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Disgaea DS review
Disgaea DS - The game for S-RPG lovers, and casual gamers alike.

The good:

Includes the extra content from the PSP version and then some.
Extra grid map display comes in handy.
Still the same addictive game originally released on the PS2, only you can take it with you.

The bad:

Graphics are a step down from the PSP version
Is missing even more cutscene voice overs than the PSP version (and has lower audio quality in general).
Doesn't play as smoothly as the PS2/PSP versions (somewhat jumpy).


Introduction and History lesson:

Disgaea: Hour of Darkness on the PS2 was a niche title developed by NIS (Nippon Ichi Software), and cult fans rejoiced upon finding the the characters and story amusing, and the gameplay engaging and addictive.

Fast forward several years and news of a PSP version reaches their ears, and they rejoice once again upon hearing of extra content and additional modes. People who had never gotten the PS2 version now had another way of snagging this game, and with extra features to boot.

At first, it seemed like the DS was going to be left out in the cold, but some time later, a DS version is officially announced, and not only that, but it would have exclusive content not even found on the PSP version.

Main Characters:

Laharl - Son of the previous overlord, who died. Laharl has been fast asleep for 2 years, and in the meantime, the Netherworld has gone crazy, and various demons seek the position of Overlord, pretty much forgetting that Laharl even exists. He disgusts love and kindness, as well as certain types of female bodies.....

Etna - The Loyal(?) second in command. She joins Laharl in his quest to show (by force) that he is the rightful overlord, though she doesn't seem to think too much of him.

Flonne - An angel trainee sent by the Seraph (basically God's second in command) to assassinate the previous overlord, only to find he's long since dead, and joins the other two to see if Demons are capable of love. Oh yeah, and she is a love freak, much to the disgust of Laharl.

They pick up followers (some in the main story, some which you create yourself) in a quest for Netherworld (and perhaps Galactic?) domination!

Overview of the DS version:

Disgaea DS is essentially the same addictive gameplay that the PS2 owners got years ago, but with some tweaks, additional content, and extra features.

The game is (mostly) set in the Netherworld, which is basically 'hell'. Demons are all over the place, and 'doing bad' is good, and 'doing good' is bad. Stealing is encouraged, and murder is expected whether there is even a reason for it or not. However, it is also a comical game, so it makes a big joke about the way of life. The main characters are also basically teenagers, so expect some angst.

The main story is largely unchanged from the original PS2 version (save for some lost voice overs and the use of different voice actors). Newcomers to Disgaea should find the characters pleasantly quirky, and the events that occur engaging and often humorous.

There is also an alternate storyline available where the Main Character Laharl dies, and is replaced by the second in command, Etna. This was not present in the PS2 version, and debuted in the PSP version.

The post game however, is where the game really gets going. Once you've gotten started on this, you'll have to spend hours upon hours getting your team strong enough to take on the bonus bosses.

The DS version includes some extra playable characters absent from the PSP version.

Gameplay Elements:

You can get allies both through the main story and some bonus areas, in the form of special characters. You can also create a large number of underlings with varying skills (ranging from magical attackers, healers, weapon users, and monsters). Over the course of the game, you'll unlock more and more classes and tiers (higher ranks of the same class of character) to work with. Certain ones have unique special abilities which could come in handy.

Massive level grinding (each character can reach level 9999, only you can transmigrate them to level 1, with extra bonuses to stats, and do it all over again, repeatedly, to create the ultimate character).

Leveling weapons and items. Your team literally enters the item, and proceeds through the floors (30 floors for regular items, 60 for rare, and 100 for legendary). The higher the item's level, the stronger it gets. Killing item bosses on every 10th floor boosts it even more. You also collect specialists that will boost items, or provide special effects like poison, or EXP gains.

A LOT of items are available in this game, the combined number of weapons for example, is 322, spread between 8 classes. This doesn't even account for the rarity types (Normal, Rare, and Legendary) that most of these items have. Stumbling upon a great weapon is always a pleasure, assuming you can earn it. You can keep track of what you've earned via the collector feature, a NPC in at the castle that tells you exactly what you already have (down to the rarity type), or previously did have, and just how far you have to go to get 100%. You also get a special bonus (An "Awesome hand", the best 'hand' type item for stealing from enemies) for every 10% you get in your collection.

Closing Points:

Disgaea DS is a deep and engaging game, which will end up sucking many hours of your time away, as you get deeper into it's weapon and character growth features. It is the sort of game a casual player could pick up, and just play through the main story and feel satisfied, whereas a hardcore player could also pick it up, but for the deep post-game elements.

Review Score:

I decided to give Disgaea DS a 4.6/5. My opinion is that Disgaea is just a plain awesome game to play, even if you're not generally the sort to spend hours upon hours building up characters and equipment.

The only problems really stopping this game from getting a 5/5 for me are:

The somewhat stuttered gameplay that is absent from the PS2 and PSP version, but present in this edition.

The fact that there was a graphics downgrade for this version, but I suppose that couldn't be helped considering the limitations of the DS's display and graphics hardware.

The fact that NIS skimped out on the memory (only utilizing a 64MB cart), which is the reason why so much of the voice over was cut out of this edition.

I took off 0.1 for each issue, since they aren't a huge loss.

Nitpicking aside, this is a great game and pretty much a must have for any DS owner that even remotely likes RPGs. If you consider yourself a hardcore gamer, you need to play at least one of the editions (PS2, PSP, or DS) of this game.

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