E3 06: Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories Hands-On

Demonic penguins and countless hours of strategy role-playing are to be expected from Disgaea 2, which is shaping up to be a worthy successor to the original.

LOS ANGELES--NIS America's quirky turn-based strategy role-playing sequel Disgaea 2 was in evidence at E3 this year, and it's now almost completely ready for its August 2006 launch. Not a great deal seems to have changed since our first look a couple of months ago, but the most notable difference is that it's all been translated into English now.

The story revolves around the hero, Adell, a human in a world where everybody else has been cursed and turned into monsters by the Overlord Zenon (One character early on in the game muses, "Why is Adell the only human? Because he's the main character?"). Under your guidance Adell, who seems to be a cool and confident martial artist, must battle through to the Overlord, aided oddly enough by the Overlord's own daughter, and end the curse on the land by defeating him.

The gameplay in Disgaea 2 is almost identical to that of the original--classic turn-based square-grid-style combat--and the battles are won and lost based on the tactics you employ. Simple melee attacks combine with more complex magic or healing special moves, with special modifier squares called geo panels. Each \\level cleared gives experience to the characters that survive, with seemingly endless numbers of levels to play through.

The key to the success of the original was in the addictiveness of the leveling, and Disgaea 2 will provide more of the same. One notable addition is the Dark Court, a typically illogical system that summons you to be judged for your crimes.

These crimes can include using too many high-powered attacks, or even leveling up too much. But once you arrive in court, after fighting your way to the correct level, you will automatically be found guilty and rewarded for your sins.

Get it? Neither do we, but it's a good excuse to add a whole bunch of new gameplay, and as the saying goes, "If it ain't broke…" There's also the item world, a neverending series of randomly generated, progressively tougher battles.

Disgaea 2 features both the great 2D anime look of its predecessor as well as its nerdy, laugh-out-loud funny sense of humor. The game is nearly done, so stay tuned to GameSpot for further coverage leading up to our full review.

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