Disgaea DS is an old favorite that just happened to step out and get a complete and utter makeover. It has all of the features that made you originally fall in love with it, but adds enough story, character and gameplay options to make you want to give it one more chance. People who picked up the PSP version may be loathe to invest in another version, but anyone who didn’t play Disgaea: Hour of Darkness the first or second time should definitely get in line for the third iteration.
The basic, main storyline is the same in Disgaea DS as it was in all previous versions. King Krichevskoy, overlord and ruler of the underworld has died. Laharl, his son, wakes up from a two year nap and hears this news from Etna, one of Krichevskoy’s former vassals. He then decides that he is going to become the supreme overlord, take down all of the imposter overlords who have popped up and rule everything. He is later joined by the angel trainee Flonne, who was originally sent to assassinate him but decided not to, a lot of prinnies and some human members of the Earth Defense Force – Defender of Earth Gordon, his assistant Jennifer and their robot Thursday.
The DS version of Disgaea DS is actually a port of a port. It is a remake of the PSP version of Disgaea, known as Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness. So it contains all of the extras from the PSP. This means you can play multiplayer battles over local wireless with friends, go to the music shop to hear music from the game, visit the record shop to see what you’ve accomplished. Also, Etna mode was added, a what-if storyline for the normal mode where Etna becomes the main character.
New new DS additions act as icing to an already awesome game. In a way, they’ll probably be what does or doesn’t convince owners of the PSP version of Disgaea to purchase the game again. Two of the additions, geo cubes and demon gadgets, both affect battle. Geo cubes originally appeared in La Pucelle Tactics, and effect battleground areas. The geo cubes can make enemies stronger, weaker or invincible, and often make maps more challenging. Demon gadgets are items that will sometimes be on a battlefield and will improve units that grab them. The unlockable characters Pleinar, Adell and Rozalin (Disgaea 2) and Overlord Zetta (Makai Kingdom) also are exclusive to the DS version of the game. There’s also an unlockable Prinny Commentary feature, where Prinnies will comment on the top screen about what’s happening on the bottom.
It doesn’t really feel like a port though, especially if you never played the PSP remake of Disgaea. It looks good, it plays really well and it is one of those video games you just have to experience. Now, thanks to NIS and its widespread distribution of the game across three major systems, there’s no excuse for not playing it.
The stylus controls are also worth mentioning, as they’re spot on. I only occasionally faced movement problems on battlefields, but those were easily solved by rotating or zooming in/out a bit. Players should have no problem moving through Laharl’s underworld or directing minions in the middle of battle.
The only awkward times I found in Disgaea DS occurred when I tried to control the characters with the face buttons in battle. For some reason, it was almost difficult to make the characters move with the D-pad, as sometimes say, up would make them move left rather than forward. Also, I’d constantly have to double check the button combo to zoom in/out, since I couldn’t seem to remember that.
Sometimes the sprites would also look a bit odd, depending on how far I zoomed out, but that was a minor issue. After all, the ability to zoom in and out at any time during the game far outweighed any minor annoyances that may have happened from sprites that didn’t look absolutely perfect.
These minor nuisances mean nothing though, when you compare Disgaea DS to the other strategic RPGs released on the DS. Disgaea DS trumps them all, as it has the ability to rotate areas and battlefields, the ability to zoom in and out, voice acting, multiple endings, extra hidden characters and options and tons of character options. It has more potential than many other strategic RPGs for the system.
Plus, the port of Disgaea also helps bolster the DS’ strategic RPG library. If this trend continues, where quality games like Disgaea DS, Final Fantasy Tactics A2, Luminous Arc (and Luminous Arc 2) and Hoshigami Remix are released on the system, then the DS can easily catch up to and match the strategic RPG library of the PSP.
Disgaea DS reminds me how much I adored the original game. You wouldn’t think that a PS2 game would transition well to a DS version, but you’d be wrong. Disgaea DS works remarkably well, and is a quality title.
Images courtesy of NIS America.