Disgaea: Hour of Darkness was and remains one of the defining cornerstones of the modern console turn-based strategy RPG hybrid genre. As a marriage of anime, traditional strategy elements, and yes, even a dash of chess tossed in for good measure, the game seemingly came out of nowhere and became – quite literally – an overnight sensation.
The game also served the dual purpose of putting Nippon Ichi on the map, at least in terms of players residing outside the the confines of Japan. Thanks to Atlus USA and its tendency to take risks with Japanese projects that might otherwise never see the light of day in North America, players were given the chance to know the names Laharl, Etna, Mid-Boss, and yes, even those lovable demonic penguins known as Prinnies.
While the game itself has seen a variety of side stories and similar properties released since Disgaea’s release in 2003, there has not been an official sequel, until now. NIS America, Nippon Ichi’s North American publishing arm, has just finished localizing the game for domestic release, and while we have been playing the game, we thought it would be entertaining to sit down and speak with the team who will very soon be bringing Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories into your homes and lives. As such, we recently spoke with Steve Carlton, the localization coordinator for the game, as well as Nao Zook, marketing coordinator for NIS America, to get their unique insight into this upcoming, highly-anticipated strategy game for the PlayStation 2.
To start with, since Disgaea has become such a success, and has garnered such a cult following, are you at all worried about the sequel’s ability to live up to the original? I mean, sequels to popular original games oftentimes have a hard time living up to the expectations of fans.
We believe that when it comes to Disgaea, there are two major expectations people have, gameplay and story. We’ve kept the core elements that made the first Disgaea such a great hit, while adding more depth, customization, and features to improve the gameplay. We’ve also put together a great story incorporating awesome, new characters along with some memorable characters that our fans already love. Only by exceeding these expectations can we hope for Disgaea 2 to live up to the success of the original.
Disgaea was a notorious time sink, and could take a hundred hours or more to complete if you wanted to see everything. That’s great for players who have limitless time to play games, but why should players like myself, who are older, have jobs, and limited time to devote to games care about Disgaea 2?
The beauty of Disgaea 2 is that there is so much great stuff. The story alone is enough to draw in casual gamers. Others may just find the battle system so entertaining that they may spend their free time engaging in random battles in the improved Item World.
How does the story in this game tie in with the first game? What ending from Disgaea does this sequel follow?
Disgaea 2 follows the Good Ending from the first Disgaea. It takes place in another world, which is being converted into a netherworld. At this time, Etna has set out on her own, determined to steal the Legendary Overlord Zenon’s title for herself.
One of the things that attracted me to Disgaea originally was it’s humorous story. Does Disgaea 2 carry one with this same sort of humor?
Absolutely. Humor is the heart and soul of Disgaea.
So about how many hours can you see someone taking to complete Disgaea 2?
For gamers who play fast and just want to get through the story as fast as possible, they can complete the game in little as maybe 40-50 hours. Most players however may spend 100 hours or more playing the game. If you played the first Disgaea, you can expect to spend the same amount of time on Disgaea 2, if not more.
What are the key differences between this game and the original?
This game has a new cast of main characters, several new character classes, and more gameplay features. There is now a Dark World that mirrors the regular story maps, but adds more difficulty to the game by combining difficult Geo Effects with the Dark Sun which adds a whole new level of adversity to conquer. The Item World has been improved with the Dark Court, Item Assembly, and mystery rooms with special game events or encounters. And, there is also a new feature called the Land of Carnage where you can fight the story and Dark World stages with much more difficulty.
Speaking of characters, we’ve seen that few characters such as Etna and the Prinnies are making a return for this second game. Will any other recognizable faces be making a comeback?
Well, the greatest superhero team ever assembled return for part two. That’s right, the Prism Rangers are back! Plus, there are a few other Disgaea characters to be found. *cough*Laharl*cough*
And what about cameos, which have been something of a constant with regarding the NIS-developed strategy titles. Can we expect similar cameos from other games such as Makai Kingdom or Phantom Brave in Disgaea 2?
You’ll definitely see some familiar faces in Disgaea 2. Some of them make story cameos, and some make an appearance during certain special moves.
What new characters should players keep a look out for?
Other than the main characters of course, you’ll want to keep a look out for Axel, Tink, and Yukimaru. Oh yeah, you might want to beware of the A