If my mother played videogames – which, let’s be straight up here, she used to be quite fond of Asteroids and Ms Pac Man… If my mother played tactical RPGs, which she doesn’t, at least as far as I’ve seen recently, she’d like Jeanne D’arc.
See, she’s from Glasgow, and if there’s one thing that is apparently endemic to the Scots, it’s an undying hatred of the English.
Jeanne D’arc is all about, well beating down the English. You play a, well, look, if I have to explain that your characters are French, you really need to go back and take a history class, or at least watch Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure again. Go on, I’ll be here when you get back.
I’m given to understand that this game is based, at least in some sort of vague way, on historical fact, though I don’t think that the English ever actually made pacts with evil demon critters back in the good old days.
These days, I think they’re all for it, but they’ve also stopped fighting with the French, so it doesn’t really matter one way or the other.
Anyway, Jeanne D’arc, which I’m hoping will not end with a tragic immolation scene and delayed canonization, is so close to being a Shining Force game that it really doesn’t matter that I don’t have any centaurs on my side.
Put simply: It’s mighty good, at least up to where I’ve gotten, which isn’t TOO far really but is enough to have gotten me good and hooked.
Now that I’ve said that, some nitpicks:
1) It’s a portable game, but it has an awful lot of cutscenes and dialogue heavy bits. You can, at least, pause them. You can also elect to SKIP them once paused, which is a wonderful thing if you’re retrying a battle for the third time.
2) There’s a lot of loading between fights. This is probably much better if you’re running it on a PSP2000 or 3000, or – even better – if you’ve bought it off PSN and are running it off memory stick, but on my PSP1000, it does grind the old UMD drive an awful lot.
3) Pretty early on, you get into a battle where the objective is to run away. You are, after all, playing a band of French soldiers.
YES, I WENT THERE.
The enemy general is a freakin’ monster, and not in the orcs-and-lizardmen sort of way. If he gets two hits in on any of your characters, they’re pretty much done for, and if you lose any of your characters you lose the battle.
You’re not supposed to be able to beat him, which was made obvious when I DID beat him and then he showed up in the very next cutscene and my characters were all, like, “but we just got away from you!” and I’m thinking, “no, you didn’t, you whupped his tea swilling armor-plated-arse in the last encounter!”
A little bit of a continuity flaw there.
Those minor things aside, serious thumbs up. It’s challenging, it’s satisfying, and – tragic lack of catgirls aside – it’s awfully pretty.