By Sparky_Buzzsaw 9 Comments
I'm already missing deadlines on this thing, and it's only two weeks into my thoughts on Disgaea 4. My English degree is frowning down upon me with shame. I've been out with a cold, but you can't keep a good man down. Well, okay, you can't keep a halfway decent guy down. All right, all right, you can't keep a selfish narcissist with self-destructive qualities down. You happy? Good.
Before we jump into my thoughts on Disgaea 4, I want to talk about this blog's format. I've already beat the main game and unlocked a few things I really wanted to get, such as the Chara World, the Cave of Ordeals (I believe they call it Mount Ordeal in this one, but it's the same thing), and most (but not all) the character classes. I've gone ahead and started a new game+ (which you can do by talking to an NPC in your base after you've beat the game). This is so that I can keep up with the episodes as I blog about them. So what I'll be doing each week is examining the story so far episode by episode, with a non-standard secondary part explaining certain other elements of the Disgaea series and/or this game in particular.
OH. MAH. GAWD. IT'S FUKA
Each section of Disgaea 4 is called an episode. These are broken up with a special cutscene, narrated by the game's various characters, that give a brief summary of what just happened and what the next chapter has in store. It also has a bunch of gibberish from Val (if you remember, our non-blood drinking vampire who always keeps his promises) regarding sardines, a joke that gets incredibly stale about three minutes into the game. Thankfully, these can be skipped through, as you can do with every cutscene in the game.
So we've beaten Death Emizel, the son of the President of the Netherworld. We've discovered that the President has ordered the death of the prinnies, in order to clear room in Hades, so to speak. As we jump into the second episode, we are quickly introduced to the Prinny X-Terminators (or Exterminators - it's never spelled the same way twice in a row, consistent with Nippon-Ichi's hilariously awful translations). These are a task force sent by the President to kill all the Prinnies. Sound a bit redundant compared with the last episode? Well... it is. The Exterminators are led by Fuka, a young middle-school girl who wears a prinny's hide for a hat. Turns out, she was supposed to be a Prinny, but since the Netherworld ran low on prinny hides, she was left with just the hat and a decree by the President that if she and the rest of her lackeys wanted easier work hours and better rewards, they'd better get to cracking some real prinnies' skulls. She declares war on Val and his posse.
It's at this point that we also start to see just how freaking awful the game's male protagonists can be towards the women in the game. In just a few conversations, Fenrich has called Fuka an idiot and stupid. Throughout the rest of the game, Fenrich in particular continually hands out verbal abuse to the rest of the gang. More on that later, but suffice it to say, it's done tongue-in-cheek, even if it doesn't always come across that way.
Val and his crew hand Fuka's forces a few defeats, including one wherein she has hired Death Emizel to be her lackey. Once beaten again, Emizel is forced by Val to examine his own spirit to determine if he really has it in him to kill someone as Death truly should. Emizel stumbles off contemplating this. Fuka throws a tantrum and declares that she hates this dream. Yes, Fuka, denying that she's died and gone to hell with the logic that she definitely would have gone to heaven had she really died (logic that Val sees as "airtight," much to Fenrich's annoyance), devoutly believes throughout most of the game that she is in a really bad dream. In any case, the team eventually fights her directly, and when she's been soundly beaten, she flees into a toxic dumping ground where humans have been storing their waste for quite some time. Val and Fenrich add the toxic dumping to the list of complaints they have with the President. Fuka, having fled into the area without knowing how dangerous it is, encounters some baddies and screams. Val to the rescue, as expected!
Fuka agrees to team up with Val and Fenrich to fight the unnatural slime monsters of the area, and it's a darn good thing, too. Fuka is one of the game's best melee fighters, especially with some sword skills. She has a great compliment of ranged attacks too, utilizing her patched-up baseball bat and prinny lackeys to make some colorful special attacks. The characters persevere. Fenrich and Val try to convince Fuka that she's really not dreaming and that she must submit to becoming a prinny trainee, but Fuka will have none of it. She decides that the presidential laws regarding prinnies are stupid, and takes up Val on his vow to take her to meet the President, if she's willing to work with him.
But before they can leave, a mysterious man appears from out of nowhere. Who is it but.... Axel? He declares that he's freed his former prisoners, and will ensure their freedom should they defeat Val and his ever-growing band of misfits. That's it for the episode, and for this week's story wrap-up so far.
The Chara World
One of my favorite parts about Disgaea 3 & 4 is the Chara World. Unlocked through the Senate, this allows your characters to boost certain abilities like their jumping power, learn skills already known by other teammates that surround them in the Cam-Pain HQ, or even inherit Evilties.
Basically, each character has a set number of times they can enter the Chara World per incarnation. Special story characters can reincarnate over and over again with no additional cost, making it easy for them to learn a few skills or boost some abilities, and then pop back in and reincarnate to do it all over again. Pretty soon, you'll have melee characters with some magic skills, mages who can suddenly use axe skills, or really, just about whatever suits your fancy. It's crazy addictive, and there's a fair bit of challenge to it, as the enemies within the Chara World are based entirely upon the level of the character you're using to enter it.
There are ten levels within Chara World. At the very beginning, you decide what you're going to focus upon increasing, or whether you'll be learning skills or evilties. At the ninth level, there will be a Mystery Room. In that Mystery Room is a vendor who will allow you to purchase upgraded abilities or new skills depending on your SP. Skills and abilities cost a damn fortune in mana compared to the normal skills a character would normally learn, so there's a certain risk/reward system in play that becomes the focus.
See, reincarnation saps your SP down to 0. Going into the Chara World with a level 1 character would seem to make sense, since you'll be facing really low-level enemies with hardly any challenge, so long as you've got a level 50 or so character who can do the grunt work. But this means that your reincarnated character will have very little mana going into the Mystery Room, even if you put him or her into the Evil Symbol that allows you to gain mana from another character's kills. This leaves you with basically one of two options (there are theoretically tons more, but these are how I like to do it):
1) Have a high amount of mana on a low leveled character. This is easy when you place the character on a mana pyramid square with a super high powered character as the leader. All you basically have to do is have that leader power through bunches of enemies, gain a ton of mana, and wait for the trickle-down effect. Easy as pie, especially if you keep that low-leveled character away from the evil symbol that grants EXP from its leader.
2) Try to get as much mana as possible while in the Chara World, and eliminate all the Geo Boxes within each level. Harder than it sounds, by far, but it can get you some basic level skills such as Heal, Fire, or Star without having to resort to that last bit.
As an extra bonus, finishing each map in the Chara World and eliminating all the Geo Boxes will allow you to improve your aptitudes. Now, I'm not entirely certain if this is accurate or not, but I believe aptitudes affect the general stat bonuses you would get from equipment. This makes it possible for a character to get more out of a weapon or armor piece than you usually would. So, for example, if Val hadn't gone through the Chara World, his aptitudes might all just be 100% - he gets exactly the bonuses listed from the equipment. But with some aptitudes boosted, he might get a sword and get 105% from its ATK bonus instead of the usual 100%. These aptitude increases are permanent, which is insanely cool and makes your characters pretty overpowered.
Whew. Let's call it a day for this look at Disgaea 4, shall we? Remember, questions, comments, anything, feel free to post 'em below. And if you haven't had a chance, check out my prior blog on general gameplay tips as well as some KILLER information from Drac96 on power leveling.