Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories PS2 Review
Disgaea: Hour of Darkness was a fantastically deep strategy RPG, with a madcap sense of humour that extended from the storyline to the gameplay itself. It’s addictive nature kept hold of people and didn’t let them go until they had an army of level 1000 warriors in their hands.
Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories is more of the same, with little more than a few tweaks to the winning mechanics.
The population of the world of Veldime have been transformed into demons, each of which have no memories of their human past. A ritual to summon the evildoer behind this: Lord Zenon goes terribly wrong and his daughter: the stuck up Princess, Rozalin is instead summoned much to the chagrin of the only remaining human: Adell, who wishes to restore his family to their former selves.
The popular duo of Laharl and Etna may no longer be the focus of the story, but the aforementioned Adell and Rozalin do an admirable job as their replacements. Throughout you’ll also meet a frog with a split personality, a washed up television personality and some of the original games characters are even in there, if only to make a brief appearance.
The characters and world may largely be different, but the game itself is more of the same.
Essentially, Disgaea 2 is an isometric (and yes the camera is still problematic) strategy RPG, with a grid based system (a feature that was absent from Nippon Ichi’s last few releases) where the emphasis is very much on the battles.
The item world is back. This allows you to hop inside any item and improve it, by doing what else, but beating up bad guys. To make progress through the vast internal world of these items more manageable, shops and hospitals are now placed throughout. There’s also a chance that pirates will appear, these are high level adversaries, whom if defeated (which is often easier said then done) will allow you to acquire some powerful rare items.
The Dark Assembly is as it was in the first place, like a House of Commons filled to the brim with senators, where with mana accumulated by defeating enemies you can petition for various things, such as cheaper/more expensive items, new character classes and harder/weaker opponents. Senators are a corrupt bunch that can be bribed with items they favour and if all doesn’t go to plan, you can even engage them in combat to attempt to force them into submission and thus get what you want. They’re a tough bunch for a lower level army, mind.
Your army will primarily be built up of created characters, from a host of different classes. Like the first game you’re able to name these and are offered some leeway in their initial stats. The mentor and pupil mechanic is still intact, which means for example if Adell creates a warrior, the warrior would be his pupil, whilst he would be his mentor. As their pupils grow in strength, mentors will gain bonus points and if a mentor stands next to his/her pupil, they’re also able to use any magic that their Prodigies have learned. If mentors use magic enough and reach level 1 with any particular spell, that spell will then become a permanent addition to their repertoire.
The all important combat system is relatively unchanged. Characters placed on adjacent squares to one another are still able to attack in tandem, whilst attacks delivered one after another on a single opponent will still result in combos, a method that handily sees every subsequent attack increase in damage. Furthermore in true Nippon Ichi madcap style, characters can still pick up and toss one another to gain further ground on a map in a single turn.
The geo symbols add an almost like puzzle element to some of the maps. Symbols placed on geo panels, will have various effects, both positive and negative. Symbols and panels can all be destroyed. Do so in one massive chain and you’ll often reap tremendous rewards.
New additions are few and far between and most that are, won’t significantly change the experience of the game for those that have already played the magnificent original.
The dark court is the largest new addition. Getting subpoenas of your crimes (which comically entail such things as high HP, high attack and geo vandalism) allows you to get cheaper items and a higher success rate at the dark assembly. It’s a demonic world you see, so bad is good.
Other additions are simply just tweaks but welcome all the same. In the previous game healers and the like, often lagged behind in levels, because the only way to level up was to defeat enemies. Now acts of healing or the use of other support magic, will reward the user experience. Also stacking characters on top of one another will allow you to perform a tower attack.
Certainly not a radical departure from the original game, but are those who were previously sucked in really going to argue with this familiarity? Disgaea 2 is strategy gaming at its finest so much so that my party have almost become like a second family to me, remember the emphasis is firmly on the almost…seriously.