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Oh, Final Fantasy lets you get to level 99?  How cute 🙂

I love Sony PlayStation.  I remember walking into a Harvey Norman and buying the original PlayStation.  Growing up console wise, I went the Sega Master System route, skipped the Mega Drive, then had an original Game Boy for my 16th birthday followed by an Atari Lynx about a year later.  And they were my gaming consoles up until 1996, walking into Harvey Norman and buying the original PlayStation.

One of the big reasons for going PlayStation was the new breed of JRPGs that was coming.  It’s usually quicker to say to people I wanted to play Final Fantasy 7 after missing all the NES versions, but that’s not true.  No, I bought a PlayStation for Suikoden.

Suikoden has a huge story with many layers to it.  The story was a mixture of standard fantasy elements with family drama and political intrigue.

Collectibles weren’t just limited to items and special weapons like so many games before it.  There are 108 stars of destiny in Suikoden, and initially, people thought this was items or weapons.  Nope.

The 108 stars of destiny are the recruitable characters you can find for your army.  You can build a central base, and impact the world as you play.  It even included permadeath.

Suikoden Combat
It looks simple now, but the depth of this game rivals many adventures today

While games like Final Fantasy are great and deserve their praise, they are a completely different experience from what people thought of as video role-playing games.

Now elements of play such as permadeath were not new for NES players because of games like Fire Emblem.  But in the west and here in Australia, these amazing games were not something that was easily obtained.  But this was changing.  While there were plenty of Japan only exclusives, Sony was pushing their game publishers to introduce games to the West to distinguish themselves even more as the only console to own.

Another little game came out on PlayStation in 97 that introduced me to an entirely new type of RPG.  Known as Tactical RPGs, my first introduction to this kind of game is something you may have heard of – Final Fantasy Tactics.

In 2003, some friends living in Japan told me about this awesome new tactical RPG they were playing on PS2 – Makai Senki Disugaia.  I had never heard about it, and at the time I was jumping from location to location, and I couldn’t nab a copy.

It might have helped if I looked for translated Atlus release – Disgaea: Hour of Darkness.  An adventure of sorts took place through the Netherworld, but compared to the games I was used to playing the story is fairly light.

You play as Laharl, son of the Overlord of Netherworld.  Your ‘loyal’ vassal Etna has been trying to wake you for 2 years and informs you of your father’s death.

Disgaea Hour of Darkness Opening
Those weapons littered around are not playthings. They are what Etna was trying to wake you with though...

So Laharl in true demon fashion decides to go show the Netherworld who is boss and claim his throne.  On the way, he meets an Angel trainee would be assassin and Heroes of Earth and a plot that threatens all three realms.

The story is full of tongue in cheek humour and an old school portrait conversation style, with a ridiculous end of chapter summary voiced by one of the main characters.

It all sounded great, but I didn’t get to play it until 2008 on my PSP when NIS released Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness.

Afternoon of Darkness was a remastered version for the portable system, and my first chance to really sink my teeth in the series.  I knew there was some new boss battles and a new ‘Etna Mode’, but I really didn’t know much of what was happening so I got to play it with fresh eyes.

And I played it.  And played it.  And played it.

Disgaea Afternoon of Darkness Combat
While a small graphical upgrade was made (mainly to take advantage of the PSP widescreen), being able to play this turn based tactical game on a portable console is THE way to play Disgaea

I thought I was playing a game like Final Fantasy Tactics.  Turn-based tactical combat around a set battleground, with heavy RPG elements.

Basically, I was simultaneously correct and wrong.

On the surface what I thought was true.  I could do a chapter and even replay old ones to grind stats and increase my characters levels.  Combat was interesting with changes to combat each battle.  Positioning was always very important, both for that character’s chances and being able to chain multiple attacks with your party.  But this was only the tip of the iceberg in the depth that Disgaea has on offer.

I had already been conditioned to capping level at 99, and damage at 9,999 points of damage.

Well, NIS think that’s a bit easy mode.  You can build your characters through level grinding massively hard boss battles after finishing the game to level 9,999.

Yes, it’s over 9000.  Damage limits are insanely huge.  I have done hits with a single character of over 100,000,000, and then you can combo and multiply that damage.

Disgaea Afternoon of Darkness Dark Assembly
The Dark Assembly was a unique and nightmare mechanic.

And it’s not just the insane post-game content and crazy stats.  If you want new characters, roles and special powers you need to build favour with the Dark Assembly.

The Dark Assembly is a collection of random high-level demons that vote on what you want to do.  Want stronger items in the stores?  Want enemies to be harder to help you grind your levels?  Just want a bunch of money?  All of these things and more can be bought before the Assembly, where they will vote.

Pass, and you get your wish!  Fail, and you can choose to accept the decision, or simply attack the Assembly and force your point of view.

The other major time sink is the Item World.  So in games, you are used to buying or finding stronger weapons as you progress, and this happens in Disgaea.

But in Disgaea, you can also enter that item and increase its strength by defeating 100 levels within the item.  Each level you clear increases the items stats, until in the end you face the Item God.

Defeat the God, and your item will be the strongest version of that item you can have.  But the Item God will also possibly drop a stronger item, which you can enter and strengthen again and again and again.

If you enjoy tactical RPGs and/or JRPGs, there is a really good chance you have already heard of Disgaea.  But if you haven’t, hopefully, this information will tempt you into having a look.

And the timing is perfect because come October the Disgaea 1 Complete 15th Anniversary Edition is coming to PS4 and the Switch!

It is every bit of content ever produced for Disgaea 1, with the graphics revamped and polished to an absolute shine.

As much as I love my PlayStations, grab this on the Switch.  Much like Octopath Traveler, the pickup and put down never-ending nature of the Disgaea series makes it a natural for portable play, but it looks great even on the big screen in docked mode.

If the idea of putting 100+ hours into a game doesn’t sound like fun to you, then it would probably be best to stay clear.  The story mode can be completed with minimal grind and mucking about with complicated mechanics, but there are many better gaming experiences for you out there for your dollar.

But if you like the idea of spending almost 100 hours levelling up one item just to see what’s at the end, then Disgaea was made for you 🙂

Until next time,

JohnHQLD
Author JohnHQLD
Published
Categories Bits of Interest
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