Better in many ways and worse in a few others, Disgaea 2 is a great sequel that will remind you why you liked the original and keep you just as addicted. However, are those few niggling flaws enough to keep you from enjoying this one as much as the original?
Available For: PS2 (reviewed), PSP
Developer(s): Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher(s): NIS America
Release Date: 2006
Archetype: Hardcore, Strategy RPG
When I began playing the original Disgaea, I was immediately hooked. I wasn’t a huge fan of SRPGs back then, especially with my only prior experience being Final Fantasy Tactics and Kartia, but I did like them. Disgaea roped me in and never let go. It encouraged me to put in hundreds of hours and even hunt down other SRPGs and give them a shot just to further sate my appetite.
I fondly remember abusing prinnies, bribing senators, beating up lesser demons, fighting power rangers knockoffs, being afraid of big breasted babes, and in general laughing my ass off while grinding, grinding, and grinding some more. The original Disgaea was hilarious, fun, and just about the most ridiculously addictive thing I’ve ever encountered. My wife got into it, too, putting in over 300 hours on her first save file and getting multiple endings.
So naturally, the transition to the sequel was…an interesting one. I can’t and won’t say the sequel doesn’t live up to the original, but it’s like comparing Final Fantasy 7 to 9. They’re both great games, but it’s really hard to beat a favorite. Nevertheless, there are enough things Disgaea 2 gets right along with a few new features that keep me coming back to it.
Probably the best and newest feature is that of the dark court system. Basically put, every so often you’ll get subpoenas for “crimes” such as high attack power or something equally bogus. But not to worry! All you have to do is go into the item world within the subpoena (something made ridiculously popular by the original Disgaea), find the dark court, and receive your felonies!
See, in the nether realms, felonies are effectively badges of honor and to be worn with pride. It should also be noted that they EXPONENTIALLY boost your base stats. This is where a very interesting and very unfortunate aspect comes into play. In the original Disgaea, if you were having trouble with a given area typically you would level up, get new equipment, rearrange your tactics, and maybe take out a few item worlds for both grinding and item boosting purposes.
You might also take those additional items gained in the item worlds and go into those items or opt to go to the dark assembly and use them to bribe senators so you could expand influence, boost other core stats, allow for better characters, etc. There was also the ability to take demon exams that would enhance your dark assembly rank and unlock more stuff to do in the dark assembly.
This one’s a bit more dumbed down and in fact, made a hell of a lot easier because of the felonies. Effectively, all I have to do in this one is ensure that the main character, Adell, is a few levels higher than everyone else and picks up everyone’s felonies. Sure, it means that everyone else is fairly weak by comparison, but since I typically use him as my ace (which I’ll explain in a second), it doesn’t really matter.
One tactic that I also used in the original Disgaea (though it didn’t work as well) that works IMMEASURABLY well in the sequel is that of designating an “ace.” You can only have 10 units out at a time. Some of us simply like to bring the best fighters out without analyzing the situation for a boss fight. While this isn’t a bad tactic, it doesn’t encourage experience sharing within the lower level people, which you’re going to have to train sooner or later.
My tactic is to bring out the 9 weakest characters and have them give it a go. If it starts becoming obvious this isn’t going to work, I then bring out my ace…in this case, Adell. Adell will always have the best equipment (dark rosaries, imperial seals, best fist weapon available, etc.). Since Adell also has all the felonies and the highest level, he will always tower over everyone, enemies included.
Just in case you were wondering where the banner idea came from.
The only time this really doesn’t work is in item worlds when there are factors you simply cannot predict, though to be honest, I’m rarely going into items that AREN’T subpoenas in this one because it doesn’t matter that much…due to the fact that felonies are 10 times better than any previous tactics. So in a way, felonies prevent the need for excessive grinding, but that’s also what made the original fun and addictive.
The other problem is the plot and characters. While both are still well written, I don’t know that they necessarily come off as strong or fun as the original, which is one of the reasons my wife never bothered with this one even though it is a very fun addition to the Disgaea/Nippon Ichi series. In many ways, the game is a mixed bag, but overall I think it’s a very fun title and if you enjoyed ANY Nippon Ichi games, you will enjoy this one.