By Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Nippon Ichi, the company best known for ridiculous anime-style strategy games such as Disgaea, Makai Kingdom, and . . . yes, even La Pucelle Tactics has never had a strong PC presence. With a game collection that was almost entirely on the Sony consoles [with the exception of the peculiar, but well done Nintendo DS port of Disgaea], there has always been a guaranteed market with Sony. But in 2016 is that really enough? There are so many gamers that want this series, but due to only having one console, or preferring to game on PC, this has eluded them. I know personally a large handful of players who want Disgaea 5, but are unwilling to shell out for a PS4 just for that. And rightfully so! That seems a trifle ridiculous. So, Nippon Ichi ported the Playstation Portable version of Disgaea onto PC with the clever name of “Disgaea PC.” Look, they can’t all be winners.
However, this was met with an insane amount of frustration from players of all PC types, myself included! This is a PSP game. It’s not an HD Remake, it’s not an upscaled version of Disgaea 1; it’s a port, a translation from a handheld onto the PC via Steam. You would think that with ten months of work and two solid months of testing, this would be met with zero problems. However, forums flooded immediately with players who had issues because they pre-loaded the game. The game would not load, or would run at less than 10 frames per second. People with i7 processors and 32GB of RAM would find that even their monstrous pcs could not play this PSP game. What the hell? Mine isn’t that amazing, but I found I could not run it, no matter what settings I tweaked. However, with a bit of desperation web research, I found that it was the Steam Beta opt-in that was killing my PC! It consumes RAM at a frightening pace, and simply turning that off allowed me to play the game. That might not be the fix for everyone, but it was for me!
Earth Fire is the best fire.
But after that debacle, we get down to the meat and potatoes of this: What is Disgaea, and what does it mean for Nippon Ichi? Disgaea is a turn-based strategy game, a’la Final Fantasy Tactics or Fire Emblem. A major difference is that Disgaea takes place in the Netherworld, and your main cast are all a bunch of greedy, evil, selfish bastards. Oh and demons! [Except the adorable Flonne, and a few others. . .] It also differs in that the character level cap is 9999. And even that isn’t the end! You can reincarnate, returning to level 1 with x% of your stats intact, and do it again for even STRONGER characters. Disgaea is a grind-fest to top all grindfests. That’s what it is at its core; but it’s irreverent, funny, the characters are likable, and it’s pretty adorable while managing to keep some pretty intense fanservice. It’s said that Disgaea doesn’t really start til the post-game. That’s not quite as true in Disgaea 1 as it is in the later games, but it’s still a pretty relevant statement. There’s a function called the Dark Assembly; it’s basically a council where you can put forth ideas to make the game more difficult or easy, depending on what you’re after. Better items, triple xp, extort money from the Senators, new areas! Tons of stuff. To a Disgaea vet, this is nothing new, but being on the PC, all new players get to potentially enjoy this series for the first time!
Much like the American Congress, on the typical day you can only expect a quarter of representatives to show up.
But this Assembly is still made up of Demons, and they may not want you to succeed at all. What’s a Demon to do? In later games you can bribe them or fight them, but in the original, you can only give up, or resort to force. But the longer the game goes on, the stronger the Assembly gets, and it’s not always the same demons. This can be a risky proposition because it will definitely alienate members of the Senate. You have a fun cast of characters, and you can make your own party of Mages, Rogues, Fighters, Gunners, Majin and Angels, whatever tickles your fancy. When you unlock them, that is. But the main characters are pretty damn powerful in their own right, and come with some outrageous skills to boot. The story is unique, and tells the struggle of good versus evil in a very refreshing way, and newcomers to the series are sure to fall in love with it. Between the main story, New Game+, and all of the Post Game content, there is far too much going on to simply list it right now. Suffice to say that you will certainly get your money’s worth.
What is Evil?
But what does it mean for Nippon Ichi? If, despite the terrible debacle that was the launch of Disgaea, if it turns out to be a smash hit on Steam, maybe we’ll see Disgaea 2, Makai Kingdom, or perhaps even further into the franchise! I love this idea; while sure, I have a Playstation 4 and the current Disgaea title, maybe I want to play on my PC! The launch for Disgaea was absolutely effing awful. Days of the game not working, no solutions or answers in sight; but Nippon Ichi listened to the fans and paid attention to the reports they were getting, and were quite diligent. It was a bust, but people are able to play and enjoy it now, and that counts for something. It’s not a remake as I said, but it’s a port right to PC, and it’s still quite pretty, despite being as old as it is. The gameplay is sharp, and though some of the graphics settings don’t even seem worth it, it has an incredible amount of replay value.
+ The graphics are still pretty sharp; there are options to increase the look of the game a bit, but not appreciably so. The characters are still adorable and wonderful.
- I was still kind of hoping for the graphical update settings to really be worth using. You can make the edge of the screen blur? Why the hell would you want to do that? Seriously.
+ The game plays magnificently, and if playing a game for weeks, months, and possibly years on end is your thing, this is definitely the PC title for you. There is a ton of replay value: So many different characters to use, or classes to unlock, and challenges around every corner.
- While sure, you can play this game almost forever, the slog of grinding isn’t for everyone. Not everyone’s going to want to play Ordeals 3 for a week to level characters up several hundred times. It hovers between niche’/cult favorite to mainstay RPG. But the leveling can make this absolutely infuriating.
Don’t Take Things So Serious:
+ The story is both super serious, and absolutely freakin’ ridiculous. It tells the story of love, and trust, and importance. . . in Hell. It’s got some pretty intense twists and turns. It’s fun, clever, and deep in its own special way.
- It’s also feels VERY MUCH like Japanese anime; I mean, it’s a JRPG after all. But the fanservice might annoy people. The super huge breasted catgirls and succubi, or even humans are all here. It bombards you with references the longer the story goes on, and it could potentially be a turn-off. If you’re looking for a serious RPG, you might want to steer clear.