Review by Jagged Valentine

Reviewed: 09/09/03

Dood, this game rocks!!!

Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, honestly when I first heard about this game I thought of it as your standard typical strategy RPG, at best a 3rd rate clone of Final Fantasy Tactics or Tactics Ogre, a game that couldn’t even compare to the greatness of either of these two games. I bought it out of sheer boredom and at the advice of a friend. Thinking that it would be a game were I would grow tired of it in a day or two. Boy was I wrong, very very wrong. This game is definitely one of the better ones out there and I’m here to tell you why.

Graphics: 9 out of 10

The game is composed of 2D sprites and beautifully designed one at that. Granted that it doesn’t have cartoon animated or movie-like CGI cut scenes but still this game can hold its’ own graphically. In-game character animations are smooth and flawless nothing that looks like cut and paste animation. On a side note the game designers included a mock next episode preview at the end of each of the game’s episodes using the in-game animation, that at one point I honestly believed that I was watching an anime of some sort. The only negative I can find with the graphics would be the camera angle view of the battlefield. You can zoom in and out and rotate the battlefield and that’s about it. Unfortunately there are some battlefields that are composed of high walls, pockets, and ravines at times you can lose track of your characters or worse yet enemy locations. There were many times were I was ambushed because I didn’t notice (or see) the enemy. I wished that Atlus some how managed to include the tilt view function from Final Fantasy Tactics into this game.

Sound: 9 out of 10

I’m always cautious of a dub track on any game, being that the general majority of them always end up border lining somewhere between bad and god-awful. With Disgaea I honestly enjoyed the English voice track and often found myself playing with it over the Japanese voice track, but for those who can’t stand the English dub the game does allow for you to switch between English and Japanese. Musical score in Disgaea is somewhat lacking. Mostly repetitive and nothing that stands out, at best the track lay out goes something like this In-game theme, Battle theme, Boss Battle theme, and Final Battle theme, rinse and repeat. I was hoping for a few epic musical scores but I guess you can’t win ‘em all.

Gameplay: 10 out of 10

Replay: Offering up to 7 different endings is the only incentive to play this game over and over. Each time you beat the game you get a new game plus save file. Allowing you to keep the stats, weapons, equipment, and levels of your characters from the previous game. Thus having to avoid the process of leveling up over and over and focusing on the requirements needed to get each alternate ending.

Control: Simple, there’s nothing much that can be said about the game’s control scheme. It’s easy to pick up and without the hassle of complex button combos to deal with. It’s just a matter of moving the cursor over a character and selecting a command.

Gameplay: Like any RPG out there, a good plot is needed in order to keep it moving. Disgaea manages to deliver on this, the plot being a simple “young boy who is out to rightfully claim his father’s kingdom from evil usurpers” theme. With the exception that said kingdom happens to be the Netherworld, a kingdom full of demons, ghouls, and hellfire and brimstone. Also that said father was the Demon Overlord of said kingdom. After waking from a 2-year sleep, Laharl finds out that his father has died and that his father’s former vassals are all fighting for the throne of the Netherworld. With a good mix of light-hearted drama and humor you get something that’s cute but not to the point were you gagging on your own vomit from excessive amounts of it. The game’s battle scheme is your simple turn based with a few twist here and there. One being the execute command. With this you can execute commands early in the game during your turn instead waiting till the end of your turn. Doing this can range anywhere from giving you the necessary space for character special attacks or accessing enemy blocked off portions of the battle field. Also introduced are the geo stones and geo panels. Geo stones are colored pyramids that contain attributes ranging from invincibility to 3x Enemy boost. Depending on what colored geo panel the geo stones are on the effects are varied. Example, if a blue geo stone that grants 50% exp increase is on a green geo panel. Then all green geo panels carry this effect, but not all geo stones are beneficial some can work against you instead of for you. So it would be best to either avoid these geo panels or destroy the geo stones that affect the panels. Disgaea also includes a feature called “Item world”. Item world allows players to visit a sub-world that is held within each and every single item in the game. Composed of 100 levels, with the ability to leave the world at every 10th level. Each item has an item demon called a specialist that can enhance an item located somewhere on these levels. Defeating a Specialist subjugates them and in doing so allows you to move them into other leveled up items. Doing this enhances the item that they’re moved into, thus giving your current weapons and equipment an extra edge in battle. Another feature in the game is the Dark Assembly. In order to additional unlock stages, better equip in shops, receive more cash, and other benefits. Laharl and allies have to petition the Dark Assembly to pass a bill for their combat needs. Depending on your character’s influence you can bribe or use force on Dark Assembly to get what you want. Finally there are the job classes in Disgaea. At first you start out with the weaker and lower classes. The more powerful ones being unlocked as you level up the character for that specific job class. There are more features that are in this game that I can go on and on about, such as the bonus gauge, character transmigration, color chains, etc… etc, but I figure it would be best for you to discover them yourself.

Overall: 10 out of 10

This game is definitely worth buying. Because of the low or lack of hype Disgaea is receiving and the word of mouth buzz that’s being generated Disgaea has got sleeper hit written all over it and it’s something that any RPG fan should not pass up. With its’ excellent graphics, simplistic controls, and involving gameplay Disgaea: Hour of Darkness will not disappoint. For those who are a bit cautious I guess I can recommend that you rent it before you try it but honestly buy the game it’ll definitely be worth it.

Rating:   5.0 - Flawless

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