When the Switch was first announced, there was a marked difference between the Wii U and Switch that was immediately evident – JRPGs would be coming. The Wii U received less than 20 RPGs over the entirety of its lifespan, whereas NIS America is here just two months after release bringing one of the best SRPG series onto the Switch, one which has never received a release on a Nintendo home console before – Disgaea.
Disgaea 5 Complete, as its name implies, is the complete version of Disgaea 5, including 8 DLC scenarios, 4 characters, and 3 character classes. While this is a Complete port of the Playstation 4 game that released 2 years ago, that is not an issue. As I said above, this is the first time a Nintendo home console has received an entry in the Disgaea franchise – the Nintendo DS received a remake of the original game.
Disgaea 5 Complete follows the story of the Overlord of Gorgeous, Seraphina, as she happens upon a mysterious demon named Killia. Together, they want to take down the madman Void Dark, who is trying to take over all of the Netherworlds. Over time, new allies will be recruited, such as the Overlord Red Magnus – don’t call him a monkey! – and the truth about certain allies will become clear. While the story is engaging, the gameplay is what makes this series a true hallmark of the genre.
If you’ve ever played a Fire Emblem game, forget what you think you know about the genre, as this is a completely different type of Strategy RPG. Rather than focusing on a core group of main characters, you have a handful of named characters and everyone else is recruitable via a recruitment option in the “Pocket Netherworld” or home base. Characters can die during battle and that is okay, you can heal them later at the hospital. And also, rather than a hum drum the world is at stake serious tone, Disgaea is light-hearted fare and not afraid to engage in some toilet humor.
The first few hours of the game introduce you to the world and the complex gameplay. Whether or not you’re new to the world of Disgaea is irrelevant, the complex layers of gameplay get gradually eased in over the first few episodes. Fortunately, nearly every tutorial is skippable, so it is not an issue if you understand the core mechanics or are familiar with the gameplay. Throwing Prinnies at your enemies to watch them explode and cause some major damage is still just as fun as ever, dood!
Customizability is one of the strong suits of the franchise, and this entry is no stranger on that front. Whether you are choosing the sex of your new recruits, their color, maximizing their efficiency in certain traits, or even just leveling up certain ‘Evilities’ to complement your current team, no two playthroughs will be identical. My ragtag Rebel Army will be vastly different than that of yours, as I focus heavily on the Magic arts and watching all demons who stand with Void Dark burn.
What separates Disgaea 5 from previous entries is the addition of multiple new classes and monster types. One of the most welcome additions is the Maid, who allows you to both consume an item and take a standard action per turn. This is a big help if you have already executed your healers and need to heal someone else in danger of being destroyed, or if you need to lend a Big Muscle to a weaker ally to overcome his or her shortcomings. As an item hoarder in RPGs, the Maid has been a big assist in ensuring I use my items rather than let them rot in my bag.
Separate from the core gameplay is a whole home base to interact with, Seraphina’s Pocket Netherworld. In this Pocket Netherworld you have all sorts of options to customize your Army and expand the gameplay away from traditional SRPG fighting. Captured enemies can be interrogated to either gain items or powers or can be recruited to fight by your side. If you want to boost your bonus meter, you can call a meeting of the Strategic Assembly and bribe Senators to vote for your proposal. Squads can be formed that augment abilities in battle, such as the Relief Squad that will allow allies to heal when on certain tiles in battle. Ultimately, this game is truly one of the most expansive and customizable SRPGs available.
While I never played the original Disgaea 5: Alliance of Vengeance, I had played Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice. Even though they are a generation apart, the graphics have not moved too far beyond that of the Playstation 3 titles. This is not a huge issue, as the art style and colorful sprites look fantastic in high-resolution and the animations, especially when conducting a joint or special attack, are fluid and bombastic. Unlike other games released on the platform, there are no hiccups when switching between the docked and handheld versions. Every way you play this game runs at a smooth 60 frames per second.
This is, without a doubt, the definitive version of Disgaea 5. The genre benefits greatly from being able to be taken on the go and in a game that will easily consume hundreds of hours of playtime, this is not something that can ever be done without. Nippon Ichi Software has said they plan on bringing additional support to the Nintendo Switch and if it remains at the quality of Disgaea 5 Complete, they are more than welcome to stay a long as they wish. This is hopefully just the beginning of a resurgence of the RPG on Nintendo consoles, but it is more than that, it is a fantastic game in its own right in its final and complete form.