Welcome to Casual Fridays, where we kick back, relax and take off our pants. In Typing About Games (TAG), two of the Piki Geek staff face off in a no-holds-bar chat conversation. Beliefs are challenged, points are exclaimed, hype is harnessed, and video games are dissected like insects. Enjoy a look into the discussions that plague the Piki Geek chat day after day.
This week, two of Piki Geek’s resident Pokémaniacs sit down to discuss the recently released crossover title Pokémon Conquest. Chris Ullery was impressed with the title – Trystan Perry, not so much. Can the former change the latter’s mind?
Trystan: Well, I’ve been playing Conquest in between exams, Dwarf Fortress and scarfing down English muffins, and I just don’t think it matched up to its hype and expectations.
Chris: Considering that the game is a bizarre hybrid of two franchises that no one would ever have thought to combine before, I have to question exactly what “expectations” were in place.
Trystan: Well, truth be told, the only thing that’s relevant to “Nobunaga’s Ambition” is the fact that the lords are all historically accurate (barring the player of course)… Well, namewise at least. I was expecting it to be more free, and the Pokémon bit just tagging along. I also wanted more aggression. I literally spent 12 turns just sitting there doing nothing. The enemy didn’t attack.
Chris: Ah, things are starting to make sense now. You’re still playing the “main” game, aren’t you?
Trystan: I just finished it.
Chris: Right. The first campaign is honestly a glorified tutorial. The real meat of the game is in all of the scenarios afterwards. That’s where the full extent of the game’s strategy elements come into play.
Trystan: I may have been expecting too much from a Pokémon game, but I was hoping for more in depth overworld strategy. Being a fan of Civilization, Nobunaga’s Ambition, and the like, I really enjoy that sort of strategic edge, rather than just “Dark Castle? SEND THE FIGHTING TYPES!”
Chris: That’s where these extra scenarios really excel. They play out like a full-on grand strategy game like the ones you listed. Things happen more dynamically – enemies take turns, acquire more diverse Pokémon types, build their forces, conquer each other, and take advantage of any show of weakness. You’ve also got multiple factions pitted against one another rather than just “you versus the bad guys.” Hell, factions will even declare temporary alliances with one another if the situation demands it.
Trystan: Are the Pokémon types in enemy armies more diverse? It was such a pain to build up all of one type to conquer an opposing kingdom.
Chris: Absolutely. Everyone starts off with Pokémon types that compliment their kingdom’s theme, of course, but they’re recruiting warriors and conquering kingdoms just like you are – essentially, you and the AI are following the same set of rules. It makes things far more interesting than the main game, which was essentially just a series of storyline battles.
Trystan: Okay. Well that is one of the problems I have with the game solved. But there is another big problem – this one is from the Pokémon side rather than the strategy side. Each Pokémon can only use one attack
Chris: Yes, that was a definite disappointment when I first found that out, and I mentioned that in my review. But it’s a bit of a compensation for the fact that you now are commanding six Pokémon simultaneously, rather than just having a one-on-one battle. The limitation essentially puts them into a specific role in combat – you’ve got your melee attackers, your long-range artillery types, your hybrids, guys that specialize in area damage, and so on. In that respect, it’s a lot like Fire Emblem, where characters are similarly limited to a single attack.
Trystan: Yes, and I do love my Fire Emblem, but it just felt really different. Certain Pokémon could be trapped and killed. It recent FE games, Archers can use crossbows now so they can at least fight off attackers (albeit poorly). I see Pokémon like my Ralts and Kirlia get their asses handed to them by flying pokemon surrounding them.
Chris: True, but at the same time, I think it gives you something additional to consider when preparing for a battle, which is never a bad thing. Alakazam might deal a ton of damage with Psychic out in the open, but if I’m about to invade a kingdom with lots of cramped corridors or places where it’ll be hard to get into position, I might want to hold him back and run with something easier to aim. That being said, I think it would have been perhaps a more elegant solution if each Pokémon had, say, two or three different moves to pick from, perhaps only allowing them to “equip” one at a time. Especially if those moves were drawn from different types – my biggest gripe with the single move limit is that your Pokémon is pigeon-holed into one type of damage.
Trystan: I agree. Remember early on the main game when you recruit Gallade? I would have loved it if I could change his attack from say… Psycho Cut to Close Combat, or something to that effect, so I could use him in the fight against Dark, Steel, Rock, etc.
Chris: Absolutely. Still, I think the game’s mechanics lend it to making sure you’re using a wide array of Pokémon, rather than just relying on the same half a dozen. Especially in the extra scenarios, where you’re often defending multiple flanks from many enemies simultaneously. That’s where a lot of the fun comes for me – each battle feels fresh, and I’m always commanding new troops.
Trystan: Even if they let us use one move for each dual type on our Pokémon, we still wouldn’t be relying on the same half dozen. Take Gallade for example. Regardless of what attack he chooses, pretty crappy against Ghosts. They’ll super effective him, and all he can do is normal them. Or hell, even not hit them at all.
Chris: Alright then. Nintendo, Koei: If you’re reading this, more move selection in the inevitable sequel.
Trystan: And Miyamoto, if you’re reading this, can I have an early copy of Pikmin 3?
Chris: Just make sure the Pikmin can do more than one thing, or Trystan will get mad!
Trystan: Damn straight.
Chris: So the main campaign wasn’t dynamic enough for you and you had a problem with move diversity. Other than that, how do you feel about the game?
Trystan: Those things are pretty hard to ignore, but overall I guess it was acceptable. There’s nothing there that really sets it apart from the other games I’ve got floating around. I’m going to play the other campaign, like you recommended though. If that works… I think it’ll float above the others.
Chris: Give it a go. I’ve already sunk some fifty or sixty hours into the game, and I’ve got no intention of stopping anytime soon. It’s scratching that portable strategy itch in a way I haven’t felt since FFTA2 or Advance Wars. Plus… you know, it’s Pokémon. Gotta catch ‘em all, and all that.
Trystan: FFTA2 was awesome, I’ll give you that. I have two last things to complain about. And these are big ones.
Chris: Alright, let’s hear it.
Trystan: 1 – Lack of Wi-Fi. It means I can’t kick your ass up and down the internet. 2 – Difficulty of Obtaining Espeon. I love Espeon. Best Eeveelution.
Chris: Yes. The first was a seriously major complaint, and one that really isn’t excusable. There’s no reason this game shouldn’t have had an online multiplayer component. And the second one, well, I wouldn’t know. I went with glorious Glaceon.
Trystan: There is one last thing. I only just remember this, talking about Espeon. When a Pokémon evolves, it loses it’s perfect link potential with its warrior. For example Yoshimoro, who’s partner is a Pineco, lost his 100% capability when it evolved into Forettress.
Chris: Yes, but when Yoshimoro evolves, he has 100% link value with Forettress.
Trystan: Do warlords other than the player only evolve during the side campaigns?
Chris: For the most part, yes.
Trystan: Ah, that’s slightly better then. I don’t use Yoshimoro much anyway, as bugs are crap. He was just sitting in a castle in case of the unlikely event of an attack. But a perfect linked steel… hmmmmm…
Chris: Bugs are crap? Tell that to my Volcarona!
Trystan: Volcarona doesn’t count! Besides, my Espeon could kick that things ass. Shame we’ll never find out.
Chris: I’ll make a special trip down under just to prove myself the true Pokémon master.
Trystan: It’s on. Besides, I’m gonna be the very best.
Chris: Like no one ever was?