Nobunaga’s Ambition with a mix of colorful allies.
In less than two months, another Pokémon game will be released in the US. This time instead of being one of the main colored titles, it will be Pokémon Conquest for Nintendo DS. The game takes Pokémon and Nobunaga’s Ambition and combines them for what looks to be an interesting spin on the strategy RPG genre. Nintendo invited me to preview the game recently which gave me a small glimpse at what to expect from the full game.
Pokémon Conquest is set in the Rensei region which is not related to any Pokémon or Nobunaga games. When I inquired about whether or not the history of the Japanese warlords would be played through as with other Nobunaga games, the answer was an unfortunate no. Instead, you’ll be trying to raise an army and battling in seventeen different kingdoms. Even though there will not be any official historic battles, I was told that certain events (that are rooted in history) do take place and was given a hint of a certain famous betrayal. There will also be instances where certain characters won’t fight one another, also somewhat mimicking history.
Although the game has a story, the main focus here are the warriors and warlords which is the two main forces in the game. Warriors are the standard characters that control normal Pokémon, while warlords tend to be the flashy, famous characters such as Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who are able to control more powerful Pokémon. The way the Pokémon work in the game is both parties are able to empathically link to them, thus creating a bond. Once this is done, the Pokémon do what the linked person tells them. An aspect changed from the main series is no experience for Pokémon. Instead what gains percentages is the link between the character and Pokémon. The higher the link, the more powerful your Pokémon is. Even though it was left out during the play session, according to Japanese magazine CoroCoro Comic, the Pokémon are able to evolve.
The goal of the game is simple, build a large army to invade castles and take them over. There will be a set amount of time to do this in. Going about it can be the tricky part and where the strategy comes into play. Time passage occurs in months and your characters can be moved to and from castles freely with no penalty. Be aware however that if they’re already performing another action, they’ll be unable to move for the rest of the month. It’s important to decide wisely where to place your forces for attack because if you leave a castle undefended, the enemy on their turn can swoop in and claim it. A round ends when you no longer have anyone to move or decide to move the calendar up a month.
Not only is moving your army important, buying items and gaining more for your army is just as crucial. Castles have a shop inside where you can buy an item for your warrior or warlord to use. There is also the training grounds inside where you can increase the numbers in your army. Going to the grounds doesn’t always mean you’ll get new personnel either since you’ll need to prove to those in the field that you’re a worthy commander. For instance, warlords require that you beat them within four turns in other for them to join your army. Training grounds are also a place to meet wild Pokémon for your warriors to link with, which brings me to how to actually battle.
Battles in the game are set on an isometric style map where Pokémon can move a certain number of squares per turn. The turns are set, so it’s important to optimize your movements, whether it’s in the training ground or taking over a castle. Each battlefield, annoyingly enough, regardless if it’s your own castle or not also has traps placed inside. For castle battles, each has its own style that mimics the Pokémon type that dwells behind the walls. An example would be a fire-type Pokémon would have a castle that has lava pits.
Pokémon can attack in four directions, though the area of attack is different depending on abilities and moves. Unlike traditional Pokémon games though, Pokémon only have three abilities that can’t be changed and one move. These also cannot be controlled by the player, but will be used when the Pokémon feel it’s necessary. On the battlefield, along with enemy Pokémon, there will be ones that are wild. This gives the player the opportunity to link with a new Pokémon and essentially capture it. It’s performed with a quick time event of sorts where you’ll be pressing a button with lights flying across the top screen. As you succeed with each press, the artwork of the character and Pokémon will get closer together. Since each warrior and warlord have particular types (just like Pokémon themselves), it makes sense to try and link with a Pokémon with the same type to make your link stronger. With seventeen different types and near two-hundred Pokémon, it may get frustrating and eventually lead to dropping dead weight in your army.
It’s a disappointment that I learned the game has no online features to speak about. Instead, players can locally battle warlords and see who’s army reigns supreme. This isn’t a game killer and is a minor inconvenience, but it’s frustrating not being able to play with others across the country.
There are many points I’m probably missing, but the game seemingly has countless aspects. Trying to experience a taste of that in about an hour was a tease. Although I’m not a huge Pokémon fan, I’m looking forward to what Pokémon Conquest may have to offer in the full package come June 18th.
Check out all the new screenshots Nintendo has provided in the gallery below!
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