Disgaea 1 Complete: Nintendo Switch Review

15 years after its original PS2 release, Disgaea 1 Complete hits the Switch, giving fans and newcomers a chance to reclaim the throne to the underworld. This charming yet tough as nails package feels completely at home on the Switch.

I have admired the Disgaea series from afar but they have always felt too daunting in the past. Disgaea 1 Complete for the Switch has finally given me a chance to really dive into the game that started it all. With its cutesy anime aesthetics it may seem off putting to some but don’t let that fool you, this is an iceberg of a game that is hiding some amazing depth. Best described as a Tactical RPG and while it is certainly not the first of its kind, I can safely say that it remains one of the heavy hitters in this category for a good reason. Being on the Switch only helps to further its addictive nature and suits Disgaea perfectly. Battles can be short and snappy or long, drawn out tactical affairs that require you to really think out your strategy before taking the plunge, as one wrong move can lead to a timely “Game Over”.

The game has also certainly been given some polish in the visual department with updated art assets that look fantastic, especially compared to the original and previous portable ports of this title. There is a notable difference in every factor of the game, from character models, level tile sets, cut scene and background artwork. While certainly not too graphically taxing on the Switch’s hardware, Disgaea nails the aesthetic it’s going for. Mixing retro charm with things like its simple walking animations and some very spectacular screen filling special moves.

The story is charming, funny and full of intrigue quick to suck in any anime fans, myself included. Its “Visual novel” style story telling is something fans of other Japanese games will be used to seeing. Playing up the usual sight gags it also adds in some “Battlefield” character actions, reactions and movement to really make the most of the cut scenes. If you aren’t used to other JRPGs or anime, some characters may seem a little saccharine but every story beat and character has purpose bringing this world alive. Whether it is main story dialogue or the disrespectful comments from a random NPC, every bit of dialogue is well written and will have you quoting “Nin-Nin-Nin” or “Prinny Dood!” before you know it.

Undoubtedly the main draw to Disgaea though is the gameplay and that is where the game really shines or starts to feel a bit daunting to the newcomer from my experience. Veterans may need to readjust to the older style of play but it should all feel pretty natural. Combat is very menu heavy but the basics are quite easy to pick up and the tutorials guide you in the right direction. There are a LOT of lesser known or discussed gameplay mechanics that can help improve your odds at surviving and having someone handy that has played the series before is invaluable. Once it gets its hooks in though, you will find yourself playing stages over and over to get a little better and a little stronger. Between story missions and the “Item World” there are plenty of opportunities to get lost in with “just one more battle” – but the difficulty can definitely ramp up if you aren’t prepared correctly.

image source: Disgaea 1 Complete via NIS America

Overall, Disgaea 1 Complete is the perfect package for those on the Switch wanting to dive into this series or for those wanting to relive the story without having to suffer PS2 visuals. This is one game you can easily sink hundreds of hours into and one Switch title I would highly recommend.

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Mat Panek
Retromancer – Collector, repairer & fan of retro games & tech. Atari to Amiga, Nintendo to Sega! LD, Zip, Beta and a proud dad! One half of the TiredParents on Twitch.

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Disclosure: Disgaea 1 Complete [Nintendo Switch] was kindly provided by NIS America for this review.