Disgaea is one of the most well-known SRPG series in existence. I’m fairly certain that most SRPG fans – and even many other gamers – have at least heard of it… but one year before Disgaea’s release, there existed another game which isn’t quite as well known. This game had all the key stylings which would later make Disgaea famous, such as a trio of three memorable main characters, offbeat and idiosyncratic humor, the same turn system, combination attacks, geo panels, a similar-sounding shop theme, the ability to level your characters to absurd caps, and the same graphic style.

This game was, of course, 2002’s La Pucelle Tactics.

(And yes, I am aware that prior to La Pucelle, Nippon Ichi had developed Angel Blade: Neo Tokyo Guardians and Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure. But as far as I can tell, neither of those games can really serve as the Disgaea predecessor to the same extent as La Pucelle.)

“La Pucelle” is French for “the maid.” It’s used notably as a title for Joan of Arc, “La Pucelle d’Orleans.” “La Pucelle” can also mean virgin. Characters in La Pucelle certainly do not dress like virgins, however.

she’s 13 btw; don’t get any funny ideas

If you ask me, what stands out most about La Pucelle is its lovable characters. I personally enjoy the antics of Laharl, Flonne, and Etna a bit more, but there’s nonetheless an undeniable chemistry between the main trio of Prier, Alouette, and Culotte. I’ll never get tired of watching Sister Alouette put Prier in line. Bonk!

The power of Christ The Holy Goddess compels you!

Overall, I think the plot and atmosphere of Disgaea were more unique for their time. Disgaea’s story was subversion after subversion of what you’d expect. It was heartwarming, it was twisted, it was quirky, and it seamlessly blended in a myriad of oddball pop culture references into the fabric of the main story. There was nothing else quite like Disgaea, and there still hasn’t been since.

By contrast, I want to say that La Pucelle plays more by-the-books. Your main characters are members of “La Pucelle,” a demon hunting group working for the Church of the Holy Goddess, and your main quest revolves around preventing the Dark Prince from reviving and destroying the world. It sort of plays out how you’d expect, and although there are a few delightful twists here and there, the story in La Pucelle isn’t as revolutionary or unique as that of Disgaea.

I would say the strength of La Pucelle’s narrative rests not so much in its overarching plot, but more in the little interactions between the cast. Through these interactions, La Pucelle finds several salient things to say.

La Pucelle features some surprisingly profound moments, just like Disgaea. It’s a lot more than you’d expect, given the game’s cutesy presentation.

La Pucelle’s narrative is certainly very good; I just think Disgaea 1’s was even better. I must give La Pucelle credit for paving the way forward, though.

On the gameplay front as well, La Pucelle was carving out a template that Disgaea would closely follow. Concepts like “Geo Panels” (“Dark Portals” in La Pucelle), combination attacks, and the turn order make their debut in La Pucelle. La Pucelle was responsible for the innovation that I incorrectly ascribed to Disgaea initially.

Unfortunately, one of these “innovations” was the grind. To La Pucelle’s credit, most of the game is not grindy at all. I got through the vast majority of the story without having to do any optional fights whatsoever. But once I got to the final battle, things got completely out of control. Here’s a screenshot of my team for the final chapter:

There’s also a level 54 character above, but that character’s existence is sort of a spoiler.

Bear in mind: the final boss is level 64. And he has several underlings in their 40s. I have no idea why the final fight was such a drastic and unfair difficulty spike. There is absolutely no way to get through it without a lot of grind. This is how Disgaea 1’s final fight was designed as well, and it’s equally idiotic. At least in Disgaea 1 Complete, it’s very easy and fast to grind. Not so in La Pucelle Tactics.

Thus, I didn’t bother with the grind and I’m content to not finish the game. Which is kind of too bad; La Pucelle is mostly a very good game that paved the way forward for Disgaea. At this point, I’m wondering of all of Nippon Ichi’s SRPGs followed in this trend of being very good, but very grindy (for the final part). There are still many Disgaea games for me to cover, so this remains to be seen.

General Information
Year: 2002
Console: Playstation 2
Developers: Nippon Ichi

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Respectable Commenting Name
Respectable Commenting Name
4 months ago

The loss of QOL features from Disgaea left me in the same situation as you, a save before the final dungeon and never actually beating it. Looking forward to (hopefully) the Phantom Brave and (especially) Makai Kingdom reviews, although Soul Nomad will probably be the most enjoyable of the PS2 NIS SRPGS for you.

João Guilherme
João Guilherme
Reply to  Harvester of Eyes
4 months ago

NIS is currently doing a remaster of all of their old games Makai kingdom remaster will come soon I recommend you waiting to get the remaster.

3 months ago

Hey loved the review I agree that this Final boss is equally as dumb as Disgaea 1 even though the grinding was easier in Disgaea I hate grinding but I personally enjoy the Disgaea soundtrack more, also give Pokemon Conquest a review I think it’s a game that’ll surprise you with it’s quality

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