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Jeanne d'Arc is a tactical role-playing game developed by Level-5 and published by Sony Computer Entertainment for the PlayStation Portable. It is Level-5's first RPG of this kind, as well as the studio's first production for the PSP. The title's narrative makes use of various fantasy elements, and is loosely based on the story of Joan of Arc and her struggles against the English occupation of France during the Hundred Years' War in the early 15th century.
The game has an amount of historical accuracy when it comes to the cast of characters, and contains many who were contemporaries and allies of Joan of Arc. This contrasts starkly with the many fantasy elements of the game. These include Jeanne and other main characters possessing magical armlets that give the wearer special abilities, and the suggestion that King Henry VI of England was possessed by demons and used them to aid his armies in destroying France during the Hundred Years' War.
In the past, there was a great war between humans and demons. Five heroes created five magical armlets and used their combined power to seal the demons away. Much time has passed, and now France and England are in the midst of the Hundred Years' War. Domrémy, a small village in the Lorraine region of France, was celebrating a festival when suddenly English soldiers attacked. A village girl, Jeanne, was led by a voice from the heavens to save France. Thus begins the journey of Jeanne, and her friends Roger and Liane, in the war to free their country from the tyranny of the demon-controlled English army.
The player controls Jeanne and her party, moving them between major cities and features on a semi-historical map of France. Most new locations will lead to cutscenes and battles. Select points on the map are cities, allowing the player to shop for improved weapons, armor, and skills; other locations offer skirmish matches not part of the main story but allowing the player to improve their characters through battle.
Each character and enemy has an affinity to one of three phases; Sol, Luna and Stella, each which have strengths and weaknesses against the other phases, in a manner similar to rock, paper, scissors. For example, Sol is stronger against Stella, but weaker against Luna. Each character also has a number of skill slots; skill gems that can be purchased, won in battle, or produced by combining other gems together. These skills can improve a character's stats or bestow offensive, defensive, or recovery skills.
The battle system is turn-based. Prior to battle, the player can manage character equipment and abilities, and then select which characters to bring into battle. On each turn, for each character, the player can move and then perform an action such as attacking, using items or skills; each action awards a number of experience points to the character. Attacks can be met with counterattacks, and the facing of the attack will also influence how much damage is done. Unique to the game is the creation of a "Burning Aura" which forms on the space immediately behind the target of the attack; a second character can move into that space and strike for extra damage, or if a character is already in that space, the Aura will move with that character and increase the power of the attack on that turn only. Burning Auras disappear after one turn.
Once the player has moved all their characters, the enemy turn proceeds in the same manner. When an ally is targeted, all nearby allies one space away from the targeted ally or anyone already supporting him, participate in a "Unified Guard" that can reduce the chance of a hit or reduce the damage taken. This guard also applies to any counterattacks made during the offensive part of the player's turn.
Unique to Jeanne and selected other party members is the use of a magical armband that can be infused with gems. Each gem on the armband can be used once per battle, and only after acquiring an amount of power gems from battle, allows the character to become much more powerful. For example, Jeanne's first transformation gives her a higher attack value, and while in this form, she gains another turn immediately after killing any foe. Transformations are limited to a few turns and the character reverts to their normal form once the effect is over.
Most battles have a required victory condition, such as defeating all foes or to move the party to specific spaces on the map. There are also specialized defeats, such as letting Jeanne fall in battle, or by failing to meet the victory conditions within a fixed number of turns. Upon winning the battle, all characters in the party gain some experience, and additional spoils of war can be obtained.
- Age 17. The protagonist. A determined and passionate young girl from Domrémy. Daughter of the goat herder Jacques, she obtains the armlet from a knight and thus becomes involved in the war. She is often rash and hasty, leading to various accidents throughout the story. Although initially she only possesses hatred for the English, when she learns of the true conflict Jeanne resolves to save all of France and is thus very reluctant to hurt a fellow Frenchman, even if they are treacherous. But she remains compassionate and loyal to her friends, and wouldn't hesitate to attack anyone who tries to hurt them.
- Age 16. A kind and quiet girl from Domrémy, Liane's hobby is making sweets. She can sometimes be prone to silly mistakes. Jeanne and Liane have a close, sibling-like relationship since young. She is the calmer of the two and is also a bit more perceptive of others' feelings, as shown when she sadly tells Roger that he is obviously in love with Jeanne despite Liane herself being in love with Roger. When Jeanne appears to have died in battle (really she was trapped in another world and rescued by the English knight from the beginning of the game, who then proceeded to teach her), Liane took up her mantle on the battlefield. Unfortunately, she is captured by the English (who mistake her for the real Jeanne) and have her burnt at the stake as a witch. Her death greatly haunts both Jeanne and Roger.
- Age 23. An ex-mercenary who began living in Domrémy two years ago. He started living in the village since Jeanne's father took him in when he was wandering. He has no recollection of anything before his life of wandering. It is revealed that he was a test subject for putting the souls of reapers into humans and although this usually results in the loss of the human soul to the reaper, Roger's soul is unusually strong and is able to fend off the reaper. He is greatly in love with Jeanne, always protecting her and saving her in times of need.
- Age 27. A mysterious nobleman saved by Jeanne when the English troops attacked. Calm and collected, Gilles is a talented knight but he can be hard to understand at times. Another bearer of the magic armlet. Notably, Gilles is referred to in the North American edition of the game as Gilles de Rais.
- Age 40. A beastman (also known as therion) warrior of the French army, La Hire is a mercenary known for his overwhelming strength. He holds high respect for Jeanne, who treats everyone equally and for that, he fights loyally for her.
- Age 6. The young king of England. He is possessed by a demonic spirit and becomes driven to conquer all of France.
- Henry's regent. Helps Henry with the war against France. Releasing the sealed demons of the past, he leads the demon army in the French invasion. He is the main antagonist of the game.
Jeanne d'Arc was developed by Level-5, a company that had previously developed a number of traditional console role-playing games. The team chose to make Jeanne d'Arc a tactical role-playing game from the beginning: "With Jeanne, we designed the game so that players new to the genre will still be able to play the game, while veteran strategy game players will find this game both nostalgic and entertaining." The development team also wanted to create an enjoyable game for all players despite some of them having no knowledge of the historical events on which it is based. The most important aspect of the North American localization of Jeanne d'Arc was its voice-overs. A number of French actors and actresses, as well as American actors speaking with French accents, were auditioned for the game's audio. Ultimately, American actors using mild French accents were chosen for the main roles while individuals with authentic French accents were used some of the game's supporting characters. A French vocal coach was on hand to assure proper pronunciation and accents. Voice actress Kari Wahlgren was approached specifically for the lead role in the English version of the game.
Jeanne d'Arc received generally positive reviews, gaining an average score of 87/100 on review aggregator site Metacritic. IGN gave Jeanne d'Arc 9/10, saying "Extremely deep gameplay. Balanced tactical strategy and fast paced action with rich game mechanics. An intriguing twist on a well known tale. These three statements only scratch the surface of the game." Gametrailers.com made it a nominee for "Best PSP Game" despite not releasing a video review for it. They even said of it, "Skipping this one would be a true act of heresy."
Jeanne d'Arc sold approximately 45,387 copies during its first week of sale in Japan. The game was listed as the 190th best-selling game in the country in 2006 by Famitsu magazine with a total of 68,013 copies sold by the end of the year.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Jeanne d'Arc Japanese Website, Characters. Level-5. Retrieved on 2009-02-09
- ↑ Referred to as such in the official North American website and instruction manual.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 RPG Land. RPG LAND INTERVIEW: Level 5. RPGLand.com. Retrieved on 2009-05-25
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Miller, Greg (July 29, 2007). SDCC 07: The Voice of Jeanne d'Arc Speaks. IGN.com. Retrieved on 2009-05-25
- ↑ Jeanne d'Arc at MetaCritic. MetaCritic (2008). Retrieved on 2008-01-19
- ↑ Jeff Haynes (2007-08-13). IGN UK's Jeanne d'Arc Review. IGN. Retrieved on 2009-02-09
- ↑ GEIMIN.NET／2006年テレビゲームソフト売り上げTOP500（メディアクリエイト版） (Japanese). Geimin.net (August 26, 2007). Retrieved on 2009-08-02