In 2019, TitleMax published statistics showing that Pokemon was the most profitable media franchise of all time. This status was maintained until the 25th anniversary of Pokemon Red and Green in 2021, and now Game Freak is preparing to launch its ninth generation of basic role-playing games to collect creatures from Pokemon Scarlet and Violet. Pokemon Company’s multimedia empire includes an ongoing anime, a collectible card game, and additional games in almost all genres, including the tactical role-playing game Pokemon Conquest.
A joint venture with the Koei-Tecmo Nobunaga’s Ambition franchise, Pokemon Conquest was one of many spin-offs introduced in the fifth generation. During this period, a variety of games were released, including the educational and entertainment game Learn with Pokemon: Typing Adventure, the casual adventure game PokePark 2: Wonders Beyond, a toy-based game in the genre of beat ’em up Pokemon Rumble Blast and a roguelike game Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Gates to Infinity with dungeon traversal. . Conquest has been a little-known experience for more hardcore fans, and as it turns 10 in North America, it’s worth considering how a second attempt can flourish now more than ever.
How the Bizarre Pokemon Conquest Crossover Appeared
Nobunaga’s Ambition is a series of turn—based global strategy games that originated on Japanese PCs in 1983 and tell about the desire of Oda Nobunaga to unite Japan during the warring Kingdoms period of the 1500s. At first glance, it seems like a strange companion for Pokemon, a series that usually takes place these days when young children are friends with powerful animal companions. These children often have to stop megalomaniac geniuses from destroying the planet with the help of ancient legendary Pokemon, but the cartoon atmosphere of Saturday morning in the series is far from the political intrigue of leading armies during a wartime simulation.
In an interview with IGN director Hisashi Koinuma before the launch of Conquest in 2012, he acknowledged the strange mixture of “two different types of worlds”, which was solved with an emphasis on fantasy elements. Koinuma said that the president and CEO of The Pokemon Company, Tsunekazu Ishihara, was a fan of Nobunaga’s Ambition and approached Koei Tecmo, which led to a collaboration in which the studios worked together on project documentation and concepts, but Koei Tecmo took over most of the development.
Pokemon Conquest has been compared to the Mystery Dungeon series as a spin-off designed to broaden the appeal of the franchise, although Koinuma told IGN that the team didn’t think much about how it would appeal to non-Pokemon fans. “The most difficult aspect would be to come up with a strategy game that Pokemon users could play,” he said. “Something that would be convenient for Pokemon users.” Creating a game that younger kids would enjoy was a big challenge.
The simplicity of the Pokemon Conquest game is its charm
The strategy game takes place in the Ransei region, moving away from the realistic Japanese environment in favor of fantasy inspired by anime. Ransei is divided into 17 kingdoms representing 17 types of Pokemon at the time, led by warlords from Nobunaga’s Ambitions; themselves based on historical figures. For example, the kingdom of the electric type Violight is commanded by Ginchiyo Tachibana, the kingdom of the psychic type Illusio is commanded by Kenshin Uesugi, and the kingdom of the dragon type Dragnor is commanded by Nobunaga himself.
In the Pokemon Conquest main storyline, players unite the entire Ransei in front of Nobunaga, as the fulfillment of this task is said to evoke its creator Arseus (the region itself has the form of this Mythical Pokemon). Each “Warrior” is partnered with one monster at a time, unlike the synchronization pairs in the later Pokemon Masters EX spin-off, and they all have a unique warrior skill that applies buffs or other benefits. Players can force each character to partner with a wild Pokemon to find their “perfect bond”, some of which include legendary characters such as Mitsuhide Akechi and Articuno.
As in the main series, players take six warriors into battle — in any combination of ordinary characters or warlords. Nobunaga’s Ambition grand strategy battlefields have been simplified to smaller grids to fit these six-on-six matches, and Pokemon can only use one move with specified ranges and attack patterns. His pixel style has gone a step further than the animated Pokemon Black and White sprites, thanks to a pseudo-3D isometric design. The arenas had their own tricks, ranging from the feudal farmlands of Aurora, where log barricades could be pushed apart, to the huge magnetic factory in Valor.
Since each kingdom has one main battlefield and a small handful of wild Pokemon cards, it’s relatively easy for players to see everything in Pokemon Conquest — the periods between battles are spent shuffling units into different kingdoms so they can raise funds or develop land plots. However, the replayability inherent in the deceptively simple mechanics of Conquest is where it shines.