Disgaea has been a series that has been near and dear to my heart since I fist played the original game on the PlayStation 2. The initial game was quirky and fun but in many ways the story matured after each new release.
laharl’s original quest to become the Overlord of the Underworld had many silly characters and some real off-the-wall moments. Can the official sequel to the original Disgaea match the original mood of the first game while keeping up with the times?
Interestingly enough, Disgaea D2 is the first official sequel within the Disgaea universe, although Nippon Ichi Software America PR says that it is an alternate dimension (thus the D2). Laharl, Etna and Flonne return and surprisingly enough the story kicks off much faster than in the previous entries. Laharl may now be the Overlord of the Underworld but most demons refuse to acknowledge his ascension and are still pining for Krichevskoy, the former Overlord and Laharl’s deceased father. In true Disgaea fashion, Laharl decides to deal with this with brute force and feats of strength, but quickly things get out of hand and a new conflict with the world of Celestia appears to happen.
Then some REALLY strange stuff happens… I don’t want to spoil all the weirdness for you!
Disgaea D2 absolutely has the charm that the original game has and also makes some much needed improvements to features that the sequels added on. However, even with changes to the general presentation of the game, those that love the classic style of the Disgaea series will enjoy the game but those that were hoping for a significant deviation from what the last 4 games have been will likely be disappointed. Disgaea D2 offers new ways to grow character abilities and skills, fancy mounts and even improved HD graphics and sprites but also completely lacks almost any deviation from what players saw in Disgaea 4.
Easily, the biggest improvement to the game is the character creation system.
You can really customize your character classes as you see fit and even teach your characters set skills that are not normally in their own skill trees by having them apprentice under different classes. On top of that, weapon mastery can actually be improved so you won’t have to feel like your favorite characters are pigeonholed into only 1 or 2 different weapon types. After throwing a new mount system into battles, you can really do some awesome stuff with these characters that you couldn’t do as easily in the earlier games.
Classic staples of the franchise still are available, such as the near infinite re-playability of the item world dungeons for every single in-game item and a level cap of 9999. Players can really invest hundreds of hours into the game and not accomplish everything. Once again, Disgaea D2 also includes an impressive post-game campaign that features many characters from throughout the entire franchise.
Visually Disgaea D2 offers a few slight improvements from Disagaea 4 but really doesn’t do too much outside of that. In fact, some of the bigger HD sprites are a bit ‘chunky’ and maps feel a little forced in a few situations. Characters seem to have all been given a bit of a visual makeover. Main characters pretty much now have new outfits and some of the more generic monsters have been given brand new designs as well. Cutscenes once again feature hand drawn portraits of each character that will cycle through based on the conversation. Menus feel a little better and some of the unnecessary menus have been eliminated. From an audio standpoint, the same familiar soundtrack is present with some of the longtime favorite tracts and a plethora of new ones as well. Every character has their own voice over, which isn’t new at all yet makes the dialogue scenes much more entertaining overall.
While still an absolute grindfest, Disgaea D2’s Demon Dojo allows for an amazing amount of customization with each character. You can now choose to train your characters to improve specific stats, like the ability to counter or movement. I liked this a lot because back in the earlier games you may need to bring a specific character or two into combat for a certain ability, while unfortunately leaving one of your favorite characters in your home base. Now you can teach those old dogs new tricks! The entire Demon Dojo process can become addictive quickly and actually be more of an obsession than a necessity, which is quite alright for a Disgaea title.