Developer: Nippon Ichi Software |
Publisher: NIS America
Players: 1 Player Game |
Release Date: 09/08/09 |
Genre: Strategy RPG

While there may be several strategy RPGs out there, only a few franchises stand head-and-shoulders above the rest. One is Final Fantasy Tactics, which was really the first title to bring the genre into the mainstream. Another beloved franchise is Disgaea, the quirky Japanese strategy game that augments its deep and complex mechanics with a healthy dose of black humor. The franchise, which originally launched on the PS2, has been steadily porting its back catalogue to the PSP, normally with plenty of bonus features and added content. That’s definitely the story here, and it’s why Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days is not only a worthy addition to the franchise, but the definitive version of the game.

In this particular adventure gamers take control of Adell, the only surviving human in a land where everyone else has been turned into monsters. Adell’s mother is determined to summon the dark overlord Zenon so Adell can whip his butt and force him to return everyone to their human state. Unfortunately, things go wrong during the summoning ritual and rather than Zenon Adell and his family come face-to-face with Rozalin, Zenon’s daughter. Adell demands the spoiled princess take him to her father so he can exact his retribution. Rozalin reluctantly agrees, all the while safe in the assumption that once she finds her way back home she can simply kill Adell and forget this whole unpleasantness ever happened.

The gameplay mechanics of Dark Hero Days are straightforward enough that newcomers will be able to pick up the game and start playing while still being complex enough to offer a challenging experience to more seasoned vets. Players move their party around a grid-based map and then select standard attacks for attack, defense, special moves, etc. Beyond that things begin getting complicated, and pretty soon the game introduces Geo Panels (which change the attributes of anyone standing on them), lifting and throwing allies and enemies, combo attacks, chain attacks and much, much more. Trying to explain the intricacies of the battle system would take an article in and of itself, but the bottom line is NIS does a great job easing newcomers into how the game works while still maintaining the depth fans of the series have come to expect.

Those who have played the PS2 version of Disgaea 2 will likely assume that they’ve seen it all and therefore have no reason to check out this edition, but they would be sorely wrong. For one the Magichange system, introduced in Disgaea 3, makes an appearance here, allowing you to transform monsters into weapons. More importantly though, fan favorite Axel gets his very own campaign, with its own storyline and events which take place completely independently of the main adventure. Believe me skeptics, there’s enough new content here that you’ll still want to check out this updated version of the fan favorite.

In addition to all the new content Dark Hero Days just feels like a title which truly belongs on the PSP. The colorful and deformed sprites look incredible on the PSP screen, and the game’s soundtrack and voice acting make it a pleasure to listen to either in English or Japanese (yes elitists, the game does boast a Japanese voice acting option). Franchise fans who have a PSP should give this game a go, and that goes double for strategy RPG gamers who missed out on this game the first time around. Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days is one of the easiest PSP recommendations I’ve ever made.

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Real Life Ratings
The game derives its Teen rating from some suggestive dialogue and mild swearing. None of it is any worse than what one would find on prime time TV, and the game’s violence is also incredibly tame compared to more risque titles. This game is safe for most any teen player, and could even be played by those a bit younger assuming they’re of the more mature persuasion.

By Kaleb Rutherford – 08/10/09
ESRB Details: Language, Mild Fantasy Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes

Screenshots for Disgaea 2