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Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories (PlayStation 2) artwork

Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories (PlayStation 2) review

"As the sun rises over the land of Veldime, a young man named Adell is preparing for the battle that will determine his future. His goal is simple: defeat Lord Zenon, the absolute ruler of the land. Should he manage to bring the dark lord to knees, the curse plaguing the land will vanish, turning his now-demonic family back into the humans they once were. He’s got the unparalleled might befitting of an RPG, sheer willpower, and more than enough moxie to get the job done. Unfortunately, that’s ..."

As the sun rises over the land of Veldime, a young man named Adell is preparing for the battle that will determine his future. His goal is simple: defeat Lord Zenon, the absolute ruler of the land. Should he manage to bring the dark lord to knees, the curse plaguing the land will vanish, turning his now-demonic family back into the humans they once were. He’s got the unparalleled might befitting of an RPG, sheer willpower, and more than enough moxie to get the job done. Unfortunately, that’s all he’s got. Adell is just a common human living in a realm overflowing with zombies, vampires, demons, succubus, sadistic warlords, and exploding penguins. Things don’t get much better when he stumbles across Rozalin, a snobby young woman that happens to be Lord Zenon’s daughter. With little other choice, Adell must rely on this highly unlikely ally in hopes of restoring peace to the land. Let’s just say that the odds aren’t with him.

Okay. Adell is teaming up with a demonic princess to murder her father, who happens to be powerful enough to fricassee every Overlord around. This guy is an idiot. However, he does know a thing or two about fighting. In order to progress through Adell’s quest for salvation, you’ll have to endure dozens of minor battles that make up the story’s chapters. Though these fights will take place in swamps, forests, decrepit castles, and plenty of other strange locales, the combat will remain the same throughout. The landscape is broken down by a grid, which affects your characters’ movements; some fighters may have better mobility to cover more squares, whereas lesser warriors may have more limited options. The basic idea is to get an opponent within your characters’ attack range, let loose with the appropriate move, and maintain the onslaught until you’ve crushed your hapless foe.

At least, it looks that simple.

Unlike so many run-of-the-mill SRPGs, Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories provides its audience with a ridiculous amount of combat options. Aside from the gauntlets you’ll get at default, you’ll be granted access to a wide variety of swords, guns, spears, axes, staves, spellbooks, bows, and plenty of other weapons of minor destruction. Not only can your characters develop their skills with any given weapon, but they can also master dozens of special moves to add even more chaos to the battlefield. You’ll get to run your enemies through in the blink of an eye, rend the ground apart underneath their feet, cause all sorts of status ailments, and cast more overpowered magic spells than you should probably shake a stick at. On top of all that, the game boasts a character creation system that spans over thirty character classes, each with their own group of specialized job classifications. Obsessive number crunchers and stat fanatics, welcome to your new haven.

Oh, and did I mention that you can level up your characters to Level 9999? That ought to keep you busy.

Characters aside, the excellent combat mechanics of Disgaea 2 keep the battles fresh and entertaining. If you position your warriors correctly, they’ll join forces and take on a single foe at once, resulting in flashy acrobatics, fiery explosions, and devastating injuries. Your characters can also pick each other up and make gigantic towers, which can be thrown to further areas or summon massive special attacks. The battlefields themselves also come with a multitude of features. Aside from cleverly designed ledges, stairs, and hills, many of the maps feature glowing areas and tiny crystals called Geo Panels that can affect yours or your enemy’s party. You’ll have to be watchful of certain areas that can reduce your defensive strengths by half, spaces that can boost your attack rating, and all sorts of tricky bonuses. But if you don’t want to think about all that stuff, you can simply destroy the crystal and watch as the battlefield lights up in a blazing fury as the Geo Panels’ powers are scoured. With so many options and factors to consider, it’s a fair bet that the combat won’t go stale.

But wait, that’s just the main story! Though you can blaze through the story mode fairly quickly, there’s plenty of other stuff you can chew on. If replaying the chapters and powerleveling your characters isn’t your cup of tea, the game features a Dark World where you’ll find the familiar levels filled to the brim with rarer items, new characters, and some truly fearsome opponents. But if you like something a bit more original, there’s also a hidden Item World. Within each item you carry around, no matter how insignificant, there’s a miniature and randomized battlefield willed with multiple levels and challenging foes. On top of that, there’s the Cave of Ordeals and a few other secret battles to endure. But if you like taking on your foes on a political level, you can rise to power in the Dark Assembly and pass laws that can reduce prices, recruit secret characters, and make other drastic impacts to the game.

But if the mountain of gameplay options and extras don’t win you over, then the game’s humor certainly will. Nearly every aspect of Disgaea 2 is chockfull of witty dialogue and entertaining scenes. Adell is unparalleled in his idiocy, and the other characters use it to their advantage on multiple occasions. His family members either threaten or cheer him on depending on their moods. There’s a defunct rocker obsessed with reclaiming his stardom, a demonic toad with multiple personalities, a Stephen Spielberg wannabe, and all of the Prinny penguins will let out a high-pitched “DOOD!” every time they ravage their pathetic foes. The majority of this dialogue is done via text windows and anime styled character profiles. But as far as the in-game sprites go, the amount of detail is excellent. You can see bandanas slightly flapping through the breeze, a wide variety of ornate costumes, flashy specials attacks, and more than enough spiky hair to go around. The actual battlegrounds are even more detailed, showing off cracked flooring, mossy forests, glowing lights, and plenty of color to spare. If all that isn’t enough, then all the pop culture references and fourth wall-breaking jokes ought to leave a smile on your face.

You know what the weird thing is? I hate RPGs with a passion. Yet there’s something about this game that just works. Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories is a sequel that reintroduces us to a dark world filled with demonic beings, dangerous monsters, heinous villains, and some of the most memorable characters around. Its combat system looks pretty straightforward at first glance, but the sheer amount of options and strategy involved will keep you on your toes. If you enjoy developing characters and leveling them to perfection, the countless features will leave you gaping at your television for hours on end. Obsessive completionists will have not only a vast amount of items and characters to unlock, but several sidequests and secrets to uncover. Disgaea fans, you know you want to get this game. For everyone else, give this game a chance. There aren’t many games that can boast this kind of spunk.

disco's avatar
Community review by disco (September 04, 2006)

Disco is a San Francisco Bay Area native, whose gaming repertoire spans nearly three decades and hundreds of titles. He loves fighting games, traveling the world, learning new things, writing, photography, and tea. Not necessarily in that order.

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