Hands-on with the remaster
If there is a common theme throughout game coverage at E3, it’s that most titles simply don’t give people enough time to fully feel out the experience. Some do, Capcom had it perfect with its Mega Man 11 and Resident Evil 2 demos, as did Sony with Spider-Man. NIS America is another story.
The developer and publisher of some of the most cherished niche franchises in gaming wasn’t really able to put on a good E3 presentation. At my hour-long appointment, I was given free reign to play any game it was showing — except SNK Heroines on Switch because the build they had present was the final build of the game. Unfortunately, none of what I could see were demos. Rather, they were all just the full game.
Many of my demo sessions were like that for the week, but with NIS and its gallery of slow, text-heavy role-playing games, it’s really not the best way to show off how good they can be. With Metal Max Xeno, I was just thrown into the beginning of the game. It was the same with Disgaea 1 Complete, but at least this one does a better job of showing off its potential right away.
My first experience with the Disgaea series was when I played 5 Complete at one of those Nintendo Switch showcases the company orchestrated, back before the device launched last year. Even then I knew this was a terrible type of game to try and demo using a small snippet from the full-length game. So for this E3 showcase, I got a look at a later section of the game, but mostly stuck with the tutorial after skipping over a crapload of dialog.
Much like 5 Complete, 1 Complete is a bright and sunny game with controls that are a bit too touchy for my liking. While the script still needs editing – caught a few typos during my brief session – the voice acting is wonderful and certainly fits the mold of other NIS America published titles. Even with the games the company publishes that I don’t care for, I almost always fall hard for the voice acting talent.
In action, the game is as smooth of an experience as I’d expect from a remaster of 15-year-old PlayStation 2 game. Disgaea 1 Complete includes features from re-releases of Hour of Darkness, including Etna Mode from Afternoon of Darkness. Taking down my first few mobs of enemies is a snap and the few gameplay concepts that are introduced this early in the game are done so efficiently.
It is just the tutorial, but it’s at least enough to showcase how the game handles, letting me know NIS didn’t totally it botch up. My only point of contention is, while I like the modern, bright art design of the characters, videos I’ve seen on YouTube of the original game have me preferring the look of that version more.
It feels weird previewing a game like Disgaea for E3. Not because it’s bad or because the demo wasn’t everything it could be, but because I don’t believe this series really needs to compete with the heavy hitters of the event. The NIS crowd is largely niche — remember Disgaea 5 Complete moved more than 200,000 copies in the west — and I always get the impression they’re more in tune with the company than the members of the general gaming press. If you like Disgaea 5 Complete, you’ll probably like Disgaea 1 Complete. That’s about as succinct as I can be when trying to explain if this game is right for you.