Commodore User

Joan Of Arc

Author: Tony Dillon
Publisher: Chip
Machine: Amiga 500

Published in Commodore User #63

Joan Of Arc

Probably one of the best known games ever to emerge on the Amiga, and probably one of the first major 16-bit software innovations was Cinemaware's Defender Of The Crown, in which you played a Saxon Lord trying to take over Britain, county by county. Joan Of Arc is something of a clone, but don't let that put you off: it's pretty impressive.

Despite the game's title, you play the role of the Prince, and you must take power before you can do any serious ruling and drive les Anglais out of France.

The game is played much along the same lines as Defender Of The Crown. The main game screen contains a map of France, with all the various provinces coloured either blue (French rule), red (British rule) or a middling grey (revolting peasants). You have to try and win over all the provinces that aren't blue and unite France, and to do that, you have to call on the assistance of Joan, Maid of Orleans, shown on the map as a blue flag.

Joan Of Arc

At the side of the screen are two icons. One is the royal command icon, and the other is the seal of approval. The royal command icon calls up a menu of the seven different things you can do. These range from a full attack on an enemy castle, to more subtle measures, like diplomacy or even espionage. The seal is there to stamp any pronouncements you may make to spies, allies or enemies.

The funny thing about the seven royal duties is that you can only do one of them to start with. The rest can't be done until you are crowned. That's dynastic royalties for you.

When you are travelling about the map, you will attack and be attacked by the enemy. This is all done is some really attractive arcade sequences, featuring a digitised backdrop of either a castle or a piece of French countryside. Overlaid are some well-animated cartoon quality sprites, and it's these that give the game it's distinctly European look.

Joan Of Arc

One of the events represents storming an enemy castle, while another sequence involves protecting your own castle against enemy invasion by pouring hot oil and throwing rocks at invaders as they scale the castle walls.

My favourite part of the game has to be the battles. You are represented as a large mass of white pixels and the enemy in black. You have three divisions of soldiers (footsoldier, archer, mounted cavalry) and each can be moved independently. You can launch volleys of arrows at each other, or simply wade in and see who gets decimated first.

The sound is excellent with digitised crowd noises coupled with a few agonised 'uurghs' and 'arghs' which really add to the fun.

The only thing that really mars Joan Of Arc is the disk access. Even when you call up the weather on the map, it has to load it in.

That aside, it's still fun to play. A little hard to start with, granted, but fun nonetheless.

Tony Dillon

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