For those that have played the previous Disgaea go ahead and skip down about oh… two paragraphs while I go over the basics of the main game play and battle system. Now for the uninitiated, Disgaea 2 is a strategy RPG and features battles that occur on a large grid surface, and the map will never be the same, unless you’re replaying through some of the story stages. Once a battle has begun you send out your characters from the Base Panel. Think of it as a safe haven for your allies, and if someone is not hacking it out there on the battlefield you can bring back the slacker and swap him or her for someone else. After removing a character from the base panel, you select where you want them to go and what to do. The character will not immediately carry out your attack plan though, that will occur once you select “Execute” from the menu. After you’ve completed your intended moves you can then end your turn. Resetting your characters is also a snap for when you make a misjudged placement, just don’t forget that you’ll have to queue up all your characters again if you were going for a big combo.
Combination attacks are a huge factor in your quest to find and defeat overlord Zenon. By arranging your characters so that there is a character behind, to the left of, and to the right of your attacker you have a percentage chance to perform a combination attack involving all of those characters. Those characters that joined in on the combo attack will still have their moves to make as well, so essentially you’re getting four attacks for the price of one. This only goes for regular attacks, so save the special moves for those who aren’t within direct contact of the target. For each attack in the combination there is also bonus damage and a boost to the bonus gauge which will award you with items at the end of a fight depending on the bonus level.
There is plenty to do when you’re not participating in battle. For example the Dark Assembly has returned from the last game. Through the Dark Assembly it is possible to create new characters or reincarnate old ones, giving them a much better growth rate per level, for example, a character that has been resurrected will gain more HP or strength than a character that is leveling up at the same pace that has not been resurrected. It pays off to do this with magicians as it will give you all spells that can be learned, without all the magicians taking up spots on the battlefield. You can also petition for better equipment, stronger enemies, or for war funds to pay for the expensive equipment. If you’re feeling really gutsy you can petition to have members of you party added to the senators list. And if the council of senators isn’t willing to give you what you want you can always use force which at times can be dangerous, but a lot more fun.
Opposite the Dark Assembly is the Dark Court, where sinful members of your party are charged with felonies and awarded accordingly. The Prinnies of the Dark Court take great pride on the felonies they hand out, but to get there you first have to go through a few levels in the Item World. The Item World is where you go to level up the stuff in your inventory, giving it better statistics like increased attack power or defense. You can also find hidden rooms in the Item World that will give you a chance to revive all your characters or buy items that are exclusively for sale in the Item World. There is also a heavy focus on Geo-Panels in the Item World. Geo-Panels place a status effect on colored squares on the map. These can range from silence to reverse damage. They add a nice spice to battle and I would have like to have seen them utilized more in the main story battles like in the original Disgaea. The Item World is really an end-game focus so don’t think you’ve got to spend time there in order to progress, it’s mostly a diversion.
For all the good that Disgaea 2 does, it certainly does very little wrong. The only problem that it really has is that there is nothing terribly new here, which keeps it from receiving higher marks with me. A lot of the game play is recycled from the first game which can be a major turn off to those who saw this game and were expecting something new. The game play is solid and fun but after three years it’s hard to think of this title as fresh and exciting. If it wasn’t for the story of this game I would have an even harsher review before you today. But as it stands Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories is a great game that could have been legendary if the developers had opted to put in more original content rather than simply tweak all of the existing stuff and call it a day.
A sequel that the Disgaea faithful have been waiting for. For everyone else, it's just another Nippon Ichi Strategy RPG
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