Maybe it’s possible to send Jamie Oliver, fresh off his victory with the Los Angeles Unified School District to the Netherworld where sardine treats set off the epic story of Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten. Valvatorez and his charge of Prinnies would probably appreciate their new diet of quinoa as much as kids in L.A. like having their pizza replaced with creole chick pea and veggie stew. Frustration with food fascists aside, this game starts in the Netherworld where Valvatorez, a once powerful vampire and his servant, Fenrich, are the warden and caretakers of the Prinny prison.
Valvatorez has given up his predatory and evil ways to exclusively feed on fresh sardines, much to the chagrin of Fenrich and it is the unfulfilled promise of a sardine for each Prinny that gets the whole game moving. Prinnies are essentially evil human souls sewn into peg-legged, penguin suits with bat wings. If that sounds a little more crazy than cute to you, this might not be your game. The humor in this mostly voiced game is very nonsensical but smart, think Monty Python and Oscar Wilde and the entirety of the plot moves around politics.
Now for those completely unfamiliar with the Disgaea series, it is a tactical RPG along the lines of the many original PlayStation and Gameboy Advance tactics games, and the even older Shining Force. Like a standard, turn-based, RPG you have a turn and the enemy has a turn. Where it is different is that you each have units that have specific abilities and movement ranges. To oversimplify it, it’s like Final Fantasy, Risk, and chess thrown into a blender and if none of those sound appealing to you, then again, this probably isn’t the game for you.
Disgaea 4 offers a lot of new wrinkles in the standard tactical RPG genre. The world map shows the areas you can take over throughout your Cam-pain—think the Nobunaga-type games. The actual battles are fought on area maps, with different elevations and penalty and bonus areas marked with a grid. In each battle you are allowed to deploy up to 10 units. The different units have unique abilities and can be outfitted with custom gear that is either looted or purchased. The units can lift other units so you have tower of people similar to a Lil Rascals scheme and if that weren’t enough, some can transform or bust a Voltron move and combine with other units.
With a level cap of 9,999, you can imagine how long game this is and if it weren’t for the witty silliness with a dash of cuteness, not many would be able to get through it. Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten sports HD graphics and other improvements like expanded voicing. While the graphics are much improved from previous entries, and the game is three dimensional, it’s still a dated game format and is unlikely to win over many new fans to the genre. Tactical RPG fans and Disgaea fans in particular though, should be very happy with all of the work NIS has put into the game.
Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten is rated T (Teen) by the ESRB for Animated Blood, Drug Reference, Fantasy Violence, Language and Suggestive Themes.