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System: PS2
Publisher NIS America
Designer Nippon Ichi Software
Release Date: August 2006
Genre: Strategy RPG
Players: 1
Save Feature? Yes

Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories is living proof that lightning can strike twice because this game is every bit as fun and addictive as its predecessor! The gameplay is still incredibly deep and cerebral, the cast of characters are quite memorable, and there are plenty of random scenes/hilarious dialogue to be had here. It is safe to say that if you enjoyed the original Disgaea game, you will feel the same way about its sequel.

Overview: If you have already read my Disgaea: Hour of Darkness review, then you know how fond I am of that game. When a sequel was announced a couple of years after Disgaea's release, it was quite the exciting moment for my sister Cari and I for sure. We just hoped that it would be a worthy sequel because it sure had a lot to live up to in our mind!

I almost feel like I am writing a Mega Man review too because Disgaea 2 looks and plays so much like the original game! Disgaea 2 is another Strategy RPG that involves you maneuvering your party members around on a battle grid of sorts and tactfully attacking enemies all while attempting to stay alive yourself! Strategy is once again the name of the game and having a willingness to experiment and discover the little idiosyncrasies and advanced techniques within the game goes a long way in Disgaea 2. It is once again advantageous to position characters on adjacent squares so that you can execute combo attacks and the ability to lift/throw characters (and enemies!) returns as well. Just remember that tossing a Prinny or two might result in an unwanted genocide since Prinnies literally blow up when thrown. I still don't know why Prinnies explode but, being a Disgaea game, no explanation is needed (or expected).

The Dark Assembly is back in Disgaea 2 and, while the function of the assembly remains the same (passing or vetoing bills), you will likely find yourself using the assembly more often this time around. There is a lot of meat in regards to the sheer number of classes/tiers and secret worlds you can unlock and little nuances such as the presence of legendary senators (their votes carry a ton of weight) and the ability to wake up any senators sleeping on the job with a freaking bomb is a nice touch.

The Item World also returns in Disgaea 2 and it is seriously more fun than ever! I like how there is a real incentive to visit the Item World frequently this time since elusive Treasure Map pieces can only be obtained by defeating the pirates that randomly appear within an item. If you delve into the Item World enough times, you just might snag all of the Treasure Map pieces and gain to an uber-difficult secret area!

There is also the addition of the Item Assembly which resides in the Innocent Towns you will come across if you make it far enough in the Item World. This assembly allows you to pick and choose specific stat boosts (e.g. attack, agility, etc.) and they vote on it! It is quite similar to the Dark Assembly...just on a much smaller scale. It definitely adds a fun new element since nothing is more enjoyable than powering up a valuable item!

Other than a few nice additions like the ones I touched on above, Disgaea 2 plays exactly like the first game. As a matter of fact, if you are really chomping at the bit for some additional details on the gameplay and some nifty advanced tactics, I encourage you to read the overview section of my Disgaea: Hour of Darkness review. That will save us both some time since I really don't want to write all of that again! :p

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Graphics: Although the style looks nearly identical, I found the visuals in Disgaea 2 to be slightly more polished and crisp than the original game. Everything just seems to pop a bit more with a greater emphasis on brightness and color than in the first Disgaea classic. I suppose this makes some sense when you consider that the protagonist in Disgaea 2 is much more of a "good" guy than the "bad" Laharl.

And once again, the detailed hand-drawn character graphics look wonderful as they bring life to the game's main characters. While the in-game visuals with the detailed sprites look quite impressive, there is just something about the facial expressions of the close-up visuals that stick with you.

Music: Although the first Disgaea soundtrack is probably the more memorable of the two, Disgaea 2 still contains plenty of rich, wonderful tunes. The diversity of the soundtrack is once again its main selling point and the sound quality is once again spectacular. There are jazzy tracks, action-packed battle themes, and a healthy dose of goofiness (I'm looking at you, Tink's theme!) thrown in since, after all, this is Disgaea we are talking about. All of the music just fits the game like a glove and nothing ever grows stale or tiresome. I really like how Tenpei Sato (the composer) decided to toss in a few tracks from the first Disgaea game as well. There is nothing wrong with hearing the epic boss theme once more in Disgaea 2!

Not to be lost in the glorious sound waves of Disgaea 2's musical score is the solid voice acting. Everyone sounds genuine, believable, and just different enough from the first Disgaea game to keep us gamers intrigued. Adell feels more like the ideal hero (He certainly is a family man at least. I mean...how many times does he talk about saving his family in the early chapters of the game? Ha, ha!), Rozalin is a snug princess who expects to get her way without contradiction, and Tink is the "class clown" of Disgaea 2 with his alternate personalities creating some uncomfortable albeit gut-busting situations. Seriously, while Adell and Rozalin carry this game quite nicely, Tink is simply hilarious! There are other over-the-top characters like the Prism Rangers that make a much-appreciated return appearance as well.

Play Control: Honestly, nothing really needs to be said here as the controls in Disgaea 2 are pretty much a carbon copy of the first Disgaea game. The user interface and menu system is so accommodating that I could easily recommend this game to someone with little to no experience playing S-RPGs. They are simple, fluid, and accessible to pretty much everyone! What more needs to be said?

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Challenge: Just like Disgaea 1 (Goodness...do I sound like a broken record in this review or what?), the challenge level in Disgaea 2 can range from "creampuff" to "sadistic" depending on how far down the rabbit hole you are willing to go. While completing the main story is probably moderate on the challenge scale, hardcore gamers will truly gobble up the tough-as-nails bonus content. There are even more secret levels hidden away in Disgaea 2 than its predecessor which is saying something considering how huge Disgaea: Hour of Darkness was! The Item World is once again an easy place to become lost for hours on end and trust me when I say that there are optional levels in Disgaea 2 that you will not believe to be real! If you have to be Level 1000 to survive a battle, that should tell you something about the hardcore nature of the additional content. It is rewarding to really plug away and try to find/do everything because, like with any old-school styled game, you will get a real sense of accomplishment by simply surviving Disgaea 2. To say that takes near God-like powers to complete the optional content is neither exaggeration nor hyperbole.

As a result of harboring all of these meaty add-ons, Disgaea 2 has a near-infinite supply of replay value. Seriously, I have played more than 200 hours of Disgaea 2 and I still have not been able to find/complete everything. If you simply want to complete the main story, you can probably do that in 20-30 hours. However, if you are a completionist and you truly want to beat everything in the game to a bloody pulp, good freaking luck because you will need it!

Storyline: You have to give the Disgaea developer Nippon Ichi some credit because, while their games are goofy and zany beyond compare, some of the dialogue is actually quite touching and even thought-provoking at times. That being said, Disgaea 2 dishes out another jumbo helping of insanity and pure randomness...with flair!

In Disgaea 2, you take on the role of the determined young man Adell who hails from the country town of Veldime. Adell is quite the likable fellow although he is admittedly naïve to a fault...at least early on anyway. Despite Adell's normally pleasant disposition, you discover that Adell has real feelings of enmity towards the powerful demon Overlord Zenon. The reason for Adell's rage is quite simple. Some 15 years ago, Zenon went into a horrible fit of rage and cursed all of the land's inhabitants (including Adell's family) by transforming them from their normal human forms into hideous, grotesque demons. This is one powerful curse too because the only hope of reversing it is to defeat Zenon himself which is no small feat considering that Zenon is very strong. I should also note that Adell, for some unknown reason, was the only person unaffected by Zenon's curse.

Back to the present day, Adell's mother, beyond perturbed with this seemingly infinite curse, decides to summon the Overlord Zenon with the hope of defeating him and ending his cruel game. However, in true "Disgaea" fashion, the attempted summon misfires and winds up taking Zenon's daughter Rozalin instead! This might be a good thing though because, between you and me, I seriously doubt that Adell's mother would have stood a chance against Zenon! In any case, Rozalin, being a feisty princess who is used to calling on servants and relaxing in her father's castle, is none too happy about this situation and she demands to go back home. Being that Adell's mother was only able to use one summon, Adell offers to take Rozalin home...and hopefully smash Zenon to pieces in the process.

It may not be quite as memorable or original as the first Disgaea game, but Disgaea 2's story is still a lot of fun. The contrast between Adell and Rozalin is a lot like Laharl/Flonne in Disgaea 1 and it results in some pretty funny moments. Some of the side characters like Rozalin's servant and friend-turned-into-a-frog Tink only add to the game's hilarity. Tink is emotionally unstable and his personality will change depending on his color of all things. He can actually be a kind and thoughtful gentleman when he is blue but when he turns red, he will become very rude and risqué to boot (Apparently, he only likes woman who are 18 through 49 years of age during this time. The game's words...NOT mine!).

And speaking of gut-busting moments, there are plenty of those in Disgaea 2. Some of the scenes involving the Prism Rangers are particularly funny. Multi-colored and an obvious Power Rangers rip-off, you will come across these self-proclaimed heroes of justice several times during your journey. What makes the Prism Rangers so funny is that they want to defeat the forces of evil so badly and yet they absolutely suck in battle. I mean they realllllllllllly suck! You might remember Flonne criticizing them for not representing all of the colors of a rainbow in the first Disgaea game. Well, in Disgaea 2, they did manage to recruit some new members but they are still missing a few key colors. Rozalin points this out and, in the next battle with the Prism Rangers, they actually manage to contain all of the necessary colors! However, after still blowing through all of them without even breaking a sweat (like I said, suuuuuuuuuucky!), I just love what Adell says. You have to understand that Adell is passionate himself and that he tends to be quite encouraging as well. Even with that in mind, Adell speaks slowly to the Prism Rangers and says "Listen to me very carefully. Stop trying to fight Zenon. He will KILL you!" This part just made me laugh so hard because of how this encouraging hero had to put it plainly to the Prism Rangers just so they didn't get themselves killed! This is just one example of why Disgaea 2's story is so enjoyable and fun. And the ending does not disappoint either with some surprisingly touching moments. This game certainly has a very big (albeit wacky) heart.

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Funfactor: Between the addictive gameplay and the amusing story, Disgaea 2 is another winner in my book! The same charming atmosphere and pleasant aesthetics that permeated the first Disgaea game can be found in the sequel as well. Disgaea 2 offers both an entertaining main story path along with an unreal amount of bonus content which should please virtually any type of gamer out there.

From an overall perspective, I honestly can't say which Disgaea game I enjoy more! While I do feel that the first Disgaea game has the edge in terms of music, characters, and story, I actually feel that Disgaea 2 has slightly better graphics along with marginally improved gameplay. You really can't go wrong with either option so why not just enjoy both games?

Negatives: Anyone searching for something fresh and new will probably be disappointed with Disgaea 2...only because of how much it plays like its predecessor. While there are some minor tweaks here and there (e.g. Item Assembly, new jobs, etc.) this game, in many ways, is a carbon copy of the first Disgaea game. It is safe to say that, if you didn't care for the first Disgaea game, you won't like the second one either.

And like the first Disgaea game, the main story campaign in Disgaea 2 is rather short if you simply plow through it without touching the bonus content. If you are like me and you enjoy the occasional diversion such as the Item World or an optional stage or two, you will probably be very satisfied with the length of the game.

Lastly, I know that I touched on this in my previous Disgaea review but the grinding required to beat some of the game's optional levels is borderline insane. This truly is the "World of Warcraft" of Strategy RPGs!

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Ratings: Graphics: 4.2 Music: 4.4 Play Control: 4.5 Challenge: 4.9 Storyline: 4.3 Funfactor: 4.8 Overall Score: 27.1 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Golden Classic!!

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