Disgaea 5’s on Nintendo Switch, dood!
For the first time in nine years, NIS America’s popular action-RPG series Disgaea is back on a Nintendo platform. Since the last Nintendo release, Disgaea DS (2008), the franchise has stuck exclusively to PlayStation consoles and PC. That all changes with Disgaea 5 Complete, a definitive version of the hit PS4 game available now on Nintendo Switch.
Tactical RPG fans are in for a real treat as this is a polished port of a truly exceptional game. It’s super fun, super funny, and easily offers over 100 hours of strategic, entertaining gameplay. Best of all, this franchise has always felt better on portable consoles and it plays beautifully on Nintendo Switch. Whether on the couch or your morning commute, get ready for hours upon hours of top-notch RPG goodness.
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Trouble in the Netherworlds
Disgaea games are famous for their outlandish stories and unconventional characters, with this latest entry being par for the course. It all begins with Seraphina, the so-called Princess Overlord of Gorgeous, who sets out to assassinate the evil Void Dark. Her reason? Apparently her father arranged a marriage with the ruthless and cruel Void, and she’s not having any of that. Problem is, Seraphina’s never been in combat before and soon finds herself hopelessly overwhelmed by Void’s demon army, the Lost.
Lucky for her, a mysterious demon named Killia shows up and rescues her from this predicament. Killia, too, apparently has a beef with Void Dark although he’s far to laconic to bother explaining why. Overjoyed to hear they have a common interest, Seraphina declares Killia her eternal love slave (??) and together they set out.
Gather your rebel army
If the intro sounds a little nutty, it most certainly is, but it only gets more bizarre from hereon in. You’ll soon travel to various netherworlds meeting a host of oddball demon overlords, all with a grudge against Void Dark. There’s Red Magnus, a “sweaty, muscled-headed monkey” who uses catchphrases popularized by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Usalia, an overlord heiress who wears a bunny suit and becomes excessively violent if she doesn’t eat curry regularly. And then there’s Christo who claims to be from a “certain giant netherworld,” which the team interprets as being the literal name of his homeworld.
If it’s not already abundantly clear, the dialogue between all these characters is often rib-tickling, if not downright hilarious. All are likeable, too, despite them being essentially shady, amoral demons. Disgaea 5 loves flipping the script on the standard good-vs-evil trope, often with unexpected and hilarious results.
Further amping up the laughs are the Prinnies, the eternal penguin punching bags that serve as the series mascot. They’re often used as fodder in battles (cutscenes, too), and have a bizarre penchant for exclaiming “dood!” after every sentence. Seeing them frequently spin around and do pirouettes in battles just adds to their charm.
Near unlimited gameplay depth
Contrasting with Disgaea 5‘s whimsical storytelling is perhaps the deepest gameplay mechanics of any tactical RPG. Statisticians will have a field day here as literally every aspect of the gameplay has numbers attached to them. Not only do your characters rise in levels, but so does your weapon proficiency, and individual spells and skills. Level caps are also absurdly high with, for example, your characters able to reach level 9,999. At higher levels it’s not uncommon to inflict thousands of damage points with a single strike, even millions.
While it’s impossible to run through the nuances of every gameplay mechanic in this review, needless to say your options are vast. On top of standard one-on-one attacks, you can queue up strikes and unleash devastating team attacks. These are flashier and more deadly co-operative attacks that are always entertaining to see. You can also lift and throw allies for extra field mobility, and tossed Prinnies explode (and die) for extreme damage. Prinnies, and other Monster allies, further have the ability to change into powerful weapons equippable by humans.
New gameplay systems introduced in Disgaea 5 include Revenge Mode and Overload skills. For Revenge Mode, as you take damage in battle your Revenge Gauge will increase. Once full, your character enters Revenge Mode, which boosts their Critical Rate to 100%, lowers skill costs to 1, and you take 25% less damage. On the other hand, some special characters have Overload skills that can be used once per battle. These have varying effects, like Seraphina’s Balor Gaze that charms all male units within five tiles of her. Combine all gameplay systems together and you have virtually limitless ways to approach any given combat situation.
All previously released DLC
Backing up its claim as the “Complete” version of Disgaea 5, you get all the original content plus the DLC. That’s everything from the Season Pass including 8 bonus scenarios, 4 fan-favourite characters, and 3 character classes.
The bonus scenarios revisit classic characters and locations from previous games, offering an amazing trip down memory lane for seasoned veterans. And if you haven’t played a Disgaea game before, these scenarios are nice introductions to beloved characters. These include the main characters from Disgaea 1-4 — Laharl, Adell, Mao, Valvatorez — and supporting cast.
Additionally, four extra characters are included in the DLC, and they’re available near the beginning of the game. They are: Girl Laharl, a female version of Laharl, Nisa, the mascot of NIS America, Metallia from The Witch and the Hundred Knight, and Pleinair, leader of the Netherworld senate. It’s awesome they’re all playable, however, if you aren’t familiar with NIS games some of the novelty will be lost. Moreover, they all start out overpowered so you may want to limit their use to avoid blowing through early missions.
Finally, three popular character classes are included in the DLC: the Sorcerer, Kunoichi, and Celestial Hostess. These join the more than 40 classes to choose from, ranging from returning favourites to all-new additions. A whole bunch of free downloadable Prinny characters can also be added to your army. Some are useful, like the magic Prinny that comes with dozens of spells, while others, like the one with 10,000 health, clearly are for laughs.
Disgaea 5 Complete is an amazing tactical RPG with 100+ of fun gameplay and hilarious storytelling. Being able to play the game at home or on-the-go with Nintendo Switch was a real joy. The base game alone offers near-limitless content, but this version also throws in all DLC from the Season Pass. It’s a huge volume of content that remains fresh and exciting even after dozens and dozens of logged game time. If you’re a fan of tactical RPGs like Fire Emblem or Final Fantasy Tactics, this is the game for you.
+ Beautiful cartoon graphics and animation
+ Wonderful voice acting
+ Hilarious story and likeable characters
+ Near-infinite gameplay depth
+ Over 100 hours of content
+ Lots of post-game extras
– Battle viewing angles sometimes cluttered
– Gameplay depth can be intimidating
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 5/5