Back in the good old days when wars lasted 100 years, there was… the girl on fire. John Dark. Or Joan of Arc, whatever you want to call her. One day her village was destroyed, like in any RPG, and then she found an amulet that gave her the power to transform into a magical knight. She soon formed an army… and a Power Rangers squad! This was very necessary, because the king of England–a little boy, apparently–became possessed by a demon (thanks to the bad guy from Disney’s Hunchback). King Henry’s army of furries and monsters is ravaging France! … … … Kill them!
Jeanne d’Arc is a strategy RPG (or tactics game) in which you have a small army (around 10 characters) who must defeat everyone in an enemy army on a grid-like field. It is turn-based, so you have to plan ahead a little bit by keeping in mind that the enemies will attack your characters if they can each round. Over time your characters level up, you buy better gear, and you craft new skills for them to utilize. All in all, this is a very basic strategy RPG.
And at the end of the day, I guess that’s my biggest issue with this one. There isn’t much that’s special about Jeanne d’Arc when it comes to gameplay. And if anything, the small elements that set it apart actually make the game too easy, and eliminate the need for much strategy. A couple examples: 1) Attacking an enemy creates a glowing square behind him. Use another character to attack from the glowing square for a huge boost in power. There’s hardly any reason you would not utilize this every turn you can. And… 2) Jeanne and a few of her chums form a super sentai squad, and can transform into magical knights. When you utilize this power, these characters have the ability to take another free turn every time they kill someone off. If that sounds like a really useful skill, you’re right–it’s an incredibly useful skill, and you’ll be able to make short work of enemy armies quite easily if you don’t completely botch things up. Overall the game is kind of boring, to be honest.
The story unfortunately is not very memorable either, despite its interesting source material. Perhaps I expect too much, but I would have liked a little more in the way of character development? There is one guy who gets a bit of an arc I suppose, but I didn’t like him… And unfortunately, most of the rest of the cast are little more than caricatures, so I found it all more childish than charming.
Despite all this, there isn’t much about the game that I’d actually call bad. The gameplay and story are so-so. The graphics and sound are okay–nothing that really stands out, good or bad. Fans of strategy RPGs should like it all well enough at least (and indeed, many do seem to hold this one in high regard). I suppose I just would have really liked it if the game were a bit more… riveting? Get me pumped up to save France, damn it!