Disgaea: Hour of Darkness DS


Cole Jones
Interaction Specialist

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Prinny smashing time

Disgaea is quite the thriving series. While most are lucky to see a sequel every few years, NIS has become near-legendary in their ability to turn out consistently solid Disgaea titles in what seems like rapid-fire succession. By the end of 2008, five separate Disgaea games will be available in the US; three of which will have been released within a year's time. Even with so much of the same, one entry stands out as the mysterious oddball of the bunch: Disgaea DS. As the first title to make its way onto a non-Sony platform, Disgaea DS has its work cut out for it. After spending a little time with the game at NIS' press event this last Thursday, I'm completely baffled at how NIS managed to fit so much game into such a tiny cart.

For those who haven't heard, Disgaea DS is a port of the first title in the series: Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. Starting up Disgaea DS, the first thing I noticed was how close the camera was to the action. Even though the game started out in exactly the same manner as it did in the PS2 version, it looked markedly different due to the new camera angles and mellowed-out backgrounds. While the sprites remained pretty true to the series, the battlefields and surrounding areas lost a little bit of flair in the transition from the PlayStation 2 to the PSP (of which the NDS version is a port).

Backgrounds aside, Disgaea DS played exactly like fans would expect, with new touchscreen controls that made it an experience unique unto itself. I used the stylus to move Laharl around his castle, access all menus, execute commands, and even zip around the battlefields. While using the stylus for battlefield movement felt a bit jerky compared to the simple elegance of an analog stick, I found the stylus to be a great way to navigate menus and issue commands.

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After meandering about the castle for a bit, I hopped into the battlefield to see how everything translated to the DS. My first battle was against the usual motley crew of prinnies, which I slaughtered with the greatest of ease. Movement was easy with the d-pad or the stylus, and attacking/executing commands worked as well as they ever have. One huge addition to the game is a map that takes up the entirety of the top screen, allowing you to see where you are, your foes are, and what direction everyone is facing. This is a great change to the game, and helped me a lot when I needed to keep inventory of my troops mid-battle.

Practically everything you know and love about Disgaea: Hour of Darkness is presented as best as possible in the DS rendition, including its signature cutscenes, voice acting, and quirky sense of humor. While I only had the chance to hear a few lines of spoken text, everything came through pretty clear considering the DS' sound capabilities. The only real problem I had with Disgaea DS at the event was the fact that the entire game was in Japanese, but I have a hunch that's one of the first things the localization team will change before sending it way over to America. Even though I only had a short period of time with it, Disgaea DS looks to be another worthy addition to the series when it comes our way in September.

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· Nintendo DS

· 09.2008

· NIS America

· Nippon Ichi Software

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