Disgaea 1 Complete on Nintendo Switch
Disgaea: Hour of Darkness was the first step towards one of the most outrageous SRPGs to date, spawning over five mainline titles. Following Disgaea 5 Complete on the Nintendo Switch, NIS America had gone on and remastered the first game, titled Disgaea 1 Complete. While this updated version certainly looks better than ever, some dated mechanics really emphasize how much this game has aged.
Veterans of the series, especially those who started with the first game, will find that most things remain pretty much unchanged. Disgaea 1 Complete is packed with tons of new graphics and updated visuals, along with an extra Etna mode, but everything else is pretty much still the same.
Disgaea 1 Complete’s story still revolves around the demon, Laharl, the son of the late King Krichevskoy, who’s awoken from his two-year nap in the Netherworld. Joined by his vassal, Etna, the two start scrounging the planet, conquering enemies and pillaging areas with the hopes of Laharl becoming the next Overlord of his Netherworld. During their journey, Laharal and Etna meet an angel trainee named Flonne who begins to teach the prince about love.
The gist of Disgaea 1 Complete is very silly, and the story remains extremely cheesy for the most part. However, it’s actually quite refreshing if you’re sick of the chosen hero trope found in typical JRPGs. But if you’re playing a Disgaea game, chances are you aren’t doing it for the plot. Disgaea 1 Complete still retains the same over-the-top action the series is known for, letting you level up characters up to 9,999 and deal monstrous damage, even up to the millions mark.
The story is split into different chapters, and you’ll have to clear each map on every chapter to advance. Locations vary, but you’ll always return to your base after every mission. You’ll be shuffling through the different facilities here, from shops to the Dark Assembly, where you can stock up on items, recruit new characters on your team, and pass bills to stock better equipment.
Gathering new characters on your team requires mana, which your units can earn by killing enemies. Disgaea 1 Complete still follows the Mentor/Pupil feature, meaning any of your characters can recruit others using their own mana. This is a really handy system that allows your mentor to learn your pupil’s skills by standing next to them during combat and using these said abilities.
Because of this, I’ve managed to turn characters like Flonne into a superpowered mage by giving her spellcasters as pupils. This mechanic only reinforces the fact that Disgaea 1 Complete lets you play the way you want to. You can turn your warriors into healers and vice versa, though you’ll still want to keep each character’s stats in mind.
As your units level up, you’ll unlock more classes that you can have on your team in Disgaea 1 COmplete. Similarly, you can also “transmigrate” your old character, which is basically like reincarnating them as the stronger classes. These features play a key role in building a solid team, and you’ll probably be spending plenty of time mixing and matching which combinations you want for your units.
Once you’re set, you can embark on the missions where the real action begins. Disgaea 1 Complete follows the SRPG action the series is known for, letting you deploy up to nine units in combat without any turn restrictions whatsoever. During your turn, you can control any character at any time, letting you position them freely without having to worry about when they can act.
Characters have their own skills they can use during combat, depending on what item they have equipped. You can also stick to normal attacks, which you can chain together by having other characters stay beside the attacker. Positioning and timing have always been crucial in the series, and the same can be said for Disgaea 1 Complete.
Some maps take things a step further with special tiles called Geo Panels. These glowing tiles have different effects depending on what Geo Block is affecting them. Your units will reap whatever effects the panel has, regardless whether it’s good or bad. Some of these buffs include added attack power or negative effects such as silence or random warping. These Geo Panels inject another layer of strategy, often encouraging you to play around these tiles. You can have your units stand on panels with buffs, or bait enemies into stepping on Geo Panels with status effects.
Despite all these features, Disgaea 1 Complete completely strips all of the other features from previous games and goes back to the franchise’s main mechanics. Things like Tower Attacks and Magichange are missing, leaving stacking as just another way of getting around the field. Meanwhile, monsters are simply just units and can’t transform into weapons for your humanoid characters.
Evilites are also nowhere to be found, while clubs and other groups aren’t in the game. These features played a big part in streamlining the series, adding even more ways to play and customize your team. Without them, Disgaea 1 Complete tends to feel somewhat outdated and tedious at times. In fact, even the option to return back to base during mid-battle is missing. This basically means you have to head back all the way to the title screen if you forget to upgrade your equipment or heal your units.
Taking that into account, Disgaea 1 Complete can get grindy, especially for new players. Without these extra facilities that grant bonus EXP and other stats, you’ll be forced to level up characters the old-fashioned way in combat. The main story doesn’t require you to reach those extravagant levels, but you might find yourself repeating stages to level up characters. The real challenge, however, lies after you’ve finished the story challenges. There are a host of other post-game dungeons that require some intense grinding and serious team planning if you’re up to the challenge.
Apart from your units, you can also pour time into leveling items in the Item World. These are basically randomly generated stages with up to 10 levels. You have the option to either clear the entire floor or find a portal that leads to the next stage. Upon clearing the 10th level or using an emergency escape item, your item will level up accordingly. The Item World difficulty is essentially tied to your item level. I found that these stages were also a great way to level low-level units by using basic items to generate easy stages.
If there’s one thing Disgaea 1 Complete should definitely be praised for, it’s the enhanced graphics. The animation has finally caught up with games like Disgaea 5, with Laharl and his crew sporting sharper sprites. Maps have gotten a visual overhaul, made to look much clearer than Hour of Darkness. Menus have also been reorganized and tidied, giving off a more modern vibe you’d see in most RPGs today.
If anything, most of the grind had been bearable thanks to all of the flashy moves and crazy combos, which are all fun to watch. Seeing two penguins from hell, a demon, and an angel beat the living crap out of a ghost is hilarious, to say the least.
Depending on your taste, Disgaea 1 Complete can offer hours upon hours of gameplay filled with team building and grinding. With its gorgeous graphics and updated animations, this is hands down the best and “complete” version of the first game. And while the game does lack plenty of add-ons from later titles, hardcore Disgaea fans will still find a lot to love with this remastered classic.
Score: 3.5/5 – Fair
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