Review by Calamity

Reviewed: 04/27/09

Now featuring a S-RPG with exploding penguins, angel assassins and a level cap of 9999!!!

Disgaea is a interesting Strategy-RPG. It was originally developed by developer Nippon Ichi for the Playstation 2 console. Later on they ported it to the PSP, and later on DS. Adding new additions to both ports. I had heard of the game, but never really got it. Forward to many years later with the release of the DS port. One of my friends bought the game and highly suggested it to me. So, I went out and bought it. I was not disappointed, Disgaea was a solid and refreshing S-RPG from Nippon Ichi.

Graphics:7/10:Ouch, let me tell you if there's one category that suffered compared to the PS2 version, it was the Graphics. The Graphics are 2D in Disgaea if you did not know. They aren't really amazing 2D graphics, and the DS port doesn't help to solve this problem either. On the positive side though, Disgaea has a lot of style. You'll find many creative enemies, allies etc. As you travel through the wonderful netherworld. A really awesome part of the Graphics are the attack animations. Most of the attacks are just completely crazy. There's one fist weapon skill called King of Beasts that involves your character kicking a enemy in the air. Then jumping and kicking them six more times as they fly into the air. Afterward, they proceed to punch the enemy to the right, then warp and punch them back to the left. For the finale of the skill, they grab the enemy and dive right into the ground with them. That's probably just the beginning of some of the skills in the game. There's others that are about ten times as awesome as that skill. Overall, I'd give the Graphics a 7/10. They were solid to begin with, but the DS port made them worse. However, the game has a lot of style and awesome attacks in it. Next, is the Gameplay. Disgaea's strongest aspect.

Gameplay:9/10:Disgaea is a extremely fun S-RPG. To begin with, it's extremely linear like most S-RPG's. You have a main hub world known as the Netherworld Castle. Here you can do different things such as shop, talk to people etc. From there, you can go through a warp to the battlefields. Which is where obviously the battles of the game take place. Your party will mostly consist of a few storyline characters and mostly generic soldiers. However, players can unlock more storyline characters optionally if they wish to do so. Let's start off going over how the basics of Disgaea are.

In the netherworld castle aside from shopping and talking to random people, you can also go to the Dark Assembly. Which is where you pass bills. The bills passed can have different effects and involve a rather simple task that can be irritating. To get bills passed, the senators in the Dark Assembly must agree with you. In order to get them in your favor, you must bribe them. Which isn't that hard, but the fact it isn't makes me wonder why they even included the feature in the first place. It's terribly easy due to the fact, they'll just about accept any item no matter how worthless. They will randomly like a item, and there is no factor that determines how much they like a certain item. So, it can simply be a useless HP restoring item you bought from the store for nothing, and they'll easily be extremely interested in it at times. Allowing you to easily turn their vote in your favor. Once you feel confident that the senators will support your bill, you can then begin the vote. If the bar on the right hand side of the screen that appears, exceeds halfway you won the vote. If not, you lost and do not gain the benefits of the bill. As said before, the bills vary in variety. Some are for 3X EXP from the first enemy you kill, make enemies stronger etc. Aside from the Dark Assembly, there's other basic mechanics such as customizing and character creation.

Unfortunately, customization is probably one of the weaker aspects of Disgaea. Character creation is fine, but customization could use more work. To begin with, while Disgaea does have certain factors that allow you to customize your characters, there's not many. You have equipment that has varying stats. For example, you may find a Broadsword that has 15 ATK, and you might find another that has 11 ATK and 2 DEF. There's also the fact of the job system which is just about obligatory for a S-RPG these days. In the game, you'll find a decent variety of jobs to pick from. Each with their own advantages/disadvantages. Also, as you a certain character with a Warrior job for example, gains more levels they will unlock higher tiers of the Warrior class. That have better stats then previous tiers. As cool as job systems are, a problem with the job system is that it's unbalanced. Fortunately, I don't care much about the difficulty of a game as long as it's fun, and Disgaea is. So, I won't really count the unbalanced aspect against the game.

Remember how Final Fantasy Tactics had the ability system for customization? You could take maybe Steal from a Thief and make a character who you changed back to a Knight class a Knight with the ability to steal items, by equipping the ability to them? Disgaea unfortunately pretty much lacks that. There is a way to do it, but it's extremely time consuming and not possible early in the game. Which is by reincarnation a process I'll explain later. Back to the difficulty though, it's a really unbalanced game.

Certain jobs excel far better then others. Same with the weapons etc. Battles can be pretty strategic depending on what kind of player you are. For players like me who love to overkill the difficulty of Strategy-RPG's you'll be at home in Disgaea. There are a few battles in the game that are perfect for gaining many levels in order to over level. Not to mention, with how unbalanced the jobs are, you'll easily breeze through the game if you want to. Now, for the other type of players who prefer challenge, you'll still find some enjoyable features. To begin with, the battle system in Disgaea has a few perks that make them more strategic.

The battle system in Disgaea is pretty much like every S-RPG. You move on a grid and the amount of spaces you can move each turn is represented by squares. Attacks effect a certain amount of spaces, and melee physical attacks require the unit to be adjacent to the enemy their attacking. What sets Disgaea away from the normal crowd, are the combo attacks and geo panels. Combo attacks require two units to be standing next to each other. Then one of them attacks, and it'll do a combo where even though the other unit didn't choose to attack, they'll throw in a weaker attack in addition to the unit whom you chose to attack with. Also, don't worry it doesn't use the other unit who was involved in the combo's turn. That isn't all to the combo system though. If a bunch of characters gang up on one enemy, it'll cause a massive combo and each attack that happens will do higher damage then it normally would depending on how many hits the combo has so far. Another unique aspect to the battle system itself, is how rounds are determined. Unlike say, Final Fantasy Tactics, all of your units can go in one round. Instead of a battle happening turn by turn. Also, you can have one unit attack, and then the rest do whatever they want. You do not have to put it in all commands and immediately, execute them after doing so. Instead, Disgaea allows players to choose their action, then either pick Execute to immediately perform the inputted commands, or End Turn to simply end the turn after the commands are fulfilled. This allows for a lot of strategic maneuvers and if the player is good enough, even maybe finish the battle in one turn using this mechanic to their advantage wisely. Aside from combo attacks, there's another basic mechanic players/enemies can use wisely too. Known as Lifting/Throwing. In battle, you can lift a enemy or player and throw them. The purpose for this feature, is to allow players to cover more ground quickly, by using smart positioning and etc. Last for the battle system, is the Geo Panels as briefly mentioned earlier.

Geo panels are colored squares that will often be found on the battlefield. When geo panel squares are present, that means a geo panel causing them is too. Geo panel squares can have a variety of different effects on whomever steps on one. For example, a blue Geo panel square could give a unit 20% HP recovery each turn, or make a unit killed on that geo panel square give 10% more EXP etc. In order to get rid of the geo panel squares, you have to destroy the actual geo panel causing them. Sometimes, if you destroy them, you'll set off a geo chain. When this occurs, every corresponding colored geo square explodes and damages any units that were positioned on them. The Geo panel feature makes some battles in the game really strategic and in a way makes even players who are extremely overleveled, have to strategize in order to win. Now, onto the more complex non battle mechanics of Disgaea.

Reincarnation is the process of starting a character back at level 1 with better stats. How good the stats are when reincarnated, depends on how high the level of that character was. This adds a lot of replay value along with the insane level maximum in Disgaea. Which is level 9999. For those who've never played a Nippon Ichi game, each of them usually have a insane level cap in the game. In Disgaea's case, it's level 9999. Yes, you heard that level correctly. The max for stats is just way beyond that. I know what you may be thinking, "Getting to level 9999 would take a lifetime though!" Well, not really. It'll take a decent amount of time, but once you get into the abundance of optional content and end of the main storyline, leveling is pretty easy. If that's not insane enough, items also GAIN LEVELS TOO.

By traveling through the Item World, players can level up items and make them a lot more powerful then they originally were. To enter the Item World, the player chooses a item, and depending on how high the value of it is, the more powerful the enemies will be. You'll come to find out the Item World is a randomly generated dungeon. Filled with about 100 floors if I'm correct. In order to proceed to the next floor, you must either defeat all enemies present on the current floor, or reach the warp. As you go through the floors, you'll sometimes run into a specialist. They'll be labeled as you enter the floor, with a check sign and be represented by a yellow health bar, instead of a standard green colored one. If you manage to subdue one by defeating it you'll gain its benefits and your item will become more powerful. Every ten floors you can exit the Item World, or use a Gency Exit. A rare item sometimes found inside the Item World. I've pretty much gone over everything there is to talk about for the Gameplay.

Overall, I'd give the Gameplay a 9/10. It's a lot of fun, and has a abundance of optional content. Plus, the main storyline takes at least 23 hours at the minimum to finish. The battle system has a lot of innovative strategic features too, and a lot of settings that can make it go faster or slower. However, the Gameplay lacks in customization and is unbalanced. For the next category, it's Storyline which is probably sadly the weakest aspect of Disgaea.

Storyline:7/10:Disgaea's Storyline is alright, but nothing amazing compared to all the hype it gets. Most of the main praise for the Storyline is that it's apparently really funny. Personally, I only laughed a few times over the course of the Storyline. While I may sound extremely negative so far, the Storyline has a few good qualities that outclass some of the worse aspects.

For once, the Storyline has a original cast. The main character is Laharl. Prince of the kingdom his netherworld is in, and a extremely anti-hero protagonist. Who rather then wanting peace, fights for evil. He has awoken from a extremely long sleep and his friend Etna has been anticipating the day he finally awakens. Years have passed, and things have changed a lot. From there, Laharl will embark on a quest that starts at something ordinary, but turns into a huge quest featuring angel assassins, penguins who can talk and much more.

Now, what really kept me going for the Storyline, was the way Laharl develops. Over the course of Disgaea, you watch as Laharl develops from a extremely evil demon, to a rather somewhat nice anti-hero. Aside from that though, the Storyline has a lot of originality, but the game failed at trying to be really funny. Not to mention, the dialogue could have been a little better too. All-together though, I'd give the Storyline a 7/10. It's not great, but it gets the job done and it's interesting to see the originality in it. Last, is the Music a decent aspect of Disgaea.

Music:8/10:Now, allow me to say right off the bat, that I did not have headphones when I played Disgaea DS. So, I can't judge this category completely fairly. However, from what I listened to, the music is pretty good, but not absolutely amazing. On the positive side though, I really loved the netherworld castle music. Sound effects fit the game fine, and unfortunately the voice acting is horrid in my opinion. This section receives a 8/10 overall. So, is Disgaea DS worth a purchase?

Overall:8/10:Disgaea DS is a solid S-RPG. It won't truly amaze you, but it's well worth the small 30$ price, and probably more then that. The game has great Gameplay that's a lot of fun. Not to mention, it offers you plenty of hours of entertainment, especially if you do all the optional content in the game. Graphics are okay, nothing too special, but they don't matter as to how good a game is. Storyline is decent, but I didn't find the main appeal of it to be so appealing to me. Rather, I really liked the main character's development. Last, was the Music which was pretty good. Too bad, the Voice Acting was rather poor, but far from the worst I've heard. So, overall Disgaea scores a 8/10. I'd highly suggest buying it, but it's not a absolute must buy.

Rating:   4.0 - Great

Product Release: Disgaea DS (US, 09/23/08)

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