Jeanne d'Arc is a Turn-Based StrategyRole-Playing Game for the PlayStation Portable from the very talented folks at Level-5. It's based on the reimagining of SaintJoan of Arc's involvement in the Hundred Years' War as part of a greater war between mankind and the "Reapers," demonic creatures from the Netherworld. Cue the Henshin Hero transformations, the half-human warriors, magic spells and, of course, the mystical armlets that make all of this possible.Often called Final Fantasy Tactics Lite (although it has much more in common with Fire Emblem, down to the "attack -> counter" style of melee), Jeanne d'Arc is a surprisingly fun and intuitive Strategy RPG, where the main appeal is the character transformations into mighty, armored soldiers. The transformations available to each character are limited to the gems on his or her armlet, and they last only a few turns; however, they come with increased stats, special attacks, and the ability to move and act indefinitely as long as the character keeps defeating enemies. In addition to this, players can take advantage of elemental affinities between allies and enemies, a huge variety of class-specific skills, and the "Burning Aura," a spark of light created by physical attacks on an enemy, and which the other characters can receive to enhance their own power. Combat is generally quick and easy to follow; unlike other strategy RPGs, where character order is determined by their agility or speed, battles are split evenly between "Player Phase" and "Enemy Phase," in which either side gets to move and act at its leisure. Although this allows the player to gang up on enemies or retreat to heal, the enemy side can and will be just as ruthless.There are no "generic" characters, as everyone in the party is part of the plot at one point. Therefore, defeated characters don't "die," but merely fade away until the end of the battle (unless revived with an extremely rare spell from late in the game). Job classes are also ignored in favor of character-defined weapon classes: sword, spear, bow, knife, axe, staff and whip. Each of these classes can then equip Skill Stones, which can be bought from stores, earned through battle or synthesized by being fed to the game's mascot, Cuisses.The plot, although not as complex as in othergames in the genre, diverges enough from the historical Joan of Arc and the Hundred Years War to provide a multitude of plot twists and shocking surprises. It starts off with Jeanne, who, with her childhood friend Liane and their companion, Roger, becomes embroiled in the horror of war when an English detachment of soldiers and inhuman monster razes her village —acquiring in the process a mysterious golden armlet, from which she hears the voice of God commanding her to save France from the invaders. Thus begins Jeanne's fight to release her country from the grasp of both Englishmen and the army of foul creatures they have somehow recruited. Along the way, she will meet with various historical figures such as Étienne de Vignolles, aka La Hire; Arthur de Richemont, and even King Charles VII, many of which appear as enemies, allies or even party members, though all have been equally reimagined to fit the fantastic setting of the game.
Jeanne d'Arc contains examples of:
Action Girl: Jeanne, natch. And does a damn good job of it, too.
Awesome, but Impractical: Nearly any skill that costs more than 70 Magic points to cast (nearly because there are some that are worth it), but especially the "ultimate" spells. Sure, you gain Magic points every turn, but you're waiting 5 turns just to cast one spell. By that time you've probably already killed almost everything on the map already. The upside is that most of the ultimate spells hit everywhere on the map at once for large amounts of damage and don't hurt your allies. The downside is, you have to charge another five turns to do it again.
Color-Coded Armies: HP bars are color coded so that you can tell your units apart from the enemy units.
Counter Attack: All melee attacks (which includes magical weapon strikes like Heaven's Gate) are automatically countered, as long as the attacker is within weapon's range of the victim. Additionally, the Counter and Counter 2 skillstones allow targets to preempt strikes and strike first for increased damage. Sometimes, entire strategies revolve around these two mechanics.
A Day in the Limelight: A couple Bonus Dungeons focus on Colet dropping ladders and short bridges to cross obstacles, and even include the condition that Colet must survive (as opposed to all allies or just Jeanne).
Deal with the Devil: The game opens with this scene as Bedford allows the Devil to possess his nephew, King Henry.
Doomed Hometown: The hamlet of Domremy is destroyed while Jeanne and Liane find the armlet in the woods.
Averted in the ending when Jeanne and Roger come back to discover most of the villagers managed to flee into the woods during the attack and are now rebuilding the hamlet.
Easily Forgiven: Averted. Jeanne begs Liane's ghost for forgiveness after Liane died in Jeanne's place, but while the other tells Jeanne she shouldn't feel fully responsible, Liane's ghost still refuses to actually forgive Jeanne for her part in what happened.
Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Sol > Luna > Stella > Sol. Applies both to elemental spells and to equippable attribute stones, gaining strength over some enemies in exchange for weaknesses against others.
Fallen Hero: Bedford was one of the five heroes who originally sealed Gilvaroth away.
Fauxshadow: Gilles is set up to betray you with his looks, air of mystery, and true historical record as a serial killer. However, not only does Gilles remain loyal but he is also one of the most noble and levelheaded members of the party.
Improbable Weapon User: Averted since everyone uses real weapons... at least until you fight the possessed Henry VI, who attacks by zinging his teddy bear at whoever is within range (...which is actually kinda painful).
Impossibly Cool Clothes: For most of the game, Jeanne runs around dressed reasonably in plate armor. However, late in the game, she obtains a new outfit that is supposed to make her stand out less. Ironically, as La Hire points out, it just makes her stand out even more as it's basically a modern shoulderless black top with metal boots, gloves and a "skirt". How this is supposed to qualify as armor is anyone's guess.
Interface Spoiler: You can buy whips and steal whip skills before you can get the (optional) whip-using character. Averted in that you'll never get to use those monster attack skills you can acquire (like a dragon's Tail Whip or a golem's Body Slam) aside from skill fusion fodder.
Jack of All Stats: Though she doesn't excel in any one particular role, Jeanne is well-balanced across her stats and remains a solid choice as a front-liner. Good thing, too, since she's mandatory in most levels. Roger favors combat a little more but he's otherwise similar to Jeanne.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Colet. Cynical, snide, and often insulting to others (especially Marcel), but he's one of the few most clearly upset when Jeanne is assumed dead and Liane is captured, and urges action even more than the others.
Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards: Averted, but then switched around a lot. Mages other than Richard aren't really that useful except in case of emergencies to cast Heal, and the only thing keeping Richard from being benched is the armlet. Having only two possible defined mage characters in the game, one optional, doesn't help either, since Liane and Beatrix are hybrids. And while everyone's stats are technically linear, it's actually the archers who wind up becoming some of the most powerful characters, since Sky Dart can make them attack from anywhere on the battlefield and they can attack without fear of being countered, although they don't create burning auras, which can be an utter Game Breaker. Rose and Rufus, too.
Colet fits this trope to a T. He's not that useful early on, but later gets better weapons with higher critical hit rates, as well as useful skills that hit multiple times.
Lost Forever: An armlet gem for Jeanne, in the battle against Luxuria in Reims Cathedral. It appears as a regular treasure on the map and is only available for that battle.
Love Triangle: Liane is in love with Roger, who is in love with Jeanne. Meanwhile, Roger thinks Gilles is his rival for Jeanne's love in another triangle, but Gilles shows no real signs of it and Jeanne is Oblivious to Love because of her crusade against the English...
Magic Knight: Liane's stats make her a decent caster and average fighter, letting her pull double duty if you're unsure whether to bring one or the other.
Magikarp Power: Rufus is a minor character with godawful starting stats. If you level him up he'll trump characters who possess the Game Breaker armlets, who normally anyone else with the same kind of weapon useless.
Colet is also rather mediocre at first, as a weak attacker with a high critical hit chance that sometimes lets him match the others for damage; but once you get the Two Hits (or Three Hits) skill and he gets better weapons with higher damage output, your patience will be very well rewarded by not benching him early on.
Mysterious Waif: Sort of. Roger presents a male version. He has a forgotten past and mysterious power connected to the Big Bad, which becomes important to the plot. However, his personality and role in battle are the exact opposite of this trope.
Notice This: Maps have up to three hidden treasures on them, which are (usually) randomly selected. Getting within one square of a treasure causes its location to sparkle, while Colet and Rose have skills that reveal all treasures on from the start. Key locations for missions (such as escapes or places you cannot let the enemies past) also have bobbing yellow arrows marking them off.
Our Demons Are Different: The Reapers. They need to possess people to manifest on Earth (at least most of the time), and when they take their true form their host's face is visible (asleep, mercifully) over their stomach area. When separate from a body, they appear as wispy shadows, sometimes with Glowing Eyes of Doom.
Our Dragons Are Different: Big and reptilian, though apparently unintelligent. Not all breathe fire, if only because that's a skill and not all of them come with the skill stone. Some can breathe poison gas.
Our Elves Are Better: Subverted, as while it turns out the elves (along with the dwarves) were responsible for the actual creation of the armlets, they're now extremely xenophobic and isolationist, with racist laws that exiled Beatrix for agreeing to marry Bartolomeo, a therion. In gameplay terms, Beatrix is often outclassed by Marcel, though she's a better caster... which isn't terribly useful as archers already have free ranged attacks and have skills to stay effective outside of casting range.
Paint It Black: Roger, after the Reaper inside him awakens. After transforming into a Reaper and then back, his leather armor is replaced with a new, darker-colored suit with a ribcage-like pattern of reinforcing... er, ribs.
Petting Zoo People: The therions are basically anthropomorphic animals, like lions, gazelles, panthers, dogs, bulls, rhinos, tigers...
Timed Mission: You have only a limited number of turns in each mission, which makes certain battles, particularly in the postgame, extra difficult. (Although some are a little more generous than you think.)
Transformation Sequence: All armlet-wielding characters but one get a fully animated transformation sequence. During combat, they all get a brief lightshow when transforming into and out of their special forms.
Verbal Tic: Marcel adds "-ette" to the end of everyone's name. This rather annoys Colet (pronounced Co-lay) as "Colette" is a girl's name.
Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The dramatis personae, many historical events (such as the siege of Orleans, the assault on Les Tourelles,) and the circumstances of Jeanne's capture all correspond with the true history of the Hundred Years' War. We missed the part where the English army was led by an Evil Overlord and his Legions of Hell, though, and the hidden war between mankind and the Netherworld. And where did all the Petting Zoo People go?
Video Game Tutorial: The first few missions open up with a couple pages of text and illustrations to run players through the basics of combat and character customization, and then quickly get out of the way.
Villain Forgot to Level Grind: Neither Talbot nor the gang of Mawra, Blaze, and Slinker grow too much in power as they face you repeatedly. Even worse, reaper-ized Roger who is supposed to be the Super-Powered Evil Side of the guy shows up with only Raise Force (which he never uses), Blood Sword, and Heaven's Gate, when he easily had a better skill load-out earlier when he was still on your side. Gilvaroth is strongly implied to be "level grinding" by eating the other reapers as you kick them out of people, though.
We Are Struggling Together: France is dealing with English invaders backed by strange monsters and dark magic. Rather than uniting, the Duke of Burgundy incites rebellion against the Dauphin, the previous king's heir, and Jeanne has to subdue other French cities in open revolt just to pass through. Engineered, of course, by the Reapers. The Duke of Burgundy, among others, is possessed by one.
Well-Intentioned Extremist. Arguably Bedford. After his defeat, Bedford states that his making a deal with the devil was to protect Henry VI from assassination. However, said deal resulted in countless English and French deaths. Moreover, Gilvaroth actually booted the real Henry VI from his body.
Whip It Good: Rose attacks with whips, and has the most flexible attack range in the game.
You Should Know This Already: Subverted. Given that the real Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, you could expect this version of her to follow the same fate. But she, um, she didn't. That was Liane. Funny that Roger said that Jeanne's the one who should have burned.