La Pucelle Tactics
comes at an interesting time. Riding on the coat tails of success Atlus received by Disgaea, lesser known publisher Mastiff Games decided it was high time to grab and publish the first of the Nippon Ichi PS2 trilogy with only a 3 month gap between it and the next Nippon Ichi title Phantom Brave, so give some credit to Mastiff for making a bold and dangerous move. Not a prequel to Disgaea by any means, La Pucelle Tactics
provides gamers with an interesting strategy title rife with a good story, lovable characters, especially the adorably evil Prier, and a very interesting combat and recruitment system you have to see to believe. Unfortunately, since this is a game that came before Disgaea it is going to feel like it is ripping a lot from Disgaea, and then it’s missing a lot from Disgaea, so this is a title you really have to be dedicated to if you want to stick it out. The differences in battle, character, and subtle charms however do make this a must play title.
Getting right into it, when the prince of darkness (not Laharl sadly) rears his ugly head, the goddess of light will grant all of her powers to one person (specifically a girl of the church), creating the Maiden of Light. At the outset we’ve got our lovable female lead Prier who aspires to be nothing less but the best Maiden of Light possible. Her and her orphan brother Collete work for the church of Pot au Feu City as a crack squad of demon hunters known as La Pucelle. The story follows the tales of Prier and her brother along with a group of other characters, like the perverted old church pastor, Father Salade, a gun totting wise guy with amnesia, Croix, and a princess with a whopping case of split personality disorder, Princess Éclair, and a few other… interesting individuals to say the lease. . Suffice to say the story is wacky and light hearted but not without its own bits of seriousness here and there. Mastiff performed a wonderful job on the localization. Not quite up to snuff with that of Atlus but it is a superb job nonetheless.
Now, what would a strategy game be without a good effort in the combat system? A pretty dull one if you ask me. Such is not the case however in La Pucelle, it has a rather refreshing battle system that has you wrapping your brain around how to pull off the sweetest of moves and taking out all of the toughest of enemies. After playing La Pucelle through the first chapter you can see where Disgaea’s battle system spawned. What you’ll also notice is not the Geo Symbol system of Disgaea but something slightly different. Dubbed the Dark Portal system, it’s an interesting system where your characters and their placement can determine the flow of dark energy that is present on the map that you can manipulate to your favor. For starters when battle begins you are given a maximum of 8 characters for your party. You’ve got the starting portal like in Disgaea so if one guy is not working out for you then chuck him out and bring a more capable fighter in. However should a unit die you will not be able to bring in someone to replace them, so be wary as your resources are scarce, however never will you feel so overwhelmed with enemies that you’ll be cursing the eight member limit.
Before heading into battle it would be wise to stock up on some armor and weapons. What is interesting here is that you can equip multiple weapons to a person in an effort to make them stronger, so if you want to beef up a character for battle then you can forsake the armor in exchange for raw power. Or you can make an ultra defensive healer or supremely offensive destructive mage. The choices are literally endless. Of course some monsters make better healers than others. Yes I said monsters. Over the course of the game in order to get new members of your party you need to persuade them to join your cause. Most of the human characters in your party have the ability to seal the evil powers in the monsters you come across and they will join your party. From there you can send them to the Dark World to sort of buff them up you could say, or you can bring them along in your might quest to save the world. But you must be careful to keep them happy or else they will run away. But there are also bonuses for keeping them happy, be sure the treat them kindly, they may be monsters, but just give them a chance.
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