Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories Review

Disgaea: Hour of Darkness is one of those rare titles that you,ve either played and embraced wholeheartedly (and probably lost a good chunk of your social life along the way), or never heard of at all. The first Disgaea game was certainly a sleeper hit, any way you slice it. The sequel-Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories-follows in its footsteps, by sticking close to the formula that made the first game so deviously wonderful. There are good and bad things about this technique, but at least you have an idea of what you’re getting into.

The Disgaea games are SRPG’s, or Strategy Role Playing Games. If you ever played the famed cult classics Final Fantasy Tactics or Ogre Tactics, then you will recognize this niche (but incredibly fun) genre right away. Disgaea broke new ground, twisting a hilarious and mildly deviant plot into a game category sadly lacking in humor and new life. Coupled with the item world, level 9999 capable characters, hundreds of hours of play time, multiple endings, and geopanel environmental effects, Disgaea was created to suck you in.

Now that we’ve recapped what the Disgaea series is all about, lets get into what the second game actually is. First off, it is a very similar sequel. The classes are mostly the same, the rules are about the same, and the graphics are only slightly improved. From a first glance, it seems like not very much at all was done with the admittedly addictive and well thought out formula of the first game. And why should they try to revamp it? A game this huge, complex and downright silly has to be careful to balance all factors equally, and that,s hard to shake up once you’ve gotten it down almost perfectly.

But as I delved a little deeper into Cursed Memories I started to notice the subtle differences they put into the sequel, and each and every one was crafted specifically for gripes that people may not have even known they had about the first game. The developers at NiSoft listen to their fans, and so every nuance and small change in the game is mainly for the better. What changes, you may ask? Well first off, the art style is changed very slightly; the graphics are improved to a small degree as well. They improved the sprite sizes so that the default cut-scene camera angle gives a fuller and more impressive view of characters. Weapons (shown wielded by each unit) are much more dramatic and oversized, so that when someone is an axe wielder, you know from your first look that he is an AXE wielder.

A lot of nitpicks have been addressed as well. Ranged fighters in the first game were very limited; an archer or even gun-wielder were seldom able to attack any further than most other classes’ special attacks, and therefore became void to some degree. In Cursed Memories, ranged attackers have a much better sense of range. Gun wielders can shoot very far, even early in the game, and archers seem a little more useful than before. Some main attacks have been dropped (while some were added), and almost all of the battle animations and special attack animations have been rebuilt to be more impressive, and quicker to execute. Some of the first game’s attacks seemed go on and on, like a Final Fantasy summon; this is no longer a problem. Level building is also faster this time around, and You’ll find yourself at level 30 before you’ve gone through 5 areas.

In an attempt to shake things up, some classes have been added, like Magic Knight, Sinner, Beast Master, and more. These are mainly hybrids of other classes, but can be unlocked via the Dark Assembly fairly early on, as opposed to the difficult requirements to unlock cool classes from the first Disgaea. It seems that just about every enemy you defeat is instantly available to you to create after the fight, in Disgaea 2. The character creation screen also now features an "interesting fact" about each class/enemy, like "DMG up when Health is Low," or "Strong Counter-attacks." Other additions and changes include the Felony system (where you’re rewarded for crimes), alternate Item World effects (including re-naming items), and different Home Bases (so the scenery changes a lot more). The items, prizes, classes, and levels come fast and furious, and the gameplay is solid and fun, as in the first game.

What isn’t so great? Well for one, there seems to be issues with graphical slow-down in the game. It’s surprisingly that in a sprite-based RPG with minimal graphic requirements-even for the aging PS2 system-framerate issues are very present. But it’s there plain as day. Some scenes or loading times (which can stretch on a bit) cause the onscreen action to move frame by frame for short periods of time. However, this is fairly rare. As mentioned before, while this game does look slightly better compared to the first Disgaea title, it is decidedly current-gen and won’t win any awards for graphics. The artwork is as odd and inspired as the previous title, so for some that may not be an issue.

When comparing the two, you can clearly see the improvements (after a little play-time) of the newer game, but you’ll find yourself missing the absurdities of the first title. In this game you play as Adell, the do-gooder main character who constantly re-enforces his honor-infused ideals like a motivational speaker on Prozac. After the first 4 dozen repetitions of "I cannot lie or ever break a promise!", character building goes out the window, and you realize that he’s just stuck on Good Guy (think overzealous boy scout). Some of the other NPC’s are much more interesting, like a down and out rock star with a mission, and a very risqué dual-personality frog…creature. The story of Disgaea 2 is simple-Adell is trying to save his family from a terrible curse that turns his entire family into demons (while he remains human) by summoning the Lord of all Overlords, Zenon. He accidentally gets Zenon’s naive daughter Rozalin, and Adell’s freakishly large honor-gland bind him to return her to her father, whom he means to kill. So the wacky hijinks begin.

While it all sounds interesting, it takes quite a while to get rolling. In the meantime, you’ll see guest appearances from the former game, such as Etna, Laharl, and the adorable, deplorable Prinnies. You’ll find yourself laughing out loud at many of the game’s situations, which is a rare thing in itself, but not as much as you did with the first game. To answer a few questions, there are still multiple endings, and the restart system where you start the game after completion with all your original stats to shoot for a different ending and plot is present as well. At its core, this game is very similar to the first adventure, but there are enough improvements to at least make THIS title your new addiction and give you a reason to (finally) set Disgaea on the shelf for a little while. A solid but incremental improvement to the hilarious mind-bender that is Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories is recommended for new and old players alike.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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