The best Pokemon game you’ve never played

If I had to shout “who remembers Pokemon Conquest”In a room, I would be willing to bet that I would be greeted with deafening silence. If I was lucky maybe someone would respond with a level of excitement quite comparable to mine, because let me tell you, this is a really good game. This person would have very good taste. But for now, it’s just me screaming into the void, so let’s go.

Assuming you are unfamiliar, Pokémon Conquest was a spin-off crossover game released for the Nintendo DS in 2012, in that awkward little transition period after the 3DS was released, but before they could really call the DS completely dead. It’s pretty special even just in concept, being the first full collaborative game project to come out of Nintendo and Koei Tecmo, prior to Hyrule Warriors over two years.

Discover the trailer for Pokémon Legends: Arceus, released on January 28!

A Pokémon game about warring nations, with literal conflict and colonization probably looks a lot more like a cutting edge fan game than anything that could be brought into the world by Nintendo themselves, but the DS era was truly a wonderful time. The story takes place in the Ransei region, and you take on the role of a warlord, invading and conquering opposing nations and slaughtering their warlords until you gain full control of the region. Does that sound intense to you? He is! They like to tell you that you actually “unite” all the nations, but you know. I have to keep this E rating for everyone in one way or another.

However, you’re not really there to cause all-out war on Pokémon – legend has it that someone capable of conquering all of Ransei’s realms will bring the creator back to the region, which your auto-insert protagonist is in the process of. to do. And, I think it’s fair to say that it wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out who that creator might be if you take a single glance at the map of the area – it’s not. really subtle. Legends: Arceus? Never heard of it.

Here is the map of the Ransei region, which is definitely unlike anything in particular / Credit: Koei Tecmo, The Pokémon Company

Let’s get it straight, there is absolutely no Pokemon game like Conquest, spin-off or other. Where it really shines is its gameplay – taking direct inspiration from its crossover partner, the Nobunaga’s Ambition series, it’s a tactical RPG. You deploy six Warlords per battle on grid-based maps, each with a Pokémon they’re bonded with (we’ll talk about that later). While each Pokémon has only one learned move, they and their warlords have battle-changing abilities, which range from increasing stats to increasing distance your Pokémon. can browse on the grid, allowing you to move more than once per turn, and more.

Each of the Seventeen Realms is home to varying terrain and obstacles, such as lava, lakes, and poison traps. While the Mystery Dungeon series is a prime example of how Pokémon gameplay can be mixed together to form something a little less repetitive than the main series, having the gameplay loop centered around random dungeons, Conquest manages to take it to the next level. There are more than enough different maps to keep things varying throughout the story, but more importantly, battles actually require thought and planning – this might be the first time in a Pokémon game where I actually felt all the battles were consistently fun and interesting, rather than being primarily a filler to supplement the game’s run time.

In a way that’s slightly reminiscent of the Pokémon Ranger games, where Pokémon were recruited by shooting Friendship Rays at them (yes, really), each Warlord essentially bonded with wild Pokémon in the field rather than catching them. directly. But, to spice things up, Conquest also introduces an affinity mechanism. Each Warlord has a small group of Pokémon that they can form a “perfect bond” with, to bring out their true potential – the result being that each character can have a perfectly suited partner. While the game has a slightly more serious tone than most Pokemon games, it’s such an effective way to hammer out the whole idea of ​​the ‘power of friendship’, which although the main games like to tell you that that’s one thing, it’s not really all that is important about them (slam a calming bell on your Eevee and ride your bike for an hour shouldn’t count, come on now).

All of these gameplay elements are just executed in a phenomenal way – it’s really hard to tell how fun and unique it is without yelling at you for trying it out (I’m the one doing it now – do it) ). It’s also possibly the furthest that The Pokémon Company has ever truly ventured out of the box with a concept for their beloved franchise – though we’ve had a range of different spinoffs, none other has ever. opted for the more “serious” tone than Conquest hit.

Overall, the reception given to the game when it was released was rather excellent, generally noting 8’s and 9’s on popular gaming sites (unfortunately ahead of our dear site’s time, but you can guarantee I would have given the same). That said, in fact, it didn’t sell very well – as of December 29, 2013, it had sold 345,374 copies in Japan, which, if you compare it to black and white 2of the 3,076,701 sales at the same time, seems rather meager, especially since the latter also comes out a few months later Conquest.

With that in mind, it’s perhaps less surprising that there hasn’t been any follow-up, or official discussion of any sequel, either. While the fan base is relatively small, there is definitely a demand for it (as evidenced by the very existence of this article).

With Game Freak already expanding their horizons with Legends: Arceus (coming out this month now, if you can believe it), that wouldn’t be too awkward for Conquest to make a comeback. I mean, while it’s never been specified that Ransei is an ancient region, you can’t deny that Warlords and Conflicting Realms have a pretty old vibe about it. Not to mention the fact that the franchise has been waiting for some diversification in general for a long time, with a common consensus among many fans being that the standards are slipping. A remake or a sequel to Conquest could honestly be just the little spice that the Pokémon company lacks – to reintroduce what’s already such a unique and well-executed concept to the more mainstream Switch audience. I’m gonna keep holding on to that hope anyway, and you can’t stop me. Please just play this game.

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