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Developer:
Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America
Platform: PS2
Release Date: August 29, 2006

by Josh Ferguson




When Disgaea: Hour of Darkness was released for the PlayStation 2 in August 2003, the company Nippon Ichi was relatively unknown in the US. However, with large success due to such great strategy-RPG titles such as Disgaea, La Pucelle and Makai Kingdom, the company has propelled itself into becoming a fan favorite among RPG gamers. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before Disgaea, the game that started it all, received a sequel, and that came in August 2006, entitled Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories.


The storyline in Disgaea 2 follows a seventeen-year-old human boy by the name of Adell. Living in the world of Veldime has been hard on Adell--not only does he have no recollection of his real parents, but his adopted parents and everyone else has been transformed into demons by a curse set by Overlord Zennon. In order to free his family and friends from this curse, Adell decides that he will face the Overlord in battle and defeat him to remove his curse. Since no one really knows where Zennon resides, Adellís mother attempts to summon the Overlord to their home where Adell and the Overlord would face off. However, somewhere along the lines, the spell goes wrong and Overlord Zennon doesnít appear, but instead his daughter, Rozalin, is brought to Adell. With the summon pact in mind, Rozalin decides to stay with Adell, and he also promises to return the Princess to her father.


One of the things that made the original Disgaea so memorable was the hilariousness and uniqueness of the lead characters. While the characters in the Disgaea sequel arenít necessarily bad, they definitely fail to exceed the humor and greatness of the original game's lead characters, Laharl and Etna. The dialogue between those two characters and their actions could be downright laugh-out-loud hilarious, but Adell and Rozalin of the sequel can be somewhat boring and uninteresting. By no means does this mean that Disgaea 2 lacks the humor of the first game, but as far as the storyline characters go, there was a little more charm, character, and humor with the original game. Also, one of the things that made the original game so appealing was that you gamers were basically going through the story as the bad guys, but in the sequel you go back to being the somewhat clichť hero who is going through the game trying to save the world.


If youíre at all familiar with the original Disgaea or the strategy-RPG genre, chances are you will basically know how the game will play out. If you arenít familiar with the game, combat basically plays out on the traditional grid-based maps we usually see associated with the genre. Each of these maps can hold up to ten of your party's characters, while the number of enemies can be somewhat larger. Combat is basically completely turn-based, where you move your characters across the grids and attack whenever possible. The usual rules apply here, with attacks from the front doing less damage than say those coming from the side or behind an enemy. Attacking characters also have an opportunity to perform team attacks, with up to four characters being able to take part in these attacks. When characters are standing next to each other, there is always a certain percentage of time that the attack will be performed. In order to increase this percentage, you should have characters who are compatible, or maybe try having masters team with their apprentices. Once your party has successfully defeated all the enemies on the field, the mission will end and you will head back to the main screen, where you can continue on to the next mission or head back to Holt Village, the base map and a safe zone where your characters will start.


While the combat in Disgaea 2 is basically identical to the original game, there have been some new and interesting additions. The first of which is known as stack attacks, which is basically where your characters lift each other up on their shoulders as if they are to throw one another, but instead attack the enemy. The number of characters that can take part in these stack attacks is only limited to the number that is out on the battlefield, which considering that you can have up to ten, this can cause some massive damage. Aside from the stack attacks, one of my favorite new additions to the combat is the idea of being able to use cell phones and calling in backup. There are a few different choices of which you can call, including a pizza delivery to recover your character's health and the ever-popular superhero team, the Prism Rangers! There really isnít much of a difference between the combat of the first and second games, but it really doesnít matter. This is one of those situations where if itís not broke, then donít fix it, and the combat continues to work wonderfully even three years later.


Similar to the original Disgaea, when your characters defeat an enemy, they will acquire an amount of experience, depending on the level of the defeated enemy. As your characters continue to gain more and more experience, they will gain a level, and sometimes when a character levels this will unlock an all-new character class in the Dark Assembly. The Dark Assembly is basically the place where you will go to acquire all of the non-storyline characters in your party. There are over 200 different character classes available in the game, some of which will be obtained by merely defeating enemies, while others must be unlocked by reaching a certain amount of mana by defeating enemies, or by reaching a certain level with a specific character class. So in other words, if you enjoyed the original Disgaea because of the large number of characters, then you will no doubt love its sequel. While many of the character classes are almost identical to that of the original game, there are some that have been altered and their appearances are somewhat different.


Inside each of the items of the game are worlds known as the item world. By going and talking to the item world guide, it is possible to go inside one of the items in your inventory and strengthen that item, including weapons, equipment, or different items. With the enormous amount of items found throughout the game, players could easily be spending hours upon hours visiting and strengthening some of their characters' equipment or weapons.


Inside the item world is where one of the game's newest features, the Dark Court, comes into play. Throughout the game there are a number of different crimes (which donít really seem like crimes) that your characters can commit, including obtaining a high HP, high attack, or mastering a certain type of weapon. These crimes are handed out in the forms of subpoenas, which are handed out by heading to the character listed as the post officer. After acquiring a subpoena, your character can take the item to the item world guide and travel inside the subpoena. Each of the subpoenas have a certain level where the court resides, and once you reach that level, your character will be taken before the dark court, which is made entirely of everyoneís favorite demonic penguins, the Prinnies. There might be a subpoena for a certain character, but in reality any of your characters are able to go before the Dark Court and pay for the crime. While obtaining a felony would normally be a bad thing, the game adding a felony to a character can help make shopping less expensive and look better to the members of the assembly.


When it comes to Nippon Ichi games, one of the things that they are known for is a long-lasting ride. With spending time in the item world, unlocking all of the different character classes, and unlocking the secret characters, players can easily spend 100+ hours with one of their games. Even if you're not someone who wants to spend that long with the game, players will more than likely be spending at least 25 hours with just the main story of the game. So if you are a gamer who is looking for something that can keep you occupied for a long period of time, then look no further than this game right here.


Concerning the game's graphics, Disgaea 2 features an overall nice look. While the actual look of the game doesnít seem too much different from the original, the character models look a bit more clean and detailed, which is always a good thing. As always, many of the attack animations from special attacks and the different character animations look nice. The anime-styled portraits that appear during game discussions are detailed and nice too. Realistically, the only real graphics flaw is that the game really doesnít appear very different from the original.


One of the most important things concerning a title that is as humorous as Disgaea is the quality of the voice work. Unless the voice work is done well, the game can be a complete miss when it comes to the humor. Luckily, Disgaea 2 features some high-quality voice work that helps make the overall experience quite hilarious. Aside from the game featuring some high-quality voice work, the game also features a wide variety of voice work, which helps make the characters seem quite unique among each other. As far as the game music, there really arenít a lot of tunes that stand out, but overall there is some good music. At times the music is recycled, but overall the quality is good.


There have been some new additions, but overall Disgaea 2 is very similar to the original game that was released three years ago. Even though the characters arenít quite as interesting as those seen in the original, Disgaea 2 remains one of the best strategy-RPGs out there. Dood, if you were a fan of the original game, then there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that you will be enjoying the game's sequel.


Final Grade: 87%




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