Mar 7, 2013

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Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories Review

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Recently, NIS America’s Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories made its way onto the PlayStation Store for PS3 owners to enjoy. Because there have been many entries (spin-offs and ports included) since the 2006 release of Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories, one might wonder if there is much reason to go back to an older title when it’s just as easy to play the latest entry, Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten. Consider this a review for those who missed out on the strategy RPG back when it first came out as well as one for those who wonder how the transition to being on the PS3 turned out.

Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories follows the story of a young man named Adell who is searching for Overlord Zenon to undo a curse that has transformed everyone but the young man into demons. When a summoning ritual backfires, causing Adell to be bound to the daughter of Overlord Zenon, he sets out to return Rozalin to her father and then to defeat him. Along the journey, the two come across both new characters and the cast from the first Disgaea.

I do have to admit that while Disgaea 2 is not my favorite in the series (in fact, it’s my least favorite out of the four main entries), the storyline and majority of the new characters introduced are good. It might not be award-worthy, but fans of the series know that the story isn’t the drawing point. The humor in it is pretty good. The story has its cliche moments and a few surprise twists throughout it.

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You have characters who break the fourth wall and follow some of the typical stereotypes (while also going against others). Most of the characters you meet during the game have a certain charm to them. Though I didn’t care much for the main male character Adell due to his constant “I fight with honor no matter what” stance, his interactions with the main female character and supporting cast really mesh together nicely. Rozalin, the haughty princess, starts off a bit grating with her schemes. But as she matures throughout the narrative, she became one of my favorite characters, with a interesting twist to her story near the end of the game.

Those who have played either Disgaea 3 or Disgaea 4 prior to this title should be informed that some of the gameplay features the PS3 titles offer are not in Disgaea 2. The Item World is present and you are able to level up to 9999 just to reincarnate your character to repeat the process. But you can’t enter the Character World in hopes of powering up your army in that fashion. There is also a feature present in Disgaea 2 that was missing from the later titles. This is the felony system, which I will discuss in a bit.

Fans of strategy RPGs should be at ease when it comes to the basics of Disgaea 2‘s gameplay. The action is turn-based, which gives players control over how long they want to take with planning each move. On each map, you can send out up to ten characters. When you are in range to attack an enemy, all you need to do is select the action you want to perform. This could be a normal attack, status inflicting one, or even one of the magic spells that can hit someone from far away. One thing that I always thought was great with the gameplay is the ability to plan your attacks, activate them without ending your turn, and altering your strategy depending on the outcome of your first-planned attacks.

Item world

As with the other entries, you have Geoblocks that add different effects to the colored squares on the map. Some effects work in your favor, while others can really do a number on you, such as the “Enemy Level Up” effect. If you can clear the map of all the colors, you’ll fill up the Bonus gauge and do a nifty amount of damage to all enemies on the field. If possible, it’s always a good idea to fill up the Bonus gauge as it’s one of the ways you can get some of the different rarity items.

The item world is where you will spend most of your time, both during and after the main story. Leveling up the stats and subduing the innocents of the weapon or item you choose to enter is the primary goal. You can leave the item at any point as long as you have a Gency Exit in your inventory, which is helpful if the denizens of an item prove to difficult. Depending on the rarity of the item you’re in, it could contain anywhere from 30 to 100 floors.

During the third chapter, you’re introduced to the felony system. Demons with felonies are considered to be truly badass, as Netherworld laws are made to be broken. Getting a subpoena for a felony isn’t too difficult. They range from stat-related ones such as “High LV” which is given to any character who gets to level 20 to one-time deals like “Playing Too Much,” which is given out once you put in over 100 hours on the game. Once you get a subpoena, it’s time to head into the item world of the subpoena to enter the Dark Court. It doesn’t matter if the character sent to the Dark Court is the same one that the subpoena is for. Getting a felony on your character does more than just place a stamp with the number of felonies you’ve gotten by the character’s portrait. The cost of items in the Item Shops cost less or can be purchased for more depending on the number you have.

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As with most titles released on the PlayStation 2, Disgaea 2‘s graphics haven’t aged too well. This isn’t to say that they are not good. Just that those who come from playing Disgaea 4 and being used to the high definition character sprites will find the PS2 classic’s to be muffled. As this isn’t a HD port, it should be no surprise that the graphics keep their original quality. When it was first released, I found the backgrounds and character sprites to be nice. Then there is the music of the Disgaea series which has always been some of my favorites. Disgaea 2 doesn’t disappoint with most of the tracks within it.

If you manage to not be turned off by the amount of grinding you can do (and will need to do in order to tackle some of the optional bosses), Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories offers hundreds of hours worth of playtime. Beating the main story doesn’t really signify the end of the experience. Rather, you can still continue to play afterwards to unlock extra characters or start a new game plus. While there might not be a lot to start a new game, it does help that you get to carry your levels and items over.

Those who are new to the series and want to play the older entries might be pleased with Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories. Though it is a bit tough for me to fully recommend giving this game a shot if your first experience with the Disgaea series is with the PS3 entries. I can say that this title does offer a fun experience and good story. Of course, PSP and Vita owners would be better off getting the remake that was released back in 2009 over this.

Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories
Platform: PS2, PSN (reviewed)
Genre: Strategy RPG
Release Date: August 29, 2006 (PS2), January 22, 2013 (PSN)
Developer:Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
MSRP: $9.99


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About Elizabeth Burnette

Traversing the world of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Catch me on Twitter @TheLiztress and on the PS3 at The_Liztress