When I heard that Disgaea 5 was not going to come to the Playstation Vita, I knew I would probably only put in the bare minimum on the PS4 version. Sadly, I didn’t even do that. I just don’t enjoy games like this on home consoles. I’ve played all the games in this series, except La Pucelle Tactics on a portable system. I really wished they had brought that to a portable system because I never finished it. Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness was an amazing game to play on the PSP, and was the first of the series that I actually finished. Not only did I finish it, I made it well into the post-game goodies that have become standard for the series.
Disgaea is one of those games that you either love, hate, or just don’t get. The third is more likely the case for most people and it’s totally understandable. If you hear a fan go on about everything you can do in the game, your head will start spinning. At its core, Disgaea games are strategy role-playing games with a silly anime story about demon overlords trying prove that they are the best overlord. If you’ve ever played an Ogre Battle, Final Fantasy Tactics, Fire Emblem, or other game in the genre, you’ll be able to get right into any of them without much trouble.
Each game has had it’s own way of introducing the unique mechanics to the series and/or that specific game, but Disgaea 5 has found the perfect formula. New mechanics are not thrown at you one stage after another as some previous games have done. Instead, you are given little tutorials detailing smaller aspects of the bigger picture. Sometimes, this will be explaining how Geo Panels work and then letting that ruminate for a few stages that feature Geo Panels. Then, they’ll tell you how Geo Panel combos work. They introduce things like Netherworld Effects as they appear in the game rather than shoving it in your face right way. By the time you finish the story, you’ll be ready to play the real game. I know it sounds strange to say something like that, but the Disgaea games have a ton of things to do beyond finishing the story. In fact, it’s fairly well known that you can level to 9,999 with each of your characters, but what a lot of people don’t know is that you can do that multiple times, each time buffing your character’s effectiveness. Most people never get to that point, but if you love the grind, not many games deliver like the Disgaea series.
I could speak for days about how much there is to do in the game, and as I stated earlier, it can make your head spin. First, there are a lot of unlockable classes. These are usually done by taking quests and leveling one or more of the other classes (or sub-classes) to a certain level. The Complete edition on the Nintendo Switch features all of the DLC from the PS4 version, so there are a bunch of characters from previous games with side stories that either go along with the main story or involve those characters in an original little story. Finishing their story will unlock even more characters from their game. The item world allows you to enter an item and level it up by completing levels. There are quite a few things you can do in the item world, too. The Character World works similarly to the Item World, but you enter a character directly and manipulate their stats by completing different levels. Most of this stuff will probably be too much for new players, and I don’t blame you if you simply enjoy the story and take this stuff on afterwards. Speaking of that, I would recommend skipping most of the DLC extras early on, too. They clutter the world selection menu, and can easily confuse a new player about where they should go next.
If you want to enjoy the game as it was intended, just skip all DLC until you finish the story, but if you’re a returning Disgaea fan, you’ll probably want to grab that 1,000,000 hel right out of the gate because the item shops level up MUCH slower than in previous games. Gone are the days where you can simply level up the item shop via votes. Now, you’ve got to do quests or reach a certain stage in order to unlock the ability to vote to buy more expensive items. To be honest, it gives the game a more controlled pace. Also changed from previous games, Evilities (special abilities that you can buy with mana and assign to your characters) are much different. You can assign quite a few to each character this time. You can mix and match either a few powerful ones or a bunch of weaker ones or a mixture of both. The customization you can get with this is insane! Also new to the series is that nearly every class is completely viable in its own way, so feel free to build your team however you see fit.
Specifically relating to the Nintendo Switch, the game functions exactly the same, and after having a slightly longer load time in the beginning, I found that it loads each stage and cut scene faster than the PS4 version. There is one thing that stood out to me. In the introduction of how the controls work, the text swaps out the Playstation buttons for Nintendo buttons, but they did not re-record the audio so it sounds a little weird to have them just skip that little piece of the dialog entirely. I went back and did it on the PS4 version, and they do speak the button names in that one. Aside from that, my testing proved that Disgaea would last around 5 hours on the Switch at 75% brightness and full volume. At lower volume, I managed to eek out about 15-20 more minutes because the audio is quite loud in this game. If you can handle lowering the brightness, you can get upwards of 6 hours of play time on the go. It’s quite reasonable as I’ve never had to use my portable battery over the past week of jury duty. Disgaea 5 on the Switch is exactly what I was waiting for, and it’s a crazy deep SRPG with a fun story. Each of the “main” characters have their own personality except maybe Serephina who comes off as yet another Etna (first game’s heroine) wannabe. She’s almost a carbon copy of Rozalin (second game’s heroine), and frankly, I just didn’t like her. While I’m bitching about things, Killia’s English voice acting is terrible. Instead of coming off as casual like his lines might indicate, he comes off as boring and uninterested. It gets better later in the game, but not by much. Thankfully, if you prefer using the Japanese voices, you totally can! I highly recommend it.
As much praise as I’m giving the game, I must give warning. If you are the type of person who prefers to simply build a team and get through the story of SRPGs with little desire to grind along the way or afterwards, Disgaea may not be a good fit for you. Luckily, the demo for Disgaea 5 Complete is on the US eShop for the Nintendo Switch and your save data will transfer over to the full game if you decide that you’re as big a fan of the series as I am.