Come for the adventure, stay for the Prinnies… or a number of other good things!
The Disgaea series has been around for a while now and has been enjoying quite a bit of success up to this point – and it’s not hard to see why. Between its quirky, tongue-in-cheek script and ridiculously (fun) over-the-top battles, Disgaea has really managed to carve out a niche for itself within the tactical RPG genre. Because of their success, NIS made the decision to start rolling out their old games on Steam for today’s audience to play. Today we look at the latest NIS PC re-release – Disgaea 2 PC. Let’s get into it, dood!
Disgaea 2 PC is a port of the 2006 PlayStation 2 game Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories, and is being touted as the “definitive version” of the game. This version features content form the PSP remake Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days, and includes 3 new characters that you can recruit into your party. Other non-gameplay tweaks were added as well, including mouse support, additional settings, and a crisp new HD UI which, though it may not sound like much, ends up looking pretty good.
Most of you probably know what’s going on with Disgaea 2‘s plot considering how old it is, but let’s touch upon it briefly anyway. The story follows Adell, a young man living in the small Holt Village. Once quiet and peaceful, a curse placed upon the village by the ruthless Overlord Zenon began turning everyone into demons – everyone but Adell! Although Adell wasn’t sure exactly just why he avoided the curse, he saw it as a sign that he was destined to be the one to defeat Overlord Zenon and bring peace back to the land. After some preparation, Adell’s mother managed to set up a ritual that would summon Zenon to the village so Adell could (attempt to) defeat him but, surprise, it didn’t work! Instead of summoning the Overlord himself, Rozalin, Zenon’s daughter, was summoned. Bound by the contract created during the summoning, Rozalin is stuck with Adell until she fulfills her promise and takes him to her father – unless she can find a way to get him killed!
For those who may be using Disgaea 2 PC as their first foray into the world of Disgaea 2, I’ll be upfront with you – the beginning is a bit bare-bones. While the plot is there, it almost feels as though something important happened beforehand that we were supposed to be aware of. Having said that, I’ll also say that the story gets better. The Disgaea games have always been a bit whimsical in terms of plot and, although it’s there, it usually takes a bit of digging. The more you play, the more things will start to make sense… mostly!
Like all other main titles within the series Disgaea 2 PC is a tactical RPG, and hopefully you feel at home on the battlefield because that’s where you’ll be about 95% of the time. Like most tactical RPGs, Disgaea 2 doesn’t have a whole lot of walking around or exploring. In fact, outside of walking around the small the hub world (which is just Holt Village) and going to court (which we’ll get to later!), all you’ll be doing is fighting. That really shouldn’t be surprising, though, because that’s generally how games in this genre work.
Disgaea 2‘s combat, at its basics, is a lot like what you’d find in most tactical RPGs. While strength is important, victory can often come from effectively strategizing. A lot of the battles within Disgaea 2 can put you at a bit of a disadvantage, so it’s important to know the ins and outs of both the map, and your characters, in order to secure a win. Things start out simple but slowly become a bit more unorthodox as you progress. Unique mechanics soon make themselves known, such as the ability to pick up other characters and either throw them or use them to perform team attacks, and begin to add extra layers of strategy to battles. Plenty of demons and character classes get unlocked along the way too, meaning that you can have a diverse cast of party members to fit a variety of situations. Despite the fact that the game does, most definitely, get zanier as you progress, combat never becomes any less satisfying. Underneath all of the Tower Attacks and Geo Panels lies an incredibly solid tactical RPG experience, even in 2017. Oh, and speaking of Geo Panels…
Most maps within Disgaea 2 PC are overrun by glowing, multi-colored panels known as Geo Panels. By themselves these Geo Panels don’t do anything, but that all changes when you put a Geo Symbol on top of one. Geo Symbols are small, pyramid-like objects that contain within them one of a huge variety of field-altering abilities that range from increasing the EXP you get to immediately making you win or lose the battle – and everywhere in between. These colorful symbols of chaos are, without a doubt, some of the most complicated parts of Disgaea 2 PC, but they end up being a lot of fun if you can get the hang of them.
The Item World mechanic also makes its return in the second Disgaea title, and I can promise you with quite a bit of certainty that you’ll be spending more time in here than in the storyline levels. Every item, every single item, in this game contains within it a special world and, by delving into these Item Worlds and completing the floors, you’ll be able to enhance them. Unlike with storyline levels, Item World levels are randomly generated and, because this is only the second game within the series, they’re still pretty wonky. Although not as game-breakingly random as they were within the original Disgaea, the Disgaea 2 Item Worlds are still very weird and disjointed. Floor layouts can end up being wide, flat, and mostly-empty, or small, congested, and filled with Geo Panels – it’s all up to chance. Still, as I’m sitting here writing about how wonky and uncomfortable the Item World layout can get, I can’t help but think about how much fun the Item World is as a whole. Clearing floors, leveling up, and claiming tons of loot along way is just so satisfying. I can’t say that this will be the most enjoyable part of the game for everyone but you had better at least get used to it even if it isn’t, because you’ll inevitably need to go there quite a bit.
Let’s also take a look at the Dark Assembly, because who doesn’t love a little bit of government in their JRPGs? At first you’ll mostly be using the Dark Assembly to create characters, which is simple and straightforward, but soon enough you’ll want to start passing bills. A lot of the bills that you can attempt to have passed will end up benefiting you, such as adding more items to the store or increasing EXP, but eventually crawl into the “weird” territory, allowing you to pass bills that temporarily force battles to be filled with nothing but Prinnies or even “completing the game early”. Of course it isn’t just enough to propose the bill, it also needs to be passed. After your proposal you’ll be whisked away the actual Dark Assembly itself, where a panel of demon senators will vote on it. Starting out, your chances of having your bill passed will be pretty low, but you can always try to bribe them. And hey, if that doesn’t work you can always beat up everyone who didn’t vote in your favor (no, seriously).
It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you when I tell you that both the game’s audio and visual aspects are incredibly dated. Although certain UI elements were updated, Disgaea 2 PC isn’t a remake, it’s a port, and because of that it’s completely okay that the game looks and sounds the way it does. In fact, I think that the game’s aesthetics still hold up pretty well. Not that they can compete with today’s graphics and sound, because they can’t, but they’re still enjoyable. Though dated, time hasn’t rendered them “bad”. Sure the voice acting can get a little cheesy, and the sprites aren’t as crisp as I’d like them to be, but I still think that it looks and sounds pretty nice.
It may be 2017, but Disgaea 2 PC continues the tradition of showing us that PS2 games can be just as fun now as they’ve ever been. I enjoyed adventuring with Adell back in the day, and I’ve got to say that my adventure was just as fun this time around – maybe even more so considering the extra goodies and enhancements thrown in. While this one is a definite must for Disgaea franchise fans, I’d go out on a limb to recommend this to an even wider audience. Whether it’s for its solid gameplay, quirky writing, or impressive amount of content, this is a port that you probably won’t want to miss out on.
FINAL VERDICT: 4/5
Available on: PC (Reviewed) ; Publisher: NIS America, Inc. ; Developer: Nippon Ichi Software, Inc. ; Players: 1 ; Released: January 31, 2017 ; MSRP: $19.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a review copy of Disgaea 2 PC given to HeyPoorPlayer by the game’s publisher.