Grind-o! Japanese RPG Disgaea Coming To PC In 2016

Someone, somewhere, has been keeping JRPGs in a cage in the woods. Perhaps the jailor died, or perhaps the JRPGs rose up and killed them, as now a steady trickle of them are emerging from the trees emaciated, bloodied and gasping, calling out for new players. 2003’s Disgaea [official site] is the latest coming our way, another grindomatic tactical RPG. The series may be up to Disgaea 5 on console, but we’re starting at the start, albeit with a fancy revamped version.

Disgaea’s a turn-based RPG about demons and angels and something or other with turn-based combat on a square grid, and goodness yes it is grindy. Features listed on its Steam page include:

  • Even with a max level of 9999, use Transmigration to start all over again, but your characters will be even stronger per level!
  • Delve into the Item World, a randomly generated dungeon world, to level up your items!
  • With max level characters and leveled-up items, dish out millions of points of damage!

I’m not much one for grinding myself but if you dig it, goodness me this’ll let you grind.

The PC port of Disgaea comes with updated interface and art, all the stuff from the expanded Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness release, support for keyboard and mouse, as well as controllers, and the usual Steam Bits. Comparison screenshots from Nippon Ichi Software show the UI and terrain artwork look a lot nicer, but the character art looks a little ugly, blurred by upscaling perhaps. The port will have a separate option for the new/old level art, but the interface and sprites are both rolled into one single option so you’ll need to choose between crisp UI or crisp characters. I wonder if NIS will change their minds about that.

The port’s due on Windows in February 2016.

63 Comments

  1. Merus says:

    From what I remember, the key to Disgaea is working out how to ‘cheat’ the system and earn hundreds of levels at a time. This doesn’t mean it’s not grindy, exactly.

    • Premium User Badge

      Wisq says:

      It also helps that you only really need to get one character up to ridiculously high level. Then you just send them in to other levels and have them combo with your main characters, and they get mucho XP.

      People look at “9999 levels” and think “omg grind”. They don’t realise that, if you’re doing it right, you’re gaining hundreds of levels at a time.

    • BlackMageSK says:

      Not to mention the main plot you don’t need to grind at all and can finish it at level 60. Once you’re done that the bonus dungeons let you do hundreds of level ups at a time. Also I thought the maximum was 65535?

      • Ringwraith says:

        Of stored levels from reincarnating repeatedly, yeah, around about that for the first generation of games.
        They eventually just started bumping this number up as time went on.

      • KDR_11k says:

        Really? I found that I had to grind quite a bit between story missions to have a chance (enemy levels seemed to go up by about 2 levels per mission, my XP gain was much lower than that), especially since created characters start at level 1 and are needed to pad out the roster to 10 characters early on. Though I guess it helps that the hospital gives you items that boost the HP of your characters like 10x. I never found any exploits for fast leveling though. Gave up around 3-4 chapters into the game. I heard the game was funny and wanted to see that but the game just kept slapping me with a brick wall.

  2. Sandepande says:

    Oh my.

  3. Jams O'Donnell says:

    Disgaea games have embarrassingly bad stories hiding an amazing tactical game. Generally the story levels are tiresome but the games are really about their randomly-generated Item Worlds, where you fight *inside* your gear and items to level them up. Colored blocks impart special effects to colored tiles, and destroying them can set off meticulously-planned chain reactions that are immensely satisfying, wiping out bad guys and racking up large bonuses.

    I find Disgaea games work really well on handheld devices when commuting — I’m not sure how well-suited they are to a PC.

    • Ringwraith says:

      Honestly I thought the first one morphs into the one of the best stories of the series, and I only played up to 4, but 4 is pretty good too, and much better paced.
      Plus 4 has one of the funniest sections that just keeps on giving in ridiculousness.

    • wcq says:

      Honestly, I don’t remember the story being that bad. It’s not amazing either, but Disgaea doesn’t take itself very seriously at all, which makes the bits where it stumbles easy to ignore.

      It’s miles better than the stories of some other Japanese RPGy things I could mention.

    • DrChaos says:

      I have to say, I feel the exact opposite. I played the first one, and loved the story but found the gameplay tedious and pointless. I love Japanese tactical RPGs (Final Fantasy Tactics, etc.), but Disgaea is just about maximizing damage, not strategizing. The story, on the other hand, was refreshingly funny, weird, and zany.

      • Ringwraith says:

        Yeah, unless you’re underlevelled, you generally don’t have to get excessively fancy in tactics.
        Also the first simply has the fewest options to play with, so that doesn’t help either.

      • Premium User Badge

        Wisq says:

        I’m going to have to offer a third opinion, aren’t I? I loved both the story and the gameplay. Ridiculous and over-the-top on both counts.

    • Chillicothe says:

      The plots, dialogue, and characters of that era of Nippon Ichi games are 100% brilliant absurdist stupidity.

      The choice to not only admit to broken balance and grinding endemic to the genre but to THRIVE off of them was too smart.

      Item World, Reincarnation, and Dark Congress are so inventive and addicting as to be criminal.

    • icemann says:

      I thought the story for Disgaea 1 was pretty good. The episode intro’s are hilarious.

  4. Gothnak says:

    Disgaea is super grindy, i bought a PS3 to play it. Played it for a while and realised it was infinite and then that sort of turned me off. I get an Xbox through work and haven’t tried any on the PS4, so i’ll probably pick it up on PC, but i bet it’ll all be controller driven rather than mouse.

    • Ringwraith says:

      If that was 3, 3 is a not a good entry point. As the normally really late-post-game problem of offence outstripping defence starts creeping into the main game, which makes interesting decisions harder to make.
      4’s an excellent first one, even the cast’s skillset is nicely well-rounded.

  5. Kitsunin says:

    You can already emulate the first two games very comfortably, so I’ll hold off on excitement ’till the PS3 and later games find their way to PC.

  6. Haborym says:

    It’s a fantastic allegory for racism and racial tolerance etc. Also the power of love and compassion and forgiveness and such. I think there’s some coming of age stuff thrown in there too.

  7. BTAxis says:

    Having played Disgaea, Disgaea 2, Disgaea 3, Disgaea 4 and Disgaea D2, I have to say I’m starting to get a little tired of the formula, which hasn’t changed much at all over the years. That said, I have fond memories of the series and if 5 ever does make its way to PC I’ll probably play it.

    • socrate says:

      yeah the major problem that they never address is that after lvl 100 you haven’t got much to get in terms of new ability or anything you have pretty much seen what is there to see…and number fapping was overused so often now…it doesn’t have the same feeling as before.

    • DrollRemark says:

      Having played Disgaea, Disgaea 2, Disgaea 3, Disgaea 4 and Disgaea D2, I have to say I’m starting to get a little tired of the formula

      You don’t say.

  8. mukuste says:

    That sprite filtering is really bad, it even has some white background bleeding in at the fringes…

    • SquidgyB says:

      It’s always been like that, iirc, (especially so on the PSP with it’s low resolution) – but at the same time I believe you’re mistaken regarding the white background bleed. The only item showing that is the icon hovering over the central character, which to me looks like it is meant to have a border.

      If you’re referring to the tiny patch in front of the health bar on one of the ghouls to the left – I believe that’s meant to be there, it’s just the edge of his loincloth.

  9. Arehandoro says:

    If it’s released with Linux in mind I’ll definitely give it a chance.

  10. JFS says:

    It’s a shame that basically every tactical RPG is super grindy. Why, oh why? The only one I got along with was Valkyria Chronicles, but even there you had to game the system. I wish there were more crossbreeds of Tactics Ogre on the story and depth side and the modern XCOM on the streamline side.

    • Ringwraith says:

      Valkyria Chronicles just had some severe balance issues, really.
      Grinding was an option, but never really required, although whether deliberately or because of the wonky balance, it was hard to tell.

      Disgaea on the other hand doesn’t actually require as much grinding as reputed to get through the main stories, unless you end up creating dozens of characters that is. Even if you do need to grab some levels, the main story will throw maps with convenient levelling things on them (like loads of +experience tiles) fairly frequently. You’ll probably have to pull some tactical tricks though. Or just steamroll everything with a party of highly equipped characters and items from the randomly-generated item dungeons. Your choice.
      Although the earlier Disgaea games do have spikes of difficulty in the final stages. (Honestly, the first game’s finale is probably the hardest).

      • Premium User Badge

        FhnuZoag says:

        Yeah, it’s sort of odd how marketing around the Disgaea games have always focused around grinding and hardcore-ness, whereas to me it seems to be really the least interesting and attractive part of the game. Much more interesting is the endearing story, the funny writing, good music and character animation, the fun puzzle mechanics with the special modifier tiles, the adaptive difficulty system where you can petition to have the game become easier or harder as needed.

    • tiltaghe says:

      One of my favorite is the first Vandal Hearts on PlayStation. It is really tight, story-focused. It doesn’t have the depth of FFTactics, Disgaea or others, and is a little on the easy side, but it has ton of charm and character. But I played it quite young and replay it entirely every few years so I’m a little biased. Would love to read what others think of this game!

      • DarkMalice says:

        My favourite game of all-time, hands down. I’m forever disappointed with the sequels failing to recapture that magic and just expand on it a little.

        • tiltaghe says:

          Ahhh so good to hear :)
          I think it’s my best in the genre too. There are many memorable battles in Vandal Hearts! And it really find its magic in the little details of each battles and the characterful animations and of course, the blood geysers! I love the mix of personal arcs and sprawling political plot and betrayals in the story. Very well written I’ve always thought.

    • Xerophyte says:

      Valkyria Chronicles is one game where I was quite happy to cheat and just disable the dumb ranking system so I got an A rank all the time. Yes game, I could speed run every level with scouts, but that would be boring and I’d like it if you didn’t reward me for it.

      • JFS says:

        Yeah, that’s what I meant.

      • Premium User Badge

        Harlander says:

        Is that something you can do? It sounds like it’d make the proceedings a lot more fun

        • Xerophyte says:

          Yes, I stole someone’s cheat engine config for it as I recall. Made the game a lot more enjoyable for me.

          • Ringwraith says:

            Provided you don’t mind missing out some stuff, mostly experience you can grind out anyway if you want, it is sort of ignorable.

          • Xerophyte says:

            I do mind, both missing out on some stuff and grinding.

            Mostly, though, I really dislike finishing a mission and having the game tell me “You were careful, thorough and went through with minimal casualties. Clearly, you didn’t do a very good job.” I feel like I’m being encouraged to approach missions like a reckless idiot and arbitrarily punished when I don’t. I don’t particularly want to feel like that, so I turned the feature off. Cheats: they’re sometimes very useful.

          • Ringwraith says:

            Incidentally, NG+ actually lets you replay story missions, so it’s never permanently lost.
            Although you mostly get some lances you’ll never use.

    • KDR_11k says:

      Because AFAIK the strategy part of an SRPG is not the combat but the character leveling. E.g. in Fire Emblem the important part is apparently not how to win but how to get XP on the weaker characters so you can get them to higher levels.

      • DrollRemark says:

        Except that the score ranks of Fire Emblem levels are the opposite of this – you get a better score the quicker you complete a level, which is naturally accomplished by using your higher ranked units, not the lower.

        Though the ranks are just fluff, so you can ignore them in your play. I do.

  11. cuc says:

    This reminds me RPS has neglected to report on Trails in the Sky SC, which is a long-awaited, high profile release that happened at the wrong time.

    • Kamestos says:

      Yes, I would also like RPS to cover more about TitS in the future.

      • pepperfez says:

        Look, whatever you think about women’s apparel in games, it’s not RPS’s responsibility to make it less skimpy.

  12. anHorse says:

    Oh fuck yes

    Spectacular series of games that actually adds something to its genre unlike the billion or so also-ran jrpgs that have been coming to pc.

    Disgaea’s one of only two or three reasons that I’d ever be interested in getting another console

  13. Gemberkoekje says:

    Prinnie, D00D! If you throw me, I’ll explode, D00D.

    One of the best games ever in my book, at least on the humor department.

    • X_kot says:

      Disgaea has some very amusing and memorable (if shallow) characters. I call my manager Midboss; he thinks it’s a compliment.

  14. Turkey says:

    Not my cup of tea, but I’m glad more and more Japanese publishers are seeing the PC as a viable platform for ports and not just a place to dump MMO’s.

    • crowleyhammer says:

      At last. think I own all these games on every platform already, even have a strategy guide for one of them for the DS versions I think.

      Chuffed.

      I also like the anime show as well.

      • crowleyhammer says:

        That was not meant as a reply sorry.

      • Ringwraith says:

        Hijacking anyway.
        Man, I enjoyed the anime a bit, even though it kinda pales in comparison to the game a heck of a lot.
        It’s certainly not what you’d call a ‘good’ adaptation…

    • Munin says:

      It’s probably in part because of the stunning financial results Falcom (the people behind Trails in the Sky mentioned above and the Ys series of action RPGs) posted last year. It proved how viable Steam was as a sales platform for relatively niche games on PC.

  15. n0m0n says:

    Great news indeed – if only they would start porting the rest f the series and not the one chapter that has already seen so many different systems.

    In my experience, Disgaea doesn’t really encourage nor require grinding in the traditional sense of jRPGs – but rather encourages you to find the cheesiest way of exploiting the games’ systems to reduce would be hours of grinding to mere minutes (many times you get to the point where a fresh made character can gain thousands of levels in just a few quick rounds of combat, using leveled up gear transferred from another character).

    Now, I just wonder if they will keep the bugged items from some of the ports which allow you to pretty much skip the setup phase and grant you access to items who increase your experience gain by hundreds, if not thousands of percents right out of the shop…

  16. Premium User Badge

    DelrueOfDetroit says:

    I played whichever game is on the DS for a little bit. The most clever thing in it was how there is a Senate and you have to get them to approve any upgrades you make to your castle. If somebody votes against you, BEAT THEM UP!

  17. namad says:

    Typo in the following sentence:
    The series may be up to Disgaea on console, but we’re starting at the start, albeit with a fancy revamped version.

    Should probably read:
    The series may be up to Disgaea 5 on console, but we’re starting at the start, albeit with a fancy revamped version.

  18. Rythe says:

    The first Disgaea was one of my favorite JRPGs of all time. Fun characters; lovely, humorous story; and interesting gameplay if easy to fall into grind city if you let yourself.

    That said, much of the gameplay’s character came from exploiting the maps to the best of your ability, and the sometimes challenge of pulling that off in the randomly generated item world levels.

    Sadly, the sequels didn’t hold the same charm, seemed to add more grind along with their new gameplay tweaks and features, and then I just couldn’t be bothered.

  19. Uninteresting Curse File Implement says:

    Don’t knock it till you try it, Alice! Disgaea is actually a parody of grindy tactical RPGs and its systems and mechanics are actually a pretty clever take on familiar mechanics that subverts expectations! I thought it was all pretty neat stuff, although I’m not the type of person to REALLY take advantage of all the potential offered.

  20. Hypocee says:

    Another voice that Disgaea (1 at least) isn’t grindy. I loathe grind but love Disgaea. Grind is doing the same thing repeatedly to raise a number. In Disgaea you’re always doing something new. Its great genius is the sheer bandwidth it provides for challenge in its missions. You can look at it as hit nearest thing with sword, sure, but if you want to actually play the game you’ll simultaneously be using its timewarping combo system, exploding units, ridiculous motion options and bonus/effect tile puzzle overlays.

  21. Rack says:

    ANd another voice in the crowd of Disgaea aint grindy. The option is there but you can get through the story in one straight play through if you are savvy about it. If you want better characters there are almost unending shortcuts you can take. Even beating the ultimate end boss can be done with minimal fuss if you abuse the correct shortcuts.

  22. Munin says:

    I really like the Disgaea series and I think one of the problems for new players is that they indeed try to play the game straight. Whereas ultimately you should be treating it as a kind of puzzle game where the aim is to exploit and break the systems as badly as you can. Stack as many multiplicative modifiers as you exploit exponentially growing XP rewards etc.

    Thinking about it now it actually makes me think of the best idler games. If you don’t think about how their various systems interact then you might as well not play them since it will be frustrating and take forever to get anywhere. If you do though… The added bonus of Disgaea though is that most of them do also have good writing and story.

    The upshot of it is I like breaking tactical RPGs in any case but Disgaea is built around that hence it does have a special place in my gaming heart.

  23. Themadcow says:

    Considering this is an old article, I don’t expect anyone to read this comment BUT as I’m currently addicted to Disgaea 5 on the PS4 (this IS the game that Vita remote play was built for…) then I really hope they get around to bringing that version to the PC audience. Having played every version of the game so far, I’m pretty confident that they’ve nailed the mechanics in the latest version.

    Is Disgaea grindy? It can be if you repeat the same super-levelling map hundreds of times (which is the most efficient way to level) but there’s far more fun to be had going the procedurally generated Item World route.