This game has exploding penguins. Case closed. 10/10.
Alright, not really, but the penguins are pretty sweet.
Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories is the much anticipated follow up of what many consider to be the most in depth S-RPG (Strategy Role Playing Game) of all time. The original Disgaea was renowned for its dark sense of humor, memorable characters, immense amount of depth, and the hundreds of hours which could be spent even after finishing the game.
With all of that to live up to, it is no surprised that Disgaea 2 falls just short in some of those categories.
Disgaea 2 follows the story of a human, Adell, whose entire family has been turned into demons by the curse of the “God of All Overlords”, Zenon. Adell and his family, intending to summon Zenon and defeat him, accidentally summon his daughter, Rozalin. Thus begins Adell’s awkward quest to return Rozalin to her father, and kill him. There were plenty of twists and turns along the way, but Adell vows to never break a promise.
The original Disgaea featured a story where you played the bad guy, and much of the humor was derived from that fact. Disgaea 2 loses that unique edge of being the bad guy, and instead puts you in control of a kid with the mentality of a 10 year old and who is intent on being a hero. He never does anything bad, and is almost an exact opposite of Laharl, who made the original Disgaea such a blast. Adell is an RPG stereotype whose character, or lack thereof, has been done dozens of times by other RPGs. Some of the cast has that same evil charm of the original, such as Demon Lord Etna, who returns from the original Disgaea. But all of the new cast is dull and lifeless, and makes the game’s story rather boring to watch despite some great plot twists and development. I found myself laughing at the side characters more than I did the main cast.
This all keeps the games story from really grabbing the gamer in, but thankfully the gameplay is up to par with the original as far as depth and strategy are concerned.
Disgaea is a turn by turn RPG, meaning that you’ll spend a turn moving all of your characters and making your attacks/actions, then after you end your turn the computer will do the same. Rinse, wash, and repeat until one side is entirely eliminated. The maps are divided into squares and characters are granted a certain range for moving and certain areas of attack for their special attacks. Anyone who has played the original Disgaea, Final Fantasy Tactics, or any strategy RPG should find themselves perfectly at home here.
There are dozens of classes in the game, all of which you can create and add to your own squad then level up. Often times by leveling up you’ll even unlock sub-classes with higher stats than the original class. You can also reincarnate a character by passing a bill in the Dark Assembly (more on that later), essentially changing classes and restarting at level 1. If both classes are human, you’ll keep some of the abilities based on the chosen classes. You’ll also transfer a portion of the original characters weapon proficiency.
Battles are a rather typical affair consisting of regular attacks and special attacks, and all of the general spells and abilities which you’ve grown used to over the years from the RPG genre. A unique feature of Disgaea is the ability to lift and throw your partners, and enemies across the map. This creates an endless amount of gameplay possibilities, as not only can you throw a large tower of allies across the map, you can also attack as a tower in a massive combo attack. Prinnies, which look like penguins, will even explode when they are thrown, dealing massive damage to anyone in the vicinity. Another gameplay feature unique to Disgaea is “Geo Symbols” which will enact status effects on tiles of the same color. These can be anything from “Weakness to Fire +50%” to “Clone” and can change the tides of a battle if not destroyed.
After battles you’ll be able to go to the town, where you may chat with the townspeople, save, heal, buy weapons, armor, and items; all typical fanfare for the RPG genre. But you’ll also be able to go into your items through the “Item World” and level them up by going through randomly generated dungeons. In these item worlds you’ll find an endless amount of time to be spent, and the developers realized this and loaded it with various things to extend gameplay there. In town, you’ll also be able to approach the “Dark Assembly” and attempt to pass bills such as “Cheaper Weapons” or “Create a Character”. There are dozens of bills which you can pass, and you may even become a Senator to help determine the power levels of the various races in Senate. In town you may also accept subpoenas for crimes you’ve committed, such as having too high of def or having too many murders. For Demons receiving these crimes is a highest honor, and will be rewarded greatly. To reach the court you must go into the Item World of that subpoena and visit the court on the designated level. The various things to be done involving the Item World really do stretch the re-playability of Disgaea 2.
The graphics are almost the exact same quality which was in the original, back near the PS2’s release. This game certainly isn’t easy on the eyes, and at one point my younger brother glanced in the room and asked why I was playing a PS1 game. Yes, they are that bad. Interlaced with the sprites will also be anime style drawing of the characters used when in dialogue. Occasionally, but not often, you’ll be treated with an animation which looks a lot like modern anime shows on TV (Actually, a Disgaea anime show is in the works, and these animations are probably from the same crew). The special attack animations are pretty nice for the higher level attacks and spells, but stretch on far too long for them to be enjoyable after the first view. Having to wait 30 seconds for an attack to finish is simply ridiculous.
The soundtrack has a few catchy tunes, but grew old over time due to a lack of variety. They could have added a few more songs to make music during the sometimes 30+ minute battles a bit less repetitive. Voice acting is great at times, horrid at other times. It seems like the less of a main character the person is, the better the voice acting. Adell’s voice has the pitch of a 12 year old boy and will grow annoying only a third of the way into the game.
Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories provides a lot of depth inside of a game which is largely a copy of its original, just removing the great storytelling and incredible characters. The gameplay mechanics are still there and have been expanded, but don’t expect anything different from the first game. You don’t have to have played the original Disgaea to have fun with this one, as the storylines are barely connected. If you want a game with a lot of content and have a lot of time to put into it, Disgaea 2 is for you. If you want a gripping story, you should just grab a novel.
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