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Returning to simpler days with Disgaea D2

Bob Mackey

Nearly ten years ago, a quirky little game called Disgaea: Hour of Darkness put developer Nippon Ichi on the map for lovers of Japanese RPGs – the ones from America, anyway. This quirky strategy RPG combined Final Fantasy Tactics with a Tim Burton-inspired aesthetic, and just as the genre seemed to be fading from relevance. Nippon Ichi capitalized on the success of Disgaea by opening up an American branch months later, and continued to iterate on their particular brand of complex and bizarre mechanics.

For some (like myself), Nippon Ichi's prolific nature soon became a case of diminishing returns, and their audience gradually checked out from the company's regular forays into strategy RPG territory. Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness for PlayStation 3 stands as the developers' attempt to recapture that magic of 2003 with a spirtual remake of the game that made them, and by all accounts looks to be treading some very safe waters.

This might not be a bad thing, though; just as the New Super Mario Bros. series added a fresh coat of paint to old-school action, Disgaea D2 has the same intent. The latest installment to the series acts as a direct sequel to the first game, complete with the same mechanics and characters, but with an entirely new story.

Gallery: Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness | 21 Photos

If you spent hundreds of hours during the early aughts power-leveling the hell out of Disgaea's cast of characters, this may be all the incentive you need to jump back in, though Nippon Ichi has also added a few new features to their classic formula.

A new master and pupil system will give two characters reciprocal benefits when they team up, and the game's demon dojo allows players to fine-tune their characters by leveling up individual stats. There's no shortage of Disgaea out there, but if you're looking to scratch that strategy RPG itch this fall A Brighter Darkness may bring you back to those simpler days of 2003, when leveling up characters to 9999 existed only in the fevered dreams of madmen. Now, you only need to turn to YouTube.

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