The first thing that usually comes to mind when you think of Pokémon + Nobunaga’s Ambition is that the concept will be so crazy that there’s no way people in the West would buy it. That’s why when I got my hands on Pokémon Conquest (the localized title of the game), I was pleasantly surprised.
The best way to describe this game? “Pokémon Tactics”. Pokémon Conquest mixes the classic Pokémon formula with tactical turn-based strategy akin to Final Fantasy Tactics or even Nintendo’s own Fire Emblem series, and then throws in the same city building mechanics that are prominently featured in the Nobunaga’s Ambition series.
Each Pokémon only has a single move available and the ability to carry items, but with a huge cast of Pokémon available, your range of options is huge, especially when you consider that you can have multiple Pokémon in battle at the same time.
The “warlord” aspect comes into play heavily in the story mode, which blends the historical aspects of the Sengoku period with the fantastical in the brand new region of Ransei. Adding more warlords to your party gives you the ability to add even more Pokémon and further expand your arsenal of attacks.
The battle system seems incredibly simple at first, but as the story goes on, you gain more abilities and the strategy side becomes increasingly prominent. From what I’ve seen, the game will make an excellent stepping stone for younger or less experienced players to work their way into full strategy games. This isn’t to say that Pokémon Conquest isn’t already a competent strategy game to begin with, but since it’s aimed at younger gamers, it just takes a bit of hand holding before it gives you access to the full features.
The art direction for the game is solid, with some of the same artists from Samurai Warriors 3 responsible for the graphics in Pokémon Conquest. The music featured in the game is mainly composed of classic Pokémon tunes remixed, some sounding more rock influenced while others end up with a heavier lean towards Japanese folk.
Nintendo also mentioned that they will be offering additional story levels as free digital downloads shortly after the game launches. Pokémon Conquest on Nintendo DS will be in stores on June 18, 2012, and is developed by Koei, with localization by The Pokémon Company, and published by Nintendo.
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