Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention Playstation Vita Review

Los Angeles based game publisher, NIS America originally released Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice for the Playstation 3 in 1998 with bi-monthly DLC continuing for about a year after.  The Disgaea series is the flagship of NIS and origin of their undead penguin mascots, Prinnies.  Continuing in the tradition of games like Shining Force and the Tactics series, Disgaea has become the benchmark for Japanese, turn-based, tactical or strategy role-playing games.  With a new subtitle, Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention is now available for Sony’s new handheld, the Playstation Vita.

Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention is the nonsensical tale of Mao, the son of the Overlord. After reading volumes of manga and playing lots of video games, at least until his father destroyed his gaming systems as a punishment, has decided that only as a hero can he defeat the Overlord.  The problem is that Mao is an evil demon and as such, everything in the game’s setting of the Evil Academy is backwards.  Mao has become a demon honor student by ditching class and being lazy and irresponsible and his childhood friend Raspberyl, who goes to all of her classes, is the top delinquent.

The Playstation Vita is the perfect home for Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention regardless of the attempts to customize controls utilizing the rear touchpad.  At least with this reviewer’s large hands that addition is more frustration than utility but luckily, it can be turned off on the fly.  A spinning view, randomly jumping NPCs and menus scrolling out of control aren’t helpful for building battle strategies.  The graphics that were widely panned on the Playstation 3 are more acceptable on a smaller screen and the turn-based combat and easy pause system make for a good travel companion.

The meat of the Disgaea 3 is of course the combat.  The way it works is that your group must fight their way across a large number of 3D maps.  You can call upon up to six members, including teammates that have Magichanged or combined themselves to create a new ally.  Each character does have a class with abilities and weapon preferences however, the weapons can be used by anyone.  If the weapon is not preferred, that character will not be able to execute the appropriate special moves.

Each member of your team is allowed movement based on their stats and can also, attack, lift, throw or use items.  If the lifting and throwing causes you to raise an eyebrow, this is in large part due to the use of elevation and the new Geo Blocks that can bonus or penalize areas of the battlefield.  The throwing can also allow extra movement if planned well.  The battle is won when the area is cleared by defeating all of the enemies or in some cases by reaching a portal.

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