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Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention Review

As a critic, I’m occasionally pressured into identifying a favorite game. Consistently, a mention of 2003’s Disgaea: Hour of Darkness is met with one of two divergent reactions. The reference infrequently initiates an impassioned conversation of the game’s quirky storylines, engaging mechanics, and hyperbolic strikes that capable of removing a billion hit points. More likely though, I’ll receive a quizzical look, or at best- an indistinct mention of the series’ distinctive Prinny character.

For players in the first category, a purchase of Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention is likely assumed. Mirroring Nippon Ichi Software’s definitive PSP adaptations of the first two Disgaea titles, Detention is far more that the comfortable port PS Vita owners have come to expect. Bundling all the downloadable additions available for the PlayStation 3 iteration, from Raspberyl’s four-chapter foray into teaching to addition of Command Attack and Survival Attack modes to augment the Item World, the game offers a cornucopia of content capable of engaging players for weeks.

While this kitchen-sink approach is commendable, those who already surmounted Absence of Justice’s storyline will appreciate the small improvements NIS made to the game. From the addition of new battle animation routines to enlivening character portraits with a new expressiveness, Disgaea 3 for the Vita has been given a meticulous polishing. Now, obsessives can even spy and goad, as Absence of Detention’s Data Shop quantifies over thirty different variables across both friend lists and region-wide leaderboards. Additionally, the game’s new Honor Quotient bestows perks like cheaper items and supplemental experience point based on factors such as play time and how far much mileage your Vita system accumulates. Fortunately, owners of Wi-Fi only systems aren’t excluded from the dividends, as long as players check into Near, the title tracks their traveling bonuses.

Visually, Disgaea 3’s transition to the portable screen obscures much of the title’s pixilation. With the game’s optional filter in place and viewed from a distant perspective, any blockiness is effectively eliminated. Less successful is Absence of Detention’s rear touch control scheme, which uses different sides of the back panel to zoom and alternatively- cycle between allied characters on the battlefield. Most of the time, I inadvertently triggered an input, causing the cursor move unpredictably. Fortunately, this option can be turned off from the title’s option menu. Sonically, the game’s boasts both English and Japanese voice-over as well as the addendum of few dozen new background tracks. However, Disgaea’s eccentric melodies sound routinely sound like a spaced-out interpretation of Banda– which may not be the best aural accompaniment for long treks through the item world.

In retrospect, Disgaea 3’s roster of Netherworld personalities rely a bit too heavily on series convention. This time, Mao is the Napoleonic lead, hell-bent on killing his father, the Overlord for destroying a million hour save-game file. Like King Krichevskoy’s scornful son, Mao’s character arc offers both a bit of redemption as well as a tacit romantic interest. Traditionally, NIS’s titles have offered a procession of cameos. With Absence of Detention, the developer pulls all the stops- offering everyone from Z.H.P.’s Unlosing Ranger to Phantom Brave’s Patty.

For Netherworld neophytes, Absence of Detention offers optional tutorials, an in-game encyclopedia, in addition to an eighty-seven e-manual. Together, these tools provide the rudiments for entry into the title’s labyrinthine recesses. The franchise’s most prominent virtue has been always been self-discovery; pouring over screens of stats to leisurely push your characters toward attacks which transcend the limits of rationality. Similarly, the game’s battlefields invite exploration- as the game’s straightforward turn-based combat begins with players paying attention to movement span and attack ranges, before compelling mastery of combo attacks and Geo Symbols- two elements capable of tilting the tide of combat. Like all Disgaea games, the boss battles which punctuate with of the game’s eight main chapters present a spike in difficulty. Success can be found by returning to previously fought battles, or venturing to the Item World. Mercifully, the title ensures that the ‘grind’ is more of a verb, rather than a noun.

Although Disgaea devotees may be lured by NISA’s pre-order bonus cloth, they will probably want to forsake the reward and install the 2 gigabyte onto their memory card. Absence of Detention’s depth and breadth resist swift conquest, having the capacity to engage players for months. Although endorsing a double-dip can be a dicey proposition, the title’s wealth of supplemental content and capacity for controlling Mao, Raspberl, and Almaz on the go makes the prospect of Detention indisputably blissful.

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.

46 comments

  1. First.

    Disgaea gets a B+ from Deagle? Public Outrage! Start the petitions.

    (Just kidding)

  2. I have it preordered. I can’t wait until the 17th.

    BTW- TOTALLY AWESOME REVIEW, DOOD! Maybe you can counteract those C’s that some site are giving.

    • Like the guy who dress like a girl at Gamespot. He/She 7.0’ed it.

      Good thing our resident crossdressing schoolgirl liked it more. And I don’t mean Blue.

  3. I noticed some site JPS is giving away two copies.

    Since they don’t seem to know the difference between Degrade and Degradation and can’t even spell “Raspberyl” right, maybe you should have a giveaway!

    Anyways, good review. I really want to play Disgaea 3 on the go.

  4. Why is the quotation mark in “Level Grinding” backward. Oops.

  5. Good review, but I played enough Disgaea to know the game isn’t for me. It just feels like one long grind of doing the same things over and over again.

    I’m glad you like it though.

  6. “As a critic, I’m occasionally pressured into identifying a favorite game.”

    stopped reading right there. Douchebag meter reached capacity.

  7. What, no A grade? What’s going on here, dood!

    NISA need to write bigger checks and apply better choke holds to reviewers.

  8. I don’t know, Des pimps out Disgaea so much that I think he’s an undercover Prinny.

    Good review and all, but I don’t think the game is for me.

  9. I wasn’t think about getting this, but I realized for $40, this will probably keep me entertained far longer that Little Deviants, which I paid $30 for.

    • Please don’t compared Disgaea to Little Deviants. Ever.

      Little Deviants was a dumb little tech demo. It was more frustrating that fun. The takeaway from the game was the rear touch was a dumb idea.

  10. Good review. Thanks, dood.

    So is the DLC version going to be cheaper than the cartridge version?

  11. Sorry, but you guys are one of those sites that gives every NIS game a really high score. I really can’t trust your opinion on this one.

  12. The funniest thing about D3 was Mao being so much a gamer he tried to use a cheat-code for real life.

  13. Just got mine today fro NISA.

    Cleaning cloth is huge and very nice. Same size (almost) as Vita box. With Absence of Detention design on it. I choose this because I have 8 GB memory card. 2 GB takes up too much space. Lucky, I have card holder so not to lose my games!

    🙂 🙂 🙂

  14. Good review Deagle. So Disgaea is your favorite game of all time?

  15. I’m glad they didn’t just port the PS3 version and nickel and dime players later.

  16. Just got mine into today. Yeah, fast shipping dood!

  17. I’m curious what kind of protection a smell jacket offers.

  18. Good enough review, but I knew I was picking this up Wednesday anyway.

  19. Nice review, Prinny Dood!

    I agree a giveaway would be very cool.

  20. It would be great if you guys had a contest. Even if I don’t win, this looks like a game I’ll get when (or if) I purchase a Vita.

  21. I’ve never played a disegea game before and I was wondering if I’d be alright jumping in here? I’m excited for a vita tactical rpg but I don’t want to be hopelessly lost in the lore or game play. Thanks in advance for the advice.

    • You shouldn’t have to worry too much about the lore since I’m pretty sure that Disgaea games are self-contained stories. You won’t “get” the cameo appearances, but I think that’s about it.

      If you like what you play of Disgaea 3, you can always go and grab the first two PSP games as downloads from PSN for $10 (D1) and $15 (D2). 🙂

  22. Great review. I can’t wait until this goes like on the PSN today.

  23. So with PSN down, will this be available today? Is it in stores today as well?

  24. Kinds of suck that NIS didn’t offer any incentive for the D3:AoD digital download. Next time they are on the podcast, you better ask, DES.

  25. Deagle, what do you thinkof all the sites that are giving the games 6 and 7 out of 10’s?

    Like RPGGamer, GameSpot, and GameRadar?

  26. I’m stuck on the Overload (1-8, I think) The one with the five fingers. Everytime I go in they attack me with tons of damage. Can anyone help me?

  27. Ok, how do I get more Mr. Gency Exits?

  28. michelle hallinan

    ps is the best there is

    • Mmm, ok…

      Could find this anywhere at retail today. Not at Gamestop, Best Buy, Target or Wal-mart.

      🙁

  29. So far, I’ve put about ten hours in and I really like it. It’s a little too grindy- I have to do levels over and over again before moving the story forward, but other than that it’s really fun.

    One protip: as soon as you can create new characters. Oh, and use the mana item during battle to get a mana boost that you can use to make more characters, pass bills, and learn new spells.

  30. FYI: You can get to the new stuff at the start by going to the title screen, moving the cursor to continue and entering: triangle, square, x, triangle, square, x, circle.

    You’ll hear Mao.

  31. Ok, my first Disgaea game after hearing Des (or DIS) talking about for year.

    Gotta say I like it. Sure it feels like an MMO in that there’s always something to do which advances you just a little. I guess that’s my only complaint, it that the game levels you up too slowly. Other that that I’m hooked and play at least 2 hours every day.

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