Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories Preview
"In the peaceful world of Valdime, humans rarely encountered monsters. That was until Overlord Zenon cursed the land and all who reside within. With the curse in place, the humans became monsters and ravaged the world. It is up to Adell, the last remaining human, to oppose Overlord Zenon's tyranny and restore peace and harmony to Valdime."
If you played the original Disgaea, you should feel right at home with Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories. If you've never played a strategy RPG before, an extensive tutorial guides you through the basics of combat. To be honest, the quirky sense of humor and complex battle system might make Disgaea 2 a bit unfriendly to newbies, but hey, you've got to start somewhere. Being a tactics game, battles take place on a 3D grid based field. During combat, players take turns between the enemy to move and attack. There's a lot of emphasis on planning your attack, positioning combatants, combining attacks with other members of your party, and party management. If you come into the game expecting to pound the X button like typical role-playing games, you're in for a rude awakening. That's not to say your experience with Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior won't help - it will. Casting spells, upgrading weapons, and managing items are just a few of the traditional RPG elements in the game.
While Disgaea 2 may feel similar to its predecessor, there are several new features that promise to add new levels of depth and strategy. One such innovation is the new Geo battle system, a pyramid that occupies one space on the grid, but affects large areas of the battlefield by altering battle conditions for both you and your enemy. Sometimes it will help you by increasing your attack if you stand on certain spaces, while other times it will help your enemy by boosting their abilities. You'll have to decide whether you want to split the part up and destroy the Geo panel, try and lure the enemy out of the affected area, or simply take your chances and fight them where they stand.
Many games nowadays allow you be just as nefarious as they allow you to do good. Disgaea 2 has added a "Dark Court" system where you're praised for doing evil in the Netherworld, and punished for doing good. I wasn't able to explore this aspect of the game, but it sounds like it's going to be yet another feature that adds to the already hefty replay value.
Nippon Ichi listened to feedback from fans and made efforts to make Disgaea 2 look a little prettier, while still maintaining the look and feel of the first game. New 3D battlefields, animations, bold colors, and anime-style cut-scenes are a few ways in which the game's visuals have been improved. Make no mistake, the game's not going to garner accolades for its graphics, but there's plenty of eye candy to be found.
The version of the game I played came complete with English voice-overs. There's a lot of dialog, so it's nice to not have to read it all, but the quality of the acting is marginal at best. There are a few exceptions, like the TV director you encounter, but there are several characters that sound like they're being voiced by amateurs. The music sounds like it's ripped straight from a SNES game, but despite the midi quality, there are some catchy tunes.
"Disgaea 2 is an evolutionary title created with the help of many people, including our fans. We really appreciate the support and I simply hope everybody will enjoy this exciting game", says Haru Akenaga, President of NIS America. I don't think Mr. Akenaga has anything to worry about - fans of Disgaea are going to love Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories.
7/30/2006 Aaron Thomas