Author’s Note: This review was originally published on May 28th, 2004. A friend of mine kept using the term “fierce hotty” when we hung out at school. I decided to pay him some homage and use the term in the review title.
If you played and finished Disgaea, you were probably like me in that you wanted some more quirky, fun, new, and crazy tactical games. Mastiff, a company I’ve never heard of until now, decided to bring over another Nippon Ichi title called La Pucelle: Tactics. However, those expecting a Disgaea clone were mistaken because there were features in LPT that made it quite different from other games in the genre. Overall, it’s a title I suggest picking up before it’s gone like Disgaea.
Fifty years ago, the Maiden of Light and the Prince of Darkness were fighting against eachother in order to see who would reign supreme in the world. The conclusion of the battle remains unknown, however. Now, the team of demon killers called La Pucelle is on a mission to protect the world from demons and spread the word about the goddess Poitreene. Prier, her younger brother Culotte, and her guide Alouette must do their best to rid the world of the demons in order to realize the great truth of their world. Prier also wishes to become the next Maiden of Light. Although she is a follower of the Church of the Holy Maiden, her attitude may not portray her as being the most pious person for the job. Still, La Pucelle will do their best and meet some great people along the way to help them in their cause.
The story was fantastic. It was funny at times, but it was also very serious and dark at other times. It was able to make a jump from both types very quickly and still pull it together as being a great tale. The story is also unpredictable. You will be saying, “OH! It all makes sense now!” when you realize the truth about each character. Speaking of characters, the ones in LPT are great. Each one has an interesting story to tell. The setting for the plot resembles a middle ages type of Europe. Although all of the locations are entirely fictional, each one appears as it would in ancient times. The one thing about the story I didn’t like was how short it lasted. In Disgaea, I remember clocking about 80 hours into it before I completed the game. This was partly due to the side quests and stuff, but it was still a long game. LPT does have side quests, but the story itself was not long. In fact, I spent most of the 40 hours I put into it leveling up as opposed to watching the story unfold.
In LPT, you can actually move from location to location from the World Map. There are multple towns to explore and have NPCs for you to speak with. In each chapter, the NPCs say something different to you. This keeps the game a little more fresh than in Disgaea. Like Disgaea, the shops are called the Rosenqueen Shops and the prices for the best equipment are usually off the chart. Whatever. You can also train the monsters you’ve captured from battles to raise their attributes and happiness level. Finally, there is a representative from a side dungeon called the Dark World who will take the monsters you’ve trained and send them to his master. If the monster is good enough, you’ll receive some nice items from him. There is a lot to do in the game when you’re not fighting, but the fighting of LPT is the definitely the most fun.
Like Disgaea, you have a portal from where you can take out your allies. You can have 8 on the field at a time. However, if one of your members gets KO’d, then you can’t take out a new member so that makes you pick your team wisely. Like most strategy RPGs, you send your characters out on an isometric grid. Each character can move to a different square on the grid. If you get up close to an enemy, you can choose to attack. Like always, being higher and behind the characters gives you the advantage should you choose to attack. The same can be said for physical Special Attacks, which gain more power the more they are used. When you choose to attack, you have to select to begin battles. The view switches to a Final Fantasy VI looking screen where your side takes a turn, then the enemy side attacks. I like this, but the standard method of just seeing the attack on the spot is fine. Some characters like Croix can attack from two spaces away. If you have one person in front of him, choose to attack, then start the battle Croix will act as a supporting attacker. Then you can have him attack again. It’s really innovative and allows you to use clever tactics to beat the monsters. Although careful planning is important, the main thing you need in this game are high levels. Like Disgaea, you really need to spend time leveling up if you want to finish the game completely. Level building can become tedious, but there are usually a plethora of enemies for your characters to kill to speed up the process. And if worse comes to worse, you can just kill off your own team members. Like Disgaea, you have a lot of freedom in the system. If you want to move your character to get healed, then you can move him back after that. One of the greatest parts of the battle system is Purification. Most of the human characters can Purify monsters or dark portals. If you Purify a monster enough times and then kill it, it will join your team. This is great because you can build a massive army of the cute and cuddly looking creatures, train them, and eventually send them to the Dark World so they get you awesome items. If you train them enough, they can also use Purify. The dark portals are a little different. Dark portals send out elemental energy on the battlefield in directions. These are usually not good because if you stand on one, your attributes get reduced. By Purifying them, you not only get rid of the bad stuff but you can help your equipment gain stronger. The more panels the Purify, the stronger the equipment gets. I won’t get into the tactics of using Purification to it’s fullest because I don’t want to confuse anymore than I already have. I’ll just end by saying that the game play in LPT is great in every way.
I love anime, I love anime sprites, I love the graphics of LPT. They are a lot more colorful and detailed than the ones in Disgaea, partially due to them being a bit larger. They have a lot more motion and use more expressions. They actually portray how they are feeling with gestures as opposed to showing large portraits of them. The monsters are just as great, despite not looking intimidating at all. Finally, the water color backgrounds are fantastic. They have color, detail, and really help bring the world to life. Some will say the graphics are too out dated. I say, “Ha! They are perfect!” Besides, I really can’t see the game having 3D graphics with it’s type of setting.
Music and Sound: 7/10
The music is…ok. I can’t recall getting any of the songs stuck in my head. The opening and ending theme are nice, but other than that the tracks are average. A lot of the tunes are used up frequently, so you’ll be hearing them a lot. The sounds are the same way. However, the voice acting is great. The American actors have a lot of experience and really play their parts well. You’ll probably recognize a few of the actors from other games, anime, or TV shows. If you don’t like American acting, then just switch to Japanese. Now everyone can be happy!
Replay Value: 2/10
I just beat the game. I anticipate playing again in about…two years? The lack of extra features to do after you beat the game really puts this score way down. There is no New Game Plus, there aren’t multiple endings to the story, and there are no secret characters. Luckily, there are plenty of things to keep you occupied before you finish the game entirely such as the Dark World and the Dark Shrine.
Buy or Rent: Buy
Obviously, one rental will not be enough to complete the game unless you’re a psycho who doesn’t sleep. Buy it is what I say. Right now it costs 50 dollars. I really think that it was worth it. I’d start looking for it now because it may disappear like Disgaea did at one point.
Like Disgaea, it’s going to require a lot of work to get everything. The key to success, however, is to level up like there is no tomorrow. The main game can also be challenging at times when given specific battle winning conditions. LPT is a game for the more experienced player.
If you liked Disgaea, chances are you’ll like this game. Heck, if you like strategy games in general then you’ll like this game. I really was upset with the lack of replay options because Disgaea had a ton of reasons to go back for more. Whatever. Nippon Ichi has done it again with another classic strategy RPG. And if things continue as they are, they will continue this trend when they release Phantom Brave in the fall!