Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days

October 18, 2009

Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days is a lot of things. It’s long, it’s rewarding, it’s almost infinitely replayable, and it has a good sense of humor. Like Disgaea before it, D2 started out its life on the PS2 where it was met with critical acclaim and player love. The item world was improved upon from the first game (now it has pirates!), the character class roster is bigger than before, and the witty writing makes a return for the series’ second installment. Dark Hero Days is more than just a port. Following in the footsteps of Afternoon of Darkness (the up-port of the original Disgaea), Dark Hero Days adds a few things to the PS2 classic to entice you into buying it again. Your biggest enemy here will not be any of the bosses but the battery life of your PSP because Disgaea does one thing very well – it eats free time.

Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days is the story of Adell, the last human in the town of Veldime. Adell is on a journey to defeat Overlord Zenon, the Overlord of all Overlords, whose fault it is that the world is currently overrun with demons. The story moves on from there, and if you haven’t experienced it yet then I don’t want to spoil it for you since humor is never quite the same if you know what’s coming.

Disgaea, Disgaea 2, and Disgaea 3 are the embodiment of “hardcore” gameplay. Units don’t reach a level cap until 9,999, the Item World is randomly generated so no trip into an item will be exactly like another, and multiple endings mean that the story can be replayed without feeling stale as well. And if that weren’t enough, Dark Hero Days features extra chapters where you can play as Axel, the former titular “Dark Hero.” Magichange is also a new addition, but if you’ve played Disgaea 3 on the PS3 then you’ll be familiar with the concept. In a nutshell, Magichange lets you transform a friendly monster into a specific weapon (Prinnies – little evil penguins, for example, turn into guns) that another friendly unit can use to perform an especially strong attack. The rub is that transformed monsters only stick around for two turns which leaves you with fewer units to clear the board.

Gameplay is standard SRPG fare. Your units all exist on a grid, and depending on range and position each attack can affect one enemy or multiple grid squares of the map. If you’re standing next to a friendly unit then you both (or all three/four if you have a second/third sidekick) can all team up for one big attack. If you and three friendly units have an enemy surrounded you can all attack individually at the same time. And if you happen to be all alone you can whip out an SP maneuver and dish out the punishment solo. Moves are weapon dependent, and weapon proficiencies are class dependent. Any unit can hold a gun, but thieves will do a lot better with them than warriors will.

Disgaea 2 looks great, but it looked great on the PS2 as well and scaling down the viewable area makes everything look crisper. Environments are detailed, character models are great, and the anime cutscenes (static, sadly, but that is not a downgrade from the original) look wonderful on the PSP screen. The text is clear and readable, too. You really couldn’t ask for a better visual treatment.

If you can only afford to buy one PSP game, then make it Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days. It will be a good long time before you run out of things to do, and you’ll be having fun all along the way.

Pros: Nearly infinitely replayable, beautiful aesthetics
Cons: Lots of grinding
Plays Like: Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness, Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories
ESRB: T for language, mild fantasy violence, mild suggestive themes

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.