Disgaea Days

Originally Published: 16 February 2010

A few years ago I found love via my PlayStation 2. Having heard various snippets of “good things” I purchased myself a copy of the original Disgaea and, well, was instantly hooked. For a game that looks incredibly simple, Disgaea has so many hidden depths — in fact I would go so far as to say that I haven’t found them all even now. Starting out as a simple strategic RPG, you’re soon thrown into character creation, team management and equipment improvements which, while initially baffling, yield so many rewards that everything you do is a joy.

Disgaea is one game that I’m glad I bought. However, buying it created a problem. Or, should I say, several problems. Having fallen for the Japanese charms of Laharrl and the other inhabitants of the Netherworld I needed more. I wasn’t content to just enjoy that one game. My taste-buds had tingled and I was hooked. So I went on a quest for salvation and found even more gaming joy.

Nippon Ichi, the bods behind Disgaea, had a fair few other titles out which mirrored the gameplay I’d come to love — with just enough of a difference to make each one a different experience. I managed to pick up a copy of Phantom Brave and went on a quest with a young girl who wants to help spirits. I found myself in possession of La Pucelle and joined a kick-ass nun as we battled demons and purified evil creatures to fight on the side of good. I even (after a lot of internet searching) managed to snag myself a copy of Legend of the Makai Kingdom and found myself playing as an Overlord trapped in a book. Along the way I also picked up Disgaea 2, and carried on my adventures in the Underworld.

Then Disgaea 3 came along. At the time of release, I didn’t have a PS3. I couldn’t enjoy the awesome Underworld in HD. I was unable to take the Prinnys out for a spin, dood. I couldn’t do anything, except stare at the box and wish, just wish, that I would be able to play it — knowing that it would be just as good as the previous titles and keep me occupied for some considerable time. Having recently acquired a PS3 I then spent a good few months tracking down the game — looking in shops, scanning the shelves hoping to see the familiar name leap out at me but finding nothing. Not one sign of this game.

It was only the other week, while shopping for the box-set of the first and second series of Outnumbered (an absolutely awesome sitcom for those who haven’t seen it) that I stumbled across Disgaea 3, and for a bargain £22 as well. Grabbing the box and holding it tight lest it fade away into mist like a mirage, I bounded to the tills, paid and left the shop. Heading back to the car I popped open the box, as I often do, to make sure I had the right disc. The gods had conspired against me again. The novelty-bearded shop assistant had managed to confuse the words Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice with the so-similar-it’s-ridiculous Dynasty Warriors Gundam 2.

But now I have the right game, it’s living in the PS3 as we speak. I’m playing it in bursts. I say bursts, I’m not sure burst is an accurate description for something that steals four or five hours off me. I’m back to being really protective of my new characters — especially my witches and thieves with their stupidly cute faces and their silly names like Marshmallow and Peachy. I’m conscious I’m neglecting my Prinny and I haven’t even started on the Item Worlds yet — so I have all my equipment to beef up. I’m grinding my characters at the moment, as I want to improve their skills and stats — it’s a total stat-junky’s love affair and it’s awesome — it doesn’t even feel like a chore, as some games do. My characters are learning to work with each other more, they’ll form team attacks the longer they spend together on the map and in the classroom and while some of these are somewhat ineffective (you know who you are) the distinctive flash signifying one has been triggered is beautiful.

Disgaea has captured my heart once more, and will no doubt continue to hold it tightly for quite some time to come — the level cap is 9999, after all.