Disgaea 1 Retrospective

Here, I want to talk about one of my favorite game series of all time: Disgaea

Disgaea 1 has left a huge impact on my life. This is the series that got me into gaming. Prior to this, I played things like Pokemon Gold (which is an awesome game) and some internet games. Then I played the port for the Nintendo DS, and it was awesome!!!!!


The original, Disgaea: Hour of Darkness (or in Japan “Makai Senki: Disgaea”) was released for Playstation2 in 2003, and its first port, Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness was released for Playstation Portable. The game was made by Nippon Ichi Software (NIS).


The thing that drew me into this series in the first place was the character designs, especially from the second game on. Takehito Harada, the designer, made the series so much more likable with his creative character designs!


Prince Laharl is the main character. He is a brat, a lovable one at that. He wakes up from a 2 year nap only to find his father dead, and a Netherworld with a power vacuum. He feels that he, Overlord’s son is the only rightful ruler and launches his adventure to claim his throne.


Etna was a loyal servant to the late Overlord, but not as much to his son. She is powerful and it the master of the Prinnies. She hates when people bring up her non-existent breasts.


Flonne is an Angel Trainee from Celestia, the realm of the angels. Her mission was to kill the Overlord, who is later found out was already dead, from choking on food. She is obsessed with Love and believes that demons too can love.


So Prinny is hard to explain. They are reincarnated souls of criminals. Working under brutal demons, in this case Etna, to earn enough money so they can reincarnate under the red moon. So they are ZOMBIE PENGUINS WITH DEMON WINGS AND PEG LEGS THAT EXPLODE WHEN THROWN. Yes, you heard that right. They blow up when thrown. I don’t know people came up with this, but it is gold. Oh, and they are the series mascot.


-Story- [Spoiler Alert]

Laharl wakes up from 2 year slumber to find out that his father, the Overlord of the Netherworld, has choked on dumplings (pretzels in America because Americans can’t relate to any other food right?) and died, leaving a power vacuum. With his Vassal Etna and ditzy angel assassin Flonne, Laharl starts his rise to power.


What surprised me was that I thought Laharl becoming the Overlord was going to be the end goal for the whole game, but he takes over the Netherworld half way through the game. What happens next you ask? The human world wages war against Netherworld for territorial gain due to human overpopulation in the human world! I thought that was brilliant. Below is Gargantua, the mother ship of the Earth Defense Force (EDF).


Then another twist hits! Humans never had the technology or the ability to open portals to other worlds. So who is behind this? The answer is the Angels! So a game of becoming the ruler of the land became a game about a war between Demons, Humans and Angels. I think I spoiled enough for you….


This all sounds very serious, and it is, but Disgaea had some of the best comedies! From Laharl being physically harmed by busty bodies to the Prism Rangers.



The gameplay is similar to Final Fantasy Tactics, so I’ve been told, I never actually played the game… This is a grid based Strategy RPG. Think of it like Chess and Final Fantasy had baby.


The gameplay was great. Although the level progression is normal, the final boss being around level 90 or so, the level cap in the game is 9999!! I could not believe it. I actually beat the game with my characters around lvl 80 to 90 and had no idea. I thought the game was over and I had done everything. Then a few weeks later, I found out that levels go up to 9999 and I just got to the true meat of the game, and all Disgaea games to come, the Postgame! The enemies here jump levels at incredible speed, there are enemies that have levels of 2000 and 4000 everywhere. And the Secret Boss AKA Tyrant Overlord Baal. His stats were so high, they went off the status screen! In short it was great.


Now, lets talk about the Item World, possibly the most important aspect of the game. In Disgaea, every item you get, I mean EVERY item, has a world world inside them and inside these world live enemies and Innocent. Innocents are like pure stats that became personified. It’s weird and I love it. The Item world has 100 floors, and with every floor, the item gets stronger. So if you have a meh sword you wish it were stronger, so through the item world and voila, it is now stronger. Still weak, here go find yourself ATK Innocents. Item World makes huge difference. I remember getting the most powerful sword, the Legendary Yoshitsuna. I cannot recall correctly but its stats were like 4500 or something like that. But when I started leveling it up, it quickly passed something like 16,000 and counting! So yeah, Item World is where you want to be especially during post game.

Oh and some of the items were so EPIC they went beyond the status screen. I mean look those!


Oh, your character reached level 9999 you say. Well, if you want that unit to get stronger, you can reincarnate him to make him even more powerful!! Reincarnation resets the level of the unit back to 1. But the units stats will be higher than before.

One thing that used to bother me was that the true power came from the weapons and items the character had equipped rather than the characters themselves. It still bothers me a little. It is not my samurai sho is strong, but her sword. I came to be okay with me, and as a game mechanic it works.

-Does it hold up today?-

Well…. the story is still great. But when I played it again a few years ago, the game felt so slooooow compare to recent Disgaeas. Things like skipping dialogues and setting the animations to be faster were not implemented back then. And as the series went on the gameplay got more and more polished, making this feel dated. Graphics are still good, feels more pastelly than todays cleaner art.

Although the game feels dated, it left a huge impact on my life, and for that, it will always have a part in me heart!!


All credits to this magnificent game goes to Nippon Ichi, NISA. And thank you Takehito Harada for your beautiful art!!


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