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Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention Review (PS Vita)

Turn based strategy fans are probably already familiar with the Disgaea family of games. There have been multiple iterations released on the Playstation 2 and 3. Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention, is the first to be ported to the PSVita and it’s quite possibly the best post-launch title available.

For those that are unfamiliar with the Disgaea series, it’s a quirky strategy RPG ala Final Fantasy Tactics. You place your characters out on to the battlefield and take turns against the enemy AI. It’s a system that’s been around for years, yet Disgaea manages to take it and turn the crazy up to 11. Gone are the simple fields of play that you’d find in the previously mentioned FFT or even Tactics Ogre. In Disgaea 3, you’re dealing not only with the enemies themselves, but also with the battlefields. Geo Blocks are littered around some levels, which have different properties depending on where they’re set. This added strategy gives depth to the battles, while figuring out what best to do with the blocks (or if you’d rather just destroy them).

The story is unfortunately forgettable. The game is set in the Netherworld, where you play as Mao. This little antihero, is the son of the Overlord of the Evil Academy (where the game mostly takes place). His goal is to overthrow his father as he stepped on his gaming console, causing him to lose all of his save data. The characters you meet along the way range from likable to just downright annoying. My main gripe with the story is that it got in the way of the actual game. There is just so much exposition and dialogue, that I found myself just skipping the cutscenes so I could get to the fights. Disgaea fans might get a large kick out of the story, but as a “newbie” to the series, I found it was too much.

The crisp hand drawn animations in the cutscenes and pixel art in the overworld and battles is excellent. The game, ported from the Playstation 3, didn’t lose any graphical quality in the transition. The sound as well, is clear and crisp. The music all set the mood wonderfully and I never found myself tiring of a specific track.
The PSVita version of the game comes packaged with a TON of extras from the PS3. All the extras include:

  • All of the DLC from the PS3 Version
  • Item Customization
  • New Story Quests and Bosses (They even tossed in a few bosses from Disgaea 4!)
  • Touch Controls (Menu navigation, camera rotation and zooming)
  • GPS Functionality (You can get extra experience for carrying your Vita around)
  • New Class Skills, New Magic Spells

Disgaea 3 on the Vita is a perfect game for a handheld. You can do quick battles within 5-10 minutes each and the ability to just put your system to sleep is so much more convienent than having to slog through it all before saving on your PS3. Fans of the series that own a Vita should take note, this is a fantastic game with unlimited replayability (Did I mention you can get to level 9999? No? How about that every item has it’s own dungeons inside?). Disgaea 3 is a game that I won’t be removing from my Vita anytime soon as the depth and replayability is unmatched thus far on the Vita.

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  • Disgaea is one of those series I’ve heard of but never knew anything about. I picked this up after hearing a recommendation on a podcast I listen to and it’s great. The short battles make it perfect for a handheld. I hope they port Disgaea 4 across, though, as I can’t see myself sitting down to play the PS3 version.