Imagine if, when George Washington died, there was no process to name a successor to the leadership of the country. Rather than any democratic process or royal lineage, the title of President was decided by a blood gauntlet of battles and deceits, with the ultimate winner being the claimant to the ultimate title of power in the known universe. Now imagine that the winner of that power struggle was a petulant, disrespectful child with no leadership qualities and a mindless lust for ultimate power and God-like respect. That’s the story of Laharl from the classic Playstation 2 title Disgaea. The only son of the great King Krichevskoy and claimant to the title of Overlord of the hell-style “Netherworld”, Laharl must go on a new adventure to secure his place at the top of the dark realm of unforgiving infinity. All of these horrible sounding things are delivered with jokes, glee, and oddness in the greatest strategic role-playing game of a generation’s true sequel, Disgaea Demension 2: A Brighter Darkness.
Battles in Disgaea D2 are based on a grid-style map, with a beacon located on the map that allows the player to summon his party. The player receives the first turn, and places his fighters and mages in various places within the map. Fighters can be equipped with weapons and items in the game’s base of operations, and they are loaded onto the map with items in hand. Every character, including enemies, have a special skill known as an evility. These special powers are varied across different classes, and each character class can have one of three evilities. These powers can be as simple as lowering damage from particular units or evading all counter-attacks, and as complicated as altering the map and elemental weaknesses of characters. If a character is in range for attack or spell, he can be ordered to attack, but unlike many other games of the SRPG genre, the attacks don’t come seperate to each friendly or enemy character. Rather, every character in a player’s party attacks on the same turn, at the same time. Unfortunately, this is also true of the enemy.
The other special function within the castle is the Item World, a random set of dungeons that take place within an actual item in your party’s inventory. Each item has a certain number of floors and a starting enemy level, and as each floor is progressed, the enemies on the map level and become stronger. The item world is traversed through the use of ships that can travel through an item, and each level is won by either defeating all enemies or reaching a special portal on the map that allows you to bypass the battle (but does not reward you with bonus items as it would if you defeated it in standard terms.) Every tenth level is a special room, with a group of NPC’s called innocents. These innocent dwellers of an item have no animosity towards you, and can simply be ignored and bypassed. If you choose to speak to them, you will either be rewarded greatly or attacked. As you progress through an item, the item itself levels up and reaches new potential in it’s usefulness. If you are defeated in the Item World, you are spit back out in the Netherworld Hospital (which is just a ratty old corner in the castle) and your item does not gain levels or power. The Item World serves as a leveling complex, that allows players to level their characters to their heart’s content without progressing the story to quickly, and could potentially lead to an infinite amount of gameplay.
For those gamers who are excited to play a new Disgaea title, rest assured that you will not be disappointed in any way. The story is fun and hilarious, the battles are challenging and rife with possibilities, and everything from your party to your items to the main character is customizable. Disgaea Dimension 2: A Brighter Darkness is worth every hour you’ll spend tirelessly perfecting and balancing your team and their abilities. With a RPG story that is somewhat fresh and dialogue that goes beyond tolerable to actually well written and hilarious, each new chapter is a true treat and never becomes just a way to get more battles. There may not be another game out this year that can provide as much limitless fun as Disgaea D2. Many fans of the original still play it religiously 10 years after it’s release. With the triumphant work done by Nippon Ichi America, Disgaea D2 is well on it’s way to still being as fun and as rewarding as it is today at it’s ten year anniversary mark. For a video game, that’s really saying something.