NIS America is one company that knows how to please its fans... and what the fans want, they get! In a popular decision Disgaea 2 follows in the footsteps of the Afternoon of Darkness by receiving its very own port to the PSP called Dark Hero Days.
'Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days' is a straight up port of 'Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories' with a extras to keep the fanboys from barking. 'Disgaea 2' was released in late 2006 and even though it didn’t follow the storyline from the cult classic original, 'Cursed Memories' was still a big hit with its niche market of gamers. These gamers aren’t as selective as it seems and their numbers must be fairly high or NIS America couldn’t afford all these ports. After the original Disgaea was ported we’ve seen two other PS2 Nippon Ichi games get the treatment with 'Phantom Brave' (Wii) and Disgaea 2 following. Gamers who don’t have their PS2s hooked up anymore, or simply enjoy the freedom of a portable gaming device will be interested in Disgaea 2's redux. After all its all for you, the Nippon Ichi fans.
Another Abusive Overlord
In the case that you are unfamiliar with Disgaea 2, the story follows the lead character of Adell as he tries to cure the land of a curse put on by a powerful Overlord named Zenon. This curse is slowly turning all the inhabitants of Veldime into demons, and strange enough, or conveniently, Adell was the only human unaffected. For the human population and for his family Adell starts his journey to take out the dark Overlord, and before you know it he is sucked up into a world of trouble with non-other than the Rozalin, the daughter of the Overlord. In typical Disgaea fashion the plot is filled with demons/human relations while keeping the comedy, romance and drama in balance. The plot is highly entertaining as it zigzags you through a fun original adventure between the world of demons and humans. Compared to the original Disgaea 2 actually holds it own, and even though we don’t get to run around as the brash Overlord Laharl, Adell and his group of cronies do the trick.
By the power of Graysk.... wait, wrong game!
The gameplay is the same faithful turn-based strategy action that “most” Nippon Ichi games follow. The action in Disgaea 2 is helplessly addictive and one of those games that you can play for years and years. Disgaea fans know this and that's why the series has been so popular, and If you are that type of gamer, then you have already purchased Dark Hero Days and fired it up once you removed Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness out of your UMD drive. Again, for those who haven’t played Disgaea in the past, the action takes place on grids using a turn-per-turn system where you strategise and move your pieces like an intricate game of chess. Final Fantasy Tactics is a good starting reference, although Disgaea more complex as it stands as one of the best SRPG games ever created.
Geo it Up
The main difference between Disgaea 2's strategy elements and other strategy games is the use of Geo Panels. GeoPanels highlight the ground of the grid and give it different properties that effects the game. These panels can be altered by moving the GeoCubes, or simply destroyed. Learning to use GeoPanels to your advantages is one of the sweet spots in Disgaea that really pushes the game beyond other titles. Disgaea 2 also has a huge character roster that you can draw from and create new characters. The system in place lets you customize each fighters using them to learn new skills, levels up in packs, as well as being strong arms for your army. The characters creation is a lot of fun and is also filled with a few secrets to unlock new classes and create some truly impressive apprentices.
Disgaea 2 is one of the rare games that is limitless in its design. Besides the main mission you can jump into the item world which actually lives inside of each item and explore them until you are exhausted. Yes, if sounds crazy, a little excessive and confusing because it is a first. Really explaining Disgaea fully would take another few pages and really that is not what you’re here for. You want to see what the fuss is all about, why pick Disgaea, and what changes have they made in the PSP port. Everything else, well, its just filler.
What's New, Axel?
What's new in Dark Hero Days? Well, Dark Hero Days follows a similar treatment that Afternoon of Darkness had. You will find new chapters in the game following the charismatic rock n' roller Axel, along with a few tweaks to the gameplay that bring in some elements from Disgaea 3 (PS3). From Disgaea 3 comes the “Magicchange” feature that lets you transform your allies into weapons! Yes, more confusion and more possibilities. Honestly, I didn’t need to see any new gameplay features in the PSP port of Disgaea, since the system is so perfect, however for all those gamers who are still hooked on Disgaea 3, it’s a nice addition.
Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days is not a dark day for gamers who want a portable version of the second game in their beloved Disgaea series. Disgaea 2 like the original is one of the games you can play forever! The combat is interesting, the bonus levels are unlimited, and the storyline is pure Disgaea, funny, entertaining and overly dramatic. If you are the fence and still think your three year old PS2 edition is good enough, think about the features imported from Disgaea 3 and a fairly good romp as the flamboyant Axel. Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days is one of the best PSP releases of the year and something all RPG and strategy fans should check out.
Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy | 09.24.09