The story of Jeanne D’Arc, based loosely on Joan of Arc, starts with the background information that five magical armlets were created in the past to defeat a horde of demons. In the Hundred Year War between France and England, one of the original five enabled a demon to possess the king of England to help the monarch conquer the world. One of the other armlets attaches itself to Jeanne and tells her to defeat the English, to take up a sword against them. Unfortunately, Jeanne is too late to stop the English from destroying her home village, and with the help of two of her childhood friends she sets out on a journey to drive the English out and save France.
The armlet has some powers to transform the wearer into a knight with extra powers. In the case of Jeanne it allows her to move again if she kills an enemy. If she can kill the enemies in one strike, she can cross the board and kill all the enemies in one round.
The game plays like the old shining force games, with animated storylines and characters that move and talk. Text bubbles also pop up from time to time in the battles when significant events happen, such as killing a certain enemy. The battles are shown on grids overlaying different lands, with different sections of the grid affecting the battle. High land, for instance, gives archers more range. Roads allow the characters to move faster. And some areas aren’t crossable. Each character in the game can move a certain amount of spaces in a turn, and only a set number of turns are allowed to complete the battle. This limits how long a player can take to finish the fight.
Before playing, each player can check the movement of every character on the board to develop a strategy of where to place his or her piece. All characters start at full health at the beginning of a battle, even if they died in a previous battle. This means gamers can sacrifice a player to finish the battle. The game recommends saving often. Once the battle has begun, the only saving possible is quick save, which is deleted after loading. This is so it isn’t used as a way to reset half way though the battle if a particular fight ends badly.)
During attacks, players are told the expected damage to opponents, and the odds of success, as well as the expected damage from the opponent and odds for the counterattack.
The odds of hitting the opponent are affected by each character’s stats, the landscape, and other characters near by. Players on higher ground have an advantage, and are likely to do more damage and take less. If there are other characters near one of them when defending, the other characters will help defend, and the odds of connecting go down.
On top of normal fighting, the battles include magic and special abilities. Each character can have special abilities added, which use magic that is regenerated as the turns pass, starting at zero. The items can be used once to heal, cause damage to an enemy, or change the stats on a character.
While the storyline is a bit lacking, Jeanne D’Arc will be a hit with any fan of adventure games.
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America Inc.
Developer: Level-5 Inc.
Platform: PSP® (PlayStation®Portable) handheld entertainment system
Genre: Strategy Role-Playing Game (RPG)
Launch Date: August 2007
Rating: T – Teen