Level 5 doing Joan of Arc game
Tactical RPG for PSP.
Nope, you didn't read that wrong - Japanese developer Level 5 is making a tactical RPG for PlayStation Portable about Joan of Arc, due out this winter in Japan.
Despite the bizarre premise, the game ought to be ostensibly familiar to most tactical-strategy fans. You select some characters, line up against the enemies (a mixture of demons and the English, naturally) on a 3D battleground, and take it in turns to whack one another.
According to a Famitsu preview (partially translated by IGN), each stage has certain winning conditions - most common of which is likely to be wiping out the opposition, obviously - and in addition to the traditional rules that bind this sort of game, you'll be able to take advantage of energy-blobs dropped by the opposition to gain a temporary power-boost. You'll also be able to club together with allies to take advantage of something called "Connection Guard", which protects fellow units when you're within a certain range of each other.
The story's set in a fictitious world inspired by Joan's history. So while the real-life Joan claimed she received visions from god that inspired her to victory in her battles against the English during the Hundred Years' War, the game's Joan actually does receive messages from the bloke upstairs.
Having set the scene with a tale of the ages-old "War Against the Gods of Death", which saw five chosen heroes vanquishing dark gods and their demon armies using five special bracelets, the game puts us in the role of Joan who, aged 17, is taking part in a festival one day when a demon attacks. Cue a voice from heaven advising her to smack it around a bit with a sword, which she duly does.
Following said divine intervention, Joan discovers she's bound by a familiar-looking bracelet, and she, along with childhood friend Lian and an ex-soldier called Roger, journey to a castle to lead France towards victory against the armies of darkness and Dorchester. Whether or not she befalls the same fate as she did in real life - where she was captured during a skirmish, tried rather hastily and summarily torched - is not made clear, but since it's all a bit alternate-history there's probably room for manoeuvre, or at least the odd Phoenix Down.
Sony's publishing Joan of Arc - to be called Jeanne d'Arc - in Japan this winter. There's no word on Western plans yet, but we'll let you know - and in the meantime you can always try out the first European release of Dragon Quest, on PS2, which Level 5 also handled.
Incidentally, this isn't the first time Joan's been immortalised by a game, or even by a strategy game. Those with long-ish memories may recall Wars & Warriors: Joan of Arc, an action/RTS hybrid that saw Joan putting paid to the English in rather more familiar style.