Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness
Laharl is back, this time for a portable adventure. But is there enough new in this remake to justify buying the game again?
When NIS (Nippon Ichi Software) announced Disgaea was coming to PSP, those who had difficulties finding the PS2 version were obviously overjoyed, while those who already own Disgaea on PS2 weren't quite sure what to think. Despite Japan getting a straight PS2 port of Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, NIS America was kind enough to make several additions to the North America version renaming it to Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness in the process.
The storyline in Disgaea is light-hearted and a bit different from other RPGs. The storyline follows protagonist Laharl. He initially rises out of an open coffin in his room with Etna standing next to him. Etna tells Laharl that he's been sleeping for over two years. She also tells Laharl his father King Krichevskoy died. Laharl vows to reclaim the throne. Did I mention Laharl is the Prince of the underworld? The storyline remains darkly comedic throughout. As the plot progresses, Laharl will meet many other characters who will join him, all with goals to achieve.
Etna's perspective is a new storyline exclusive to Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness. It gives people who finished the PS2 version a good incentive to play through Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness on PSP. She starts off by accidentally killing Laharl, then the story progresses in its own fashion. Those who did not play the original Disgaea should play Laharl's perspective first, since Etna's perspective may reveal many spoilers from Laharl's perspective.
Disgaea combines elements used in other strategy RPGs for its battle system, along with plenty of features unique to the game. The battle grid is represented in 3D, and is populated by 2D sprites, like most other titles in the genre.
Mechanically, one big area where Disgaea is different from other strategy RPGs happens when your characters are grouped together in battle. Characters can perform a combo attack with up to four party members at once, inflicting (of course) large damage to an enemy. "Geo Panels" add an additional level of strategic depth. Geo Panels add color a battlefield's grid square, and these squares can then make units invulnerable to a certain element, decrease HP of friendly units each turn, or have other positive or negative effects.
Other gameplay elements include the ability to level up every item, the Demonic Assembly (similar to a Parliament), and even a character creation feature. Many of the items are leveled up in a place called the Item World. The Demonic Assembly is where your main character will spend their mana points to try to force the "legislation" to lower item prices and do other things. Characters can be created from scratch with new hirelings or get promoted in the assembly after transmigrating. Those elements are in the PS2 version and will be in the PSP version.
Thew addition of Ad-Hoc (local) multiplayer is arguably Afternoon of Darkness's most significant enhancement. Gamers can share items with friends wirelessly, buy and sell rare items with another player, battle it out, and perform other actions with a Disgaea-loving friend, assuming you can get together in person.
A second addition adds the classic fog of war feature, seen in games like Fire Emblem. The fog of war hides the field beyond a certain range from the player. By advancing units, more field area appears while some disappears. Going too far, too quickly in battle could lead to an enemy catching you off guard.
The new multiplayr gameplay adds two special item features into the mix, as well. Geo Cubes can alter the stats of an opponent. The more powerful kinds can destroy enemies or summon powerful creatures to fight along with you. Geo points accumulated in battle are needed in order to use Geo Cubes. Demon Gates are a bit different from Geo Points because they add a bit of chance to battles. Demon Gates share the similarity of having various effects, but they appear randomly on the map and can be activated without points. Their effects are also not known until used.
The graphics in Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness appears to be unchanged from the PS2 version. Due to the PSP smaller screen, the 2D graphics should look sharper on the PSP screen. The large 2D character art during conversations will also return so Disgaea fans should be delighted.
From what's currently being said, the dual language option found in the PS2 original (Japanese and English voiceacting) will probably make the cut this time around, although this has yet to be confirmed. There's no word as to whether any voiceactors will change.
Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness seems likely be the best version of Disgaea yet. Etna's story perspective along with the multiplayer features should make the game worth owning for those who own the PS2 version and strategy RPG fans who didn't play the original. Unfortunately, Disgaea looks to have a lot of competition in the strategy RPG genre on PSP, but it definitely differentiates itself from the rest to stand out. The game is slated for release later this month.