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Overview

Disgaea: Hour of Darkness is a tactical role-playing game developed by Nippon Ichi Software and published by Nippon Ichi Software (in Japan), Atlus USA, Inc (in North America) and Koei (in Europe) for the Playstation 2. It saw its first release in Japan on the 30th of January, 2003, and was later released in North America on the 27th of August, 2003, and in Europe on the 28th of May, 2004.

Plot

The game opens with Laharl rising out of an open coffin in his room after Etna, one of the castle vassals, attempts to wake him through the use of various weapons. After some complaining from Laharl, she explains that he has been sleeping for two years, far longer than he intended, and that his father, King Krichevskoy, has died. Laharl claims that there's no worries, as he is the rightful heir to the throne, however, Etna tells him that he has mostly been forgotten by the demons in the Netherworld due to his long sleep. Furious, Laharl claims that he will reclaim the throne and show everyone that he is the true heir, and after consulting with Etna and some of the castle vassals, he decides to go to Vyers' castle, as he has gained some notoriety, leading Laharl to believe that if he defeats Vyers, then the Netherworld will have no trouble remembering him.

After defeating the demon Vyers (who refers to himself as "The Dark Adonis", and is subsequently renamed to "Mid-Boss" by Laharl), he meets Angel Trainee Flonne, who has been sent to the Netherworld by Seraph Lamington, the ruler of Celestia, to assassinate King Krichevskoy (who was already dead). After being told by Laharl that his father is dead, she apologises to him, however, he claims that he isn't bothered by his death. Shocked by this claim, the eternally optimistic Flonne joins Laharl's party to determine if demons are capable of feeling love. However, they fail to notice the paranoid Archangel Vulcanus, who followed Flonne to the Netherworld in order to observe Flonne's actions, who interprets Flonne's decision to remain in the Netherworld as treason and is convinced that she is plotting against Celestia.

Afterwords, Etna demands that Laharl pay the salary of the Prinnies that she has hired, using his own claim that her vassals are his vassals against him, so he decides to attack the demon with the most money in the vicinity, which turns out to be Hoggmeiser at Dinero Palace, who is a former vassal of King Krichevskoy that took most of his money after his death. After defeating Hoggmeiser, Laharl is about to kill him, until Hoggmeiser's son rushes out and gets in the way. Flonne convinces Laharl to spare them, and Laharl lets them keep some of the money. In response to this act, Hoggmeiser joins the party.

After this, Flonne and Etna discover a photograph of Laharl in an embarrassing situation. Hearing their outburst of laughter, Laharl asks them what they're laughing at, only to be shown the photo, which shocks and horrifies him (the contents of the photo are never revealed). They then discover a threat written on the back of the photograph that states that copies of it would be distributed if Laharl did not accept a challenge to fight for the overlordship, which he has no choice but to accept. After traveling to the location specified, Laharl meets Maderas, a vampire, who was banished by King Krichevskoy for stealing the King's favorite snack, black pretzels. Maderas takes advantage of Laharl's two biggest weaknesses – optimism and women with sexy bodies, so as to render Laharl useless, and then he reveals that Etna was working for him as he held her memory in his hands. He goes on to reveal that Laharl's two-year slumber was the result of Etna poisoning him (this poison was originally meant to kill him, though it didn't succeed), and then commands Etna to kill Laharl, however, she refuses, and then reveals her own plan to get back at Maderas and recover her memory. After Maderas begs for his life, Etna spares him, and he joins the party.

Let the massacre begin

Not long after this, Laharl issues a challenge to all the demons in the Netherworld, claiming that whoever defeats him before he reaches The Heart of all Evil shall be named the Overlord, however, if he reaches it before anyone defeats him, he will claim the title for himself. After defeating the opposition (which included a mass horde of demons, a Demon Hunter, Etna's own Prinnies, an Overlord from an Alternate Netherworld and the Prism Rangers), he reaches The Heart of All Evil, only to be confronted by Mid-Boss, who is looking for a rematch. After defeating Mid-Boss, Laharl becomes the undisputed Overlord of the Netherworld.

Waking up later at night, Flonne discovers that several Prinnies are chanting and leaving the castle. Laharl, worried that his reputation will be tarnished if it is discovered that he let his vassals escape, chases after them the next morning. Eventually, he runs into Death, and the player learns that Big Sis Prinny is actually Laharl's mother; she became a Prinny because she gave her life to save him.

Afterwords, Captain Gordon (The Defender of Earth), Jennifer (his assistant) and the robot Thursday are sent to the Netherworld by General Carter, who has led them to believe that their mission is to assassinate Laharl due to an impending attack on Earth by the Netherworld. After meeting Laharl, Gordon is promised that Earth will not be invaded if Gordon defeats him, however, if Laharl wins, Gordon must become his vassal. Gordon is defeated, and is forced to become Laharl's vassal.

After this turn of events, the Earth Defense Force appears in the Netherworld, and it is revealed that Gordon was actually sent to secure a path for an invasion of the Netherworld by the humans, who had been tricked by Vulcanus. General Carter sends Kurtis to the Netherworld, and eventually goes there himself on the Space Battleship Gargantua. Kurtis abducts Jennifer, and Laharl engages the EDF fleet of spaceships in a rescue attempt, destroying all but the Gargantua by himself. When Laharl and his party arrive at the Gargantua's bridge, several angels from Celestia appear and attack them. After being defeated, General Carter escapes, only to have Mid-Boss appear to give him a message.

In response to this turn of events, Flonne and the rest of the party decide to go to Celestia to confront the Seraph. Vulcanus goes to Seraph Lamington declaring that Flonne is a traitor who is leading an army of demons in an invasion of Celestia, and goes to lead a group of angels to repel this "invasion". Vulcanus then reveals to Laharl and his party that he intends to conquer all three worlds and rule over them as a god. After defeating Vulcanus, Laharl finally meets the Seraph and Flonne explains Vulcanus' plan and what she has learned while traveling with Laharl. The Seraph accepts her version of events and agrees that demons are, in fact, capable of feeling love. However, he declares that Flonne must be punished because she fought against other angels, and turns her into a flower. Outraged at this injustice, Laharl attacks the Seraph, initiating the game's final battle.

The game has multiple endings. Depending on the way the game was played up to this point, the Seraph may or may not survive, Flonne either remains a flower, is restored to her original form, or is transformed into a Fallen Angel, and Laharl either becomes a great Overlord, disappears and leaves Etna in charge of the Netherworld, or dies and becomes a Prinny. It may also be noted that, on the Good Ending, when the spirit of Laharl's mother appears to him, Vyers appears to already know her, and the way he talks to Laharl suggests that he is King Krichevskoy.

Gameplay

Disgaea: Hour of Darkness is a tactical role-playing game, featuring new elements unique to the genre at the time, such as the throwing mechanic and Geo Panels, which can both heavily affect the outcome of a battle.

Laharl's Castle

Lahrl's castle acts as a hub which allows the player to access the other locations in the game without physically having to travel between the castle and a desired map. Each episode of the game gives the player access to a new set of maps, which must be completed in order to make the plot proceed. All maps are accessed through speaking with the Dimensional Gatekeeper (with the exception of the Item World and Dark Assembly). Most maps can be accessed repeatedly, with some of them being altered slightly, such as boss maps, where the boss is replaced by a high level generic enemy.

Items can only be purchased from the Netherworld Branch of Rosen Queen Co., which consists of two stores: one for armor and regular items, and one for weapons. The overall quality and types of the items sold in these shops can be changed through proposals to the Dark Assembly. There is also a hospital located in the same area of the castle, where characters can be healed in exchange for payment. The player will be rewarded with items from the hospital when a specific amount of money has been payed to it.

Combat

Battles take place on a map divided into a square grid. Here, the player controls a squad of humanoid units and monsters after deploying them from the base panel, with each of them taking up a single square of the grid, and they do combat with a group of enemies. The player will be able to deal damage/heal a specific unit or a selected area of the map, and the battle ends when all enemy units or all of the player's units are destroyed.

A throwing mechanic is also featured in the game. Humanoid characters can lift and throw other units across the map in order to allow allies to move further or force enemies to keep their distance. Enemies can be captured like this by throwing them into the base panel, where the enemy will do battle with all the units in the base panel, and if defeated, these enemies then become allies, and can be used on subsequent maps. The chance of capturing an enemy in this manner depends on several factors. If the enemy is not captured, then all the units inside the base panel will be killed, and the base panel will be destroyed.

Geo Panels and Symbols

Some maps contain Geo Panels, which are represented as squares on the floor of the map of a particular color. Colored objects on the map known as Geo Symbols may be present on either Geo Panels or regular, uncolored squares on the map. When these Geo Symbols sit on a Geo Panel, they give all the Geo Panels of the color it sits on a property, such as healing the HP of the units on those panels by 20% at the end of each turn, or making all units on them invulnerable. These effects can also be combined.

If a Geo Symbol is destroyed on a Geo Panel of a different color than its own, it causes panels of that color to change to the color of the Geo Symbol and damages units on those panels. If another Geo Symbol is on one of the panels when it changes, it too is destroyed, and the Geo Panels begin to change color and properties again, creating a chain reaction. This chain reaction can be of any length that can be supported by the number of colors of panel and symbols on the map, the amount of "chain" gained with each square increasing by one every Geo Symbol. The higher the chain, the more the bonus gauge fills. Some Geo Symbols have the color "clear" and cause the Geo Panels to become regular map squares when destroyed. Removing all of the Geo Panels from a map will cause a blast of energy which hurts all enemies on the map and results in maximum bonuses for the player, referred to in the manual as the Panel Termination Bonus.

Dark Assembly

The Dark Assembly must be addressed if the player wishes to perform specific actions outside of combat, such as creating new characters, improving the inventory of the castle store, or unlocking new maps. Most of the time, Laharl or other members of his party must present a proposal to the Dark Assembly, who will vote on whether they should or should not provide aid to Laharl's party. Before voting, the player can view the senate's affinity towards them; if a member of the senate glows blue, it means they favor that character, and if they glow red, it means they do not. If they are glowing red, senators can be bribed with items from the player's inventory to sway their vote in the player's favor. If a proposal fails to receive sufficient votes, the player may attempt to pass the bill anyway by choosing to "persuade by force" and attempting to defeat opposing senators in battle.

The proposals available to place before the senate depend on the number of promotion examinations that the character has completed. These examinations consist of a battle between a handful of monsters and a single character on the floor of the Assembly, and if all enemies are defeated, the character's promotion level will increase.

Each proposal to the Dark Assembly costs "mana", which increases over time for individual characters as they defeat more enemies. The amount of mana gained depends on the enemy's level.

Master and Student Relationship

Whenever a new character is a created, a "Master and Student Relationship" is formed. This relationship grants the master additional stat boosts whenever the student levels up, as well as the ability to perform the student's magic (presuming he/she knows any) whenever they're beside each other.

Reincarnation

Reincarnation is a unique feature which allows for a unit to revert back to level one. In doing so, the unit can recieve a class change (unless it's a story character), as well as a stat boost, meaning that all subsequent level ups will provide higher stat boosts than before, resulting in a much more powerful unit.

Item World

It is possible for Laharl's party to enter the Item World of an item, going inside it in order to increase its attributes. An item can contain up to 100 randomly generated levels. Inside the Item World, the player will encounter monsters knows as "Specialists", who raise the statistics of the item they are in when defeated. Often, the maps are full of Geo Symbols.

Each floor in the Item World has a gate, a special map square which can be used to go to the next level in the Item World. However, more often than not, this gate will be blocked by an enemy with the

A typical Item World map, loaded with Geo Panels

unique class "Gate Keeper", who must be defeated if the player plans on using the gate to progress through the Item World. As many items contain stronger monsters than are ever found outside the Item World, the Item World is often the only way to acquire rare and powerful weapons.

Every ten levels in the Item World has an item boss. The strongest of each type of weapon and the three ultimate items each contain an Item God 2. Defeating these bosses also increases the attributes of the item. The Item World can only be exited at the end of every tenth level containing an Item Boss, or at any other time by using an item called 'Mr. Gency's Exit', a play on the phrase "Emergency Exit".

Cycles

The game also features cycles, which permits the player to restart the story after the end has been reached while maintaining each character’s statistics and item inventory from the previous game. Characters that join and leave the party as part of the game's story will only be usable in the same parts of the game that they were before, but they will retain their items, abilities, and stats. This complements the game's high character level ceiling of 9999, while also giving the player additional chances to see the multiple endings, many of which require many playthroughs to attain.

Characters

Disgaea: Hour of Darkness has a large cast of characters, each having their own unique personality and quirks.

Laharl

Age: 1313

Class: Demon

Title: Demon Prince/Overlord (after the events of episode 6)/Tyrant (after defeating The Lord of Terror, Baal)

The main character of the game, he is the son of King Krichevskoy. He is furious that the demons in the Netherworld have forgotten about him, and decides that he will take back the throne no matter what.

Etna

Age: 1470

Class: Demon

Title: Vassal

Etna is the leader of the Prinny squad, and one of the few vassals who remain in the Overlord's Castle after King Krichevskoy's death. When Laharl awakens, Etna becomes Laharl's closest vassal (although not necessarily his most trusted), aiding him in his rise to power.

Flonne

Age: 1509Class: Angel/Fallen Angel

Title: Angel Trainee

Flonne is an Angel Trainee who comes from the land of Celestia, where the Angels reside. She was sent to the Netherworld by Seraph Lamington to assassinate Overlord Krichevskoy.

Vyers (Dark Adonis/Mid-Boss)

Age: Unknown

Class: Mid Boss

Title: Aristocrat/Baron

It is unknown where he came from, but he is the top-candidate in the battle for the throne, that is, until Laharl awakens from his slumber. He often refers to himself as the Dark Adonis, however, Laharl, claiming that he is unworthy of any real title, gives him with the name 'Mid Boss', which sticks for the rest of the game.

King Krichevskoy

The Father of Laharl and the former Overlord of the Netherworld. He is believed to have died after choking on a black pretzel during Laharl's two-year slumber.

Captain Gordon

Age: 35 in Disgaea: Hour of Darkness

Class: Human

Title: (37th) Defender of Earth

The 37th "Defender of Earth", Captain Gordon is sent to the Netherworld alongside his assistant Jennifer and the all-purpose robot, Thursday, by the Earth Defense Force in order to defeat the Overlord of the Netherworld and to prevent a possible invasion

Jennifer

Age: 27

Class: Human

Title: Sidekick

Jennifer is the sidekick that makes up for Captain Gordon's flaws. She accompanies Gordon on his mission to defeat the Overlord and prevent his alleged invasion of Earth.

Thursday

Creation: 22 (Built by Jennifer when she was 5)

Class: Robot

Title: Super Robot

Built by Jennifer when she was 5, Thursday is an All Purpose Robot that has always been by her side. Working together with both her and Gordon, he has become a powerful force on their team. When Gordon is sent out to defeat the Overlord, Thursday willingly joins his struggle.

Kurtis

Age: 29

Class: Human/Prinny (After his death)

Title: Rival

Another human from Earth, Kurtis works for General Carter and the Earth Defense Force, much like Gordon. However, he believes that he is much more worthy of the title "Defender of Earth".

Seraph Lamington

Age: 9147

Class: Angel

Title: Seraph

Seraph Lamington is the leader of Celestia, the world of the angels. He is the polar opposite of Overlord Laharl, as he acts much more mature and calm. He never raises his voice, and never bears any ill will, going as far as to accept yelling and threats stoically.

Vulcanus

Age: 3649

Class: Angel

Title: Archangel

Vulcanus is a full-fledge angel of Celestia. He is an archangel who serves Seraph Lamington as the second-in-command. However, unlike Flonne and Lamington, his ideals and methods are much more extreme.

Big Sis Prinny

Age: Unknown

Class: Prinny (Human Witch before her death)

Big Sis Prinny is a sort of mother-figure to the other prinnies. The main difference from the other prinnies is her pink color and the absence of the word 'dood' when she normally speaks.

Hoggmeiser

Age: Unknown

Class: Nether Noble

Hoggmeiser is the former vassal of the late King Krichevskoy. After Krichevskoy's death, Hoggmeiser stole a large amount of treasure and money from the Overlord's Castle, and used it to build his own mansion.

Maderas

Age: Unknown

Class: Nosferatu

Maderas was a vassal for King Krichevskoy who was exiled after stealing Krichevskoy's black pretzels. He is one of the many demons competing for the throne, with his biggest edge being that he has stolen Etna's memories, promising to return them as long as she works under him.

Aramis

Age: Unknown

Class: Demon

Aramis is a resident child in Laharl's kingdom that Etna manipulates so as to make Laharl prove himself as a worthy ruler.

General Carter

Age: Unknown

Class: Human

General Carter is the adoptive father of Jennifer and the acting leader of Earth. Under the guidance of Archangel Vulcanus, he sends Gordon, Jennifer, and Thursday to secure a route to the Netherworld, so that the Earth forces can invade the Netherworld for colonization.

Classes

Disgaea features a variety of classes for both humanoids and monsters, all of which have 6 forms.

Humanoid

The create a character menu

This race of demons look extremely similar to humans, however, they are much more powerful. To unlock more powerful forms of each class, the player must level them up to specific levels.

Brawler (Male)

Brawlers focus on a high attack and counter rate. Best suited with a fist.

Brawler (Female)

Brawlers focus on a high attack and counter rate. Best suited with a fist.

Warrior (Male)

Warriors are an all-round class, although their main strengths lie in attack and defense. Best suited with a sword/spear/axe.

Warrior (Female)

Warriors are an all-round class, although their main strengths lie in attack and defense. Best suited with a sword/spear/axe.

MageMages focus on casting powerful spells to obliterate their foes, as well as buffing up other characters. Best suited with a staff.

SkullsSkulls focus on casting powerful spells to obliterate their foes, as well as buffing up other characters. Best suited with a staff.

Cleric (Female)

Clerics are the ones who focus on healing characters in need, as well as buffing up other characters. Best suited with a staff, however, a bow is recommended so as to level them up easier.

Cleric (Male)

Clerics are the ones who focus on healing characters in need, as well as buffing up other characters. Best suited with a staff, however, a bow is recommended so as to level them up easier.

Archer

Archers are the sharpshooters in the party, using deadly accuracy and speed to deal devastating blows from afar. Best suited with a bow.

ThiefThieves rely on speed above all else, allowing for a high steal rate. They are best suited with a gun.

Scout

Scouts are marksmen of a sort. They have the ability to change the Geo Panel layout of a map, as well as build a turret to wipe out enemy units. Best suited with a gun.

Knight

Knights are a mix between a warrior and mage. They have the ability to cast a spell to deal extra damage to their foes after physically attacking them. Best suited with a sword.

Samurai

Samurai are prominent warriors who are well versed in nearly every territory. They are best suited with a sword/spear/axe.

Ninja

Ninja are deadly killers who rely on lighting fast speed and high counter rates. Best suited with a fist.

Angel

Angels are beings who are adept at both magical at physical attacks. Best suited with a sword/spear/axe/staff.

Majin

Majins are the strongest class in the game. They are exceptionally skilled in all fields, and are suited to almost any weapon.

EDF Soldier

EDF Soldiers are cyborgs who tend to be very balanced. Best suited with an axe/gun.

Monsters

Monsters tend to be well-versed in one specific field. Unlike humanoids, they cannot lift or throw. Monster classes and their variations are unlocked whenever you defeat one for the first time.

  • Prinny
  • Spirit
  • Faerie
  • Winged
  • Lantern
  • Treant
  • Undead
  • Beast
  • Dark Knight
  • Shadow
  • Kit Cat
  • Succubus
  • Gargoyle
  • Golem
  • Galactic
  • Nosferatu
  • Dragon
  • Nether Noble
  • Serpent
  • Great Wyrm

Ports

Disgaea has been ported twice: first for the PSP, and then for the Nintendo DS.

PSP Port

Box art for Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness

A port for the PlayStation Portable named Disgaea Portable was released in Japan on 30th of November, 2006. It was later released in the United States on 30th of October, 2007 and in Europe on the 14th of December, 2007 under the name Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness.

Afternoon of Darkness features many new extras, such as:

  • 16:9 format to take advantage of the PSP's widescreen display.
  • A new mode where Etna becomes the main character, called Etna Mode. In this mode, Etna kills Prince Laharl by accident when trying to wake him up in the beginning.
  • New extra boss battles, such as Adell and Rozalin from Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories, and Overlord Zetta from Makai Kingdom.
  • A multiplayer mode available through Ad-hoc connections. This features multiple modes such as a "Defeat the Leader," "Capture the Flag," and the original "Battle." In the Multiplayer mode, each player also has access to "Geocubes" which give different effects to the battlefield.
  • Other new additions include a music shop, which allows the player to listen to the game's various songs and even change the Item World theme, and a record keeper, which keeps track of various bits of information such as ally kills and obtained items.
  • A dual language option and the option to turn off battle animations. Most of the silent Japanese cut scenes now include voice acting. However, when set to English, the scenes that were originally silent in the PS2 release are still silent.
  • To reflect Etna's recent voice actor change, her lines have been re-recorded to match Michelle Ruff's portrayal of Etna in Disgaea 2 and the anime.
  • The theme song "The Invasion from Within" by Tsunami Bomb has been removed, as Atlus was the publisher of the original PS2 version and arranged for the licensing of the song, and NIS America (Nippon Ichi's American branch) published the PSP port themselves, meaning they did not have the rights to use the song.
  • The song "One With the Stars" is also missing, as it was added into the PS2 version by Atlus themselves.

DS Port

Box art for Disgaea DS

A port of the PSP version, entitled Disgaea: The Prince of the Netherworld and the Red Moon was released in Japan on the 26th of June, 2008, and in North America the 23rd of September under the name of Disgaea DS. It features the multiplayer and Etna mode from the PSP version, however, in order to fully utilize the Nintendo DS' capabilities, several key improvements were made to the user interface and game system.

Disgaea DS features new extras, such as:

  • Geo Cubes, which are are magic items that were included to add more depth to multiplayer battles. They can be used to enhance abilities, summon monsters, or to attack the enemies.
  • Demon Gadgets, which are randomly generated items that appear on the battlefield, which can power up units. Some demon gadgets can level up a unit by 30 levels at once.
  • Pleinair, the Dark Assembly guide, is now a playable character.

Trivia

  • Disgaea: Hour of Darkness features two cameos from previous NIS games. One of these is Marjorly from Rhapsody: A Musical Adventure, and the other is Prier (spelled as "Priere") from La Pucelle: Tactics. They are hidden characters who can be accessed once the player has passed a bill for "Alternate Netherworld" (Prier) and "Mysterious Seal" (Marjoly) and then defeating them.
  • An anime of version of Disgaea was made, entitled "Makai Senki Disgaea".

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