It’s been a while since we saw the strategy role playing game (SRPG) Disgaea on a Nintendo console, since the last time was the original Disgaea for the Nintendo DS. Nippon Ichi’s latest anime-styled game has made its way to Nintendo Switch in the form of Disgaea 5 Complete, a deluxe version of Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance, which was released on the PS4 in 2015.
One thing that immediately marks Disgaea 5 as the work of the Japanese developer Nippon Ichi Software is its use of pixel art sprites, a decision that goes against the increasing trend towards photorealism in video games. Nippon Ichi Software (sometimes shortened to NIS or N1) takes the same approach with its other franchises, including Demon Gaze, the Danganronpa series, Hero Must Die, and the Neptunia game series – all of which share a distinctive visual style.
In Disgaea 5, you play as the main protagonist, Killia, a young demon who seeks revenge; Seraphina, a sheltered princess and the Overlord of the Gorgeous Underworld; Red Magnus, The Overlord of Scorching Flame; Christo, an Overlord who is affiliated with a certain giant Netherworld; Usalia, the heir of Toto Bunny who dislikes fighting; and Zeroken, a young Overlord and self-proclaimed heir to the legendary Great Demon Fist Goldion. The story is a classic revenge tale, with the player fighting to overthrow Demon Emperor Void Dark who, with the aid of his army called The Lost, is hellbent on world domination.
Disgaea 5 revolves around a classic RPG structure where you need to defeat all enemies on a stage in order to proceed to the next one. Overall, the game is split into 19 chapters, with the level of The Lost increasing each time you complete a chapter. Alternatively, you can use the cheat shop to adjust the power of your enemies, making them as strong as you want to so you can easily increase your characters’ levels.
One of the key aspects of Disgaea 5 is its welcome strain of humour, with the dialogue making each character unique and really fleshing out their personalities. A classic example of this is in the first DLC scenario when Laharl gets upset when demons pick a fight with him for no reason and stop him returning to his castle. The way his emotions are expressed throughout this mini side-quest is hilarious and really adds to the game’s charm.
As mentioned above, the Disgaea franchise is famed for its art style, and this has survived the Switch intact. At times, it feels like an anime or movie is playing onscreen due to the quality of the visuals, especially during Disgaea 5’s anime-styled cutscenes.
Despite Disgaea 5 Complete being a port, the game’s controls are a perfect fit on the Switch. This may be a reflection of the fact that the Disgaea 5 franchise has a long history on portable consoles, with the first installment released on both the Nintendo DS and PlayStation Portable (PSP). It’s even possible that Nippon Ichi always had a portable port in mind and, therefore, kept the controls relatively simple to facilitate this process. Moreover, the controls for Disgaea 5 are still mostly the same as its predecessors.
Disgaea 5 Complete has everything a Disgaea fan can want and is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure. Although it’s occasionally repetitive and requires some grinding, the strong story and characters carry you through. This new Complete version also has some serious longevity, offering over 80 hours of gameplay if you factor in the included DLCs.
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software, Inc.
Publisher: NIS America
Platforms: PS4, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 23rd May 2017