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Amazing, Dood!- Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days

Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days for the PSP. Developer: Nippon Ichi, Publisher: NIS America ERSB: T

For the last seven days, Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days has been eliminating the tedium of my daily train commute. Hour-long rides pass by like mere minutes, as I’ve delved into the game’s wonderfully recursive realm. Today, I was interrupted by a fellow passenger who likely noticed the wide smile across my face. The grandmotherly woman politely asked, “What ARE you playing? It sure looks like you are having fun.”

While my enjoyment was evident, expressing its basis to this woman might be difficult. She might not see the amusement in the game’s para-Shakespearian examination of morality, nor enjoy the game’s plucky sense of humor, which was the basis for my smile. Fans of role playing-games, on the other hand, will likely savor the game’s narrative of a nefarious Overlord who transforms a populous of human into devious demons. Adell, the sole human survivor, attempts to remedy this dilemma my summoning the Overlord. When a mistake is made during the ritual, the Overlord’s pompous daughter, Rozalin, is inadvertently sent. The duo, bound by an obligatory, yet uneasy alliance, then set forth to locate Rozalin’s father.  The two protagonists’ chemistry often recalls classic buddy movies, as the pair is forced to work together on their excursion through the netherworld.  

What might be even more challenging to articulate to non-gamers is the sense of satisfaction derived from Disgaea 2. Beyond Adell and Rozalin, the player is free to create a legion of characters in the game’s Dark Assembly. Gamers pick from a variety of classes, name their apprentice, and finally adjust the newcomer’s stats to their liking. The ability to fuse humanoids and monsters, an addition to Disgaea 3, has been added, allowing for even more flexibility in your entourage.

Once a party has been created, a myriad of diversions await players.  Players may serve rogue monsters with subpoenas, bringing wayward fiends to justice. Another option is the ability to create bills that will be debated before the Dark Assembly’s senate. One piece of legislation my character pushed was “Prinny Day”, requiring the use of the hallmark characters in battle.  Gamers may leap into an object’s Item World- an alternate dimension inside every weapon, object, and even soda can. By delving into the realm, each object grows in strength, allowing players to maximize their stats. By speaking to the Dimension Guide, players will be chaperoned to the battle that advances the story.

Another source of Disgaea 2’s charm stems from its rewarding combat system. As a connoisseur of strategy games, I find the series’ battle system to be a near-perfect blend of intricacy and accessibility. The turn-based system is conceptually straightforward, allow players to move, attack, lift and throw, or use items. Yet after hundreds of fights, there is enough strategic depth to sustain a gamer’s interest. Make no mistake- the Disgaea series is about grinding; but the gratification of each battle eliminates the monotony.

Graphically, Dark Hero Day uses vibrant tones to paint its whimsical netherworld. From the town outskirts- teaming with overgrown meadows and crumbling cobblestones, to the Item World’s byzantine sophistication, Disgaea 2’s hand-drawn artwork is consistently brilliant.  The title’s reliance on sprite-bases characters has its strengths; the title feels snappy, and the framerate is unswervingly fluid. There is also one weakness- when skirmishes inevitability develop into dogpiles in the middle of the battlefield, determining your red mage from an identical enemy red mage may be disorienting. While you can move the cursor over each character for a quick refresher, a visual aura (green for friendly, red for foes) would have allowed netherworld generals to quickly assess the ever-changing theatre of war. Disgaea’s signature melodies return, presenting frolicking songs which suitably complement the game’s narrative. The game’s flexibility even allows players to set the background music for the Item World.

PSP owners with the slightest appreciation for strategy role-playing games should seek out Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days. The title’s boundless depth and gratifying battles are ideal for gamers on the go; I could easily see the game remaining unmoved from my portable’s UMD slot for months. Even those who have concluded Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories will find a reason to pick up this title. From the game’s additional chapters with former netherworld TV star Axel, to the inclusion of numerous new weapons and spells, Disgaea 2 presents much more that the typical PSP port. As the Prinnies might say, “What are you waiting for, dood?”

About Robert Allen

With over 35 years of gaming experience, Robert 'DesertEagle' Allen is Tech-Gaming's resident worrier/warrior who spends his days teaching at three colleges and his nights devoted to JRPGs.

57 comments

  1. WOW, an “A”????

    Has that ever been given out?

  2. I really got try Disgaea now.

  3. Wow, FANTASTIC review. I have this preordered, and can’t wait!

  4. ENOUGH of the RPGS! You guys have been getting way too into them. Try reviewing some action games and I might return to your site.

  5. I just read all of thew metacritic reviews for D2:DHD (IGN, Gamepro)

    Have to say I like yours the best.

  6. You guys should post something about the upcoming “Talk like a Prinny day” movement, dood!

  7. Do you think it works better as a portable game or home game?

  8. Walker Texas Rapist

    I cant understand why some people go ga-ga over this game.

    Not my cup of tea.

  9. Great review. I loved the first PSP one.

  10. Desert, reviews like this make me want to make you my platonic life partner.

  11. I’ve only heard the name. Never really interested, but it sounds cool. My PSP needs a new game.

  12. Some people like RPGs. If you don’t care, why read the review?

  13. Is Etna and Laharl in the game? Anybody from Mana Khemia?

  14. One game to rule them all?

  15. Surprise- it’s to an NIS game. They should change their name to TECH-NIS-GAMING sponsored by NIS, written by NIS.

  16. I think this game will be great if you like SRPG like FF Tactics, if you’re not into that, you’re not going to like it.

  17. I think that’s a good point.

    A ‘A’ game should appeal to all, not just a select niche. I understand this might be a great game for some people, but your average gamer will probably not like it. So, I think a B or B- would be a better grade. It’s still above average, but shows that its not a game for everyone.

  18. Uh, IGN gave it a 8.6

    Let go of the conspiracy.

  19. No review of Batman: Arham, but a review of this game. I’m confused.

  20. What game has universal appeal? Super Mario Galaxy? I know plenty of people who think the game is too ‘kiddy’ or ‘too cute’.

    I disagree that an “A” game has to appeal to all, because there is no game that will do that.

  21. Congrats, that was a great read. I’m glad it wasn’t too complicated. Sometimes these reviews get so into the details, I cant understand what the bigger picture is.

  22. I also think so. No game would get a top score otherwise.

    How about a great RTS do? Not so good, as most console gamers dont like them.

  23. Awesome review, as always DE. You deserve to meet and interview Mr. Takehiko Harada one day.

  24. Has anyone seen a good price of the Makai senki disgaea DVD set?

  25. I’m glad this game got a better treatment than Mana Khemia did on PSP.

  26. Wow, saw it was $29.99, not $40. Seems like a very good deal.

  27. Well, duh! If you just play Madden the Disgaea series is probably not for you.

  28. good review. How did you explain Disgaea 2 to the old woman?

  29. If D4 ever gets announced, I’ll bet we’ll hear Desert’s yelling for joy across globe.

  30. Totally should get an A grade. I must have put 100 hours into Cursed Memories. Great game.

  31. Nice looking graphics!

  32. WAT, No A+?!?!

  33. I noticed there were a few NIS fans (and detractors, oh well)

    You might want to follow them on Twitter to get the lastest scoop

    http://www.twitter.com/NISAmerica

    Rumor has it that a number of NIS games will be on sale for 50% on PSN soon.

  34. For stats junkies, there’s no better high that Disgaea. Great review, DE!

  35. Cant wait to see a picture of the T-G staff dressed at Disgaea characters for Halloween!

  36. Full disclosure: I’ll be dressed as Deadpool.

  37. I live in California, dood. I don’t need a specific day to end all my sentences in “dood,” dood.

  38. Great review, dood! I want it!

  39. I see SeanNOLA is already in the spirit, dood!

    I just Googled “Talk like a Prinny Day” and the fourth entry was this review. No foolin, dood!

  40. The game sound like a disk full of awesomeness. Count me in.

    DE, Visit the LoC, yet?

  41. Man, that game sounds crazy. And if another game review ever uses the term “para-Shakespearian examination of morality” I’ll me amazed.

    You guys paid way too much attention in school.

  42. Why is it rated teen?

    good eval of the game.

  43. Nice review. I tried the PS2 game but lost interest. Still, others might like it.

  44. Pics, or it didn’t happen!

  45. One of the better looking PSP games. I played the DS version and enjoyed it.

  46. Hmmm, plugging NIS’s twitter, huh?

    I smell something dirty…

  47. This game sounds like a blast. Thanks for the info.

  48. Great review I’m going to look for a copy this weekend.

  49. Is this on disk only or is it on the Playstation Network, too?

  50. Portable, if you like the game you are going to expend like 100 to 300 hours in it. I can assure you that this is going to be more pleaseant in your bed that in your couch.

  51. Ok, I officially need to try a Disgaea game now.

  52. I agree, but laying down I tend to get wrist cramps. I have to sit up to play my PSP for more than 45 minutes.

  53. is this the homebase for Disgaea fans or what? IGN gets like 10 responses on their review, but you guys have 50? Wow….

  54. I pretty sure it’s UMD only.

  55. there’s a review of BADMAN, though. HAHAHA

  56. I just got the game, put it in my PSP and got some kind of error message. WTF?

    Something about DLC.

  57. I got that too. I just ignored it.