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    jp's Jeanne D'Arc (PSP)

    [September 3, 2010 05:20:01 PM]
    It turns out that many of the characters and battles in the game are based on battles and people the real Joan of Arc interacted with. Thanks wikipedia! :-)
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    [September 3, 2010 11:37:00 AM]
    Finished! (30+ hours, longer than I expected but worth it)

    From an ethics perspective, I was surprised by two things in this game. Perhaps more surprising is how long it took for me to realize something that, when taken out of context, sounds absolutely reprehensible and inappropriate. When examined in the context of the game, however, and how it is presented, I was surprised by the subtle game design, story, and presentation decisions that went into NOT making it all reprehensible.

    In this game, a female character is burned alive at the stake (for heresy). Also, the main villain is a child, perhaps 6 or 7 years old. He's been possessed by a demonic force but looks and mostly acts the same way a young child would. Obviously, the plan is to kill him.

    Child murdering and witch burning? I can see how someone could whip up some headlines on that, right?

    So, how do you go about ethically killing a child? What's interesting in this game is how the notion of child killing is solely in your mind (YOU see this as the ultimate goal) while the game gently ensures that you will be acting ethically. First, when you fight possessed humans earlier in the game, you always face a demon that emerges from the human. You don't fight a visual representation of the human. And, once defeated, the human remains ok. So perhaps you'll fight a demon and not the child himself. Second, 3/4 of the way through the game you learn that a frog that's been with you is actually the child (King Henry VI). So, there is no child in the possessed child-body. Third, you learn early on that characters defeated in combat aren't necessarily dead. This happens quite often with other enemies who, upon defeat, flee and come back to fight another day. Finally, there is no blood, gore, etc. It's all flashes of light and grunting. All this adds up so that it is ok to attack the child-body even though the player may balk.

    I was curious of how the story would end (Joan of Arc was, in fact, burned at the stake). Curiously, it's another character who dies (while impersonating Joanne) and her death is quite emotional (I wasn't expecting it!) since you're set up to believe you will be able to save her on time. However, narratively, it serves an important purposes since it motivates Roger (an ally) rise (or downfall) as an enemy. He is redeemed in the end, but the animosity Roger holds towards Jeanne throws an interesting (narrative) spanner in the works and makes the game all the more interesting. I guess for me the greatest surprise was that it happened (in an animated cutscene) and how surprised I was...and moved as well!
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    [August 31, 2010 11:53:52 AM]
    I'm about 2/3 of the way through and I'm starting to get a little tired. (I've played about 30 hrs so far, which is quite a bit!) Rather than mope about why I'm ready to move on to something else, I though I'd detail some of the design decisions I thought were interesting or unusual from a genre perspective. While this game comfortably fits under the tactical RPG umbrella I was surprised by a number of things that break convention without sacrificing the tactical-RPGness of the game. In other words, these are changes that aren't about genre-bending or extending the genre. Rather, they're about doing things that have always been done in a certain way, differently.

    1. Performing actions successfully results in experience rewards during a mission. This includes offensive skills (hitting or killing an opponent), but also defensive ones (if your counter-attack is successful, you also get points) and non-combat actions such as casting spells.

    2. You can level-up in the middle of a mission. While you can't change your equipment or abilities mid-mission, a level increase does result in improved stats, which is never a bad thing!

    3. It always takes 100XP to gain a level. Always.

    This one is interesting because it really does fly in the face of convention. Traditionally (as borrowed from paper and pencil RPGs such as Dungeons and Dragons) higher levels meant you needed increasingly more XP. From a rewards/gameplay time perspective this means that you face a situation of rapidly diminishing returns for your time; you need to spend more time playing before you get a new level the higher up you go. There's all kinds of behavioral psychology behind particular why we put up with this in the first place. However, when you stop to think about it, it's unnecessary from a game design perspective. So, it's interesting to note how this convention has stuck around for such a long time.

    From a design perspectives there are lots of "tricks" games use to soften the diminishing returns while still making later rewards more "valuable" than earlier ones. For example, if higher level monsters provide more experience at a rate that matches the experience required to level-up, the ratio monsters killed/levels earner remains constant. However, what do you do when the amount of XP needed to level up remains the same?

    This is how it works in this game:
    The XP reward for killing a monster is variable. It depends on the differential (in levels) between the killer and the monster. You get more experience if the killer's level is lower than that of the monster and vice versa. The differences become significant! I needed to quickly level a character facing monsters 10 levels higher than his current level. By landing the killing blow, he would earn 280 xp (or so) compared to the 8 XP is (same-level as monster) teammates would earn! I'm not sure what the curve looks like exactly, but I'm pretty sure that it isn't very steep.

    4. Bonus XP at the end of the round are awarded to all the characters in your party (not just the ones you used during a mission). This helps reduce (but doesn't eliminate) issues with characters falling far behind, since they can level up even if you never use them.
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    [August 21, 2010 09:10:10 PM]
    I wasn't sure what this game would be like (not having bothered to read the back of the box didn't help) so I've been surprised to find an engaging tactical RPG that is at times hard, at times easy, and curious in multiple ways. From a production standpoint I wasn't expecting the occasional anime cut-scene! From a gameplay perspective I wasn't expecting to have trouble clearing the 2nd level (apparently I'm an anomaly because the FAQs say not to worry). You're supposed to rescue a noble. According to the FAQ he should be pretty good at dodging. This wasn't my experience, which necessitated the use of all kinds of extra equipment in order to reach him before he was cut down.

    Perhaps the greatest surprise is one regarding my own ignorance. The game is clearly inspired by Joan of Arc but it's also clearly a fantasy (there's magic and anthropomorphic animal characters). I have no idea HOW much is based on the true story/legend and how much is made up for the game. Most of the locations seem real, but I don't know if I'm engaging in battles that happened or not. I guess I should spend some time on Wikipedia...
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    jp's Jeanne D'Arc (PSP)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Friday 6 August, 2010

    GameLog closed on: Friday 3 September, 2010

    jp's opinion and rating for this game

    Don't pass this one up. Interesting, engaging, and deep. Well, if you're into tactical RPGs.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

    Related Links

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    More GameLogs
    other GameLogs for this Game
    1 : Jeanne D'Arc (PSP) by animan09 (rating: 5)


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