By Benny Carrillo / June 28th, 2018
Disgaea is the quintessential franchise for NIS America. Not only is the Prinny their mascot but stop by their booth at any convention and you’re sure to see the staff wearing Prinny-themed shirts that even say “Dood” on them. Disgaea is Nippon Ichi Software (NIS) and thus by extension NIS America. So, what better way to celebrate the 25th anniversary of NIS than by releasing a remaster of the very first game in the franchise: Disgaea 1 Complete.
Disgaea itself has been around for 15 years and originally came out on the PS2. In fact, it was Atlus, yes, the same Atlus that publishes Shin Megami Tensei, that localized that title in the US. And it’s from that success that NIS America was born. So, as a NIS America fan since Sakura Wars: So Long My Love I owe Disgaea a lot. And funnily enough, the only game in the franchise I’ve played has been Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice which I bought alongside Valkyria Chronicles when I purchased my PlayStation 3.
While I’ve heard many people say Disgaea 3 is the weakest of the games, I quite liked the writing and the humor. It was the combat and the concept of reincarnating your characters to make the stronger I didn’t grasp during my first playthrough. Which led to me hilariously struggling to beat the story mode, but I digress. For me, Disgaea 1 Complete a fantastic chance to see the origins of this franchise and learn about Laharl, Etna, and Flonne. Three characters I’ve certainly heard of but know little about. Thankfully, NIS America’s demo let me take Laharl and Etna for a spin.
Now if you’ve never played a Disgaea game, let me explain one of the most important concepts first: terrain. While terrain has always been important in Turn-based Strategy RPGs, here it’s even more so. Often in a stage, you’ll find certain tiles are under the effect of Geo Symbols. These symbols create Geo Panels on the map and can bestow certain effects to whoever is standing on them. These can range from boosting a character’s stats, to weakening them, to even warping characters around. Understanding Geo Panels is key to doing well in Disgaea. Both in utilizing them and eliminating them.
Let’s go back to the Geo Symbol for a moment to explain what I’m talking about. When you destroy a Geo Symbol, that in turn changes all Geo Panels to the color of the Symbol destroyed. In addition, this damages any unit standing on these panels. Plus, if there’s another Geo Symbol in the way, it too gets destroyed and starts the process again. Often, if you destroy certain Geo Symbols in a particular order, you can annihilate your enemies. It’s a neat system, but it does take some practice to figure out each puzzle. Thankfully, there is the good-old-fashioned method of pounding away at your foes as well.
Combat in Disgaea is simple. You move your units and set up your attacks and once you’ve executed them you’ll end your turn and pass control off to the enemy. They key word there though is execute. While your characters will move as soon as you tell them too, they will not attack until you select the execute command. This means you can set up several units to attack the same enemy in a combo. And in fact, this is what the game intends for you to do.
Combo attacks not only mean more damage, but they also can lead to additional attacks. This is how you’ll deal most of your damage. However, this does come at a tradeoff. Now all those units you clustered together are ripe for an area attack. So, it’s a careful balance between knowing when to utilize these attacks and when to focus on defense. This is really where Disgaea really shines. Well, that and the massive amount of time these games take to 100%, but that is for another day. Before we close out, one quick note on the graphics.
Disgaea has always been a fluidly animated series and it is gorgeous to watch. However, the PlayStation 2 was two system generations ago. So how does Disgaea 1 look on the PS4? Well, in short wonderful. While I never played the original, I have seen a few side-by-side comparisons of the two versions and there is a noticeable difference. That said, the style of Disgaea 1 is certainly there. So, if you’re worried that things are being changed around, don’t be. The Disgaea you knew and loved is still there to be enjoyed, or in my case, discovered.
Disgaea 1 Complete will be coming to the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch this October.
DisgaeaDisgaea 1Disgaea 1 CompleteE3E3 2018Nippon Ichi SoftwareNIS AmericaNISAOperation Rainfalloprainfall