Going into my interview with Pokemon Conquest director Hisashi Koinuma, the DS strategy game seemed like the most inscrutably random agglomeration of properties imaginable. I couldn't begin to imagine a reason anyone would think to merge Pokemon with Nobunaga's Ambition, a strategy game about real Japanese warlords.
Koinuma cut through the confusion without trouble, in an instant. "It would be nice if players would become interested in Nobunaga's Ambition," Koinuma said in response to my question about Conquest as a Nobunaga's gateway. "But as Tecmo Koei has created a lot of simulation titles, we wanted to introduce the genre of simulation games to children. It's not so much that we want them to start playing Nobunaga's Ambition as an entry point, but just as an entry point to the genre of simulation games."
Of course! It all makes perfect sense as a first strategy game to pull kids into the genre. "Especially in Japan," he continued, "the number of users of simulation games has really dropped over the years, so in order to keep people interested in that genre, we hope that kids would play this game and would take it as a suggestion of 'oh, simulation games are like this.' Then in the future they'd continue playing simulation games."
Koinuma believes that the hardcore nature of strategy/simulation fans leads the games to become ever more difficult and less accessible to attempt to satisfy said fans. "At the same time, there are people who want to start trying simulation games, well, now the games on the market are a lot more difficult, so it's a lot harder to learn how simulation games. Some new users are kind of turned off by the genre because it's too difficult."