Picture this: You’re the prince of the Netherworld and after awaking from a two-year slumber that’s not really explained at any point in the game, you awake to find out that your father, King Krichevskoy, the Demon Overlord and ruler of the Netherworld, is dead. How does he die? By choking on a black pretzel, or a dark manju in the Japenese version.
This is how Disgaea starts, a tale of demons, angels, forgettable bosses, angry ninjas and really lazy subordinates. Oh, and the extremely complex gameplay that even now, 13 years later, I still have trouble with.
The original Disgaea game which came out in 2003, Hour of Darkness, has a PC port that came out on Feb. 24, 2016. The release was delayed by about 12 hours and literally a dozen nerds were angry that it wasn’t available at exactly 12 a.m. but I, as any devoted fan (aka I was in class and too busy to give a damn) waited for it to be available so I could dive right into the game I remember playing for hours and hours when I was nine years old.
Disgaea is a turn based tactical JRPG. The combat is somewhat similar to Final Fantasy Tactics and Fire Emblem, but it has its own quirks. You send your units in and let them query up their actions, then you end the turn, allowing them to do stuff in the order you’ve decided. This creates a very dynamic combo system, which can help you rack of a crazy amount of damage. Sadly I just spam moves that cost SP so I can rack up special items through healing my characters.
A big part of it is min-maxing your equipment in the Item world and making a strong 3 or 4 characters that will carry you through the game, whereas games like Fire Emblem, you’d want a dedicated team with different roles (tank, ranged, damage, healer, etc) so you can progress to through the game relatively easy. But having a small team of 3 or 4 extremely strong units will work in Disgaea, because of the healing mechanic in this game, where healing and reviving your teammates a lot grants you special items and grants you strong gear.
This is different to other SRPG games because you want to prioritize characters with high potential, or “growths,” so they can become late game beasts that will carry you through every stage. But in Disgaea, this means that you’re kind of expected, or at the very least encouraged to send in units to tank hits and die. Sometimes you have units dedicated to having defensive stats so he/she/them can take all the damage and die to keep your glass-cannon type characters alive for another turn or two. But you can get through the entire story mode without really caring about any of this crap. Just send Laharl in and he will take care of everything for you.
After putting around 8 hours into the game and spending about half of that grinding my new characters and min-maxing my equipment in the Item World, I can say that it does indeed hold up. But almost entirely mainly for nostalgia’s sake.
In 2016, the game does not hold up to any of its sequels. That’s just something that becomes obvious about 15 minutes into the game. The content is lacklustre, compared to its sequels. The gameplay remains very similar, but much more polished and made accessible in Disgaea 2-5. That said, the game still holds up to its legacy, in my opinion.
You play as Laharl, an arrogant, selfish, greedy, self-centred, jerk of a demon that has one of the most annoying laughs I have ever heard next to League of Legends’ Nunu Bot legendary skin.
Ugh just make it all stop and end me now. (Video credit ExceleratedCat)
The overall gameplay is lacking, especially since I’ve been treated to all the Disgaea sequels. The problem is mainly that the combat is clunky and playing on keyboard feels very.. awkward. I use an Xbox controller when I play and it works, but it isn’t perfect. My main issue is camera angle and an almost nauseating blur that occurs from time-to-time as your move the camera around.
The game’s main draw is the humorous dialogue, the interesting world, the character development and it’s interesting gameplay, which can only be described as “lift, throw, lift, throw, lift, throw.” But seriously, the gameplay is, in my opinion, very crisp and fair. There’s a lot of small things you can do and you can more-or-less play however style you want.
I’m kind of a weeb so I like putting monks and ninjas on my team and letting them punch their way through the storymode, which isn’t that long. You can beat the campaign in under 10 hours and have only unlocked maybe 5-10% of the total achievements, because the biggest bulk of the game comes from the stuff you do after you beat the campaign. That’s where you mostly start unlocking all the stronger classes and getting the best gear, which you then bring through the Item World and try to unlock its full potential.
In conclusion, I had a lot of fun with this remake. It has its ups-and-downs but I can definitely say I got my money’s worth out of playing this game. It was a lot of fun playing and it made me remember the times I didn’t have to pay bills, rent and food.It also reminded me of the times I didn’t spend so much goddamned money on alcohol. Rip.
Yayo is a content contributor here at Smack Talk. “Does she shoot missiles out of her boobs, dood?” Questions? Comments? Leave em below.
Or catch up with him on Twitter @YAYO_613