Disgaea is an established and respected series. The JRPG has set trends with its story and mechanics. After all, it’s one of the many founders of the whole “overlord antihero” stereotype. Its insane level caps and encouraging of massive damage outputs have made it an icon. It’s no wonder that the original game, Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, is on its fourth port.
But that may make you wonder which of these many ports is for you. Each version of Disgaea is a little different. As it spread to new platforms, Nippon Ichi Software made sure to add just enough to make each entry more appealing. While going with the version for your platform of choice is an option, it may be wiser to judge based on what each game can do for you.
Disgaea: Hour of Darkness
2003, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3 (as a PlayStation 2 Classic)
This is your basic Disgaea experience. Players help Laharl step into his own as the Netherworld’s overlord after an overly long nap. He’s aided by Etna, a vassal who seems like she’d much rather be the overlord herself, and Flonne, and angel trying to see if demons can love. We join them step by step as they go through chapters, set up like episodes of an anime series, taking part in turn-based battles on a grid with a group of our strongest party members.
Which is pretty strong, since characters can reach level 9,999, then transmigrate to keep skills and weapon mastery from other classes. That’s only one of the game’s unique features. Others include Geo Panels, which can have specific beneficial or detrimental effects on characters depending on the Geo Symbol sitting on them, a Dark Assembly that lets people unlock features or improve characters by dealing, bribing and fighting politicians, and an Item World where you can improve items by traversing dungeons and subduing Specialist NPCs that reside inside of them.
Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness
2006, PlayStation Portable
Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness is, without a doubt, the best version of Disgaea you can get. This entry is best known for Etna Mode, an alternate storyline that goes over what the game would have been like had Etna succeeded in assassinating Laharl in the beginning of the game.
This version also introduced multiplayer to Disgaea. Someone could take part in a multiplayer match, which had bonuses like unlocking Asagi as a playable character. The multiplayer also allowed you to sell items you leveled up to other players.
Shout-outs to Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories and Makai Kingdom are present too. Zetta shows up at the Stellar Graveyard after you pass the More Stronger Enemies bill in the Dark Assembly as often as possible. Adell and Rozalin can both be found in Demonhall Mirror in the Cave of Ordeal.
2008, Nintendo DS
Disgaea DS is essentially a stripped down version of Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness. The audio has been greatly altered, with examples being less detailed background music with no vocals and the game only offering voice acting during the introduction and next episode previews. Some visuals were also downgraded, so it won’t look as good. Especially since the special attack animations don’t display.
The other new additions don’t do too much to alter the experience. The touchscreen controls are Disgaea DS‘ only new feature. The characters and map appear on the bottom screen, while the top screen displays information and statuses. These are optional, and you can use standard controls if you’d prefer. Plenair is now a playable character, though you have to beat the game to get her. Comedic Prinny Commentary can also be viewed on the top screen, where a prinny talks about what’s happening in the game below, after someone beats either the main campaign or Etna Mode.
2016, Windows PC
Disgaea PC is also based on Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness. It features all of the PlayStation Portable version’s special features, minus the multiplayer mode. The rewards that could have been earned during the multiplayer mode, like Asagi, are absent.
Most of the new additions here are minor tweaks and adjustments. There’s a new user interface, so menus will look different, and new map textures. People can use a keyboard and mouse or controller control scheme. It also offers Steam exclusive touches like achievements and trading cards.
If pressed, I would highly recommend Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness. It’s the best version of the game so far. You can get it for your PlayStation Portable or Vita for $14.99 on the PlayStation Store.