Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention Review

Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention (Available only on PlayStation Vita)
ESRB: T
Players: 1
Genre: Strategy RPG
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Release Date: April 17, 2012
Price: $39.99 (Download and Retail)
Download Size: 2.05GB

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Absence of Detention T for teen because of alcohol reference, mild fantasy violence, mild language, and mild suggestive themes.  Some content may be unsuitable for really young gamers.

Plays Like: Any of the Disgaea games, or strategy RPGs in general.

Review Basis: Compiled a list of the new features; played enough of Detention to compare and contrast with the original PS3 Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice.

In 2008, I reviewed Disgaea 3, an article you can read here.  I awarded the game a 7.5 because the formula was starting to age. The sprites were washed out, and the gameplay hadn’t evolved enough for my liking.  MGS4’s release two months prior didn’t help either. Now that I’ve had the chance to replay Disgaea 3 on the Vita, my opinion is completely different..

The Great:

Staggering content. Not only does Detention contain all the Justice DLC, including new post-game characters and a new story for Raspberyl, but you can even change the look of your favorite items and battle Disagea 4 bosses. The Vita’s touch screen is also greatly used for menu navigation and camera control. A cool GPS “walk about” experience grinder allows you to earn experience as you physically travel with your Vita.  You also have new class skills, super moves, magic and the ability to see your friends’ progress via a data shop that displays their information. Disgaea 3 on the Vita is an incredible value, and the best SRPG released on the system thus far.

The Good:

+ Same lovable story. Mao’s father accidently broke his SlayStation Portable, causing him to lose millions of hours of saved data. Now Mao wants revenge on his demon overlord father, and will stop at nothing to achieve this.  Classic, no?

+ English and Japanese voice tracks. It’s great given the enormity of spoken dialogue, and the options are nice to have.

+ Same excellent grid-based gameplay. Move your army around the map, taking advantage of Geo Blocks.  These special areas can grant a series of stat bonuses, or be used to negate enemy attacks.

+ As complex as you want. You can spend hundreds of hours experimenting with every tactic possible, or simply play the game and have a blast.

+ The audiovisual package. The PS3 original looked dated, but the sprites pop on the Vita’s smaller screen, and the audio is fantastic.

The So-So:

+/- Level-grinding and items. You strengthen your party conquering randomly-generated dungeons and acquire special goodies. This is a Disgaea staple and hasn’t changed.

+/- Finish first? The excellent additions are unlocked only after completing the quest. That’s a fantastic incentive to keep playing, but having a few features available from the get-go would’ve been nice.

The Bad:

– Let me go! You can only exit a dungeon after every ten levels, meaning you must play before powering down your Vita. While you can put the system into sleep mode, that’s not ideal for a portable.

– The digital download pricing equals retail. Why?

The Ugly:

What kind of father destroys their son’s SlayStation?  I mean really?!

The Lowdown:

NIS America remains one of my favorite publishers because they’re risk-takers. They could’ve taken the easy road and simply ported Disgaea 3 to the Vita, but instead an assortment of bonus features and excellent touch controls was added. Want a game to sink months into? Here you go. Well-done NIS!

Average Score Scale: 8.0 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 8/10 (Neutral)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: The extra effort really shines through.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: You spent 700 hours with the PS3 original, and don’t want to devote any more time to unlock new content.

2 thoughts on “Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention Review”

  1. I have a strong objection to saying that any Disgaea game plays like a “strategy RPG in general”. Although it is similar to its genre brothers, of course, there are a number of gameplay elements that would make Disgaea unique even if the setting and classes didn’t make the game stand out. Failing to point out that it is different — sometimes in ways which make the game more accessible to people who normally might not play this kind of game — does the series a disservice.

    That said, Disgaea 3 is the weakest entry in the series. Here’s the pattern: the first game set the stage, creating a completely new turn-based strategy RPG experience with a strong story to pull you through and unlimited replayability. The second game improved on what existed, polishing the battle system and making the whole game flow better. For the third game, they tried to change things up a bit to prevent it from being too stale — they changed the way skill learning worked, they added monsters having the ability to change to weapons, and a couple other things. Good ideas, but they disrupted the delicate gameplay balance that had been achieved in Disgaea 2. The fourth game, again, polishes everything they added in Disgaea 3.

  2. The Plays Like title simply let’s players know what the game either exactly plays like or is similar to so that those who are interested may want to check out. So Disgaea is a strategy RPG that fans of the genre would certainly be interested.

    I agree with your statement on the series fully :)

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