So what's this all aboot? This isn't Sonic!
Well no but then if you only lived off Sonic the Hedgehog games you'd be missing some true gems out there. So here is a new little section I'm setting up in order to help you guys sift through the rubbish that gets released and find something more a kin to your personal taste.
If you just want the recommendations and places to buy from, hit the jump button and scroll down to the bottom.
This week we are taking a look at something I was introduced to by lovely young lass called Speedla
whom has guested here in this comic
Nippon Ichi Software's Disgaea series has been one of their mainstream titles giving them a mascot in the form of the Prinny Squad
(dood they are demon penguins that explode if you throw them!) and now going strong with 3 incarnations of the game. So let's go through them in the order I played them.
Disgaea 3 was the first one I tried and is currently available only to those with PS3s. However if you do
own one and enjoy your JRPGs (specially the tactical ones like Final fantasy Tactics) then I would say this is a must buy game on the system, more so now that you can find it for around the £20 mark new in places like Gamestation. While currently the last in the series they also made some rather big changes to the gameplay, some of which got added to remakes of the older ones (come back to that later) but the main premise is the same.
You can choose up to 10 unique or custom crafted characters to take into battle to fight various other demons and monsters, you set their commands (aka what attack they will use and the order in which they do it) then rather than them instantly doing it, they wait until you tell them to. This gives huge possibilities in strategy and tactics to create combo attacks to gang up on particular allies or allowing you to not waste a move my missing (say the 2nd character kills them, it allows you to change the move for the subsequent characters). While this is something I've so far found to be unique to the Disgaea series, there is so much more than that to these games. First the main storyline (which should last you at least 30 odd hours first time round) is about a quarter of the game.
One awesome feature of all the Disgaea games is something called the "item worlds". Basically every single item in the game holds new randomly generated levels, (with monster difficulty depending on how powerful it is) and by completing these levels not only do you make your items and equipment more effective, powerful or simply bigger, it also contains secrets unlocking more levels and bosses, and you can customise equipment by choosing the residents (basically friendly monsters who live in the items and power it up depending on their job). This is available really early on in the game along with the class world (same thing but levelling up your characters, yes random dungeons in the characters you play) making level grinding much more bare-able by giving you variety of ways to do it. Add on a postgame that is at least as long if not longer than the main story line, and it has already given me over 100 hours of gameplay, and I've not even started the second cycle of the game to unlock stuff I missed (don't worry, when you restart a cycle and start from the beginning of the game, you keep all your character levels, so you'll be fighting those tutorial guys with level 600 guys)
Just bare in mind that it's going to take you a while to get to the max level as that is 9,999!
So I enjoyed the game so much and found out that the original PS2 game had been re-released on PSP and DS that I went out to get that fairly quickly. Eventually I found a copy of the DS version. Now admittedly I've found this to be the weakest of the series, but also the most challenging. Without the Class world and bigger restrictions on weapons and monster creation. However it retains the charm and wit of the series and introduces you to staple cameo characters for the rest of the series.
One of the things that I personally have fallen in love with the series despite not having much love for animé graphics, is the characterisation. The 3 main characters of this game show exactly how to create characters with a real depth of thought for not only their environment but the other characters, and while the plot has nothing to do with the gameplay it does help accent it and makes you want to like the characters (a rare thing with me anyway).
With the loss of some of the new features from the 3rd game (the classroom being the one thing I miss the most, as it allowed much more connections between characters with the clubs, also made power levelling weak characters much easier) the game really is for the die hard RPG fans only, but definitly worth looking out for because you can find it for a real steal, and it will last you a very long time.
Then we come to the one that was re-released only last Friday on the PSP Disgaea 2.
Now I will say on this one get the PSP version over the PS2 one as NIS put a fair amount of the improvements from Disgaea 3 into this one including better systems for throwing your characters around and (I think sometime after you finish the game) the system for turning your monsters into super weapons for your other human characters.
On the other hand it also takes some of the better points from the first game, learning magic from other characters is much easier in the first 2 games than the last one. Sadly it still misses the classroom layout of your characters but maybe that's for the next title.
Now obviously I haven't had much time with this game (3 days to be exact) but I'm already enjoying just as much as the other two games and I do believe I will for a while to come. Sadly they have lost one aspect which the remakes for Disgaea 1 had which was battling your mates (something which I definitly want to see come back in the next instalment).
Basically if you are a JRPG fan, I highly recommend this series. Depending on which console you have I'd get the one that fits that console so here are my recommendations.
A long article but hope you guys enjoy this game as much as I did.
1st: Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days (PSP)
2nd: Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice (PS3)
3rd: Disgaea DS (DS)
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