Pokemon Conquest review

  • Addictive tactical gameplay
  • Complex strategy outside of battles
  • Despite cute characters, embraces deeper aspects of genre
  • Hours spent explaining all its eccentricities
  • Too obligated to Nobunaga series standards and practices
  • Sadly it couldn’t be a 3DS game

Much like the Pokémon themselves, Pokémon Conquest is a strange beast. After more than a decade of spin-offs in nearly every other genre, the world-conquering franchise has at last spread to the strategy genre, the more complicated brother of the RPG. Since Pokémon was born as an RPG, the genre fits it quite well, but things get complicated by crossing over Pokémon with a complex series largely forgotten by the English-speaking world. Though the Feudal Japan aesthetic enhances the already addictive turn-based battles, it sporadically overcomplicates a rewarding-but-dense game.

Pokémon Conquest is set in the world of Ransei, a Pokémon-rich land relatively similar to Japan in the 1500s. Unlike in the main Poké games, select citizens of Ransei connect with Pokémon and work beside them instead of catching them in balls. Many regions in Ransei are battling for dominance and each is kingdom is based on a specific Pokémon type. All 17 types (fire, psychic, dragon, etc.) are represented and are ultimately out to defend themselves against would-be conqueror Nobunaga. It’s up to your newly appointed leader and their Eevee to defend the region from his burning desire to awaken a legendary Pokémon.

Based on the cult tactical series Nobunaga’s Ambition, the gameplay works fairly similar to other classic strategy RPGs like Final Fantasy Tactics and Advance Wars, so we love Conquest for the same reasons. Every combatant is represented on-screen by a single Pokémon on a team of six, battling it out in turn-based combat with another pack of Pokémon on map. The measured pace of the combat works splendidly on a handheld and Conquest adds some welcomed haste to its battles. Each fight has a limited number of turns, rewarding bonuses for quickly dispatching enemies, shaking up the repetitive nature of the action.

Much like the core Pokémon series, Conquest seems simpler on the outside than it truly is, and that begins with the battles. Conquest borrows the ingenious rock-paper-scissors approach to type difference from the main series and makes great use of it here. Invading the Dragon type kingdom? Better bring some Ice Pokémon with you. Much like in the main games, the hidden depth to the combat kept us engaged in battle after battle. Pokémon experts will catch on to the type differences immediately, but everyone else will learn gradually through the game’s continual flow of info.

We came to appreciate that complexity even if Conquest has so much to explain to players that it was hours before we finally discovered the “real” game. Continually, Conquest would reveal new aspects, from big changes like a Pokémon’s special, slowly charging skill moves to little touches like taking time to feed your monstrous friends ponigiri, a cuter version of a traditional Japanese snack. Experienced strategy RPG players might believe that they’ll just jump in, but even they need a few tutorials in Conquest’s unique approach to the genre. Ultimately we embraced these little touches that made the already enjoyable gameplay more unique, but not everyone will be so patient.

Patience is also key to preparing for encounters. Each member of your team is limited to one action per “month” (aka a turn outside of battle), meaning you have to plan out character placement, item purchasing, team building and ultimately your battle’s strategy “months” in advance. This kind of byzantine research is inherited from the Nobunaga series and even after we grasped the techniques, it occasionally felt like we were checking off boxes on a spreadsheet instead of playing a game. The prep made the battles all the sweeter when they finally happened, but a couple of those steps could have been cut without missing much.

However, all the extra touches and rules gave much more to Pokémon Conquest than it took away. If you were concerned that a strategy game starring Pokémon would be simplified for a wider audience, let go of your worries. PC retains the addictive qualities of battling and team-building we love in tactics titles while fully embracing everything strange about niche Japanese titles like this one. By coming at it from a different angle, Conquest finds its own special spot in the world of SRPGs.

More Info

Release date: Jun 18 2012 - DS (US)
Available Platforms: DS
Genre: Strategy
Published by: Nintendo
Developed by: Koei
Franchise: Pokemon
ESRB Rating:
Everyone: Mild Cartoon Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes




  • zombi3grim - June 20, 2012 2:53 p.m.

    I usually dont go for pokemon games or turn based strategy, but this just looks really good.
  • pr0tostar - June 20, 2012 9:03 a.m.

    I fell off the pokemon wagon post-Jhoto. This... might be my jump back on it. a feudal re-imagining of Pokemon/the pokeverse's ancient past is brilliant, and I love Japanese history. ......I just can't wrap my head around Mewtwo being in this game, but ahh whatever. The character designs look great, seeing pokemon fight on a stragety based grid makes commanding them look 9999x more fun than the traditional "face-off", and it seems it got a decent localization. Why peeve the fact that it's not a 3D game though? I don't think Disgea fans or similar games would be praising the gods that anime-strategy got a 3D lift, or even CG 3D for that matter. I think this is great just the way it is. Also I can see where a very convoluted introduction would trouble younger/unaware players, but it's like chess. You gotta drill in every possible aspect of the game to truly grasp it. No different for strategy games, even if they're in theme of the world's favorite monsters.
  • xx_CaPTiiN_SpAiiN_zz - June 20, 2012 5:06 a.m.

    i dont know if other people agree but is it just me or are there too many old pokemon in pokemon conquest. i really want the white and black start pokemon and maybe diamond and pearl to be in the front but their not. im glad this is on the dual screen nintendo version not the 3ds as i dont have that yet though.
  • zombi3grim - June 20, 2012 2:49 p.m.

    The older generations are the best.
  • xx_CaPTiiN_SpAiiN_zz - June 20, 2012 3:43 p.m.

    lol no the designs are boring and unoriginal take off your nostaligs goggles
  • zombi3grim - June 21, 2012 6:38 p.m.

    This a joke, right? The original 150 were the best. Compared to these new ones, whose names dont even match whatever the hell their supposed to be based on, not to mention they copy the hell out of the original 150. How can it be UNoriginal when it was THE original...
  • xx_CaPTiiN_SpAiiN_zz - June 22, 2012 12:29 a.m.

    please kid get your facts straight ok. pokemon is just a ripoff of digimon anyway and if you look digimon even have better designs lol. at least the new pokemon had some detail put into them.
  • zombi3grim - June 22, 2012 7:50 a.m.

    You realize Pokemon came out in 1995 and Digimon came out two years later in 1997...lmao. Its the internet. Seriously, theres no excuse for this. A quick google search will give you this info. So, next time "kid" (were you even alive in 95? I was 8 years old back then, do the math) when you try to talk about someone getting their facts straight, make sure yours are straight first. Lol, what a fuckin tool....
  • xx_CaPTiiN_SpAiiN_zz - June 22, 2012 9:31 a.m.

    haha now youve just made yourself like an idiot. its better to stop talking when you know youve lost kid. and i will call you kid i am older than you
  • zombi3grim - June 22, 2012 2:45 p.m.

    Your older and you dont know how to use google and you STILL think your right. Thats just fucking rich....
  • xx_CaPTiiN_SpAiiN_zz - June 24, 2012 3:50 a.m.

    *You're. At least I can spell properly and I can use google thank you very much. If you compare Reshiram and Mewtwos design you will see which one is clearly much better to the other.
  • zombi3grim - June 24, 2012 7:02 a.m.

    If you can use google, you would know pokemon is older then digimon. Yet, you still refuse to admit YOU'RE wrong. Better? I put the little apostraphe there for you. I dont care about design. What the hell is a Reshiram? The name makes no sense! Thats what Im talking about, they just give random ass names to these random ass monsters. The original had a flow and a cohesivness.
  • Mcdeeman21 - June 25, 2012 10:21 a.m.

    In that last line instead of using much better you could have used "superior". He more you know. Also, don't correct peoples spelling in an argument, it makes you look like a troll.
  • Hobogonigal - June 25, 2012 12:37 a.m.

    Surely your trolling here right? Digimon was definitely after Pokemon...
  • xx_CaPTiiN_SpAiiN_zz - June 25, 2012 4:51 a.m.

    Hey I lived as a kid through that time and i can confirm which came first. you cant just believe wikipedia lol anyone can write stuff there
  • Hobogonigal - June 25, 2012 7:25 a.m.

    Just as you can write whatever you want as well. I lived through that time and Digimon definitely came after Poke'mon. However if you don't believe me, here is the Digimon official wiki. Read and you will find that Digimon actually started as a similar device to a tamagotchi in 1997. The TV series began in 1999. Boom, lawyered.
  • Hobogonigal - June 25, 2012 7:26 a.m.

    The link is
  • xx_CaPTiiN_SpAiiN_zz - June 26, 2012 6:36 p.m.

    'wikia' still part of wikipedia idiot. well done proving me right :D hopefully you kids can stop replying now that i have been proven right. like i said you can't just trust things that other people wrote i get my intelligence from experience and thats all that matters.
  • zombi3grim - June 26, 2012 9:19 p.m.

    So even though the people who created AND published Digimon has the first episode listed airing March 7th, 1999. If you go to, which is Pokemons official website and managed by the people who CREATED the fucking franchise, you can see that it was released in 1997. So, after ALLLLLL that, and ALLL these people, who have the SAME fucking experience you do tell you this, you STILL somehow think your right. Still. Honestly, what the fuck is wrong with you?
  • Hobogonigal - June 29, 2012 2:16 a.m.

    A Wiki is not part of Wikipedia. Wikipedia is only one type of wiki. This is a site where loyal fans who love the series come to post relevant factually correct information. Unless Digimon fans are secretly part of a mass conspiracy in which they lie about when the franchise was made; grow a brain or stop trolling. 'nuff said.

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