Sunday, 31 January 2010

REVIEW: Disgaea DS

Disgaea DS
[DS] [Nippon Ichi Software] [12+] [SRPG]
A while back a very strange game came out for the ps2 which was called disgaea: hour of darkness. Not many people had heard of the game or bought it and it was made by a very shady developer called Nippon ichi software who before making the first disgaea game were very unpopular.

Anyway, Disgaea is now a more popular series with titles such as afternoon of darkness, disgaea 2 and disgaea 3: absence of justice, oh and um... Prinny: can i really be the hero. The recent uk release of disgaea ds is a remake of the original game, hour of darkness. It's basically looks and feels the same, but there are a lot more features in the ds version. First of all, This is the first Disgaea game released in the UK to not include the original Japanese audio. In addition, much of the English audio has been removed. Almost any English audio that was accompanied by English text containing the same lines was removed, which means that most of the cut-scenes contain the soundtrack, sound effects, and the text for the characters lines, but not the audio for the lines themselves, apart from at the start of the game.

Another great new feature is the use of the top screen of the ds, where you have a map of the area (during battle) which really helps when you are looking for geo panels, item world portals and enemies, more on that later. This map can be resized in the many options of the game, and you can also change the style of the map as well. Finally, there is a new game+ mode which can be accessed if you beat the game on any ending. Yes that's right, there are multiple endings to the game giving it tons of replay value and it never seems repetitive for decades. On ng+, you can add a new playable character to your party (I'm not letting off any spoilers here so you don't need to worry about that) and can have an optional commentary from the awesome Prinny. If you have it i recommend you have this feature on as it can be hilarious most of the time and the fact that you can see what prinny says behind your back is awesome.

Next I'm going to talk more about the story of disgaea ds. The game is set in the universe known as the neverworld, where greedy, evil demons are enslaved by the demon overlord, ruler of the Netherworld. One day the overlord's son Laharl decides to take a short nap, and two years later he is woken up by a vassal named Etna who explains to him his father choked on a black pretzel and died. Laharl is shocked by this and realizes he is now the overlord himself. Or is he? nope, it turns out nobody is the overlord, and vicious demons are trying to steal the throne, so Etna and Laharl journey on to steal the ultimate position. Meanwhile, in the angel world of Celestia (the complete opposite of the netherworld) the angel seraph commands an angel in training named Flonne to assassinate the demon overlord. After some "awesome" ninja skills Flonne finds laharl and asks him where the overlord is and Laharl explains to her he is dead. Flonne runs away back to celestia while Laharl and Etna chase after her. They finally catch up to the pesky angel and defeat her in battle. Flonne sees this as a sign to join Laharl on his quest to become the ultimate ruler of the netherworld, so she accompanies him. And that's only the first two chapters. The game offers a long and deep story line which will keep you playing for months, and since there is so much other stuff to do in the game, it would keep you stuck to your two screens for even longer.

As I mentioned earlier, the game is a strategy RPG. This genre of game sees you moving your party around a battlefield killing off enemies with guns, bows, swords, staffs, monster weapons and some uber awesome special moves, which use up sp points. To advance the story you must win a battle by defeating every enemy on screen, then you can advance to the next stage, you better heal and save in between battles though, as it can get very hectic and chances are you'll die. If you need a break from the story, you can chill in the main hub area, where you can buy and sell stuff, create new party members in the assembly hall and try to get upgrades to the game and your character in a loud court room.

Another thing you can do in between battles is enter the item world.The item world is pretty self-explanatory, a world inside an item. When you go inside an item you have to fight off "specialists", who appear as yellow arrows on your map. After you subdue a specialist, it slightly upgrades the item and makes it rarer when you equip it on a character who has that speciality. Man, that was complicated. Every ten floors of the item world you can leave the item and go back to the hub world, then go back to where you left off inside the item, which is useful, you can also leave at any time using an item called a Gency's exit (or mr. gency exit in the american copy of the game), which are pretty rare near the start of the game. The higher the rarity stat of the item you enter, the higher level enemies there are, so you shouldn't go into a high level item unless you want your arse kicked.

The shops in the hub world sell weapons, armor, music and items. obviously the weapons and armor you buy can be equipped onto any character (or if they are a monster they will need a monster-type weapon) and items can be used at any time during your turn while battling. Music can be listened to in the music shop and can be set as the default battle music in the item world, but unfortunately you cannot play it at any time. So that's basically everything you can do in the hub world. Overall, i think disgaea ds is one of the most entertaining and funny games on the the handheld and i even recommend it to the kind of people who don't even like strategy games (such as me).

The verdict: 92%
+great storyline with tons of twists
+tons of playable characters
+great soundtrack
+Laharl's hair is awesome
+huge replay value and tons to do
-can get very annoying at times
-hard to level up newly created characters

Note: This review is pretty old so you may find some bad grammar here and there. I was thoroughly impressed with myself after writing this since it only took me a day!

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