The Game: Pokémon Conquest
Platform: DS/3DS on 2D
Developer: Tecmo Koei
Genre: Strategy RPG
Describe This Game in Three Words: Most Adorable Chess
Plot Synopsis: In the Ransei region there is a legend that he who conquers the 17 kingdoms will unlock a sacred Pokémon. Warriors do battle with their Pokémon constantly in an effort to be the one who finally fulfills that legend.
Up Up: Departing from previous installments in the series, Pokémon Conquest opts for a tactical role-playing experience where you control units of warriors and their Pokémon around different game boards to attack. It's not quite the epic RPG that fans have been clamoring for, but it's still an enjoyable experience that gives a new spin on the old franchise.
The learning curve is a bit steeper than with most other RPGs, but that's not all that bad seeing as how most RPGs involve hours of instructions these days. Pokémon Conquest drops you right into the first battle and gives you minimal guidance. You generally work out the best measures for success, which Pokémon do the best against which, and so on, on your own, and it gives you an oddly prideful feeling. It's something that classic gaming used to have that modern ones typically don't.
Initial conquest is easy and fun, and you'll pick up allies quickly. The idea of marching Pokémon armies across the landscape in the name of conquest is oddly adorable, and if you're looking for an introduction to what is admittedly a somewhat difficult genre to jump into, this is the best you're going to get.
Down, Down: Lord but there is a lot of unnecessary dialogue in this game. You'll rub a blister on your thumb by pressing past the endless variations of, "Alright! Let's show them what we've got!" It's fine in a game like Xenoblade where voice actors gibber over the action. Here, it totally stops the show and makes battles agonizingly long.
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It's also a little annoying that picking up any loot left behind by defeated Pokémon requires an extra turn to grab, and since recruiting new allies often means defeating them in four turns, you end up sacrificing a lot of items.
Left, Right, Left, Right: You can control the action with the stylus or the d-pad, and either has its pros and cons. The stylus isn't tops at powering through the endless dialogue I mentioned, and the d-pad is a little counterintuitive. Still, with practice you'll master both in no time.
B, A: You start with Eevee, who is without argument the cutest Pokémon of all time. Seriously, how did anyone ever settle for Pikachu?
Start?: Playing Pokémon Conquest is like playing chess with a much wider range of rules and attacks. It's going to require you actively trying to get smarter to master it. Despite that, it's also perfectly possible to drop in for a few seconds and try to take on your opponents. It's what Pokémon has always been, instantaneous fun mixed with just the right amount of challenge. I say buy it.