IGN Associate Editor Audrey Drake wrote an interesting article about the upcoming Pokemon spin-off, Pokemon Conquest to be released June 18.
When I first heard about Pokemon + Nobunagaâ€™s Ambition, my initial thought was that it must be some elaborate joke. Sure, Pokemon spin-offs are practically a dime a dozen these days – but pairing one of the worldâ€™s most successful video game franchises with a far less prominent strategy RPG series thatâ€™s all about war and conquest was just too strange to believeâ€¦
Not only was this game the real deal, Nintendo of America further blew my mind by announcing the title would be coming stateside as Pokemon Conquest. Whoa, right? The more surprising revelation came a few weeks later when I got the chance to actually play the game. It wasnâ€™t the jumbled, confused pairing I was fearful it would be, nor was it just a standard Nobunagaâ€™s Ambition title with Pokemon thrown in for no reason. What I played was a fully realized and truly expert melding of these two distinct game worlds – and just exactly what Iâ€™ve always wanted from a Pokemon spin-off.
Again, itâ€™s not that the other spin-offs are a heaping pile of Garbador, itâ€™s more a testament to how much attention to detail and effort this particular game exhibits. Pokemon mainstays like special abilities and type advantages/disadvantages are seamlessly applied to monsters and warlords alike, and craftily integrated with the Nobunaga concepts of unit, time and castle management.
Other things for aspiring tyrants to keep in mind is that the bond between your warriors and the Pokemon you’ve paired them with influences how effective they are in battle – the stronger the bond, the better theyâ€™ll work as a team. This takes one of the overarching themes of the Pokemon franchise – the bond between trainers and their monsters – and makes it a key component of the actual gameplay, one that has a true and lasting effect on the experience. All of this, especially when paired with the plethora of other gameplay aspects and strategic elements, is a lot to keep in mind. Yet, at the same time, all these parts join to create such an organic and intuitive whole that the game is actually quite easy to learn, and enticing to master.
To top it all off, the overarching story is possibly the best Iâ€™ve ever seen in a Pokemon spin-off. Sure, thereâ€™s a healthy sprinkling of the sillies (would you really want otherwise from a game centered around electric mice and singing, pink puffballs?). But overall Pokemon Conquest actually has a really clever premise handled in an impressively thoughtful manner. Itâ€™s a fairly heavy concept – ya know, the overthrowing of kingdoms and war and whatnot – but itâ€™s handled with the lightest touch, as well as a brilliant balance of humor and urgency.
The remarkable thing is that these two worlds really shouldnâ€™t fit together this seamlessly – but the fact that they do only further exhibits the amount of time and attention the developers invested in this experience. Pokemon Conquest is not the quick, cute romp that is PokePark. Itâ€™s not the passable but lackluster Pokemon Rumble series either. This is a more than 40 hour adventure, not counting subsequent playthroughs (each of which will unfold differently). Itâ€™s got world building, characters, backstory. It isnâ€™t just taking advantage of the Pokemon name for a quick sale, it endeavors to stand alone as a unique homage to both franchises.