In Banner of the Maid you play as Pauline Bonaparte, Napoleon Bonaparte’s little sister, who was recently given command of her own unit after graduating from the officer’s academy. Although she’s a little reserved about accepting the position because of a past failure that lead to several of her soldiers getting killed, Pauline takes the position due to her position as a “Maiden”, a woman who commands power to rally troops unlike a normal officer. From there, she slowly develops her own unit and partake in missions; all while trying to gain favor from both the French Royal Family as well as the people of France during this alternative telling of the French Revolution.
Gameplay is fairly simple if you’re used to strategy games. You control units and complete missions on each map, which usually entails routing entire enemy forces. Upon completing missions you get rewards based on however many units you defeated, how fast you finished the mission, and how many of your own units needed to retreat from battle. Unlike other games that use weapon triangles, this game uses a circle of strengths and weaknesses. Line infantry are strong against Dragoon, which beats Husaren, which loses to Cavalry units that are strong against Line Infantry. There are other unit types such as Artillery, who fight long range with cannons, and Military Bands, essentially marching drummers that heal your other units or increase morale. Morale in Banner of the Maid is more or less a meter that grows as you take and dish out damage. Once it reaches it’s maximum, you can unleash one big critical attack that will also net you bonus experience points after battle.
When two units battle, players choose the specific weapon that they wish to fight with, and then the units clash dealing damage to each other. Once every unit in the player’s side moves, then it’s the computer’s turn. There are some other interesting actions that some units can perform, such as the Husaren doing extra damage if they use a charging against another unit more than a certain amount of spaces away. There’s also a bonus that you get when you attack with multiple Line Infantry standing adjacent to each other.
The art of the game boils down to clean looking sprites and undoubtedly some fantastic looking character portraits. The maps look great too, many of which have alternate versions for different weather effects too that also change battle conditions; i.e. during rain, ammunition costs are doubled and evasion rate is cut in half. However, much of the game, while it is fun, can feel a little tedious at times. There are side missions where you try to build your reputation amongst the several factions in the game and many of them involve just playing the same levels over and over again.
While the game does have voice acting, for the most part it’s only character battle quotes that you hear over and over again. There’s no variety, so you only hear the same exact quote every single time you attack, unless you decide to turn off battle animations to save time playing the game. It’s the same for the animation. Even when you attack with the morale boost, the exact same animation plays with a small cut in of the character appearing. It’s common for people to turn off battle animations for games like this to get through grinding faster. While here it’s nice to see the first few times, turning off battle animations felt like it was no major loss.
So in the end, what can be said about Banner of the Maid? Well it still has some interesting battle mechanics and gimmicks that would warrant any fan of strategy RPGs to at least take a look at. However it’s likely not going to be for everyone. If you can find enjoyment in grinding levels and units to upgrade into more powerful units while ignoring things like the thin story and repeated animation, then Banner of the Maid may be for you. At the very least, it is worth a look for anyone who’s a fan of strategy RPGs.
Banner of the Maid Review
While the game looks very pretty, Banner of the Maid unfortunately feels pretty generic. Unlike other games in this genre, the grinding isn't as fun as it should be considering its interesting game play mechanics.