Even though I wasn’t into Pokemon at the time Pokemon Conquest was announced, the idea tickled my fancy to no end. The concept of a Nobunaga’s Ambition game using Pokemon was one of those fun, silly ideas that comes well-developed out of Japan every once in a while.

So, a couple years ago, I finally got around to picking up a used copy, and picked my way through the opening campaign off-and-on, finishing up this February.

First off, as a tactical game, it works. Frankly, regular Pokemon battles are always a bit rough for me, as they’re pure matches of ‘moves’, with some neat complications of statuses and the like, but there’s no actual maneuvering, and I have to wonder just how some of it is working.

Here, all the fights are on a reasonably-sized square grid, and not only are you maneuvering around terrain, but fights are between teams of Pokemon (generally six), and each attack has has its own area that it hits (from the square directly in front of you, to a three-wide area, or a three-long area, or all surrounding squares… you get the idea).

Typing on Pokemon and their attacks is intact, so all the familiar ‘super effective’ mechanics are in the game. On the other hand, every Pokemon has one, unchanging, attack, and one passive ability. This nicely simplifies things down, as the field battle is going to be much more complex than the normal Pokemon game battles.

That said, I’d like to see a version of this that goes the full-featured tactical RPG route. Keep (or adapt) the normal move set, let Pokemon swap out abilities as they grow, and let every one be individual.

There is still some of that as well, as Pokemon do still evolve, which gives them different abilities.

And there’s no complaining about the amount of content. The initial campaign is basically a long tutorial that slowly doles out more of the system as it goes (and there are all sorts of complications, like recruiting more warriors/Pokemon, and training, and…) and ends with taking all 17 regions of the map (there were 17 Pokemon types when this game was done—each type has it’s own province.

The first campaign itself is a bit too long for how much of a tutorial it is. But beating that opens up a bunch of other scenarios, and some of those open up even further ones. In all, there’s about 20 campaigns, and I haven’t gotten around to checking any of the others yet. So, it’s well done, and has a lot to do, I need to revisit Ransei and try one of the other campaigns.