*This is a re-post since 1up.com was already decommissioned where it was originally posted.
In the beginning…
Once upon a time during the early years of the PS2, I was trying to look for a new game to play when all of a sudden, I saw our local game master playing “Disgaea: Hour of Darkness”. First of all, I have no idea what is a SRPG, but Disgaea looked really fun to play so I asked how it works and the local GM** taught me the ropes on how to play it. After a few hours of fiddling w/ it, I decided to buy a copy and play it at home.
What I like about Disgaea is that the freedom of what I can do during battles: I can move my characters and use an attack, I can attack first and then move my units, I can place my allies close to each to fight a foe for a combo attack (this was replaced by chain attack w/ the preceding games), berate my enemies one by one nonstop w/ my units for more damage, toss allies and foes on the playing field and so on and so forth.
With a game like this, it was no wonder I was so addicted when I first inserted it on my PS2, and the amount of time I spent was so big that even my mom complained that I never went out of my room just so that I can level up my characters just so I can finish the extra maps this game has to offer.
**During my time in my place when console and arcade gaming was still alive, if you are called a GM, it means you’re a very adept video gamer whose skill far exceeds any mortal. Okay that was a joke, but they were REALLY awesome beyond compare!
Create your own characters
What I also like about this game is that I can create my own characters and use it for battles on the map weather its humanoids or monsters. You can name your characters and add bonus points to its stats to make it more powerful.
For some reason the developers never had the monster class wield any weapons compared to the humanoid class (discrimination!) and also that the humanoids are quite powerful compared to the monster class once you already unlocked the Majin class. My personal favorites for the monster class are the Dragons, Nekomimis and lastly, Prinnies. They are weak but fun to use during battles and they have a southern like accent and most of all- they explode when thrown (handle w/ care according to their class description). Yes, they explode, in all awesomeness. And because of this, they became staple characters in which they make appearance to almost Nippon Ichi Software games.
Another thing you can do on the game is to transmigrate your character. How this works is that your character will start from level 1, then you can change to a different humanoid class or a monster class while still carrying some of your stats before you transmigrated. You can use transmigration in order to build your perfect soldier that knows all the weapon skills and magic spells to make it really powerful.
Dark assembly and the item world
One of the many feature of this game is the Dark Assembly- a senate like system where you can pass bills to be granted (like get more exp on the next enemy you kill, open more maps, create a genius character, etc). Before they vote, you can bribe the senators to vote in your favor but sometimes it just backfires so if they deny your request, you can always persuade by force w/ means you need to beat the crap out of their lives (I wish we can use this in real life in the Philippines).
Another thing I like is the item world, an endless dungeon for the purpose of not only powering up your weapons but also to level up your party. Depending on the status of the item/weapon you wish to venture, if the item you want to power up is just a common weapon/item it will only have 30 floors. Rare-60, and for legend-100 floors. I also got addicted on collecting and powering the legend weapons just in order to make my characters look so powerful.
The not so good story and other stuff
Disgaea’s main weakness is the story since I find it funny and wacky during my first hours of playing it, although it did shed some backstory on some characters and how they came to be. Perhaps the developers got bored on how serious RPGs are so they made Disgaea’s story different by making it as insane and humorous as possible. Your ultimate goal is to be the Overlord of the Netherworld after your old man kicked the bucket after chocking on a black pretzel. The story does make sense and becomes serious near the end of the game and ties all the loose ends on some of the things that does not make sense. The game also features multiple endings so there is a lot replay value just to see all the endings for the dedicated completions. The extra maps also shed some answers on some questions not answered on the main story, which is great if you are curious to know all the endings. Some of the other things I don’t like about Disgaea is that the enemy AI always goes after your weakest unit before going after the strongest, the enemies will not use their ultimate skills even though they can use it, and enemies always goes head on and attack you even though they don’t have any chances of winning.
Overall, Disgaea: Hour of Darkness is great game if you will just disregard the PS1 like graphics since this game boasts a good game play and lots of hours from customizing to leveling up.