I’ll be honest here, I have never played a Disgaea game before, nor have I been much of a fan of turn-based strategy games. Outside ofFinal Fantasy Tactics, I don’t think I’ve ever played another one. I have seen people play Disgaea and have always wanted to jump in however. Disgaea 3 was originally released in 2008 on the PlayStation 3 to critical acclaim. Absence of Detention contains all of the downloadable content that was released as well as some extra all packaged into a single game.
Disgaea 3 takes place at Evil Academy, a demon school, in the Netherworld. The main character, Mao, is the son of the Overlord who sets forth to overthrow his father. Keeping in with the quirky style that fans have come to know Disgaea and NIS America for, the reason for Mao vows to destroy his father is due to the loss of millions of hours of save data. I for one can relate to this after losing over 1,200 hours with Phantasy Star Online.
In any event, Evil Academy is sort of a backwards place, but since it is in the Netherworld it makes perfect sense. The students who don’t show up for class and are overall bad guys are the honor students, while those who pay attention and are good in class are considered the delinquents. After reading countless amount of comics, Mao realizes that to defeat his father he must become a Hero and learn to open his heart.
Over the eight chapters you can get fully engulfed in the world that NIS has created. Progressing the story along is nicely drawn characters with tons and tons of dialogue to read through. This in itself is a problem, as before and after each battle you will be going through scene after scene of dialog. You can easily skip them, but then you be missing the story and won’t know what is happening.
If you are unfamiliar with turn-based strategy RPGs, you play through nearly endless dungeons on a grid-based level where the goal is to defeat all the enemies to clear the stage. While it sounds simple, Disgaea 3 environments are anything but simple. From the varying heights to the inclusion of geo blocks that add stats to specific spaces – for example 50% defense or 20% healing – there are many things to keep in mind. Not all geo blocks will help you out, as an enemy sitting on a +50% ATK will dish out massive damage to you. This leads to taking an even more strategic approach, as you must decide if you stay on the positive squares and try to goad your enemies to come to you or do you try and go full force after the enemies on the negative squares. Lastly, which is my favorite, is destroying all the geo blocks and receiving insane amount of bonuses for it. Destroying the blocks also damages anyone nearby, even your characters.
For those just looking at what is different from the PlayStation 3 version, the following is the newly added content to Absence of Detention:
- Downloadable Content: All of the content that was released for the PlayStation 3, including the side story for Raspberyl.
- Item Customization: You can now change the appearance of your favorite item.
- New Bosses: There are all-new story quests to take on and two powerful bosses from Disgaea 4.
- Touch Controls: Use the touch screen and rear touch pad to navigate though the menus and move your characters
- GPS Functionality: Taking your Vita with you, where ever you go will learn you a higher Honor Quotient which will earn you more experience and more.
- New Specialized Skills: New class-specific skills have been added.
- Super Moves: When dangerously low on health, you are able to perform more powerful versions of your skills.
- Data Shop: View your friend’s game stats and rankings via the PlayStation network.
- New Tera Magic: A new tier of magic called Tera-level spells are now available.
This brings us to the “Item World,” which is where you could be spending hundreds and hundreds of hours. Every item in the game can be powered up as you venture into randomly generated dungeons to grind away. Be warned, once you enter into the item world, you can’t escape, unless you have a special item or until you complete 10 stages. Don’t underestimate the Item World as it is not an easy place. For those looking for an endless supply of stages and grinding, you will be spending a lot of time here. To level up your favorite sword, you have to un-equip it to be able to level it up, providing even more of a challenge. This gives almost endless gameplay possibilities. 10 levels might seem like a lot in between saves, but due to the sleep mode on the system its easy to play a few at a time.
The PS3’s way of displaying the pixilated sprites never looked that good, but on the Vita they sure look great on the small screen. There are two options to use: smooth or crisp. Personally I think smooth looks a little blurry, while crisp looks like the better option to use. The art style is cute and watching the super moves is a treat. In the options you are able to skip these animations – the game will allow you to watch it once before it skips the animations.
Disgaea 3 is a highly recommended game on the Vita, not only is it the first strategy game on the system, it is a great game in general. Currently, I’m pushing over 150 hours after completing the story and spending a lot of time in the Item World.
Note: The Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention review was written based on the Vita version of the game provided by the publisher.