Games, much like movies and shows, don’t age particularly well. Simple games, such as Super Mario Bros. 3 or Sonic the Hedgehog 2 are able to stand the test of time, where as a lot of innovative titles eventually feel clunky or bad. This is part of the benefit to remasters. Instead of just accepting things won’t match current standards, developers can implement some new mechanics, amp up the speed, possibly toss in online and it will allow new players to experience these gems. This is a big idea behind Disgaea 1 Complete. By enhancing the original, new players can see what started a franchise, lead to one of the best jokes in the series and even got an anime. With so many great things, is Disgaea 1 Complete a must or should you stick with later titles?
Disgaea 1 Complete starts by establishing one of the best character pairings in the whole franchise, Laharl and Etna. With Laharl being arrogant to the point of comical and Etna undermining him at every turn, it’s a fun pair that makes up for a rather hollow opening. This further expands when Flonne becomes a key member, eventually leading to some huge reveals and a much deeper story than you’d expect from a game where the main character is weak to big breasts and kind words. Similar things can be said about the combat system.
In so many ways Disgaea 1 Complete is deceptively simple. After making a team, selecting your desired build and giving them equipment, you’re ready for combat. Most stages are little more than select your units, put them on the field and then use them to overwhelm your enemy. However, later stages and post-game bosses require players to think outside the box to survive.
Throwing allies is a fantastic way to to eliminate threats, just like using geo panels to your advantage is must. Even simple tactics, such as positioning your characters in a way where they do teamwork attacks for additional damage can go a long way. But, the downside to this is a large learning curve.
Since Disgaea 1 Complete is the first in the franchise, it isn’t as well thought out as later titles. Players will need to grind or at least spend a bit of time working on their team within the first hour and continue to constantly improve their team if they hope to complete the story. For some this can be disappointing, especially since later titles do a better job of guiding players through the core experience, though it is one worth the effort.
Even the original has arguably endless replayability and some seriously cool things to discover. Item world, a randomly generated dungeon that is used to enhance gear, is a fantastic way to level, build up your gear and obtain some of the coolest and most unique items in the game. These can then be used to steal from the final bosses and get even more cool gear.
That being said, Disgaea 1 Complete is just a remaster, meaning it’s little more than a graphics overhaul. This means a lot of the changes, even basic ones like the ability to change sending position and pirates, are not available. This causes some of the aforementioned progression issues, as there isn’t much you can do besides play more or change your tactic, making it feel dated next to those who’ve played later titles.
Thankfully, the core experience remains the same, meaning the issues will likely be one of level/equipment. If you understand what works or how to abuse the mechanics, you just need to put in the time and you’ll get through the adventure with the best story. Not to mention, fight some of the weirder post-game bosses, based off, at the time, their most popular games. It’s the type of experience that likely seemed timeless, only to be rather dated.
Speaking of dated, Disgaea 1 Complete approaching graphics in an unusual way. While characters generally look on par with later titles, a lot of backgrounds look untouched. It creates a huge contrast when you have an HD sprite walking around a world that looks untouched next to the original. It isn’t enough to ruin the experience, just puts a hamper on an otherwise nice looking experience.
When push comes to shove, Disgaea 1 Complete isn’t perfect but it’s still worth playing. It remains the best story in the series, complete with some of the best jokes. Sure, it could’ve been modernized and had more changed but the best elements remain. Between exploring item world, fighting post game bosses and achieving insane stats, it’s the type of game that you could spend hundreds of hours in and still have plenty to do. So, if you want to lose yourself in a new turn based RPG, this is a fantastic choice, where as returning fans need to understand it’s pretty much the same experience with a new coat of paint.
[Editor’s Note: Disgaea 1 Complete was reviewed on PS4 platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]