Is no place safe from Disgaea?
With Nippon Ichi's original SRPG coming to Switch and PS4, the only haven now is Xbox, maybe. (And that's fine!)
Over the past 15 years, Nippon Ichi has been, for all intents and purposes, the House that Disgaea Built. The company went from tiny niche nobody to plucky niche upstart on the strength of 2003's Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, a PlayStation 2 strategy RPG that took delight in making fun of the genre while simultaneously doubling down on strategy excesses. The result was a witty, unpredictable take on strategy role-playing, filled with whimsical characters and defined by inventive mechanics that actively encouraged players to create combination attacks that added up to stratospheric damage values. It felt like no other game at the time, and it landed just as western PS2 fans were truly beginning to open their minds to colorful and offbeat Japanese imports (see also: Katamari Damacy). Localized by Atlus, the game did so well in the U.S. that Nippon Ichi quickly moved to open its own U.S. branch, NIS America.
Given the game's role in the company's fortunes, it should come as little surprise that NIS has done its level best to keep the original Disgaea perpetually in circulation. It's been remade for about half a dozen platforms by now, some perfect for the game (PlayStation Portable!) and some decidedly not (sorry, Nintendo DS). So, with that in mind, the fact that Disgaea will be making its way to current consoles in the form of Disgaea 1 Complete should also come as little surprise. Really, the only question raised by last week's announcement of NIS's latest rendition of Disgaea is: Why no Xbox version?
(Yes, I know. Japan doesn't do Xbox.)
Disgaea 1 Complete will land on both PlayStation 4 and Switch this fall. The series has always been a mainstay of PlayStation platforms, so the PS4 release makes perfect sense. And given that Disgaea 5 Complete for Switch blew through sales expectations and is rumored to have single-handedly saved the company's bacon after a rough couple of years, the conversion of the first game in the franchise to that platform also amounts to a no-brainer. Naturally, NIS America will be offering the game both in standard formats as well as with an exclusive boxed set through the company's web store. That set, of course, comes complete with NIS America's customary bonus goodies, including one which is amusing albeit of somewhat questionable taste (in this case, it's one of those "squishy boob" mouse pads featuring demoness Etna… the joke being that it's just a normal flat mouse pad, because Etna has small breasts. Ha, ha).
Rather than simply dumping the original game or even the PlayStation 3 remake [correction: the assets from PS3 sequel D2] onto Switch and PS4, NIS has committed to reworking the in-game assets to proper HD resolution. This will be the second time they've revised and upscaled the game sprites, and… well, the results could go either way. In stills, the new sprites look like they could potentially amount to those ugly up-rezzed sprites Square Enix keeps using its Final Fantasy remakes. Certainly they're not that bad, but I definitely need to see the game in motion before being totally on board with the new look. The old sprites had plenty of personality, and it's hard to imagine the company will be sinking enough man-hours into this update to make the high-rez sprites a genuine upgrade. Of course, I'd be perfectly OK if they manage to pleasantly surprise me.
Disgaea 1 Complete ships this fall in the U.S.