With a large amount of ports and games that are oddly similar to their console counterparts on the Vita, it’s hard to not get jaded with releases and simply write them off as tried experiences that do not deserve a chance at our wallets again. Thankfully, Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention is no such case. With its inclusion of all previously released DLC and perfect transition to the portable format, it makes a worthy addition to the Vita gaming library.
Graphically, it is nowhere near as pretty as the recently released Disgaea 4. Thankfully, filters smooth out most of the character sprites, leaving players with a satisfying presentation along with new attack animations make the game a strategy RPG spectacle on the Vita. Meanwhile, dialogue scenes look as beautiful as ever with hand drawn characters backed by both English and Japanese voiceovers for stereophonic joy. Fans of NIS’s humor will appreciate the game’s references to general nerddom and cameos from other games like Z.H.P..
The Disgaea series has often been known as one of the deepest RPG experiences on the mainstream market, and that depth is in full swing here. From the beginning, players will be introduced to the classroom system, which seems simple at first, but will dictate what team attacks, bonuses and other possible aspects of combat based on seating and club assignments. It may seem simple at first, but players would soon create rosters of characters that may be in the double digits, creating a need for more clubs that alter seating arrangements dramatically. By placing seating certain characters near each other, players will be able to raise the chances of a chain attack, amongst other things.
Perhaps what makes Disgaea such a fit for the portable system is the fast pace and brevity of most levels within the series’ famous item worlds. Though completing entire worlds will take as long as they did on the PS3, each individual level feels like the perfect filler for short car rides and wait lines at restaurants. Throughout the game’s campaign, the levels hardly get to the sheer length of that of titles like Super Robot Wars, but players will easily spend a good amount of time planning out levels and geo block placement before finding the ideal way to complete each level. Aside from that, sudden jumps in level difficulty will often invite players to go back and grind it out either in previous campaign levels or item worlds before clashing against some of the game’s bosses.
Exclusive to the Vita version, the touchscreen controls and rear touch panel are practically a useless addition. While the former is a sluggish way of maneuvering the camera around that rarely gets in the way of gameplay, the latter will soon rear its ugly head as players inadvertently touch the rear panel and the camera jerks off to some random character. Thankfully, the rear panel can be disabled. Other Vita-specific features are also put to use, such as through the Honor Quotient, which raises based on factors like playtime and distance the system has traveled, that offers discounts at in-game stores or more experience and mana points.
Seeing as how it’s only little under five years old, Disgaea 3 holds up to modern strategy RPGs incredibly well. Anyone who missed out on the original release and has the slightest interest in strategy RPGs would do well by them to pick this up. The slew of improvements brings even more modernity to the title and make it a almost indiscernible fact that the title is a port. However. Prinny lovers would have likely experienced most of this already, prompting little aside from a quick peek at some of the new visual goodies.
Available on: Vita; Publisher: NIS America; Developer: Nippon Ichi Software; Players: 1; Released: April 17, 2012; ESRB: Teen; MSRP: $39.99; Official Site
Note: A promotional code was provided to Denkiphile for review purposes by the publisher.