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Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness
Nintendo DS
Reviewed: 11/2/07

When older games get ported to a newer system, it can sometimes be a drag for both players and the market. For a time, it looked as though the PSP would be drowned in hasty ports. Thankfully, for all the ports that the system has received, Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness is one that clearly stands out as worthwhile, boasting both new content and improvements, yet leaving intact what made the original game so popular.

Perhaps one of the most anticipated additions contained within Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness is the brand new "Etna Mode." After completing the main game, players may find a code that can be used to start a new file in an all new adventure. The premise of Etna Mode plays with the hypothetical idea that instead of waking Laharl up in the beginning of the game, Etna accidentally kills him. From there, the story progresses in a similar fashion to the main one, but is just different enough to be interesting, without being confusing. The story within it does provide some extra insight into the main story, as promised, and does a good job of capitalizing on both the humor and dramatic potentials. Overall, it could have been a little longer, clocking in at about 15-20 hours if one goes through quickly, but the fact that it's included really enhances this title.

Screen Shot
The ominous fog of war

Aside from the Etna Mode, a few things were added to Disgaea or altered for the benefit of the player. Perhaps the biggest other change was adding a music shop to the Overlord's castle, allowing the player to purchase any previously heard music tracks and set them as background music for the Item World. This is particularly great because the default tune definitely started to wear quite thin in the original. Another added NPC keeps track of various statistics, such as Geo Panel combos, and has item collection records, so players may try to collect every item in the game if they so desire. Customizeable ad hoc multiplayer is available for players with friends. Japanese battle voices have been added along with the default English. And players will collectively rejoice to find that there is now an option to turn off skill animations for allies and/or enemies in battle.

There are a few flaws in the port, but most of them are minor. For example, there is no way to skip some of the tutorials at the beginning of a game or even a new cycle, which is mildly annoying since if the player is starting over in a New Game + fashion or playing Etna Mode, they clearly know how to play the game already. A few of the questionable interface problems remain, such as the battle camera limited to 90 degree turns at a fixed diagonal angle. Some of the original's randomization elements have been altered: players can no longer go forward and back between certain menu options to get a desireable option, such as the Hospital's "Claim Prize" menu or generating a random name for a new character. For that matter, there is no random name button included at all, as there was in Disgaea 2, which would have been nice.

Screen Shot
Did I just hit your Etna or my Etna?

One of the best parts about the port is just that: it's a port of a great game. What's more is that Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness has risen to the occasion and transitioned to PSP very well. Load times are very minimal, aside from some negligible disc-spinning during the voiced cutscenes. The game looks great in widescreen format, all characters look very smooth, the interface hasn't suffered for lack of an analog stick or extra shoulder buttons, and the sound quality has been preserved. Even better is the combination of Disgaea's long battles and the PSP's Sleep Mode: it's like the two were made for each other, especially where the Item World is concerned.

In short, Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness does almost nothing but improve upon the original PS2 incarnation. The added options for Item World music and toggling skill animations address two of the most common complaints about the original game's structure, and Etna Mode is a refreshing addition to the main story. Even with these changes, Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness preserves the original game in a way that make this port worthwhile for any fans of the series or genre.

-Janelle Hindman

Score Breakdown
Out of 10
See our Review Criteria
Gameplay Great
Story Very Good
Graphics Below Average
Sound/Music Good
Replay Value Very Good
The Verdict: Nine