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Gaming Evolution
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Gaming Evolution
Gaming Evolution
Published By: NIS America
Developed By: Nippon Ichi Software
Genre: Strategy RPG
Players: 1-2
Rated: T (Teen)
Release Date: September 23, 2008
Screenshots: Link
Amazon: Buy Now!
Written By: Matthew Prunty

Build as an enhanced version of Disgaea: Hour of Darkness from the PlayStation 2 era, Disgaea DS puts you in the role of Laharl, a young and impulsive prince who has been asleep for the past two years. While asleep, his father the Overlord passed away, making him the next in line for the throne. When Laharl awake, he finds his “less-than-trustworthy” vassal, Etna, trying to kill him. Knowing that his father is dead, Laharl must fight for his right to claim his father’s throne and become the new Overlord.

Unlike some RPG titles, Disgaea DS features a simple and straightforward turn-based battle system. The bottom screen plays host to a grid-based battlefield, while the top screen has a map showcasing the exact positions of ally and enemy units. During battle, the player will have the ability to move the camera, which adds to the overall player-friendly mechanic that this game features. By moving the camera, the player will gain a better view of the enemy’s locations on the battlefield, allowing for attacks to be executed to perfection. Since this game utilizes the stylus, you will also be able to zoom in with the camera, allowing the grid-based panels of the battlefield to better seen, which in turn also helps the accuracy of attacks. Also, an extremely helpful option, that will probably go overlooked by most, is the ability to turn off battle animations for enemy and ally characters. By turning off these animations, the fights are drastically sped up, making epic brawls seem shorter than they actually are.

For those who will make Disgaea DS their first entry into the Disgaea universe, they should learn all they can about the geo-effect system, which are colored objects that grant allies and enemies specific traits, which can enhance their attacks or damper them. When a Geo symbol is in place, all nearby panels are turned the same color as the block itself. There are some battles where you can take full advantage of these blocks, while other times you will be at the mercy of your opponents. Unless your characters have leveled up quite a bit, I recommend destroying any and all Geo symbols.

While the actual battles are an important part to Disgaea’s depth and uniqueness, there is also a grand amount of customization that can be done within the game via the Item World and the Dark Assembly. With the item world (series of random dungeons), it’s all about utilizing your weapons to increase their power and unlock their specialists, which can increase the potency of the item in hand. The dark assembly, on the other hand, not only adds depth but also operates as an engrossing minigames. Within the Dark Assembly, it’s all about flexing your power to get Senators to do your bidding. IN the event you clash with a group of senators, a battle breaks out where you must defeat several high-power demons.

Combos, team attacks, and throwing will add extra dimensions to the gameplay, while at the same time keep you a live long enough to see the end of the game. To trigger a combo, simply have any two of your party members attack the same enemy, one after the other, thus allowing you to attack at the same time and eliminate enemies quickly. With team attacks, you initiate them by having one of your allies stand near an attacking teammate. It sounds simple, but not every character from the get go will have the ability to do team attacks. Finally there is throwing, which allows you to toss an ally to a higher location in order to attack and opponent, which is out of reach of normal attacks.

For the most part, the DS version is very similar to that of the PSP version. The character sprites look practically the same as in the PSP counterpart, with the only differences coming from the quality of the platform’s screens. There is virtually no slowdown of the framerate, especially when casting different spell effects. However, while an enhanced version of the original PS2 title, the title suffers from a poorer audio quality (due to game cartridge) and lack-lustering texturing. The audio for the most part is pretty solid, but there are instances where I found myself having trouble hearing the dialog of the voiceovers.

Depending on your gaming expertise, you are looking at a solid 40 hours worth of gameplay, which can easily double if you embark on side quests and frequent visits to the item world. There is also the ability to unlock guest characters like Adell and Rozalin from Disgaea 2. Utilizing the multicard multiplayer will drastically increases replayability, while offering up several additional options. You will have the ability to purchase items off of your friends, which can help complete your own quest for collecting any and every item within the game. There is also the ability to determine geo-cube effects that apply to all characters. The standard time limit and victory-condition settings are also included And for those who feel like giving the game another shot, you can easily start a new journey and keep all your characters, money, and unlockables as try to obtain another one of the 10 possible endings.

Disgaea DS packs all the excitement, the action, and the humor that made the PS2 and PSP versions so great, into a nice little package that would be enjoyed by fans of the series and newcomers alike. In-depth gameplay, off the wall humor, and solid visuals, Disgaea DS is one of the premier RPG titles for the Nintendo DS platform.


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