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Video Game / Jeanne d'Arc

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Jeanne d'Arc is a 2007 Turn-Based Strategy Role-Playing Game for the PlayStation Portable, from the very talented folks at Level-5. It's based on the reimagining of Saint Joan 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 other games 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:

  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You build up a party of 15 people, but each stage has an arbitrary limit as to how many you can take into battle. This limit tops off at seven until the Final Battle.
  • 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 barring use of a MP-restoring item 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 (or use another MP item) to do it again.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Jeanne and Liane were ordinary girls. Then war came to town. They became near-fanatical, astonishing soldiers whose only goal was to drive the English out of France, and while Liane eventually dies, Jeanne goes on to kick the ass of a Satan equivalent!
  • Bilingual Bonus: There is a frog named Cuisses who appears as a main character's pet and later as a playable character himself. "Cuisses" is the French word for "thigh," but in a culinary context it is understood to refer to "Cuisses de grenouille" or "Frog Legs."
  • Bonus Dungeon: Some of them open during the main story and many more in the postgame.
  • 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).
  • Discard and Draw: Jeanne loses her first armlet when she falls off a cliff and it's bequeathed to Liane, and when she dies it goes to Cuisses. Luckily, Jeanne gets the armlet of Luther and all-new Gems to play around with.
  • 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.
  • Escort Mission: The Dauphin is an idiot who walks into arrows all by himself, which makes sense when you consider that he wasn't that much of a strong person in real life.
  • Everything Fades: Upon defeat, both enemies and allies simply disappear in a swirl of light.
  • Expy: Cuisses is essentially the same character as Toady from Level 5's earlier game Rogue Galaxy, except that he doesn't talk. ...Until later.
  • 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.
  • Forced Transformation: Cuisses was supposedly turned into a frog at some point. The truth is a little more complicated.
  • Fragile Speedster: Colet, with a higher move rate than others and very high evasion rates, but low defense and hit points.
  • Friendly Fireproof: The player can cast area-effect spells or skills at squares taken up by both enemies and allies, and only the enemies will be hit. Conversely, healing spells only work on allies.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Despite that Henry VI is shown as reclaiming his own body when Gilvaroth was forced out, Cuisses is still usable in the final battle In the part(s) where Jeanne and Gilles is separated from the rest of the group, they can use the shared inventory, and the rest of the group still gets Leaked Experience. These both tend to veer on Acceptable Breaks from Reality, at least from a gameplay mode. Making characters who aren't available not gain experience wouldn't be fair, wouldn't it? And Cuisses is the Suspiciously Similar Substitute to Liane — any bit of healers is useful.
  • Gold and White Are Divine: The first Gem of Jeanne's second armlet is called the Gem of Light, and it outfits her in paladin-esque gold and white armor. The special attack of this form is called "Visiting Goddess".
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Jeanne, of course. Also, despite how he acted in real life, Gilles. And by that, we don't just mean his latter life as a child murderer, he doesn't even have his overspending habit (his vice that would eventually lead him to his real life atrocities later)!
  • Heel–Face Turn: Talbot. Despite how many times you kill him and how he finally appears to be Deader than Dead... he comes back again, but this time helps you.
  • Important Haircut: Jeanne does this after her hometown is burned to the ground and she decides to join the army. Liane has to do one herself as part of the El Cid Ploy.
  • 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.
  • Journey to the Center of the Mind: Jeanne and other armlet wielders go into Roger's mind to free him from the Reaper that is consuming his soul.
  • Jumped at the Call: Jeanne, of course. She was so quick to jump at it, in fact, that her friends Liane and Roger went along to make sure she'd be safe.
  • Just Like Robin Hood: Rose takes whatever she steals and fences it to give the money to the poor.
  • Knight Templar: Jeanne comes dangerously close, increasingly insistent on driving the English out of France after having been "ordained by God" to do so, though she begins to have doubts when she's forced to fight her fellow French. Liane is even worse, as her guilt at Jeanne's falling off a cliff plus the pressure of being the figurehead of the army as part of the El Cid Ploy starts making her more reckless.
  • Leaked Experience: Thankfully, especially since Gilles and Roger leave at one point, and you have only one other lancer.
  • Lightning Bruiser: Several characters have the potential.
    • Colet is the easiest to turn into this, as he already has a high movement rate and absurd evasion, and his daggers improve his critical chance from "maybe" to "almost guaranteed."
    • Rufus turns into one as well if you pack a movement-improving skill on him, given how his other stats skyrocket in the late game.
    • And of course, Jeanne and other armlet-wielders become one while transformed - if they deal the killing blow, they trigger the "Godspeed" ability which gives them an extra turn. Transformed Jeanne especially has the potential to cross the map on a carpet of enemy corpses thanks to Godspeed.
  • 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 against enemies with high Evade making physical attacks less likely to land, 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. 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.
  • Love Triangle: Liane is in love with Roger, who is in love with Jeanne. However, Roger becomes a bit of a Green-Eyed Monster because of Gilles, who becomes one of Jeanne's most trusted confidants during the war. However, due to the stress of fighting the English army, Jeanne is quite Oblivious to Love, though she starts to figure out Roger's feelings over the course of the story as well.
  • Magical Girl Warrior: Jeanne, whose initial Transformation Sequence leaves her decked out in plate armor and wielding a BFS.
  • Magikarp Power: Rufus is a minor character with godawful starting stats. If you level him up he'll trump characters who possess the 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. Not only that, but his early weapons aren't very good, and some weapons that become available later in the game will make him way better.
  • The Mentor:
    • Richard tries to be this to Jeanne and especially Liane after Jeanne's apparent death. Unfortunately, it's not enough to save Liane.
    • The petrified Luther is revealed to be one for Jeanne, being the mysterious voice she's often heard and, with his last act before he's completely turned into a tree, giving her his armlet and remaining power.
  • Messianic Archetype: Jeanne, though it's not until she puts Revenge on the backburner does she truly fit the bill.
  • Murder by Mistake: Jeanne accidentally kills the mayor of Chalon under the assumption that he was an impostor in disguise (and the fact he suddenly ran at her with a sword, leaving her no time to think). The real impostor, Slinker, simply posed as one of the villagers in order to turn everyone against her (and threatened the mayor to attack her), calling her a witch. This... has consequences.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: The host of the Colosseum opens with, "Ladies, gentlemen, and Englishmen!"
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Jeanne starts out the game wanting Revenge on the English and believing she has a Mission from God to defeat them by any means necessary. When she's forced to fight fellow Frenchmen in order to do that, she expresses anger and sadness at this when their "real enemy" is still waiting for them. It's only when Richard points out that the English are technically their countrymen (especially since the English royal family is an offshoot of the French one) and that this war is basically a massive family spat that she starts to see her enemies as humans (minus the actual monsters and demons playing the sides against each other). When she accidentally kills the French mayor of Chalon, she expresses shock and remorse and desperately tries to reason with the people even as her comrades are forced to fight and kill in self-defense.
  • 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.
  • Non-Lethal K.O.: Zig-Zagged. Normally, characters in your party that are defeated in battle don't die since they all have a story presence, so they simply won't be available for the rest of the battle and you'll only lose if everyone in the party is wiped out or the number of turns run out. However, missions that demand a certain character survive to the end (usually Jeanne) will meet an instant Game Over, with the implication that they do die.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Jeanne falls from a great height after being shot with a crossbow into a river. Said character is believed dead for an entire chapter of the game and then comes back, albeit clearly still wounded.
  • 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.
  • Obviously Evil: Bedford, who even looks like he could be related to a certain whacko of a Catholic judge or the brother of a certain sorceress. Subverted, though. The guy was one of the heroes who defeated the Big Bad in the past. He's actually more of a Well-Intentioned Extremist who wanted to protect Henry from the dangers of noble politics — in the worst way possible.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Rare text example. Georges has a ridiculous lisp. Georges is also French, and thus would pronounce Paris correctly. However, in dialogue, whenever he says Paris, it's written as "Parith", which would only work if his lisp makes him lose his French accent.
  • Optional Party Member: You have a set of two characters who can be recruited: either a mage, or a character who attacks with a whip and actually acts as a thief.
  • 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 Dwarves Are All the Same: With a habit of keeping dragons as caged pets, for some reason...
  • Our Elves Are Different: 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.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: Blue and red-skinned Pig Men.
  • 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.
  • Past Experience Nightmare: Roger suffers through them constantly. Specifically about how Bedford experimented on and implanted a Reaper inside him.
  • Permanently Missable Content: 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.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: Liane begs this Roger after the Dauphin is crowned king and he intends to leave to find out more about his fractured memories, as she can't bear the thought of him going after Jeanne's apparent death.
  • Pose of Supplication: Both Jeanne and Roger are seen falling into this position as they're too late to save Liane from being burned at the stake.
  • "Shaggy Dog" Story: Liane, who started out reluctant to go on the mission but accompanied Jeanne and Roger, only to watch them both become distant from her as the war starts taking its toll on all of them. Eventually she's forced to take Jeanne's place as the Maiden of Orleans, wanting to fulfill Jeanne's last wishes, and she leads the Dauphin's army to Reims, where he ends up crowned just as Jeanne wanted. But then the true enemy conspires against her and her own failure to hold up under the pressure leads to her making costly mistakes, and she ends up dying in Jeanne's place on the burning stake despite Roger storming the prison she was held in and Jeanne rushing back to save her.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: After Liane's death, Jeanne changes her wardrobe to both hide her identity and signify a change on her beliefs.
  • Take Up My Sword: Liane is convinced to do this after Jeanne seemingly falls to her death by Richard, due to the fact that she inherited the Armlet. When she dies, Cuisses regains it, as it was a former family heirloom.
  • Taking the Bullet: Unintentionally by Jeanne. She sees a man about to shoot Liane with a crossbow while she's distracted fighting someone else, and rushes forward not to push Liane out of the way, but to kill the man himself. However, the man panics upon seeing her coming at him and shoots her instead, saving Liane.
  • 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.)
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Jeanne is the tomboy as she is always willing to stand and fight and Lianne is the girly girl as she is significantly more shy. Liane is forced to get more tomboyish in order to take Jeanne's place.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Liane is the most noticeable example, going from a shy and easily-frightened village girl who mostly supports Jeanne and Roger to a warrior woman in her own right especially after getting Jeanne's amulet. Unfortunately, she Took a Level in Jerkass in response to the pressures and guilt as well.
  • 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.
  • Translation Convention: The therions, the Reapers, the elves, and the dwarves... and this is a game set in France with French heroes.
  • 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.
  • 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. On occasion you will be met with a different tutorial when it becomes relevant.
  • 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 Superpowered 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. 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 of Dominance: Rose attacks with whips, fitting with her flirtatious personality and domineering aura. In her tutorial, she even comments about how she enjoys "punishing" enemies in a coquettish manner.
  • You Are Too Late: Jeanne is too late to save Liane and can only arrive in time to see her burning body.