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After the success of Disgaea last year, Nippon Ichi eagerly prepared another of its Japanese tactical jewels for stateside release. The result is an incredibly deep gaming experience that you could easily pour dozens and dozens of hours into. The real disappointment is the alarmingly ancient-looking graphics. Just because the game is set in the Middle Ages, it doesn't mean the game needs to look like it was made back then as well. Though the hand-drawn backgrounds that fill La Pucelle have their own unique beauty, you still find yourself wondering if you didn't play this on a console about three generations ago.
The game relates the tale of a young girl and her little brother (who you might confuse as a little sister for the first few hours of play), that have begun their careers as demon hunters for the local Goddess Church. They unwittingly become embroiled in a world-altering story of betrayal and redemption, while simultaneously coming to terms with the childhood death of their parents. Amid the slapstick jokes and anime innuendo, there is a moving portrayal of characters dealing with their own broken lives.
The majority of gameplay is spent on a rectangular grid of squares. Your success against the relentless enemies depends on myriad variables including elevation, character orientation, proximity of allies, and position on the field. The game is further deepened by the immensely sweet ability to make the enemies defect to your party. By purifying foes of their dark essence, they will reappear on your team once you defeat them. This means that you can slowly build up a party composed of all sorts of different little beasties to command. Perhaps the most complex strategy involves the purifying of dark portals, from whence enemies continuously emerge. By doing so, you send out a shockwave of elemental power that can damage enemies or heal allies. All of that combined makes for a game that is intensely difficult to survive, and nearly impossible to truly master.
Ultimaely, this title hits its big snag in the graphics department. What can I say? The animation is simplistic. Unmoving pictures thrown up on screen are somehow meant to pass for special effects. Detail is woefully lacking. The saving grace is the stylistic success of many of the hand-drawn images that permeate the landscape.
With that said, La Pucelle is an engrossing play that has the potential to kidnap you from family and friends for many a week. Its balanced strategic gameplay is only matched by its tremendous challenge. If you can look beyond its dated visuals, this little maiden might be just the girl for you.
Mix a disillusioned young girl with deep, engaging, strategy. Throw in a touch of anime humor. Stir, and serve
Did someone just say PSone?
Pretty standard RPG fare on the music. Surprisingly excellent voice acting
Easy to pick up, a monster to master
With a plethora of customization options, multiple endings, and endless recruitable party members, it's well worth your time.
Rated: 8 out of 10
Editor: Matt Miller
Issue: June 2004
Developer Nippon Ichi has a tall order to fill in trying to make a title as charming and strategically deep as its 2003 opus Disgaea. Good news for everybody, then, that La Pucelle brings as much innovation and polish as its predecessor. This title's crowning achievement, though, is the learning curve. While it's easy (as far as strategy games go) to grasp the basics and get up and running on your quest, you could easily put a hundred hours into this title and still have things left to discover. This is as good an introduction to the genre as any, and an absolute delight to any fan of tactical RPGs.
Rated: 8.75 out of 10
Editor: Adam Biessener
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AMAZING GAME HANDS DOWN ALMOST AS GOOD AS FINAL FANTASY TACTICS ADVANCE !!!Published 15 months ago by DRBBaxter