Well after a less than favorable review of FFX I though it might be a good idea if I posted something constructive.
I don’t know about most of you, but I was very disappointed by Final Fantasy Tactics Advanced, the game looked promising, but there were a lot of things that rubbed me the wrong way when I played it and overall the game just didn’t really appeal to me. However that’s not what I really want to talk about. Last weak Zero told me about this cute little SRPG (Strategy RPG) called Disegaea, I’d never heard of it, but on a whim I decided to check it out, and let me just say it was worth it.
The plot centers on Laharl, the prince of the Netherworld who wakes up after a short nap (2 years) only to discover that his father the overlord choked on a pretzel and died. He wakes up to find his “loyal” lackey Etna pointing a gun at his head, and needless to way he’s somewhat annoyed, even more so when he discovers that the gun is simply the last in a long line of nasty weapons she’s used on him to try and wake up. Once they managed to sort this little mix up they team up to reclaim Laharl’s rightful title as overlord of the Netherworld. Along the way they team up with an insane assortment of allies and run into equally hilarious villains, some of which include Angel Trainee Flonne who comes to assassinate Laharl’s father (who’s been dead for 2 years mind you) and decides to stick around to learn more about Laharl, Etna’s lackeys the Prinny Squad (Penguins with big knives), and your reoccurring boss, conveniently called Mid-Boss.
Building your Army:
You recruit and train your characters in a way that will be familiar to most people who’ve played FFT. In order to get a new character to send one of your character to the Dark Assembly (the Netherworld Senate) and put in a request for a new unit, depending on the quality of the unit you might get it okayed right away or it might require a vote (don’t worry you can convince reluctant senators that your way is the right way $$$). The first step is to pick the class, here you can pick from a wide selection of humanoid and monster types, anything from fighters, to samurai, to ghouls, to succubus. The only restriction is that a monster unit can’t train in a humanoid class and vice versa. Once you’ve selected a class you then chose between different skill levels which will either give you a bonus to your stats or a penalty, the better the skill level, the more it costs and past a certain point the senate has to approve your new character. Once that’s done you assign the character a name and the new level 1 unit is added to your roster.
This is where Disegaea gets a little different from what you might be used to, in this game units don’t get exp from doing actions, the only way to gain levels is to kill enemies. Now it may seem like that prevents you from creating new character later on, after all how is a level 1 character supposed to kill a level 400 monster, the answer is it can’t, but using an ingenious combo system it’s possible for the character to participate in the kill and thus get exp for it. Combos are extremely easy to do; the only requirement is that the characters (2 to 4 characters for a combo) are next to each other, one character attacks and the others simply provide support, and best of all it doesn’t count as their action for the round so they can attack a second target or even cast a spell. The 3rd way of getting exp is to simply be on the battlefield at the end of the mission, every map has 10 possible prizes that you can win depending on your performance, some of these prizes are bonus exp which is given to any surviving character on the map when the mission ends.
Some of you might have noticed that I said a level 1 character has no chance against a level 400 monster, yes that’s not a mistake I really said 400, there’s no max level in this game, you can keep boosting your characters and they’ll get stronger and stronger. Just to give you an idea some of the guards in your castle are level 360 with 34,000hp (in a tactics game that’s a hell of a lot.)
However you do learn all the skills for one class at some point and that’s when you want to switch class. Disegaea has an interesting system for this, instead of just changing class you go to the Dark Assembly and have them rip out the character’s soul and place it into a new body of a different class. The character will restart level 1, but will keep their previous abilities.
Like most tactics game you buy, find, or steal most of your equipment, however this time around there’s a twist. Each item is its own world, with creatures living inside it. Some of these are specialist creatures that give the item additional abilities. In addition to this items also have levels, which you boost by traveling deeper and deeper inside the item to unlock more of items powers, along the way you can fight the specialists that live inside that item. Once you’ve defeated a specialist he’ll agree to serve you, at which point you can move him from one item to another in order to create even stronger items.
The game has a great system, it might sound confusing, but once you see it it’s really intuitive. The plot is interesting and is split into different chapters, each one containing 4 missions, but you can go back to any map you’ve visited before in order to level boost. However the best part of this game has to be the fantastic dark humor, the game just doesn’t take itself seriously and characters are usually cracking one joke after another. I can’t really say that any one character is there for comic relief (except maybe Mid-Boss) since they’re almost all funny, but the best part has to be Etna’s little “next episode” sequence at the end of every chapter. Those of you familiar with Excel Saga might recognize the theme gag concept, but for those of you who don’t know it, basically what it means is that they make fun of a specific genre, seemingly chosen at random. Just to give you a few examples:
Episode 3: Space Detective Etna vs. the Evil Space Monster Flonne.
Episode 4: A cooking show a la Iron chef where the secret ingredient is the Prinny Squad.
I simply can’t do the humor justice; you need to hear it for yourself to really see how funny it is, but believe me the game is hilarious.
Anyway this is definitely a game I’d suggest to any tactics player who’s looking for something new, its worth checking out.