Greets, people, non-people, literate farm animals – anyone reading this, really. It’s good to see you all again, and for a change, I have some good news! First and foremost, the Ominous Dark Tower has a new resident! After engaging in a dark and arcane summoning ritual – or, you know, contacting my friend and fellow attorney Heidi – I have successfully gained a new familiar. Now all shall kneel before the might of EWE and Zero!
And as if that wasn’t enough, Z and I have recently gained access to a Nintendo Wii U – thus we can soon enjoy and bring you our thoughts on some of the exclusive titles for that innovative, but ill-fated system. But before we get to the Wii U, let’s discuss the latest title for its successor that has been sucking up all of my free time. If you like any combination of SRPGs, wacky anime-style slapstick, and penguins, then boy does NIS America have a treat for you!
So, let’s get this out of the way – if you’ve previously played a game in the Disgaea series and did not care for it, this game isn’t going to change your mind. NIS has recognized their target audience and steered firmly toward it, and while there are some basic quality of life improvements to this compilation of the previous PS4 release of Disgaea 5 coupled with all of its previously released DLC, those who have been put off in the past by this series’ quirks will only find more of the same here. In fact, if anything, there are even MORE stats to build, subsystems to master, and over-the-top zany jokes to roll your eyes at than ever before.
Like previous games in the series, the main gameplay here consists of turn-based, tactical RPG battles on grid maps between up to ten of your units and armies of enemy units. Your army will not lack for diversity – as there are an absolute TON of different humanoid and monster classes to be unlocked, in addition to the plot-based characters and their own unique classes. Each class has its own unique skills as well as the ability to learn weapon based skills for any weapon that they gain sufficient proficiency in. Between battles, you can wander through your hub world, conversing with party members, buying weapons and items, powering up skills, and as is tradition for the series, journeying into each and every one of your items in order to level them up. As before, every character, weapon, and item in the game can be raised to Level 9999, and while this is not in any way necessary to complete the main plot, you will be doing an incredible amount of grinding in order to complete the challenging post-game content. And honestly, if you came into Disgaea 5 without a desire to grind…what are you doing here?
Likewise, the trademark wacky demon humor of the series has been ratcheted up to 11 here – and while I still appreciate it for what it is, I can easily see how it is beginning to wear thin for many. You can only tell the same joke, or do the same slapstick, so many times before the audience becomes numb to it, no matter how funny it originally was. But while some SRPGs are heavily focused on plot (hello, Final Fantasy Tactics), the plot in Disgaea has always been there as an excuse to facilitate the leveling treadmill. The real draw of this series has always been for that OCD impulse in many gamers to create a party of living gods that can inflict damage in the billions of points of HP, and on that front, Disgaea 5 on the Switch allows you to scratch that itch literally anywhere you go.
If you are a fan of the series, then this game is the ultimate way to experience everything great about Disgaea. The DLC chapters give you access to a plethora of bonus characters for your party drawn from across the other games in the franchise, as well as from other NIS SRPGs. And the Switch’s blessed portability is the absolute best way to play a Disgaea title. I have owned and played every entry in the series on every platform it released on, and I have always enjoyed the PSP and Vita ports of the prior Disgaea titles – a game so dependent on jumping in, grinding a few maps, and jumping back out before it gets tiresome is absolutely MADE for a portable platform. I honestly can’t say enough about how at home this game is on the Switch, and the beautiful screen is perfect for the hi-res sprites and beautiful 2D cutscenes. The voice acting is a mixed bag – Killia has a cool, calm voice perfectly suited to an aloof anti-hero, Red Magnus is a hilariously obnoxious knock-off of the Rock…but word of warning: Seraphina’s voice, laugh, really any sound she makes is tooth-grindingly aggravating.
Bottom line is this – if you weren’t a Disgaea fan already, this game isn’t going to change your mind. But if you’ve liked the series at all in the past, even just a little, then this is probably the best game it’s produced so far, and this is the ideal, definitive version of it to play.
That’s it for now, doods and doodettes! See you again soon – and that’s not a promise, it’s a threat! – EWE