Disgaea isn't one of the more accessible strategy role-playing games on the market, but it's certainly one of the more well-liked. The Disgaea series, with its whimsically absurd stories about demonic children of the Netherworld and exploding penguin mascots called Prinnies, has garnered a cult following among fans of the genre. But up to this point, Disgaea games have been available only on PlayStation systems. That will no longer be the case when NIS America releases Disgaea DS this September.
Disgaea DS is a port of Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness for the PSP. Afternoon of Darkness is essentially an enhanced remake of the original game in the series, which was released in 2003 for the PlayStation 2. All versions tell the story of a young lad named Laharl, the son of King Krichevskoy, ruler of the Netherworld. He winds up falling into a pretty sound sleep--for two years, in fact--only to wake up and find that his father has died and he has missed his opportunity to usurp his father's throne. So Laharl does what any good demon prince should be expected to do: take it back by force.
So begins the story of Disgaea. But as with most RPGs, the story mostly acts as a vehicle for the strategic combat. Disgaea follows the familiar route of letting you place your characters on a geometric grid and having you take turns with the enemy, balancing all of your movement with an eye on offensive attacks and defensive positioning. One of the new features in Disgaea DS is the ability to see a cut-and-dried grid of the battlefield on the top screen that shows you a top-down view of the area and characters. This is opposed to the standard view, where you see all the sprites, terrain, and obstacles in your way. The top screen is more of a map to supplement your view of the bottom screen. And while you can rotate the camera on the bottom, the sprite-based characters will often get crammed so closely together that the top screen map comes in quite handy.
While Disgaea DS is being touted as a faithful port of the PSP version of the game, there will be a handful of other new additions, including new playable characters. One new character is Adell, the star of Disgaea 2, who was unplayable in the original game. Another new feature is the Prinny commentary during dialogue sequences. The main story dialogue between characters takes place on the bottom screen, but occasionally you'll be able to read the Prinnies' take on the situation by looking at the top screen. Most of the time they're wisecracking and poking fun at the main characters. It's a bit like the director commentary you'd find on a DVD, but with exploding penguins.
Disgaea DS is scheduled to arrive this September. We'll be bringing you more on the game in the near future..