Review by rond556

Reviewed: 09/05/03

The Prince of Darkness returns!!!!!.......no, not Satan

Disgaea Hour of Darkness is the first full blown Strategy RPG for pretty much any of the consoles. This game goes into extreme depth with its gameplay, even more so than the legendary Final Fantasy Tactics. The story is very goofy and funny, and the characters are amongst the most enjoyable I have ever come across in any RPG. Disgaea is an awesome sleeper hit that shows Atlus' true potential to make RPG's in these Final Fantasy ruled days. Along those lines, Disgaea will most likely go down in history as a critically acclaimed yet commercial failure of a game much like its fellow Atlus RPG's Tactics Ogre and Ogre Battle.

The story in this RPG is in now way epic like most RPG's you find these days. This is THE zaniest quest since Monkey Island. You play as the young demon Prince Laharl who wakes up after a 2 year nap (which he only meant to be 10 days.....=/) to find that his father is dead and that the underworld is in total anarchy. Demon's have been fighting for the kingship. So with his ascension to the thrown in peril Prince Laharl, his vassal Etna, (who's loyalties are VERY questionable) and an army of exploding demon penquins set out to reclaim his rights by force. Although it won't be easy because Laharl has NO idea what he is doing since he is a young over confident.......squirt (think Musashi from Brave fencer Musashi)

Graphically, this game is not stunning compared to modern game, but they are still very much enjoyable for the genre. They are big 2D sprites and sprites NEVER get old where as some 3D character models will eventually become outdated, so no complaints about the sprites. Cutscene has well drawn anime pictures, but they lacked animation which would have been cooler.

The sound in the game is well done. The soundtrack is goofy so it fits the game, and the voiceovers are VERY funny. Prince Laharls voice fits him perfectly and it is hilarious when he laughs. Sound effects are cool as well, but the voice acting is a highlight of this game.

The gameplay is very cool. You start off in your own castle which has EVERYTHING you need such as weapon and item store, hospital, and barracks. From there, you and your ''army'' can leave the castle through a portal which will take you to any battle field that you want. You can even replay missions to level up new characters.

The barracks is used for creating countless numbers of new recruits into your rag tag group of guys who call themselves and army. You can create characters using mana points which you get from killing enemies. The more mana points you put into a character, the more you can increase his basic stats. And characters become available once you kill them in battle.

Moving onto the battle system, people who have played SRPG's should be familiar with it, but there are a few changes. You go in turns with the enemy, but within your turn you can split up the grouping of attacks however you want. You can position your characters and have them attack in separate sub-turns. It's easy to understand once you play it. You have your average attacks, spells....the usual. This time around you can pick up characters or enemies and throw them to cause damage or give your characters a bit extra range of movement or even to upgrade the level of a monster so you get more experience. Magic and special attacks can be upgraded through constant repetition.

Another cool addition to this game is the use of the senate. If you want to buy better weapons, you'll have to go to the senate for permission. If you want more military funds, go to the senate. If you want to create the ultimate characters, so to the senate. The senate will vote if they want to put your idea into effect. You sometimes need to bribe them to get them on your side, and there are a lot of senators in the game so most might favor you and others won't unless you give them enough stuff.

There are also a few types of battles. There are just regular battle where you can level up your characters. There are story battles which take you further into the story. There are item battles which allow you to upgrade your weapons. And a really funny idea for a battle is to fight the ENTIRE senate if they don't approve of your plans.

Needless to say, the replay in this game is VERY high since you can create character and weapons and all that fun stuff, and there are even multiple endings. This game is most likely even more deep than I have seen so far.

Disgaea is an awesome game that should be in any RPG fans collection. Buy this game quickly if you want it because my guess is that it will be rare in a few months much like all of Atlus' other SPRG's.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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