Disgaea 1 Complete (Switch) Review
Release Date: October 9, 2018
Developer/Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software/NIS America
Plaform: Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PlayStation 4
Fans of the Disgaea series already know what they're in for here. The King of the Netherworld is dead, and new evils have arisen to claim the thrown. Laharl, the rightful heir to the throne, wakes up after a hefty two-year nap to find the kingdom in turmoil. He decides it is time to kick butt and claim what is rightfully his. The game plays out through tactical RPG warfare with a comedic twist and over-the-top gameplay that allows you to level up to 9999 and deal billions of points of damage per turn.
Disgaea 5 Complete released May 2017 for the Switch, and the original Disgaea came out back in 2003. Disgaea 1 Complete is exactly what it sounds like: the story, characters and gameplay of the original and the bonuses added in through rereleases through the years. Disgaea has been on the PS2, PSP, DS, and PC before this release. The big addition to the Switch release is the HD world, sprites, and effects, bringing the original title up to par with the newest release in terms of presentation. Disgaea 1 Complete is releasing for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. While beautiful, it does not tax the Switch at all, making it the optimum place to get the game if you have a choice. Tactical RPGs eat up a lot of your time so the portability allows you to power through the grind wherever you are.
With multiple releases through the years bits and pieces have been added to the game. Primarily "Etna Mode" adds a scenario where the second-in-command accidentally offs our main character and becomes the star of the show. While I never got to play any previous releases I can say that the new HD graphics make it a lot easier to understand the data on the screen. Sprites are upscaled to appear as clean-cut animated characters rather than blocky and spritelike. The developers liked keeping the characters in the Disgaea series as 2D animated characters instead of 3D polygons to allow more emotion and variety in animation. This is better seen on the HD graphics as well.
While cleaned up and the definitive edition of the game, there is really not anything new added to it. Big fans of the game looking for another lap will fall in love and newbies will be getting the optimum experience but that's all you'll be getting. I read that the DS release had some sort of ad-hoc multiplayer mode and all press materials for this release says single player only, so I'm wondering if this was not included in the complete edition (again, I haven't played a version prior to this review, so I'm not sure where hor how you would get to it let alone I have no other local players to battle with my review code). Many online sites discuss it as fun but mechanically only good for farming items, which is possible in other modes.
Fans of tactical RPGs that haven't delved into Disgaea don't necessarily need to start with #1 as the main characters change in each entry, but this definitive edition is a welcome addition particularly to those who may have played 5 recently as their first entry to the series. It's also a good entry point for those unfamiliar with Tactical RPGs as well due to it's well-done tutorial and wild levelling structure. Players can recruit and create new characters for their party and bring up to ten allies into battle. Instead of straight move-act like Final Fantasy Tactics, you program in all moves and attacks you want to do prior to a full execute, and allies who are next to each other on the field will get chain and stat boost bonuses which add another dimension to battle. Beating the game allows you to return to the beginning with stronger enemies but all your previous levelling intact. Multiple run-throughs will translate to literal billions of hit point attack combos. The fully-voiced cast is available in English or Japanese and adds color to the story interactions.
I've noticed and really enjoyed the recent rereleases for Switch, adding portability and a modern sheen for a cheaper than traditional retail price. I wish there were magical ways to port save files over (I want to play Final Fantasy 7 Switch but would love love LOVE to see my mastered save brought over from the PS1) but that's a pipe dream and logistical nightmare, so I suppose long time Disgaea fans will need to be prepared to start over and see not much more than the gorgeously improved graphics. Without a doubt Disgaea 1 Complete is a great addition, as the series stays close to it's roots and is basically a new game to fans of 5 that came out recently for both the Switch and PS4.
-Stark contrast in graphics and clarity when comparing screenshots
-New HD battle menus are easier to read
-The origin of a wonderful tactical RPG series
-New Game Plus repeated playthroughs and "Etna Mode" allow you to skyrocket levelling and attack power into the stratosphere
-Other than the graphical overhaul doesn't really add anything to make it feel more "Complete"
-No promotional material discusses anything similar to the DS multiplayer mode
-I pine for the day I can magically bring my saves from a console two generations back.....
Special thanks to Nippon Ichi Software and NIS America for providing a copy of Disgaea 1 Complete for review!