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Developer:
Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: Mastiff
Platform: PS2
Release Date: May 04, 2004

by Jason Ferguson




Thanks to Mastiff, La Pucelle Tactics, a strategy/RPG from Nippon Ichi Software, finally made it to American shores in early May, 2004. The game shares hordes of similarities to last year's hit, Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, but still has its fair share of originality. So does the game live up to Disgaea? Read on!


Despite its recent release, La Pucelle was actually developed by Nippon Ichi before Disgaea. Atlus published Disgaea in the U.S. with much success, which inspired Mastiff to bring the earlier developed La Pucelle to our shores. Although the game is indeed older than Disgaea, the game's graphical quality is more or less the same. This isn’t exactly a game that will awe you with top of the line graphics, but it’s far from painful to look at. It does lack some of the detailed animations and battle effects that Disgaea had, but more or less, you can expect the same quality. The game does excel, though, with well done character portraits that relay the emotions of the characters very well. The game has a nice style and plenty of bright colors.


Your main character in the game is Prier, a young girl who has just passed her exorcism exam and joined La Pucelle, the church’s demon hunting squad. Prier is hot-tempered, but it still a highly amusing and likeable main character. Along with her brother, Culotte, and teacher, Alouette, Prier begins venturing out to rid the world of demons. It’s not long, though, before La Pucelle realizes there’s something fishy going on, and the story picks up pretty quickly. The game features plot twists, entertaining characters and plenty of humor. If you enjoyed the story in Disgaea, La Pucelle will certainly please.


The battle system is in many ways standard fair for fans that played Disgaea, but La Pucelle has some uniqueness and a few twists of its own. During your turn you place your forces on the map. You can choose to have them do nothing, attack, use magic, etc. Your forces won’t attack, though, until you select ‘begin battle’ or end the turn. This gives you plenty of time to set your forces up and decide what you want to do without interference. All the standard strategy/RPG stuff holds true here, like attacking from behind or from high ground is to your advantage, certain elemental attacks are strong against certain foes.


Probably the most enjoyable aspect of La Pucelle’s battle system is the support system. Whenever you attack an enemy any ally that is to your right, left, front or back, will support you. Enemies will also be supported by any fellow enemies near them. There is a lot of strategy involved in setting your forces up properly. Ideally, you want to avoid groups of enemies. You also want to stick together in groups as much as possible so that whenever you attack or are attacked, you’ll have allies to support you. Another factor to consider in combat is counterattacking. Every time you're attacked, you and your allies will counter (as will enemies when they’re attacked). So, sometimes you’ll actually want to be attacked so that your counter will finish off an enemy without you even having to waste an attack! Other times you might be wise to avoid attacking out of fear of a strong enemy counter.


Another great feature of La Pucelle are Dark Portals, which are somewhat similar to Disgaea’s Geo Panels. Your main characters are all equipped with a skill called Purify. By purifying Dark Portals you can damage any enemy standing on it. By taking out a large number of dark portals you can summon Miracle attacks to do HUGE amounts of damage. These portals also serve as gateways that bring in new enemies from time to time, so purifying them is key to a quick victory! Otherwise you may be overrun be enemies.


If that’s not enough, Purifying also allows you to recruit enemy characters. By purifying an enemy enough times you can convince them to join your forces once you’ve defeated them. By recruiting some of the more powerful enemies you can quickly increase the strength of your team. It can take time, though, to purify an enemy until they’ll join your team, so act wisely!


All in all, La Pucelle’s battle system is loads of fun. Your characters level up instantly in battle, so as battles progress you'll be tough enough to fight off every last opponent. Setting up your characters and then attacking an enemy four on one is a blast. Aside from pure fun, La Pucelle takes a lot of thinking, so be ready to actually use some strategy! The only major complaint I really have with the game is that the separate battle screens tend to slow combat down significantly, and with the large variety of enemies and dark portals, battles can already be rather time consuming. Unfortunately, it's not nearly as fast paced as Disgaea, and because of this it can sometimes be a bit dull.


La Pucelle has a large variety of equipment to purchase, skills to learn and monsters to capture. It also features over 100 hours of gameplay. Needless to say, there is a lot to do and plenty of reasons to go back and play again. If for no other reason, the game is extremely fun.


If you like strategy games and RPGs and enjoyed Disgaea, you’re sure to like La Pucelle Tactics! An excellent battle system, humorous characters and an interesting story are just a few of the things that combine to make this a good game.


Final Grade: 84%




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