What if, and bear with me here because I know this is going to sound crazy, but what if Napoleon, famous French leader, was not actually the big deal in the Bonaparte family. What if his younger sister Pauline was the real military genius and hero of the French revolution. And what if Pauline was the star of an alternate history tactics game about the French revolution, that just happened to be very anime, and also developed in China? And named Banner of the Maid? Would you, like me, find this both deeply amusing and pretty freakin' rad?
I stumbled upon Banner of the Maid on Steam, and was pretty much "in" as soon as I saw that it was a Chinese game about the French Revolution, a promisingly weird combination if ever there was one. Then I watched the trailer, and realized that this game looks a hell of a lot like Final Fantasy Tactics crossed with Fire Emblem. Then I started reading about the characters on the official website and realized that of course they're alternate history anime versions of real French figures.
Napoleon's general Louis Desaix, for example, got a bit of an anime glow-up.
It's hard to tell from its Steam trailer how deep of a tactics game Banner of the Maid is, but it at least looks competent. The battlefield looks very Final Fantasy Tactics, with an isometric perspective and simple grid movement. The stages are more Fire Emblem-scale, however, and when units fight they go into a Fire Emblem (or more accurately, Advance Wars)-esque battle cutscene. A single unit on the field actually stands in for a regiment.
There are some RPG growth systems here, as noted on the Steam page. Also, I love that it sells itself on some degree of historical accuracy:
"Command the iconic troops of the 18th and 19th century such as Line Infantry, Skirmisher, Calvary, Artillery and much more through the Turn-Based Strategy combats to experience the reimagined European battlegrounds. Train your commanders to improve their abilities and learn the appropriate tactical skills, defeat powerful enemies!"
Everything in the story description also reads about how you'd expect for an alternate history tactics game:
"In the heat of the French Revolution, the Royalists, Club des Feuillants, Club des Jacobins and Malmaisons, various factions contend with each other on the grand stage of Paris. Starting from the eye of storm, the Malmaison Salon, Pauline Bonaparte have to approach the factions, complete their quests and challenges in order to establish connections with political figures and win over their support, gather funding to improve her weaponry and equipments, secure army supplies..."
Until—are you ready? Anime twist!!
"...while she also tries to discover and unveiled the secrets of the Maids that are buried deep inside the City."
The secrets of the Maids? What the hell does that mean? I don't remember anything about the secrets of the Maids from my high school history classes, but I sure as hell want to know now.
Tragically, Banner of the Maid, which is launching today, is only available in Simplified Chinese. Perhaps it will be the next breakout Chinese indie game on Steam. Maybe it'll even get localized into English or French. Surely French strategy game fans will want to learn about the secrets of the Maids, too. Ubisoft, lend them a hand!