For quite a while now I’ve been a huge fan of RPGs. I’ve been playing them from as young as about 10 years old, and when I was quite young I saw amazing videos of this new, Strategy RPG that I really wanted to try; Disgaea. Now, I had friends who had the game as well, and I’d watched several pieces of footage, and read several review. This was a game that I definitely wanted, no matter what anyone told me, but sadly, it was a game that was very scarce in Europe (And it also didn’t help that I gave my PS2 to my girlfriend). But finally, by luck, we found a huge bundle of Nippon Ichi games all piled up at the local gaming store, and finally swooped up my first ever taste of the insane series that is Disgaea.
Now, I decided that I would start off with just the first game (despite the fact Disgaea 2 was there, which no longer is). The game pulled me in instantly, and didn’t let go until several weeks later. I was blown away by the fact that a game with such simplistic looking graphics and fighting system could be just.. . so deep, so technical, and so funny. I had no idea what I was getting myself in to, but I knew it was going to be good all the way down, and it has been. The first game successfully ate up about 150 hours of my time by the time I finally put down the PS2 version, having only cleared one of 10 or so endings. The game was getting too much for me, so I took a break.
Who says that 2D games can't be good?
The next instance I saw of Disgaea was a few months later. That copy of Disgaea 2 I was planning on buying? It turns out my girlfriends brothers had bought the game, because they watched us play the first game, and we have a strict policy about not letting our siblings borrow things now after so much being broken. So, upon them getting the game, I began to cringe in pain watching their playing styles. Just so clumsy, and broken, and slow. I can never fully comprehend why you would want to continuously Ally kill just to get “easy level ups” and rewards from the hospital. I finally got to give Disgaea 2 a go, but not for long sadly. I personally got about 4 chapters in, then I had to return the game (Though I was playing Phantom Brave at the same time, which I need to beat still). I still wanted to play the game so much, and I still do. Unfortunately, I will be waiting for an English release of Disgaea 2 for PSP before I get to touch the game again.
Now lets fast forwards a year or so in to the future. I started off by buying my PSP again after selling it once before (Stupid idea. I know now to only sell things I don’t want, not to forfeit for things I want more at that moment in time). I noticed that Disgaea had come out on PSP, full of new updates to the game, including something which annoyed me in the first one: a list of how many ally kills you’ve had, as I was unfortunate enough to get one Ally Kill and not notice in the first one, netting me the “Normal” ending. I immediately started playing the game thoroughly, and I still do on occasion at the moment. Unfortunately, whilst I did enjoy all of these new features, I never got around to beating the game a second time with the Good ending, due to the fact I have a bad habit of buying new games when I am still playing other ones. Despite this, I still found the game just as insane and funny as I did the first time around, and now it included the nostalgia as well. So far, this version has eaten up about 50 hours of my time.
I’m not proud of this, but I have a flash cart for my DS, but only due to the huge amount of crap that the system produces makes me want to avoid buying games. I noticed later in the year that Disgaea had also had a DS release, and thought I would give this a try on my flash cart before I considered buying it (Yes, I know piracy is illegal, but I like the whole “download for 24 or so hours, if I like it, I buy it” way of gaming. I HATE buying things I don’t like). To be completely frank, I’m glad I downloaded the game to try it. This is an insult to my previous memories of playing Disgaea. Sure, I liked the new, further features that they had added to the game, the new characters, and even the Prinny Commentary. But the game just seemed like it had been… dulled down by the entire downgrade to make it work on the DS (Also, Plenair made the game FAR too cheap). Maybe this was because it was my third time playing the game and I was biased? Who knows, but I immediately got rid of this game, and waited for something better to roll around. This version took up a measly 8 hours of my time.
I just... don't like it.
I wasn’t disappointed. In the space of time it took me to do anything afterwards, Disgaea 3 arrived in Europe, and Prinny: Can I really be the hero? arrived in America. I ran out to get the Prinny game, hearing that it is a lot like Megaman, another series that I am an avid fan of, except with a “steep learning curve” as opposed to the constant high difficulty in Megaman. I think when I read that, I misinterpreted “steep”. This game is possibly just as hard as Megaman. The bosses are just too tough, and take too much time to memorise and predict their attack patterns. Unfortunately for the Disgaea series, I put this game down as quickly as I got bored of Disgaea DS, only putting about 8 hours in, but due to the difficulty, not due to how “tacky” it was like the DS game.
Make no mistake. It may look cute, but it's one hell of a hard game.
I took quite a long break from the Disgaea series afterwards (admittedly, whilst I was on a break, during bus rides at school I power leveled my characters on the PSP version). I finally got back in to the series about a month ago. A good condition PS3 appeared at my local game store (the very same one I bought Disgaea 1 for PS2 at!) and I swooped it up the very next day (sweet, sweet pay day). On my way back home, I purchased Disgaea 3, one of the few games I want for PS3 out currently. I was definitely not disappointed with this game at all, and I am still playing it every few days at the moment (between school work, work, playing Rock Band, and purchasing new things like the idiot I am). So far, I’ve shovelled about 30 hours in to this game, and I find it just as enjoyable as the original PS2 version was, with the same amount of comedy, and level designs, character designs, and it’s still completely 2D characters (despite being on the PS3, haw). I fell in love with the series again thanks to the latest instalment, and I’m still trying to finish this as hard as I can, and it’s also got me back in to the PSP version (getting ever so close to the end now! Plus I have some characters near level 100 already..).
This game never ceases to entertain me, even of the results screen after battles.
As for how the game handles and the actual content, for those that have never heard of it are considering buying it: It’s a fairly simple to understand and play Strategy Role Playing Game. All of the games are based around the Netherworld, and the development of a single character through a long series of events. The control method is very simple to pick up, with basic commands such as Attack, Special, Throw and Defend. The game works well at the start, but becomes increasingly more difficult towards the middle of the game, usually involving a bit of level grinding and power levelling (which personally, I enjoy, as long as the reward is great enough, and it is in the Disgaea series), which involves having to learn how to do further techniques that the game offers, but doesn’t offer specific tutorials for, leaving the user to discover them and mess with the new mechanics themselves (such as Diagonal throwing, tower throwing, Team Attacks, and Student/Master learning). The plot lines are incredibly interesting all the way through the game, with several different endings available in all games depending on how you play.
The game also has bundles of replay value, because not only can you beat the game to get all of the endings, there is also the challenge of reaching the highest level in the game; 9999 (That is not a typo), and also getting the perfect weapon and maximising its statistics to make it perfect. Personally, the highest level I’ve ever reached in any of the Disgaea games is about 260, and I’ve only ever beaten one of them due to the sheer length of the game on your first time through. You will find that on the second time, even if you start from level 1, the game will be much easier, mostly due to the fact that you can run through levels knowing roughly what level you need to be, and where it would be good to get to such a level. On top of all of these, the brilliant plot line is something that should duly be noted for this game, as it is possibly one of the funniest, deepest and most intricate plotlines I have ever seen in any game, ever. The plot references to something that most nerds will know about every few minutes (frequent references to Manga, Anime, other games, other series that Nippon Ichi makes, Movies, etc. etc.). The plot in all of the games is also deep, following a characters development as they are forced to go through a series of trials to get what they want, usually completely changing what the person thought about themselves, and is also beautifully VA’d by talented voice actors, not just your run of the mill Goldman from House of the Dead 2.
So, overall, the Disgaea series has eaten up well over 200 hours of my life (though I have seen some people with 1,500+ hours on just the PS2 version of the first game), and I have loved almost every minute. If you’re interested in buying the game, don’t worry about which one you buy! None of the games have related plotlines, though some do refer to previous games in extra scenes in the game (Such as getting Laharl, Etna and Flonne as playable characters in Disgaea 2 and 3). It is a very easy game to pick up, which gradually increases in difficulty, and will constantly challenge, and entertain you! Not one for those who are not fans of level grinding, but if you’re one who is willing to “put up” with it rather than enjoy it, get it! Oh, and if possible avoid the DS version. read