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It's one of those strange ideas that makes more sense the longer you consider it. Dropping one of the most famous videogame franchises of all into a niche genre like the strategy role-playing game seems at first like madness, not least because it results in feudal-era warlords sending platoons of fluffy animals into battle as they fight over the 17 kingdoms that form the region of Ransei.

But if you think of each warlord as a trainer and each kingdom as a kind of gym you will find that it all begins to slot together rather neatly. After all, what is Pokemon, if not a turn-based RPG with a strong tactical focus?

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Way Of The Samurai

To unite the land, first you'll need to amass an army of warriors, each of whom has their own Pokemon and a special ability that can be used once per skirmish. Though warriors can possess a number of monsters, they're only able to take one into battle with them, and the Pokemon themselves are limited to a single attack and a special ability.

Thankfully, you can command up to six warriors per scrap, which offers you a range of tactical possibilities. The idea is to try to maintain a balanced team,

though for much of the game you simply need to use Pokemon that are strong against the elemental type of the kingdom you're invading. Pretty basic stuff for any Poke-fan and the early stages are very straightforward, even by Pokemon standards.

Adding to your army is a simple case of defeating a rival warrior while fulfilling an additional battle condition, like ensuring the finishing blow is a super-effective move, say, or winning within just four turns.

It's worth recruiting regularly, as you can leave warriors at each kingdom to defend it while you're away conquering more distant lands. They can also be set to train Pokemon, or mine to swell the war coffers, enabling you to spend money feeding your Pokemon to raise their energy levels, and also your warriors' affi nity with them - the closer the link, the more potent the pairing.

Generation Game

You can also directly recruit Pokemon during battle, by moving your own monster next to them and completing a rudimentary mini-game. There are more than 200 in all, spread across all five generations, including some rather rare Pokemon that are unlocked via special passwords.

Catching 'em all doesn't quite have the same compulsion here, not least because your time is best spent forging strong links with a smaller number of Pokemon rather than spreading the love too thinly.

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Pokemon Rumble

Still, if there's a little too much faffing about between battles, once you're in the heat of conflict, it's much more fun.

It's particularly interesting to see how certain moves translate to a grid-based setup - we found that area attacks can be particularly devastating, while if you can cajole your enemy into a line, moves like Flamethrower can rip through the entire row.

While the monsters all move and attack in ways that are entirely consistent to the Pokemon RPGs, it's sensitive to the game's historical figures, too.

Many warlords possess monsters and abilities that fit the real-life generals they're based on: a minor detail, perhaps, but one that says much about Koei's efforts to make this unlikely crossover work.

Best of all, there's plenty here for you to sink your teeth into. Though the main campaign shouldn't extend too far north of 10 hours, completing it unlocks more than 30 side stories, with an extra secret mission available once you've beaten them all.

With further downloadable episodes promised, Pokemon Conquest should keep you busy until the Pokemon Black and White 2 release date, and possibly beyond. It may be one of the most unlikely Pokemon spin-offs, but happily it's also one of the very best.
10 Coins /News Award 10 Coins/ by Brenda Cassidy


Post Fri, 17 Aug 2012 04:50:58
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