Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories - PS2 - Preview 2
A crazed (and cursed) mother. A strong-willed son who’s determined to keep all promises – even if it costs him his life. A young girl who loves her overlord father despite his many ruthless killings. A dark-hero-turned-movie-star. And a beauty queen with really bad luck.
These are a few of the semi-unusual, purposely-comedic stars that make up the world of Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories. When an evil overlord turns Adell’s family into demonic half-breeds, his mother orders him to hunt down the one responsible. This simple premise takes the young man on a journey that pokes fun at just about everything (including genre itself). Role-playing cliches are made fun of, while modern-day issues are included as a means for improving yourself in a world gone bad. Bribe senators to get them on your side, score points for scoring felonies, and don magical vests sewn by fairies in “magical” sweatshops.
Each scenario features voice-overs from the quirky cast, most of which involve them arguing with each other, running into a bad situation, and wondering why they haven’t accomplished their goals yet. Numerous characters pop in and out, both to fight and to add to the hilarity. Pressing the triangle button lets you skip any story sequence that comes up. As tempted as I’ve been to press it – the battles are the primary reason for my addiction – the game has yet to fail to make me laugh. I want to enter the battlefield, but I just can’t do it. I must find out what’s going on with the characters first.
Story first, gameplay second, is the schedule of Disgaea. The schedule repeats every time a battle is won, and every time an area has been cleared. Unlike other strategy/RPGs, this is not a game of exploration. It is not about journeying to end of the world, searching for that one thing that will make peace return. Disgaea 2 is pure, uninterrupted turn-based strategy. I love strategy games, but I can’t see myself being as addicted to it as I am had not it been for one small detail: it plays like my favorite handheld game, Fire Emblem.
Battlefields are laid out for mobility, allowing you to move about the area via square-shaped spaces.
Early on you’ll be informed of a place called the Dark Assembly. This is where another one of Disgaea 2’s incredibly addictive elements comes into play. Mana lets you create new characters and reincarnate existing allies. It also allows you to put a bill into action that would allow you to do something that is otherwise forbidden. One example you’ve probably heard about in the news: more funding. If you go before the senate and persuade them to pass that bill, you’ll gain more dough.
The catch is that, not unlike Star Wars, the senate is comprised of demons who belong to the same species of creatures encountered on the battlefield. They differ in rank and power. Higher-ranked senators have a stronger voice and can turn the tide in either direction. Funding has a pre-approved rating of 1%. There are fewer than 100 senators who vote, which means that less than one senator is likely to vote in your favor.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, “more expensive stuff” has a pre-approved rating of 60%-plus. You’re likely to get that approved before you walk in the door, assuming nothing goes wrong. Senators may fall asleep just before the vote takes place. Sleeping senators can’t vote, and just your luck – it’s always the ones on your side who want to take a nap. Worse yet, they may also flip-flop on decisions, voting opposite of what was indicated. (It’s scary how much this reminds me of the real world.)
Of course, with the rare exception that one of the demonic leaders has a conscience, you can always win through bribery. Click on a monster and scroll through your items to see what it likes. “Slightly interested” is as low as you should go. “Interested” and “Must have!” are your best bets. “Does not want” couldn’t be any clearer – if you don’t have something that catches their fancy, you’re not going to be able to persuade them. And like I said, some have a conscience. Attempting to bribe them is a surefire way to lose.
Hilarious, addictive, and happily time-consuming, Disgaea 2 has become my most anticipated RPG of the year. If you loved the first Disgaea, Fire Emblem, or any other strategy game with this style of play, do not miss the chance to play this sequel the second it hits stores.