completed three or four "short story"-esque scenarios, and there are ... around thirty more that I've not touched, a number of which aren't even available to me yet.  These missions are given difficulty ratings, and even the ones on the very lowest end are more difficult than anything the main quest has to offer.

 

I really enjoyed the main story, easy and short as it was, but I'm loving the stuff that becomes available afterward.  Hardcore turn-based strategy fans will find quite a lot to like once they find that the game is forcing them to stretch its "simple" mechanics to their very limit.  The AI is much more aggressive in terms of conquering territory, and the odds of achieving victory are much more heavily stacked against you.

Big_Pecks
Big_Pecks

GameSpot really can't hide their dislike for the series. I fully expect BW2 to get a 6.0.

xdrmonkeyfishx
xdrmonkeyfishx

Well if this game is anything like Fire Emblem, then I might have to pick it up. And I don't think that the reviewer deserves this much flak that people are giving. I mean it's just an opinion. I don't just look at one persons opinion before i buy a game, because that person may not have liked the game very much whereas I might really enjoy it

riotinto876
riotinto876

Either this reviewer doesn't like pokemon games or I don't know, because, as a die hard pokemon fan, I loved it, very addicting and the link mechanic fits everything perfectly. The game strategy is based on the pokemon's strengths and weaknesses, the characteristics of the move each pokemon has and map positional awareness. This reviewer clearly expected a heavy tactical fire emblem or something, It felt right for me from the start, and I too play fire emblem, advance wars, etc, so I'm sorry this game got a reviewer who had no idea what she was reviewing.

PSPmaster1199
PSPmaster1199

I know that a game like pokemon conquest might be a bit of a letdown to diehard strategy fans (Although I have it and have yet to grow bored of anything), and, yes, many of the game elements are not explained well, especially things like delegation and energy.

 

What I'm trying to say is that this reviewer is pointing out very legitimate criticisms of the game, and I'm not mad for that.  What I am mad for, however, is that these few criticisms led him to give the game a 6.5 XP 7.0 is supposedly a very average game according to Gamespot.  Are you telling me that, just because it's a little too easy and you need to run a google search to learn how to play it well, that it's worse than the average game?  Ridiculous.

suplax
suplax

Gamespot has so many shit reviewers..... sad.

gamerdogg09
gamerdogg09

i hope  it

is as interesting as it looks

grbolivar
grbolivar

Sorry guys but this game is really boring, I'm playing it right now and I can barely stand the boredom. Give me Fire Emblem or Advance Wars anyday over this...

SaltyMeatballs
SaltyMeatballs

Think beyond rock beats paper? This game must be difficult.

Mathuin
Mathuin

"Rock-beats-paper" . . . smh

salvucci91
salvucci91

Have never even heard of you, Heidi... lol This really is a great game though. Just don't compare it's depth to Disgaea !

Jestersmiles
Jestersmiles

Love the manchildren crying over a mealiness number given by a stranger they will never meet in their lives. LOL

will3k3
will3k3

Its just a bad review of this game. Ive read better reviews coming from Gamespot

Noodlefoxes
Noodlefoxes

I'll tell you why this review sucks: First paragraph, rock does NOT beat paper. How can I believe anything following that?

Defy_The_Fallen
Defy_The_Fallen

Personally I disagree with most of the bad issues in this review. I'm only going to run through the bad bullet points. 

 

There are options in the settings menu which fastens the pace of the gameplay, so even if it does feel slow on the default settings at which it's set at you can change that easily. Personally I found everything to move too fast on the higher settings, and I feel more involved in the combat on the default options.

 

I agree that each Pokémon having one move feels slightly limited, but in my opinion the warrior recruiting system makes up for that, and being able to use their Pokémon in battle. By 'removing' the other 3 moves, it adds a new layer of strategy to the game, as you now have to choose which Pokémon is best for each of your enemy Pokémon, and use that to your advantage. 

 

If the reviewer is reading this, could you please elaborate on your meaning for 'some gameplay mechanics aren't explained well'. You don't seem to mention this in the review anywhere, and I fail to see which parts were not explained well, I was able to pick up Pokémon Conquest and after the short, brief tutorials, understand the way the game works. 

dutchgamer83
dutchgamer83

@Heidi Kemps I haven't played this game yet so i can't talk out of experience. But when you say the game is too easy i can just only think one thing. Pokemon games are meant for kids. That people of all ages like the pokemon series is great, but their main focus are younger people. Kids around what, the age of 10 - 12 or something? Maybe you want to keep that in mind next time you review a game. Keep in mind that this game was never aimed for the experienced strategy RPG veteran before you say "If you're an experienced strategy RPG veteran, you'll find Pokemon Conquest to be quite easy". Even tough they make it a strategy RPG it doesn't mean it wants to appeal to the hardcore fans, we aren't all Fire Emblem veterans.

 

Maybe this game really isn't much more than a 6.5 but i read no where in your review for who this game is made. I get the feeling that you exspected it to be more than it is. That it was aimed for hardcore veterans. But it has the pokemon title, so please keep in mind that pokemon is aimed for a younger crowd, you can't review it as a game for much older and more experienced people, cause those older people are only a bonus for the sales, not the primary focus of the pokemon games.

 

Same reason i stopped playing Pokemon after Ruby. I was a huge fan from Pokemon red/blue till ruby. But when i look at the pokemon games these days those pokemon look way to fluffy and cute compared too those i used to play as. Still the pokemon games are great RPG's but not aimed for my age. Those pokemon they use now don't appeal to me but aren't made for my kind of gamer group anyway. That people of my age do like them is another story and again a bonus for the sales. But my younger cousin is the targeted crowd for these games.

blobulus
blobulus

 @SI3DN3R I thought the same thing but once I saw all the high reviews for it (except for gamespot) I bought it and have put in over 200 hours of gameplay.

SkySage7
SkySage7

 @hugo2495 Agreed, even kids nowadays get bored of it quickly. Not to mention stupid dialogues and in-game "tutorials" which are structured in such a way that makes you feel like a complete d*mbass.

csward
csward

 @dutchgamer83  @Heidi Dude, First of all, Fire Emblem isn't a "hardcore SRPG". You're showing your ignorance there. It's a very basic rock, paper scissors SRPG, like Pokemon, ironically. A good example of a "hardcore" SRPG is the Disgaea series.

 

Second, I would argue that starting with Pokemon Black/White, Nintendo has been going after an older demographic and is certainly enjoyed by people of all ages. Just because some of the monsters are "cute", that makes it a kids game? I guess all the Dragon Quest games are kids games too. Same with Mario.

 

Third, the review is from the prospective of the reviewer. If you want a review for kids, I'm sure there's a website for that. Granted the reviewer could have mentioned something like "kids will love this", but I would argue that the majority of people buying this aren't 10-12 year old kids, they're people that have played RPGs for years that want to experience Pokemon in a new way.

 

I'm sorry you don't have the confidence to play what you want to without being embarrassed, but please, think before you post.

u1tradt
u1tradt

 @dutchgamer83  The reviewer never said the game was too easy. It clearly states in the 'Bad' section that the COMBAT is too easy and slow-paced.

 

While you have a point that these games are primarily aimed at kids, and thus they should be easy enough for them, the point you're trying to state is irrelevant. The combat system in the conventional Pokemon games is one of the most intricate and complex you will find in any game out there. So it's only right that any Pokemon spin-off labelled as a strategy should be compared to the original game in the relevant categories.

 

The system is easily accessible and the single-player components are extremely easy in normal Pokemon games. But for those hardcore gamers who want more of a challenge, Pokemon offers that with its online elements.

 

When played right, the emphasis on strategy in Pokemon is immense; mindblowing. There is so much there that it would take years for someone to truly master the system. But then throw into the mix about 100 or so new Pokemon every 3-5 years - some of which who almost rewrite the rulebook entirely - and new combat mechanics also being implemented, and you have yourself a game that's more than just a kiddies game with a bunch of cute fluffy animals.

 

Also, you imply that the review shouldn't even cater to an older or more hardcore Pokemon fanbase because they are not the primary target audience. But go connect online on the latest Pokemon games and have yourself a few fights. I think you will find that it's actually the hardcore and older demographic that makes up the majority of the online population in Pokemon games.

blobulus
blobulus

 @Ignition_jammy Well that was my first time on here in months and I wanted to check their score for this so, no I hardly ever comment either.

WillyChong
WillyChong

 @LordPinto really, no way! they gave so many stupid Mario games such high score yet I find them a complete horrid., and Mario are the official Nintendo Mascot game. Pokemon is from Game Freak, working partly with Nintendo, but I love Pokemon.

thepalatinepoet
thepalatinepoet

 @whatisthisbro  There are only several hundred thousand problems with this: Paper > Rock > Scissors > Paper. Reversing the arrow between rock and paper means you MUST reverse the other two arrows, and now scissors beats rock......

Jestersmiles
Jestersmiles

 @u1tradt "The combat system in the conventional Pokemon games is one of the most intricate and complex you will find in any game out there"

 

 

WHAT????? LOL, that a good one.

dutchgamer83
dutchgamer83

 @u1tradt But no where in this review has the reviewer took in mind its a kids game. As i said that older gamers play it is a bonus. And they might be the biggest group of the online players but one would need the sale numbers with the age behind it to get a clear view who is the bigger crowd. Something i don't have but still pokemon is meant for kids primarily. Secondary are the older people, they keep that in mind but again the focus is on kids. But okay let me put it otherwise. Pokemon is meant for all ages. So you have to keep that in mind when making the game, how many children do you know are master strategists? They gave it a pokemon theme, pokemon they know and they probably know all the strengths and weaknesses of these pokemon without ever touched the game before. They also try to please the more mature gamer. Hence the setting and using real historical figures. Beside the combat i don't know how this game plays. How the whole management stuff works cause again i couldn't really make that up from the review. Can you walk around? Or do you simply press a location on the map see some text and enter combat?

 

This reviewer never once seemed to have thought about that. All i see is her saying that the combat is dull for the veteran RPG strategist, that can be but this game wasn't made for that veteran, it was made for kids and people who aren't a veteran RPG strategist. For the veterans we got fire emblem, FF tactics, etc etc.And its okay to mention that, but it shouldn't be the main bad thing for the review...two pages and the only info one gets is that the combat is easy and isn't gonna please the veteran RPG strategist. Will kids find the game slow or too easy? Really one needs to place themselves in their position too when reviewing a pokemon game. How is this game for beginner RPG strategists, does it introduce them to the genre? And there is mentioning of not everything being explained so well. What are we talking about? Are it basic things that aren't explained? Are it really things one can't find out on their own?

 

I mean the overall score is a 7.5 from the press i believe i saw here on GT. So i really would like to know what the bad sides are, and really explained. Its not just a 6.5 only cause of the easy combat is it? But i stand at my point that this game is primary focused on a younger crowd and there for should be reviewed trough the eyes of a younger gamer and not trough the eyes of a veteran rpg strategist.

blobulus
blobulus

 @WillyChong Yes, but they hate anything with nintendo's name on it. Quite honestly this is my favorite game in quite a while.

EMLearnIT
EMLearnIT

 @Jestersmiles If you really look at the battle states, abilities and other things children and myself overlook then yes Pokemon's battle system is very intricate and takes into account a lot of different variables to decide how the battle will go but if you don't look for it you want think that. 

 

Example. Pokemon takes into account a pokemons base attack, defense, etc and then the individual moves attack, effects etc, then it takes into account the pokemon nature and a bunch of other stuff.

 

Personally I don't look into all that stuff I just level up my pokemon and swich them up untill I find ones I like and train them :P 

csward
csward

 @Jestersmiles He's not talking about the main game, he's talking about the competitive scene, which is NOTHING like the fairly boring and easy main game in Pokemon. Sigh..no it alls

Shadowmax889
Shadowmax889

 @Jestersmiles just WOW how ignorant people can be some times. Yes Pokemon is a deep game with a kiddy-look-theme in the out side, is the best example how a game can be easy to pick up by newcomers and dificult to master for hardcore players. Just go to Serebii.com or Smogon.com to have a more informed opinion

u1tradt
u1tradt

 @Jestersmiles If you don't know then you need to know. Pokemon is up there as one of the most deep and complex fighting systems in video games in general. The level of depth is at least on par with modern strategy games. It would simply take far too long to explain it to someone unschooled in this. So I suggest you go to Serebii.net and school yourself.

EMLearnIT
EMLearnIT

 @u1tradt This site may not review games specifically for kids but when one is reviewing ANYTHING they should take into account what the target audience is and understand that. They are still free to review that for a different group then the target audience the game may not be as entertaining but that should kind of be expected. 

 

The target audience of pokemon I think is probably children ages 8-13, male and who like fighting. This is not to see that older age groups such as 14-18 and 19-29 wouldn't enjoy the game or the females wouldn't enjoy the game because hey I'm 17 and female and I love this game and the Pokemon frachise adn know many others that do. But if I were to review a game or aything other form of media I would explain the target audience, why it is that audience and why that audience is the mostly likely to enjoy it but I would also point out what with groups/audiences would like it.

 

This being because this is a site where parents/teens and other older people come to look into games that they are considering buying wither it be for themselves, their child a family member or friend. So it would be best to cover as many different groups of people that would like a particular game so that one can successfully help the people find what they are looking for. 

 

The reviewer is right, for really good strategic players this game may seem easy or too easy but the plot and events other then combat may be what will keep these players playing and who knows maybe the extra stuff will be harder like one of the other commenters said. 

 

Overal though this reviewer did a very good job and pointed out so very valid points though for next time adding in information relating to the target audience or even just other audiences in general might make the reviewer a little bit more helpful when one is looking for a good game. :) 

Chronosknight
Chronosknight

 @u1tradt Yet Kinectimals got a high score because the intended audience was children?

u1tradt
u1tradt

 @dutchgamer83 Well, this is not a site about kids games. They review games in general and no matter the target audience the game has to hold up well on its own merits when taking the score into consideration.

 

I mean Mario games are aimed primarily at children too. That doesn't mean reviewers should suddenly take their reviews less seriously; they have certain standards they should live and work by. Heck, even this review isn't aimed at children because, let's face it, what kid is going to want to read through all that text and understand it all?

 

The point is that the reviewer is fully justified in not only criticising the game objectively, but also by pointing out areas where the game is weak. Target audience has very little to do with it.

Pokemon Conquest More Info

First Release on Jun 18, 2012
  • DS
In Pokemon Conquest, players take on the role of a young Warlord who is linked with a Pokemon.
7.8
Average User RatingOut of 173 User Ratings
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Developed by:
Koei
Published by:
The Pokemon Company, Nintendo
Genres:
Strategy, Turn-Based
Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
Everyone
All Platforms