Review by Psych0tic
Disgaea, the best medicine.
There is an old proverb saying ''laughter is the best medicine,'' and Disgaea clealy understands and exploits this commonly known fact. But, to explain:
Story (9/10): In my opinion, and many others I know, the story makes up one of the largest portions of an RPG game. To preface this category, the basic summary of the game includes you, Laharl, a demon, waking up from a 2 year sleep. However, when you awake, you find your loyal vassal Etna there, and she informs you that as you slept, your father (the past Overlord), has passed away, and the Netherworld has become more chaotic than ever, with several fighting for the position of the new Overlord of the Netherworld. Your job, of course, is to get the throne back, which is rightfully yours (following the bloodline), and thus achieve the power you were promised being the past Overlord's son. Originally, I too thought that this simple story could not be too deep nor interesting, however, several friends encouraged me to play the game so I took a shot at it. Well, much to my surprise, somehow, Disgaea takes the ''go beat bad guys and become powerful'' idea, and reaches great heights. But how? I suppose the irony creates a lot of the interest people may have in this story. Although the originality is nothing special, the fact that you are an ''evil'' protagonist twists the usual concepts of gaming by 180 degrees, and there's something almost... addictive about this position and the highly developed characters. The characters are the next main ideas that are required I mention in terms of the storyline. Each and every individual character you meet or control has an extremely unique personality, and the dialogue screens/voices add greatly to this area. The words spoken in this game are both entertaining, hillarious, and always with great purpose, which is a combination many games fail to accomplish. Generally it's either too silly, or too serious, but Disgaea knows how to balance this important factor. Thus, due to a great script, great voices, and a story that's above-par, the story section wins a 9/10.
Gameplay (10/10): Many would say this is a mimic of the popular and wonderful Final Fantasy Tactics. And I agree. A lot, and most of the structural aspcts of the game are as if they were copied directly from FFT. Fortunately, it's nothing like it when you get into it!!! Maybe it was just me, but leveling in FFT seemed to get tedious. In Disgaea however, the game is constructed of your palace in the underworld (about 3 screens across), which you can freely manuver in, that has several places to visit.These include, the Battle/Item shop, the Weapon shop, the Netherworld Hospital, the Dark Assembly, the Item World, and what i'll call the ''Story Portal'' (which is basically just the place that you go to continue the story). But above all of these, the Item World is a unique idea, expressed with high quality, and best of all, keeps power leveling from getting boring. The Item World allows you to unequip a weapon, and literally go *INSIDE* of the weapon, allowing you to fight the evil spirits and residents living inside. The more you fight in the Item World, the stronger both the weapon AND you become. Each of the characters you defeat in the Item World supply experience, and the more levels you complete leads to higher levels of the weapons, giving them better stats. But, I must not leave out the Dark Assembly. The Dark Assembly looks like a courtroom, and you can choose one of your characters to propose particular deals with the Council. Often, you'll find they are leaning towards voting against you, but worry not, you can BRIBE them, or persuade them by FORCE!! (careful though, they're strong). Of course, the hospital is for healing, the shops are for buying, and as stated, the ''Story portal'' is where you visit to continue on in the story. The various places to attend lead to more variety, and excitement. To continue, the story contains countless controllable classes, including nearly every monster/demon you encounter, and several humanoid classes (your average archer, rogue, warrior, brawler, ninja, ronin, knight, mage, skull, scout, recruit, angel, and majin). And of course, each and every calss has it's benefits and are all useful depending on the point in the game. If that's not enough, Disgaea boasts a wonderful control system, allowing you to take back movements if you discover your skills aren't in range, unlike is done in FFT. There are also seemingly limitless skills and spells, all with the most interesting visuals or ranges. The experience system is basic, nothing crazy like the Sphere Grid system in FFX, nor dou you pick yor skills as in FFT. You accumulate more skills/spells as you grow in level, and the skills you get depend on your class/weapon. Of course, the game is extremely complex, with medium difficulty, and a suprisingly quick learning curve. There is not much more I could ask for, and thus Gameplay achievesa 10/10.
Graphics (6/10): Unfortunately, the graphics are nothing to brag about in Disgaea, but don't get me wrong, thy're not repulsive or anything. The characters are sprite based, as in FFT, yet, they are slightly more detailed, and the platforms/battle grounds are far better and more three dimensional. The camera views are decent, allowing you to rotate the map as you play, except during an enemy's turn. This can be slightly annoying, but has little to not impact on the outcome of the game. Luckily, the skill/spells have pretty visuals, and somehow all of the animated graphics see to just ADD to the story, tone, and mindset of the game. It seems to fit in so well with the comic attitudes of each character. There's not much else to say, as this is Disgaea's weak spot, however, the graphics add to the game more than take away. Yet since this isn't a comparative section of how the Graphics impact the game, if you judged the graphics alone, I believe they deserve a 6/10.
Sound (9/10): Wow. What can I say. I love this music. Some of the best music i've heard in a video game. It fits in so well in all the right places and hours later you find it playing in your head. It's upbeat and exciting--just done so very well. On top of it, although the voice acting seems to be ''fakey,'' once again, it fits in with the whole theme of the game and just works out great. Unfortunately however, there are just a few sound effects I have a bone to pick with.... Above all, this sound effect is that which the ''Skull'' class makes when they cast a spell on an enemy. Skulls are the same as mages, only male, and make one of the most annoying things that sounds like ''MOOMMMMMYYY.'' But what can I say. I still love the majority of sound effects and most of all the music/voice acting. Sound gets a 9!
Replayability (9/10): Well... there are no alternate endings, nor ''New Game Plus'' that new games such as FFX-2 offer. However, upon beating the game, there are loads and loads of sidequests with extremely and increasingly powerful enemies, and best of all you can reach level 9999. On top of that, you can propose to ''transmigrate'' to the Dark Assembly which allows you to return to level 1, retaining most of your stats. Thus, there basically is no limit to your strength as a character, and for some of us, it's just addictive to see how powerful we can be. For the rest, the story is STILL wonderfully hilarious, and the Item World allows your weapons to ALWAYS become better, so there really is no end, and there's always something to do!
Rent or Buy? : If you rent this, you are wasting your money. Don't get me wrong, Disgaea is an extremely well done game, but it's just not worth it to rent it. Part of the enjoyment is beating it over time, and enjoying leveling consistantly... then comparing your statistics with friends and making jokes and creating double entendre on the topic of Disgaea, with your friends. This is however definitely a buy. The game is just a bit faster paced than it's competitors FFT/FFTA, with even more to do. Get this piece of art. It's the best medicine.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
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