Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice has video game jokes because the plot is all about video games. Mao plans to dethrone his father and become king of the Netherworld after he (it?) crushes his SlayStation Portable. The broken system doesn’t irk Mao, but losing his saved data enrages him. NIS America has an inside joke with fans when they mention how Mao stomped the Tyrant Baal 19 times and was level 9999. Mao’s quest begins when he meets Almaz, a human who dreams of being a hero to protect a princess. Mao steals Almaz’s hero title and seals it away in his heart. You actually get to visit Mao’s heart multiple times. Unfortunately for Mao the title doesn’t bestow superhuman powers since Almaz is a hero in training. Mao’s first goal is to get rid of the title, but he needs to open up his heart to remove it. Meanwhile Almaz has Mao’s demon title and is “slowly” changing into a demon. The game reminds you how many hours Almaz has left until he permanently transforms into one of Mao’s servants. Like the other games in the Disgaea series Disgaea 3’s plot is notably silly and refreshingly light.
The similarities don’t end with the humor. Disgaea 3 feels a lot like Disgaea 1 and 2 with more puzzles. Nippon Ichi tweaked the Geo Panel system to make Geo Blocks. These essentially replace pyramids since a block placed on colored squares causes effects like Attack +1 and trigger Geo Panel color chain reaction. The key difference is you can throw a red Geo Block into a wall of red Geo Blocks to destroy all of them. Any enemies or allies standing on the blocks take damage from the drop.
Characters are slightly more customizable in Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice. You don’t have the flexibility of switching between jobs, that’s more of a Final Fantasy Tactics thing, but you get to choose abilities this time. Each final strike adds mana to the character’s pool. When you speak to the Evility Scholar you can spend mana on unlocking spells like Ice (side note: Mao can cast Ice), weapon skills like Phantom Fist, and Evilties. Evilties are new to the Disgaea formula and these are passive abilities such as a 10% HP boost or special defense against Star magic spells. Each character you create starts with an ability tailored to their class. Female mages have Magic Moderation, a skill that reduces SP by 50%. Almaz’s innate Evility is Hero’s Oath a skill that reduces damage taken in by 50% if an enemy’s level is higher. Prinnies have Explosive Nature as their Evility which makes them explode when thrown. Evilities and special skills are class specific. You can’t make a Wind Spinner, a female monk class, learn to cast Wind. You can pick which abilities she learns so you can save up all your mana to purchase one top tier attack instead of moving up the weapon skill chain. There are new Tower Attacks you can learn like Tower Swing which lets the person at the bottom swing the tower to hit an enemy.
Mana can also be spent inside the classroom. You need to speak to Plenair, your classroom rep, to go to class where you can use mana to create a new character or ask the Student Board to approve more expensive items. Homeroom is essentially Disgaea 3’s Dark Court, but there are a few more things you can do in the classroom. Everyone in your party takes a seat at a desk and nearby neighbors have a higher chance of linking up for a combo. You want to cluster your fighters together, but the club system adds another layer of complexity. When you place classmates into clubs like the Corner Group the four members of the group in the club get bonus experience if they’re sitting in a corner seat. Clubs also allow demons and humans to take advantage of monsters who can transform into weapons. Prinnies become guns and slimes change into swords after using magichange. When monsters turn into weapons they temporarily boost a character’s stats and give players access to new abilities. Giving a female gunner a Prinny Gun allows her to blast enemies with a powerful laser. However, you can only use magichange weapons with people in the same club. You’re going to want to add more clubs as your party grows. This requires spending mana to appeal to school board and naturally spending more time in combat.
I’m far from done with Disgaea 3, but I already see myself spending many, many hours with it. The 10 Gents are shown in the game, but it’s unclear if NIS America will patch the game like Japan to make them unlockable or if you can get them from the start.
Images courtesy of NIS America.