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About the product
- It's a new way to play Pokémon in a land filled with Warriors and Pokémon and the ties that bind them together. The main action of the game takes place on the battlefield where Pokémon fight in a turn-based, tactical battle system.
- Be a Warlord, and control your Pokémon in battle! As a Warlord, you command other Warriors and their Pokémon in your army.
- All Warriors have a special ability they can use to help their Pokémon in battle, but Warriors are there to command the Pokémon on the field of battle. It is their Pokémon that move, fight, attack on the field of battle.
- Recruit Warlords and Warriors by defeating them in a unique battle system never seen in a Pokémon game. As you acquire castles, new Pokémon, Warlords, and Warriors become available as well as new ways to train them.
- When battles are won, you take control of the new castle, recruit Warriors from that kingdom, and gain access to new Pokémon.
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It's a new world of Pokémon battles! Become a Warlord and build your kingdom! Welcome to a world inhabited by mighty Warlords and their Pokémon—It's a new way to experience Pokémon! Use your Pokémon—and the special ability of your Warriors—to build your kingdom! Train your Pokémon and recruit more Warriors! With nearly 200 Pokémon, mainly from the Pokémon Black Version and Pokémon White Version games, there are many options when building your army! Unite the 17 kingdoms of Ransei and awaken the Legendary Pokémon!
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The game suffers from an overload of mechanics. Here's what I ignored on my play-through...
- Gold. It doesn't matter because nothing of importance costs any gold.
- Items. You're going to randomly pick up items that are good enough to win with. No need to buy any or manage them.
- Energy. Once in a while I would lose a turn at the ponigiri shop refilling it, but it seems like it mostly stayed high on its own. Why was it even in the game?
- Extra Warriors. The game has around 100 warriors in it. I used maybe ten of them, total; the rest just sat in my castles. Why would I want to level up 100 people when I only need 6?!
The mechanics don't really add anything to the game, they're just extra crap that the player has to learn. They could have been cut entirely or stripped down, and the game would have been better for it.
But even with all that garbage stuffed in it, it's still a decent game! The music and plot are not great, but they're sufficient. The art is very nicely done. And the core gameplay of Pokemon fighting in an arena is excellent. The castle fights in particular were really well done.
It's enjoyable and simple enough. I loved it at first, and couldn't put it down. But then it starts to take forever to have time pass while you raise your Pokemon. Each Warrior can do one thing per month, and so when you get into the later parts of the story near the end, it takes forever to progress to the next month without just focusing on beating the game. Training becomes a bore, and it doesn't seem possible to focus on it because it takes so long (if a Pokemon is in battle and doesn't defeat another Pokemon, it usually gets around 0.25% Link improvement, meaning four months to the next level.)
The graphics were also fun, although the plain warriors (not Warlords) will share sprites. Adding individual sprites would make things more interesting, because if there's only 5 people with one sprite, why have one at all? It's not like the main Pokemon games, where you'll see ten Swimmers all along one route. There also isn't always a connection to the different people with the sprites.
It's a fun and exciting game that just may get a little repetitive after a while, but you could probably just skip some of the training after a while to make it more entertaining. And after winning the game, you have even more opportunities to do things by playing episodes focused around different events, meaning the game doesn't end for a long while.
The game is a simple strategy RPG. What this means is that you battle on an isometric grid. It is turn based, not real time. In battle you select the Pokemon to send into each battle, up to six. The strategy in battle mainly comes from trying to stock up with Pokemon that have an advantage over the opponents' Pokemon. Each Pokemon gets one movement followed by one pre-set attack. There is also a chance to use a Warrior Skill before moving the Pokemon. The simplification comes from a limitation in attack options (one attack style is all instead of multiple attacks as in regular Pokemon games) as well as being allowed to move only BEFORE attacking. Also at the start of your turn (or the opponent's turn) some Pokemon have an auto ability such as Jugglypuff's Lullaby. These activate automatically if the conditions are met (such as having opponents in range, allies in range, etc...) and don't count as a turn. You get to select which of your Pokemon you would like to move once it's your turn, so there is no set order. Warlords have the option to execute a Warlord skill, though again, this may only be used prior to moving.
The DS screen works well for this game. Since attacks actually have a range and effect grid, this is important. For example: Charmander has a fire attack that hits two squares away. So it doesn't hit the square right in front. Charmeleon has an attack that hits one square away. Luxio actually has an attack that hits everything within one square (including diagonals). It's important to have this information on the top screen so you can plan out your movement and attack.
The real fun with this game is finding all of the warriors and establishing links with various Pokemon. The real goal is to find every warrior's 'perfect link', that is the Pokemon that has the highest affinity for that warlord. You have the ability to engage in random battles within the are of the conquered territories. After a few territories have been conquered, you gain the ability to Link in battle. If you form a link during battle with an unattached Pokemon, that warrior may use that Pokemon.
You can put up to six warriors in each castle. You may have them shop, engage in random battle, mine for gold, or attack a neighboring territory and challenge them to battle for control of the land. Each of these takes that unit's turn. Once all units have had a turn, the game will ask you to advance to the next month. The opponents then have the chance to attack you and possibly conquer your territory. So place your units wisely so that they cannot invade a territory being guarded by weaker Pokemon.
All in all the game is tons of fun, but there are a few issues. The graphics are good, but I felt the DS has better capabilities. The actual dialogue scenes are nice, but the Pokemon animations can seem really generic or blurry. There are also not a lot of interesting variations on the random battle sites. Pretty much the same maps used several times. Also, arranging your warriors and changing which Pokemon they are using can get a bit tiring. You really have to go to the location where they are, rather than having access to a quick list with all of the warriors. There is a list of them all, but you can't make changes, you can just view their stats and links.
But the real point of this game is to link warriors to Pokemon, battle, increase your link (which is like leveling up), and evolving Pokemon. The stronger the link, the stronger the Pokemon and the higher chance for evolution. There are also some fun items to find as well.
One negative feature is in the switching around to different warriors to check their link and their preferred affinity. You cannot scroll through a list of all Warriors at once while making changes. You can go to gallery and look at them all, but when you go to make a change, you enter a screen with only one Warlord and cannot scroll to different warriors without exiting back to the previous menu. When you are in a town and select INFO you can edit up to the six warriors easily by scrolling through them. But you can only do this in each town, so you have to go to the next town and try again. It would have been nice to be able to list them all on one screen and hit L or R to scroll through all warlords. This way if you notice an optional battle having, say, Shinx, you could scroll through all warlords in all towns to find warlords with an affinity for Electric. But alas... It would have just save a bit of time between battles. Also, transferring warlords to various towns gets a little tiring.
Compared to the main Pokemon games, this game is pretty straightforward. I remember in the main games taking extra time to run around and complete all of these side quests and build the base and such. In this game the 'side quests' really kind of start later and are not as diverse as in the main games. You will spend a lot of time in the main storyline and a lot of time engaging in optional battles to acquire more Pokemon and more warriors. I would say this is better than pretty much any of the other Pokemon spin offs. If you really want the real Pokemon experience, then perhaps this is not a game to go with. If you like Strategy RPGs and enjoy the Pokemon aspect, then it's worth a try. I'm glad I picked it up, I've been very happy with the game and it is a lot of fun.
Graphics: B (not the prettiest DS title, especially Pokemon sprites)
Sound: B+ (some catchy tunes in the face off battles, optional battle music gets repetitive quickly)
Control: C (navigating menus is a pain most of the time)
Story: C (it's Pokemon, story hasn't ever been a strong point, yet it is entertaining somewhat but less tongue in cheek humor than the main titles)
Fun: A (it's actually a blast to play
Replay: B (once you finish everything up and get perfect links, very little to encourage a replay through the main storyline - though there is multiplayer and later optional quests)
Overall I gave it 4/5 stars, and I feel it's a solid 4.