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Posted by eddierichards on Jun 1, 2012
Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention (Nippon Ichi, Playstation Vita)

Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention (Nippon Ichi, Playstation Vita)

I am no RPG fan. I enjoyed Final Fantasy VII and X for a few days of play, back when I had no qualms about being sat stationary for hours, and days in front of the TV. But in general, RPGs are not my thing. I love a good story – but in video game form, I always feel major pangs of guilt when I notice it’s suddenly dark outside, or that I haven’t done anything else all day.
You’d think then, that Disgaea 3 would at least suit me better on a portable. It does, in one sense (being able to duck out and return sporadically). But throwing a PS Vita across a room (as opposed to kicking my wall-mounted LCD TV) is so easy to do, that I contemplated it several times during play. Yet I completely understand what fans of the genre love about it. So hopefully this review is as neutral as possible. Hopefully.

So – Disgaea. Apparently deemed a very good RPG series, it’s often noted that this third, re-released title is the weakest of the bunch. Having played none of the others personally, I can’t compare it to them – but it does all feel decidedly average.

Meet Mao. An annoying little git who lives in the Netherworld. He has an issue with his Dad, the Netherworld Overlord – and wants to mash him up. Mao is a student at ‘Evil Academy’ no less, and is on a quest to better himself, and meet loads of like-minded types along the way, to reach his goal.

Graphically, Disgaea 3 on Vita has it’s nice touches. Scenery and art are all very well done, and the animated dialogue screens are a nice touch. It was a surprise to hear speech during them all (for me, anyhow – it’s been a while since I aided insomnia with an RPG). On the downside, the on-screen characters  are a little hard to see, during play and when crowded together in battle, difficult to discern. A squinty affair on a handheld. The cursor on-screen often gets lost too, so I find myself using the camera to look for it and become even more ticked-off. Speaking of which, the camera is poor – and when trying to pick out which team member is which and where they are, the camera rotation does little to help. However, Vita’s screen does have Disgaea 3 looking gloriously sharp, bright and colourful in all other departments.

As mentioned earlier, it’s very nice to hear a lot of speech in this game, but otherwise, Disgaea 3 contains a lot of cheesy Japanese Anime tunes which just served to irritate. Character voices are many, but again, I found myself annoyed with the usual hero/villain clichés, and stereotypical voice types. Cocky Mao has the predictable voice of a very irritating little shit, and you just wanna slap him whenever he speaks. And, for example, Spanish characters all sound like Cheech Marin (you MUST know Cheech & Chong, surely! No?). And so on.

Right. I know that RPG purists whinge on about these types of games needing to have to surpass a certain amount of hours worth of content (“Bah – I’m not buyin’ it coz’ it’s only got 40 hours of gameplay in it”). Well, I didn’t count the hours, but I could count how many 20-packs of smokes I’ve gone through, (Editors note: G4A does not suggest the use of packs of 20 cigarettes as an effective timing method for RPG’s.) how many times I haven’t thrown my Vita, how many times I fell asleep or how many times Disgaea 3 depleted the Vita’s battery.

Disgaea 3 is not the easiest RPG to get into, and leaves me feeling daunted, praying I never get pestered with another random battle again. The battles, whilst full of options, and tinkering about, are never fun (for me) – just overcomplicated and boring.
Tactically, it’s nice to see that you have to be smart during combat, and take things such as character placement into account (e.g setting up combos with your team, accounting for higher ground, etc. But it all makes me cry out for my copy of Advance Wars on the DS instead. Advance Wars is FUN.

There’s a lot of stuff here for you (more than 2 gigs-worth on my poor memory card). A hell of a lot to see and do, in the bid to advance you and your team of fellow students, to the highest heights. Power levels can reach insane levels, items such as potions and weaponry too, can be upgraded in shops, and so on. If this is your thing, you’ll be most content. Previously seen on PS3, it features all of that version’s DLC from the start (extra characters, story content, etc). So, get stuck in, fans.

However, I found Disgaea 3 difficult to get into, tiresome, and annoying. It doesn’t do the best job of introducing newcomers to its ways or its structure, and I found myself repeating tutorials and battles to help things sink in. The game’s attempt at humour also helped matters none. It’s never funny. Just painful.

What’s good about it? Well, it’s helped me realise I’m never going near a game like this again. Call me a philistine if you must – or worse – but HELL no. HELLLLL NO. Absolute torture. Scenery looks nice, though.

I did like Mao’s need to become good, because ‘Good always wins’ – but I’ve read plenty of books with a similar premise, that appealed much more to me. I’m trying to be positive about it – but Disgaea 3 chooses to make things difficult from the off. Perseverance granted me nothing of interest (personally), and I didn’t enjoy it. Sure, you can go about upgrading weapons, magic spells, team organising and the like, to a massive degree. But playing Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention felt just like that: Detention. I only rate it as high as 5, because I know others will enjoy it more than I did and I am sure fans of the series will like it a whole lot more.

School’s out. Forever.


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