Another day, another PS3 game being re-launched on the PS Vita. Nippon Ichi Software took on the job of porting Disgaea 4 - from its landmark series - over to the Vita for some more handheld loving. Is it another cash-in, or is there some fun to be had for buying a handheld port years after the release of the original?
For those who have no experience with the Disgaea series, it is NIS’s bread and butter series that put the studio on the RPG map. Starting with a grid-based, tactical RPG gamestyle, they infused the formula with their own brand of humor. Disgaea 4 is no exception to that formula. It also introduces us to a new protagonist named Valvatorez, a once-great tyrant now turned prinny instructor, who has a habit of making promises and sticking to them no matter what. Those promises are a key part of the story as his honor forbids him from breaking any promise, no matter the consequences, and thus we are given a lot of the reasoning behind parts of the storyline where he tries to usurp the government.
The story is funny and laidback, but has a deeper level of meaning to it for those who want to believe the narrative is an analogy to the state of real world governments and politics. But the great thing NIS does brilliantly well with their Disgaea series is make completely new casts of characters that all jive together, have differing personalities and just work for the new slice of the netherworld they have created. I call it ‘brilliantly well’ because for anyone who has read my numerous reviews of NIS games, almost every non-Disgaea game seems to fall flat in that regard.
The government theme of the title is what sets it apart from previous entries and D2, released last year. Simple tricks like making your own cabinet and having them interact with other players over PSN, or having bases on a map to give bonuses to your units, is a fun way to incorporate a normally strategy-game mechanic into an RPG without the game losing its identity.