By Sparky_Buzzsaw 2 Comments
Sometime between writing my last blog post on introducing new players to Disgaea and now, I've tried to post two seperate blogs detailing Geo Blocks, Geo Panels, the fun of the Item World, and how you can learn different skills and traits throughout the last few Disgaea games.
Obviously, neither of those worked. I'm in the bad habit of rarely copying or pasting my blogs from elsewhere, preferring to shoot straight from the hip and info dump right here on Giant Bomb dot com. I also started to write something in the middle of the 48-hour livestream, but I was running on fumes myself (not from playing games but because my sleep patterns are crap), and abandoned it halfway through.
I think at some point I'll try to draw up a definitive how-to guide for Disgaea, probably specifically for D2, but honestly, right now, the idea just sort of bums me out. If you want to know more about the games or how to play them, always feel free to hit me up or talk to the great Disgaea community we have here. In the meantime, let's discuss that particular gem, shall we? We shall.
Slow Burn, Big Payoff
I'll freely admit, I wasn't terribly impressed with D2's story or characters. Laharl was pretty great in the first Disgaea, but there's something kind of meandering and off about Disgaea D2's main story thrust. It lacks a good central villain, never really settles into any of the story elements it introduces, and, in general, feels pretty lackluster all the way through. The old characters aren't given any decent material, the new characters are bland retreads of Disgaea archetypes, and there's a bizarre number of idol wannabes. Yes, as in music idols. I don't get it.
But there's a whole lot to like about Disgaea D2 once you get past the main storyline - and for new players, there's even more to like before the story. D2 does a far better job of introducing new players to the basic mechanics of the game, giving much better explanations of geo panels, geo blocks, and the combo system than in prior games. While the descriptions of the various stats and bonuses leave something to be desired, there are plenty of NPC characters with reasonably detailed guides as to the basics of these things - and by now, there are a few really great FAQs and Youtube guides on a lot of the intricacies of Disgaea's deeper mechanics, which is delightfully something you really don't have to worry about with D2.
I say that because the post-game content is refreshingly accessible. You'll be eased into a few fun scenarios that introduce new party members, as well as the easiest (to date) Cave of Ordeals, which are post-game missions designed to help you level up. There are plenty of new characters to nab (and a great selection of them, too, though Disgaea 3 seems fairly conspicuous by its absence).
Even the Item World, probably the most intimidating and confusing aspect of Disgaea, is designed to be much more accessible and fun. Players are now given control of a ship right from the start, giving them a safe haven for their characters to stand or a place to throw those irritating Invincible and Mighty Enemy geo blocks. It makes a world of difference, and it makes deeper exploration of the Item World much more fun.
The best new mechanic of the game is the Cheat Shop, which is accessible fairly early on. You used to have to adjust Disgaea's enemy difficulty by going through the Assembly, which would mean having to pass a bill every time you wanted to increase or decrease the difficulty of the enemies. This was time-consuming and a little boring. Now, in the Cheat Shop, you can adjust enemy difficulty at any time, free of cost or hassle. It sounds like a minor change, but it's a friggin' godsend. The cheat shop also allows you to tinker with the percentages of experience, mana, and gold you receive in battles. Cheat poitns are earned by doing post-game content, giving you even more of an incentive to rip through everything the game has to offer.
There are numerous other small changes as well. They've taken a "back to basics" approach to learning skills by allowing each character to have apprentices. When the master learns a skill, so does the apprentice (unless it's a story character-specific skill). Both receive additional bonsues to their weapon masteries. This system makes it remarkably easy to teach all your characters healing and magic spells, essential to some of the late game content.
Another great change is the new ability to bribe the Assembly with money. By the time you finish the game and start delving deep into the Item World, you'll be earning tons of money by selling off unwanted equipment, leaving you with disposable cash and no real place to spend it. That's where this comes in handy. It does kind of negate the other systems of the Assembly such as forcing a bill through combat or bribing them with items, but it expedites the system and makes it pretty easy to get anything done.
So... that's it, really. If you can get through the lousy story, there's an amazing amount to love here. NIS really needs to take a few years and change up its visuals and introduce some new character models, but as it stands right now, I can't recommend this game enough. I'm not sure I like it quite as much as Disgaea 4, but it's so close to a tie that it's negligible.
The Awesome Among Us
Ignore the fairy tale trappings and go play The Wolf Among Us. It's less a game than a graphic adventure, and that's perfectly fine because the story is effin' terrific. It's bloody, visceral pulp, and I can't wait to see more of it. It doesn't hurt that the game looks frickin' gorgeous and runs much smoother than Walking Dead. And the music? Nails it. Same goes with the voice acting - these people brought their A-game.
I can't think of any particular fault to it, save that if you're looking for a game-ass game, this isn't it. But if you're looking for a story, this is the sort-of-game for you.
The iPad Corner
I was addicted to Beach Buggy Blitz for all of about two or three hours. I suppose for a free game, that's not too bad, but it's a shame the game never really becomes anything more than what it starts as. It's essentially an endless runner disguised as a point-to-point racer, with your usual options to buy boosts, powerups, and upgrades. If the controls had become a little more tight with added upgrades, I'd probably still be singing this one's praises. But everything feels far too slidey, and the ridiculous jump in upgrade costs amounts to a big sigh of disappointment. Still, though, for an hour's worth of entertainment, this one's not bad.
-I wish Resonance focused more on one protagonist at a time, rather than requiring the awkward back-and-forth puzzle solving of switching between characters. The mechanics are underdeveloped, leaving me often frustrated at the "stay/follow" basic command and the general lack of fun in its puzzle solving. It's a shame, because there's a decent story in here somewhere, but I just can't get past the irritating gameplay to really see its value.
-Who's ready for some Black Friday vidya game sales, huh?!?