Weekly Penguin

Weekly Penguin 666

Weekly Penguin 666 is here, calling for a very special entry straight from the Netherworld. While I did do the tribute artwork for launch of DOOM Eternal, it is time to feature Disgaea 1 Complete and introduce you to Prinnies proper!

What is Disgaea?

Disgaea title screen

So, what is Disgaea and what the heck are Prinnies? Disgaea is a long-running game series of turn-based tactical RPGs from Nippon Ichi Software and originally designed by Yoshitsuna Kobayashi. The games are set in a universe with three distinct parts – Netherworld (the home of the demons), Celestia (home of the angles) and the human world.

Disgaea 1 Complete is the gorgeous HD remake of the very first game in the series, Disgaea: Hour of Darkness. The story kicks off with a bang. You play as crown prince Laharl, the son of the Overlord of the Netherworld. You went to take a nap and when you wake up – two years later – everything has gone to hell. Well, even more than usual. Your father the Overlord has died – he choked on a pretzel – and in his absence the other demons have started battling for the throne.

Laharl waking up

Your task is to prove yourself as the rightful heir to the throne – and whilst doing that, you'll meet a cast of demons, angels, humans and Prinnies so colorful, that not many game franchises can compare. I'm not going to spoil things, but there are so many delightful twists and turns that if you think you know where the story goes, your likely dead wrong, dood.

What are Prinnies?

The 1st Prinny

In the world of Disgaea, when you die and you've done some bad deeds that need repenting, you'll be transferred into Celestia or the Netherworld to work your penance. And whilst doing that, your soul is stuffed into a peg-legged penguin with bat-wings, called a Prinny.

So yes, Prinnies are basically the slaves of the Netherworld, serving everyone else as their penance until it is their time to move on. Until then, they are stuck in this fluffy penguin body doing the most menial tasks for everyone else. Prinnies aren't the sharpest of beings and most of them have simple speech patterns – every sentence ending with the trademarked 'dood' – but there are special Prinnies out there, as well.

One curious property of Prinnies is that they explode when thrown, meaning in a pinch they can be utilized as kamikaze DIY grenades. Don't worry, you can heal them back to strength between battles.

Create a Prinny!

While they are the most basic of units with very low-tier capabilities at first, Prinnies, too, can be grown in strength and levelled up. Their later-level skills, like the Prinner Beam, can be devastating when used properly.

If I were a spiritual type, I'd likely make this world view my religion. Who wouldn't want to be reborn as a penguin, dood?

Gameplay

As I mentioned, the game is a turn-based tactical RPG. That means an isometric combat view – which in Disgaea is in 3D – and more attacks, abilities, buffs, debuffs and items than you can name. However, there are three key elements to Disgaea that makes the gameplay quite unique.

  1. Team attacks

    Team formation

    When you attack an enemy, there is a chance that the allies in the adjacent squares can participate in the attack – without loosing their own attack turn. This means that with a properly based unit formation, one attack command can become four blows – which is essential in later game high-level fights. This, plus since you don't have to give all commands at once – you can move and attack units that haven't been given commands after executing your current 'stack' of commands – you can do this repeatedly, circling a deadly foe with a stream of incoming damage.

  2. Lifting

    You can lift and throw almost every single object on the battlefield, both friend or foe. Some times you have to do this to throw your allies over a ravine, some times you have to throw an exploding Prinny. And if you're adventurous type going after bounties of experience points, you can throw enemies at other enemies – stacking them. This basically sums up their levels, creating a new, more powerful foe. Sometimes this becomes really handy tactically speaking, too, as though you now have a super-powered enemy to deal with, it's still only one foe as opposed to two – and that's one less attack coming your way.

  3. Gems

    Gems!

    Some battlefields grids have coloured, pulsating squares. If one these squares has a magical gem, all the squares of that colour will inherit the properties of the gem. These properties can range from buffs and debuffs to everything from attack strength and experience gain. However, remember lifting from earlier? This applies to gems as well – meaning you can modify the battlefield to your advantage!

    Sometimes this becomes absolutely essential – especially if one of the gems happens to be a high-tier enemy buff. Some battlefields become a mad dash of creating a daisy-chain of units, lifting and throwing one single unit all the way through the map, just so you can disable the monstrous monster buff before it gets to their turn. Executing a complex, tricky manoeuvre like that is satisfying as all hell!

All the above turn each battle from a tactical back-and-forth into combat puzzles. That is a term that is thrown around a lot, including with games like DOOM Eternal, but in case of Disgaea, that term is literal. And to tell the truth, those are just the most obvious combat highlights, I didn't even get to things like the Item World and the Dark Assembly, which are almost like games-within-games themselves!

So yeah, go play Disgaea, dood! You won't regret it. I originally intended to make a video montage showcasing the game, but so much of the fun in it comes from the surprising characters and bonkers plot twists that I decided to minimize spoilers and do things in screenshots.

And yes, this is far from the last time you've seen Prinnies up here on the Weekly Penguin arena. In fact, stay tuned for next week for another, dood!

Pablo!

Dood!

Added: 2020-05-26