Latest posts by Stephen Welsh (see all)
- Tekken 7 Release Date and Deluxe Edition Revealed - January 24, 2017
- Here’s All The Nintendo Switch Launch Games (and more!) - January 13, 2017
- NieR Automata Demo Out Now on PS4 - December 22, 2016
Disclosure: the author of this article was provided with a review copy of Disgaea PC by NIS America
Tomorrow sees NIS America’s release of the original Disgaea on PC. Disgaea: Hour of Darkness was released in 2003 for the PlayStation 2, introducing gamers to a Netherworld of quirky humor, isometric turn-based strategy, and characters that can be raised up to Level 9999. The game was a cult hit, spawning a franchise that’s still seeing new releases, such as last year’s Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance for the PlayStation 4. This new PC version of the first Disgaea includes all content from the updated PSP version of the game, as well as new user-interface and texture settings. So for a series completely new to PC, does this conversion do justice to the adventures of Laharl, Etna, and the Prinny Squad?
Disgaea PC offers Gamepad, Keyboard and Mouse control schemes. Seeing as how this is a console game that was (as far as I’m aware) never developed with mouse controls in mind, the functionality offered in this new version of the game is surprisingly decent, in that you can actually play the whole game with just the mouse if you’re up for it. Movement outside of battle is as simple as holding down the mouse in a direction, or pointing the cursor and clicking on the other side of a room. This is a bit imprecise and has Laharl dashing across the screen at ludicrous speed, but it’s not a problem since navigating these rooms is a simple affair. It can get a bit fiddly though when trying to talk with other characters, as you’ll usually need to position Laharl right beside the NPC and then click on them to get the conversation started.
Mouse control in battle ranges from functional, to imprecise. I was surprised they got such a control scheme working on the game, with left-clicks on your characters opening up their actions menu, and the mouse wheel being used to zoom in-and-out on the battlefield. You can even hold down the left mouse button on a character and change which direction they’re facing. Overall it works like any turn-based strategy game on PC… when it works. The mouse cursor itself isn’t actually being used to interact with the characters, instead it just determines where on the map Disgaea‘s battle cursor is placed. This can lead to problems with character selection due to the game’s maps being designed to vary the height of the terrain all over the place. The cursor can be very imprecise when trying to highlight a tile that’s lower than two adjacent squares.
This is made more annoying by the cursor sometimes just not wanting to do what you’re telling it to, with inputs regularly requiring two or three clicks just for the game to accept you’ve selected something. These issues aside, the mouse is just fine for navigating menus, though it sometimes asks you to click on button prompts rather than text. Meanwhile, the Gamepad support functions as you’d expect – though the user-interface doesn’t feature the standard Xbox controller prompts, so a lot of the inputs displayed on the menus are a confusing array of buttons marked 1-8.
Disgaea PC also adds a range of graphics options to update the experience a little. Chief among these is a new user-interface for the entire game, with an option for the original menus in place too for purists. These settings can be seen in everything from menus…
To the artwork shown in cutscenes:
The other major graphical option found here is the updated map textures. I’d definitely recommend playing with these switched on, as the upgrade makes for immediately nicer visuals:
There’s also a character filter setting, which puts a filter over the character sprites on the field. I’m personally not a fan of it, but the option is there if you really can’t stand the pixels.
Imprecise mouse controls aside, Disgaea PC feels like the definitive edition of the strategy RPG classic. English and Japanese voices are present, as is the content from the PSP’s Afternoon of Darkness. The new version of the game adds a much-improved user-interface and map textures, while the new settings also present clean character artwork and backgrounds in story scenes. If you’re new to the series, or hungry to dive into the Item World for another hundred hours, then this may well be the best way to experience the debut of Nippon Ichi Software’s flagship series.