Apparently 2009 is the year of the Prinny. This fictional penguin creature not only starred in his own portable platformer Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero
, but is all over Nippon Ichi Software's newest PSP adventure game, Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days. With all of these different games I've really started to fall in love with this adorable (and dangerous) creature, so it should come as no surprise that this Prinny-filled adventure game is yet another must-own for fans of obscure (yet totally accessible) Japanese role-playing games.
Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days is a re-release of the 2006 PlayStation 2 game (Cursed Memories). While some fans may be disappointed that this isn't a brand new game, there are enough enhancements and extra quests to make you fall back in love with this phenomenal console game. Best of all, this PSP release will mean that gamers who missed the game the first time around will finally have a chance to check out one of the best reviewed role-playing games in recent memory.
In Dark Hero Days you play Adell, a demon hunter who realizes that he's the only one in his hometown who hasn't been turned into a soulless monster. As he investigates his surroundings he discovers that everybody is acting a little odd, so he decides to take matters into his own hands and do something about it. Before long he's introduced to a young girl named Rozalin, who happens to be the only daughter of the evil Overlord Zenon, the one suspected of turning everybody into monsters. So the two of you (along with friends and warriors you pick up along the way) set out to defeat Zenon and make everything normal again.
The dynamic between Adell and Rozalin is a lot like a combative version of Crono and Marle from Chrono Trigger. Rozalin has lived a life of privilege, so she comes off as a little stuck up. Did I say that she's a little stuck up? What I meant to say is that she's outrageously obnoxious, to the point where neither you nor Adell know what to do with her. This dynamic is common in Hollywood movies, but outside of a few examples (Kane & Lynch: Dead Men springs to mind) you don't see it very often in games. As I progressed through the story I wondered if these two would even make it through the thirteen episodes without killing each other.
What sets the Disgaea series apart from all of the other role-playing games on the PSP is its incredible sense of humor. I could get into each and every character's quirk, but the fun of the game is watching how their stories play out in extremely humorous ways. It's not just the character dialogue, either. The game is often narrated by a wacky TV news program, a subject that is certainly ripe for parody. While not all of the comedy works, the characters find themselves in increasingly crazy situations. The game gives you the option to completely skip the story, but you are really missing out if you bypass the fantastic writing and always surreal storyline.
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