In a press release, Atlus have announced that they will be bringing the strategy RPG Disgaea: Hour of Darkness
to North America. Disgaea is a gothic themed story which will follow the progress of Laharl, the prince of the
Netherworld. Laharl's father, King Krichevskoy, has died two years prior to the start of the game and the prince is
only just awaking from a long slumber. He has arisen to find that the Netherworld is awash in demons scheming to gain
control of the throne and the story will follow his own attempts to regain his family's place and ascend as the rightful
Disgaea was originally designed by the same team which created Rhapsody
and La Pucelle. As such, its take on
the Netherworld promises "a compelling gothic narrative with a comical twist". One already visible outlet of this
comedy seems to be Laharl's friends and party members, one of which is a demon penguin. However, the oddness shouldn't
dissuade gamers as there are a host of unique systems which will be present to entertain players. One of the most
creative is the concept of "worlds within items". In Disgaea, every single piece of equipment is a gateway to an item
realm. Within these item worlds there will be people, towns, and, most importantly, shops. In exchange for
fighting with or using the weapons, Laharl and his group will build up currency within these lands which will then be able
to be traded in to the shops. What can actually be purchased hasn't been revealed as of yet. Also, during battles,
players will be able to open gates to the item worlds and draw their enemies to fight within them giving them extra
power or experience with the weapons.
A second creative system for the game will be its inclusion of a working, changing senate of demons within the
main castle called the Black Congress. These demons will pass laws, or enact resolutions which will change the variables
of the game throughout play. Of course, these changes will also be regulatable by the player as they will
have the ability to propose bills, bribe senators, and even intimidate them with force if they are particularly opposed
to the player's views.
The battle system within Disgaea will be familiar to most strategy RPG players. Combats will take place on an
isometric grid system and the turn order within combats will be determined by agility rankings. However, in the spirit
of quirkiness, there will also be a number of odd elements present within the combats. Throwing of characters, for one,
will be used to provide better tactical positioning. Also, "Geo Panels" will be present on the battlefield which can
be used to cause damage to the enemy. Finally, you will also be able to switch out your party members on the fly
during combat to make use of your full army's potential. Hopefully this will allow players to utilize the almost dizzying
array of over 150 classes and monsters present for composing an army.
Disgaea is planned for release exclusively on the PlayStation 2 in the fall of 2003 for a suggested price of $49.99
and should offer gamers a rich new world of strategy elements to explore.