Pokemon Conquest review
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When invading neighboring kingdoms, you'll always be able to see the power levels of your opponent, as well as what type of Pokemon they're using. You're also always alerted about which types of Pokemon will do better against your opponent, so you can figure out what lineup will be 'Super Effective.' While this does seem like a cheap way to make the fights easier, it does help out with coming up with a strategy for the battle, rather than going in blind and having to restart because you chose to bring all fire-type Pokemon to a water battle.
The combat plays out much like your standard tactics game. It's all about grid-based combat, and the position of your Pokemon to do the most amount of damage. However, the combat maps themselves always help change up the formula quite a bit, assuring that you're not simply fighting the same battle in a forest instead of a mountainside.
Essentially, each combat area will have various environmental hazards that will require you to play smart and think through your next moves instead of simply moving in for the kill. Many times, you can use the environment to your advantage to inflict extra damage to your enemies, though there are times you'll have to position yourself out of harms way. It's genius how simple changes to the maps can alter the combat entirely.
You won't always have to completely eliminate your enemies, as there are some battles (arguably the most frustrating ones) where you have to capture banners that are spread throughout the map. Sounds easy enough, but as soon as you capture a banner, that Pokemon becomes the prime target for the opposing force, which means you have to ensure you have enough protection, all while trying to capture the remaining banners as well.
Recruiting warriors is integrated seamlessly into combat. If you're able to defeat an opposing warrior's Pokemon in four turns or less, he will become impressed by your ability and decide to join your cause. Don't worry if you missed out on these warriors; they later become available to battle again in the same region. Wild Pokemon can be linked to characters on the battlefield, as well. Depending on the affinity, shown by a bronze, silver or gold coin, you can try to link with an adjacent Pokemon, which then adds it to that warrior's lineup. The actual linking process becomes a small rhythm game which just tasks you to press the A button whenever a full circle passes over an empty circle.
After battle, the link between your warriors and their Pokemon strengthens which in turn makes them more powerful and prone to evolution. Also depending on whether you successfully defeated your opponents in four turns or less, you'll be able to recruit them and send them off where they're needed.
Conquest is a strange title in that it's not sure whether it wants to cater to a younger generation of players, or appeal to an older crowd thanks to its strategy/tactics nature. The storyline is mostly childish however, with generals gladly stepping down from their post as leaders of their kingdom after a defeat, and yet I can't see a younger player grasping the entire concept of managing and tactical combat.
Couple in the fact that the game doesn't really have a robust tutorial system. You do have your hand held at certain parts, but some aspects never get fully explained. For example, I had no clue what energy did aside from raising an arrow next to each Pokemon's image. A simple Google search explained it, but the game should have had that covered.
With that said, Conquest is easily one of the best Pokemon spin-offs, and it's easy to overlook such a small error in a day and age where getting help is but a click away. It's a game that I expected to have to trudge through just to finish it, but rather found myself constantly glued to my DS because of its addictive nature.