I have always been a fan of RPGs. Even if I still don’t quite know what constitutes that title. If you asked me before PS2 I would have said Final Fantasy. I often had little dalliances with different a different game every now and then. Star Ocean 2, Lunar Silver Star Story, Thousand Arms, and a few others. The biggest of them was Makai Kingdom. A game so badass it changed my whole outlook on what an RPG could be.
After that I thought nothing of it. Final Fantasy 12 was right around the corner so I was eagerly awaiting what I thought would be another escape into a land of wonder and adventure with characters I will love like friends. Fighting battles I will remember for years to come. That I would embark on yet another quest to not only save the world but make it a little better before it is all over. I was wrong. Makai Kingdom made me painfully aware of how empty Final Fantasy became. The story wasn’t gripping me. The new combat system was annoying and the made leveling up a needlessly complex grid of squares that made less sense then Final Fantasy X’s “Sphere Grid” but infinitely less visually appealing in. So despondent I shuffle back to the game store. Digging for something that might hit like Makai Kingdom I spy a little title that had what looks like that little post game punk from Makai Kingdom.
This game was a trip. The plot hits just so silly and fast. As the prince of hell you have been sleeping for years. Spoilers ahead everyone. You don’t care? Cool, let’s go! You slept so soundly because you were poisoned, your dad died, and everything in hell has just gone to pot. So step one, kick everyone’s ass in hell until they accept you as the new Overlord. During this time your bratty advisor passive aggressively pushes you 8n the right direction. An angel trainee comes down to assassinate your father, but he already died. Oh yeah, he choked to death eatin’ pretzels.
So this love obsessed angle wants to stay and teach Laharl the power of love and peace, but gets betrayed by the third in charge of heaven who stole her magic pendant that will stop her from dying in the Netherworld. Laharl agrees to help her in suspiciously easy negotiations. Laharl has a lot of his mother in him and he hates that so he runs from love and kindness because he is trying to block out that his mother died to save him. A young hot shot demon who looks and sounds a fair bit like he could be Laharl’s drunk uncle keeps getting in the way yet gives some helpful advice each time you beat him. All this has been going on and you haven’t begun to see any real plot besides the chapter based objectives, and you don’t care because you are having a blast. Mainly from passing laws to get what you want. More money, better items, new characters lots of stuff. Just take it before the Senate.
A senate you can bribe or kill if they don’t agree with you. Not feeling strong enough? You can reincarnate down to level 1 again and keep a percentage of your stats. No worries about having to do the old stages over again. Not in this series. You can sure, but you can also take any item or equipment and go into it. Yeah using the “Item World” you can level up the stats and skills of each piece in a randomly generated super dungeon while you grind out your levels and just have some mindless fun. Then you get a bit further into the main story and Flash Gordon shows up to overthrow hell and save the Earth. Yeah heaven is tricking Earth into fighting the Netherworld for them. So things are ramping up for sure.
Now how you play moving forward is very important. All those extra stages you can vote to unlock, they can lead to different endings. Which as you watch the credits in disbelief it asks if you want to save. Now you are back at chapter 1 with all your levels and stats with a better understanding of what is going on. You can either reincarnate some characters back down to level 1 and have a challenge, you can use different characters and try something new, or just get the satisfaction of smacking down all those fights that gave you so much trouble to begin with. The game wants you to break it. Find glitches and exploits as you level up faster and better over and over reaching level 9,999 with stats in the hundred of thousands of points. Crazy earth shattering weapons you grabbed from the deepest depths of “Item World” equiped on your army of wizards, witches, space rangers, and penguin slaves as you unravel the truth about religion, heaven, hell, your father’s actual death, and the fate of all creation. All in just the first game of series that is still ongoing. A game you can pick up on PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS, PC, and/or Nintendo Switch. The newer versions add even more content and easily an extra few hundred hours of fun over the original title. Which yes I went back and beat it again on almost all those platforms too. Just back then I just had to wait a little bit until I grabbed La Pucelle Tactics.
A completely different style of RPG about nuns trying to fight off an evil overlord with a main character who looks suspiciously like a special boss in Disgaea 1. Because she was actually the same girl. During the events of Disgaea one in another world somewhere in the universe a different struggle was going on. One where the holy nun becomes the evil she was fighting to save her world and now travels to the different Netherworlds fighting the strongest Overlords to test her strength. There is a hell for each world out there. An overlord for each hell, and a in each game at the end you get to fight and recruit the main characters from the previous games, and in some cases the up coming games. Though Final Fantasy 13 was on the horizon so once again I fell into optimism. Waiting for my shiny new PS3 to get what will surely be a return of form for my favorite series of all time. I will spare you the details but it was awful. So wasn’t I surprised when checking the PlayStation Network Digital Store and see this.
I completely forgot to keep up on Disgaea as a series and here it is to save me from the disappointment of modern Final Fantasy. Once again Disgaea came back with more if the same. Surprisingly this time it’s a direct sequel. While seeing what was happening in the new world Etna and Flonne, the bratty girl and love freak angle from the first game, show up to try and find a world to rule for themselves. This human world has been overthrown completely by their overlord. That’s sorta, ya know, not good. So you main Added the only human left unchanged from the corruption of his home world. Fighting to save his adoptive family and try to turn the people back from the demons they became. This game is way more focused. Less humorous, but now fully invested in telling a solid story start to finish. Every mechanic in the game getting a full overhaul helps to stop from feeling stale. The Dark Assembly is back. Item World is better as well. New classes of units and even more weapons. Not my favorite in the long list of Disgaea titles. The lowest if them infact. Let that sink in. My least liked title in this series is actually functionally better than my 3rd favorite title. That being Disgaea 1, obviously. So this is a good stopping point for the introduction, because the next article will be a doozy. Infact I’ll be taking you to school.