P robably one of the best know games ever to emerge on the Amiga, and probably one of the first major 16-bit 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 is 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 DOTC. 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 are not 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.
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 do only one of them to start with. The rest cannot be done until you are crowned. That is dynastic royalties for you.
When you are travelling about the map, you will attack and be attacked by the enemy. This is all done in 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 is these that give the game its distinctly European look.
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 ‘uuurghs’ and ‘arghs’ which really add to the fun.
The only thing that really mars Jon Dark is the disk access. Even when you call up the weather on the map, it has to load it in. That aside, it is still fun to play. A little hard to start with, granted, but fun nonetheless.
CU Amiga, December 1988, p.27
Rainbow Arts/GO!, £24.99 disk
r… Joan of Arc doesn't have all that much to do with Joan of Arc, actually. What this arcade-cum-strategy adventure really concentrates on is the two-fold ambition of Charles, heir the throne of France (that's you).
Firstly, before he can wield any sort of power, levy taxes, raise armies, bribe people and generally throw his weight around, Charlie has to get crowned – and he can only get crowned at Reims. Reims, however, is in the middle of a large chunk of occupied country held by the English and needs to be recaptured first – which is where Joan of Arc comes in.
A map of France, divided into provinces, shows French and British territories plus the position of both countries' armies; it also gives access to the main game menu. Before you become king, there's only one choice of action: plan a campaign. The only general mad enough to fight for you as yet is Joan, and it's your job to move her army directly on course for Reims.
OK, you've been crowned, you're king and official sovereign of France. Now what? Well, your objective is to liberate every occupied province by gaining control over each of its towns in turn. Kingship has plenty of advantages – you can collect taxes for a start. Very useful that, because when you've got your hands on a bit of dosh you can start (among other things) paying for larger armies, negotiating treaties, alliances and ransoms, financing a bit of underhand poisoning, indulging in a touch of espionage and dispensing royal pardons.
The success of diplomacy, espionage and assassination plots depends on your ability to choose the right characters for each task. Both statesmen and spies have different strategic, political and leadership qualities so it's useless to send a diplomatic dumbo on a peace mission. There's also no point in demanding a mega-huge ransom for a nobleman who doesn't sound as if he's all that important to the other side.
To survive you've got to have enough money to pay off your armies every month, keep the moral of the provinces high (otherwise they revolt) and be able to cope with the surprise kidnaps, attacks and sieges that make your life difficult every now and then.
Zzap! Issue 45, January 1989, p.p.106-107