Disgaea 5: Complete Review – Football Manager 5
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software America
Platform: Nintendo Switch
ESRB Rating: M
Release Date: May 23rd 2017
Thank you NISA for providing a review copy for this game.
It’s been a long time since Disgaea has last appeared on a Nintendo platform, as the last entry was a port of the original game on the DS. Almost a decade later, the second Disgaea game to reach Nintendo fans is the latest entry in the franchise, “Disgaea 5” on the Nintendo Switch. This version of the game comes will all of the DLC which you can access from the get-go. This means the extra classes, recruits, and scenarios are yours to play around with. That said, normally, when Disgaea is ported to a different platform (typically it’s been Sony’s portable devices) they’d get extra content on top of the DLC content. Sadly, that’s not the case here. Here, it’s just the DLC.
Disgaea is a Strategy Role Playing Game in the same vain of Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics. Battle areas are all tile based; you and your opponents move from tile to tile and, if you’re in range, you can attack each other. However, the difference between Disgaea and other SRPGs is that Disgaea has systems within its own systems. It’s head is so far up its own butt that one would typically think a game like this would fall apart, but instead it’s somehow the glue to keep it together.
Let’s take it from the top. Disgaea 5, its story and (maybe) even its characters aren’t necessarily the reasons why you play them. If you like anime, then sure this game can be appreciated and entertaining in some way, but if you don’t, well, tough luck. There’s honestly not much here. There’s a demon called Void Dark out there. taking over the Netherworlds for his own purposes. As you travel through the game, your main party members on your team have their own reasons for taking him down. For instance, one wants to take down Void Dark because her father set her up with a political marriage with him. So why is she upset with Void Dark and not her father? Another wants to take down Void Dark so he can declare himself the strongest there is… Again, if you like anime and all of its trappings, then you might have some fun with this cast and their almost completely asinine nature. The truth of the matter is, when it comes to Disgaea: the story just doesn’t matter. It’s the gameplay that makes the game, and there is a lot of game to break down and pick apart.
At its core, Disgaea is a very simple yet very complex machine. The story may only take you a few dozen hours to get through, but to see everything the game has to offer may take you hundreds. Why is that? Again, let’s start from the beginning: this time with your characters. Outside of your main cast, you can hire a ton of other characters to help you out on your journey. By the start of the game, you’ll have about nine or ten different types of recruitable types to help you out (plus 3 more if you redeem the DLC right away). It’s at this point where the game shows you a small bit of its true colors. By having your recruit defeat enemies they will slowly master their job, and when they master said job, they can become a higher class job. Once that happens, you can hire that job class from the get go. In all there are over 40 jobs out there, each of them have their own unique abilities which completely change how they behave in comparison to a very similar class.
To continue down this rabbit hole, some jobs are better at some weapons than others. Barring the only rule that monsters can only carry monster weapons and that demons can only carry humanoid weapons; anyone can equip anything. Demons have 7 different weapons types to play with, while monsters only have 2. If you wish, you can have someone carry a weapon they aren’t good with if you want to make the game harder on yourself for no good reason. The thing is, though, just like how you can level up your recruits’ class mastery, you can do so with a weapon as well. With weapons, the more a certain weapon type is used, the more skills you’ll be able to unlock from using it. We’ve not yet reached the end of this rabbit hole regarding these weapons though, because you can actually level up the skills you learn as well. The more you use a skill the less SP (Special Points) it requires. If you want, you can pay to have its attack power (and range, if you’re a mage for example,) increased in the skill shop. However, the SP cost will go up tremendously so be wary of that.
So, on to the actual battles themselves. All of the basic SRPG elements are here: tile based movement, height affecting whether attacks connect or not, levels being affected by a status and so on. What makes the Disgaea series special is that it adds “Geo-panels” to the mix. Geo-panels are a set of panels on the level that have their own effects to them, so it’s entirely possible for a level to have an effect that covers the entire map, as well as only a series of tiles.
To make up for the lack of weapons for monsters, monsters themselves can transform into weapons for demons allowing for really nice bonuses; an example being both the demon and the monster gain experience for encounters. Nonetheless, there is a time limit on this and once it’s up they’re gone for the battle. Same with the weapon holder being defeated. If they go down, they both go down. Considering you can only have 12 troops with you in a battle at once, it’s best to keep that in mind.
Battle flow in Disgaea 5 is simply the best. Speed doesn’t exist here in terms of turn order, so you can choose who to move and when whenever you like. If you don’t like where your character moved to, you can simply choose the move option again instead of having to cancel their action up to that point and then hit move again. If you want something and it’s seemingly out of reach, have a character pick another character up and throw them there. The character throwing will have spent their turn but the character being thrown has yet to make their move, so they’ll be just fine. Although my favorite part about Disgaea 5 is executing your strategy. Once everyone has moved into a position you’re comfortable with, you can then select who will attacking/supporting who. (Note that the order of which the attacks happen is the order you selected it in,) but once all is said and done, just select execute and watch how everything unfolds. If you like how everything turned out, or if nobody else can move anywhere, you can then end your turn.
Disgaea’s charm is that (in case you haven’t noticed already) it’s set to 11 on a 10 scale. Nevertheless, Disgaea 5 ups the ante even further by making things extra crazy. For instance, new to Disgaea is the “Revenge System.” When an ally is hit or defeated in battle, the revenge meter goes up; once full, it will automatically activate. Once this happens for 3 turns, you’re guaranteed critical hits and all skills only use 1 SP. If you’re in Revenge mode using an Overlord, then once per battle you can use a special technique that’s unique to them. Of course it wouldn’t be fun if you hogged all the fun so the game applies this to your opponents as well. Due to the fact that opponents are incredibly dangerous in this state, once defeated, the game rewards you with a powerful item.
Speaking of items, the bonus gauge fills up every time you land an attack. It fills even faster every time you land multiple attacks in the same execution, so setup is everything for this. The higher it fills the items you’ll be rewarded with. If you get it all the way up to rank 9, you’ll be awarded with a super rare item that can only be gotten from that bonus gauge’s level once so farming it is not an option.
What you can do in the hub world even non-related to your characters actually battling is just as absolutely insane. There’s the usual shop where the more you buy and sell items, the more it levels up, allowing you to do more things in said shop. There’s also the hospital where you can heal up from the previous battle as well as revive. Using the hospital a lot can also gain you some additional items.
Some other things you can do that make it worth it are:
- You can create your own levels in the game
- You can change how your Netherworld looks.
- You can form squads which then have their own subset of tasks
- You can make curry in which depending what type you make, your party will either have increased stats, or even greater benefits like higher critical chance hit, HP or even SP regeneration.
- You can send out a team to explore other Netherworlds and after a while they’ll come back with findings.
- You can have squad vs squad battles on maps and no matter where an enemy is on the map they’ll receive damage from the battle and vice versa.
- You can run a prison by capturing enemies; said prison also has it own features as you can choose to
- Kill the inmates to make your squads stronger
- Have them join your cause
- Become a resident of your netherworld
- You can mess with the game’s systems by voting to do so democratically in the Strategy Assembly Room.
- Alternatively, you can ignore that process and visit the cheat shop depending on what you want to get done.
- Most importantly in the hub world are the abilities to enter the Item World and Chara World.
The Item World is where you’ll be spending most of your time in Disgaea 5. To put it simply, every item you possess has it’s levels for you to battle in. Doing battle in this world will cause the item itself to become more powerful and potentially change the characterization of the item entirely. So if you grow really attached to a weapon, you can just continue to upgrade it for it to become more and more powerful. Other than that, there are also “Innocents” to catch and subdue. Innocents are creatures that live inside your items that give buffs and an item can hold multiple Innocents. For instance, you can have a piece of sword that gives bonus HP, SP, spear resistance, and cause paralysis thanks to them. You can store and even breed them in your hub world as well.
Chara World is where you’ll be leveling up yourself believe it or not. Here instead of playing an SRPG, it’s more or less a board game. You roll a die and whatever the number is on top is how many spaces you move. The tile you land on can have positive or even negative affects on you such as raising a stat, losing some health or losing a turn.
As stated from the very beginning of this review, Disgaea 5 is a port of the original Disgaea 5 for PS4. Considering fans have been clamoring the game on a portable device before the game even launched, the result came out pretty well. In the 30 hours I’ve put in so far, I haven’t come down with any issues whatsoever be it docked or even handheld. That said, now that this game is brought into the portable space, it’ll be easier to dive into the game much, much easier.
The funniest thing however is that because of the fact that it’s such a Playstation heavy franchise, a little bonus for this Complete edition is the incorporation of trophy support. In the game there is a character you can talk to so you can see what trophies you have or haven’t unlocked yet. Naturally just like trophy lists, some of them of them are invisible to you. When a trophy is unlocked it’ll show up on the corner of the screen and even make a small noise. The whole thing is a small but truly good touch.
Games like Disgaea are incredibly rare to a point where its existence almost seems unnatural. No normal person would want to raise a character to level 9999 and have them reincarnate to do it all over again. No game should have what feels like a constant streams of information for you to mess with at all times regardless of the situation. A game like Disgaea is literally the reason why people say that JRPGs are nothing but menus because in this case, that’s all Disgaea actually is; an endless supply of menus that do nothing but lead into more menus. But at the end of the day, despite being the definition of insanity, Disgaea is an absolute blast to play. Story and characters aside, the game itself is just fun. One of the best parts about Disgaea 5 is that you can ignore 90% of what the game allows you to mess with, but it’s still a fully featured SRPG at it’s core. Everything else is the icing on the cake with nothing that spoils it, but only adds on to it if you choose to go deep into it.