Disgaea DS (DS) review
"When I heard that Atlus/Nippon Ichi had decided to port the first Disgaea to the DS, I was shocked. For one thing, they’d already ported it to the PSP and had hinted at the port being a PSP exclusive. For a second, there was no way the DS’s extremely limited hardware could ever hope to run a game that was originally for the PS2, even if it came nowhere close to stretching the PS2’s hardware limits. What Atlus delivered was a bad port of a good game. "
When I heard that Atlus/Nippon Ichi had decided to port the first Disgaea to the DS, I was shocked. For one thing, they’d already ported it to the PSP and had hinted at the port being a PSP exclusive. For a second, there was no way the DS’s extremely limited hardware could ever hope to run a game that was originally for the PS2, even if it came nowhere close to stretching the PS2’s hardware limits. What Atlus delivered was a bad port of a good game.
The gameplay hasn’t changed one bit. You fight battles on large maps divided into grids. Your units start on a base panel, and then move out to defeat all enemies or achieve a similar goal. There’s a basic combo attack system that doesn’t really do much because ultimately whoever gets the kill on an enemy gets all the experience from it. Your main objective is to clear the game by grinding your characters up to insanely high levels and kill everything in sight. As stated, nothing here has changed a bit.
The game’s graphics are nothing to write home about. They’re dumbed down quite a bit – many of the attack animations were either simplified or done away with and the sprites seem like they took a huge quality hit. I’m also pretty certain (but not 100%) that this port can’t display quite as many enemies on screen as the original. When playing, I noticed that the range at which enemies would try to engage me was essentially limited to the area I could see, which was not true at all in the original PS2 version where enemies would move to attack you even if they were off the screen. One of the other things that irks me is the removal of most of the game’s animated portraits during story sequences, which makes the whole thing look drab and unfinished. If you haven’t played the original, you’d probably never notice these things, but anyone who has will immediately see the difference. The reason I don’t give this game’s score a bigger hit for this than I did is that most of the time in the PS2 version, you played with the animations off, especially when grinding in the post-game.
Controls are difficult to use at best and impossible at worst. Moving around with the D-Pad feels like one giant annoyance because the controls are semi-inverted so that pressing Up makes the screen move left and so on. I played through several hours of the game without ever really getting used to the controls or the logic behind them. The touchscreen can also be used to control, but in the end it’s even more inaccurate than using the D-Pad. The touchscreen controls also feature a very mystery meat menu system with buttons that don’t make any sense until you’ve used all of them a million times. The only good control scheme is a combination of both, which is tedious and annoying.
The area that was hit the hardest in this port was sound quality. Roughly 80% of the voiceacting in the story scenes is gone. Most of the voiceacting in battle is still present, but has been downgraded quite a bit. About 75% of the background music has mysteriously vanished, and what little remains was recomposed for the DS and sounds terrible. Some of the voiceactors have been changed (for the worse) and the Tsunami Bomb song “The Invasion from Within” that was featured in the PS2 version has been removed.
The only other changes in the port are the ability to recruit several of the characters from the other Nippon Ichi SRPGs – namely Zetta from Makai Kingdom, Adell from Disgaea 2, and Pleinair, Nippon Ichi’s mascot. The new characters add almost nothing to the game that wasn’t in the original, and in any case don’t make up for the tons of content that was removed for the game to work on the DS.
Final Word: Don’t buy this game. If you have a PSP, don’t buy the PSP version as I’m told it has almost as many problems as the DS one does. Disgaea is a game that’s definitely worth a playthrough, but only on the original PS2 version, which is most likely cheaper now than buying either of the remakes. Final Score: 3/10.
Community review by timrod (September 27, 2008)
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