4.0 out of 5


  • Scene skipping
  • Character creation
  • Humorous dialogue
  • Etna Mode is back


  • Not all visuals are perfect
  • Don’t expect additional gameplay

Switch, PlayStation 4
NIS America, Inc.
Nippon Ichi Software
Action, Adventure, RPG, Strategy/Tactics
File Size (Minimum)
3.2 GB
Release Date (NA)
Oct 9, 2018
Release Date (JP)
Jul 26, 2018

Disgaea 1, also known as Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, was originally released in 2003 for the PlayStation 2 (PS2), and since then, the game has been ported to the Nintendo DS (NDS), PlayStation Portable (PSP), PC, as well as received numerous sequels. Its main protagonists have also made several appearances in non-Disgaea games under the Nippon Ichi Software umbrella, and one character, Dood, even became the publisher’s mascot. Now, the game that started it all has been remastered as Disgaea 1 Complete and is available for the Nintendo Switch.

Complete but Not Perfect

Disgaea 1 Complete comes with the extra content that was added after the original PS2 release, such as the “Etna Mode” that was originally from Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness (PSP) and Disgaea DS (NDS). Don’t expect to see additional gameplay techniques from previously released Disgaea games make an appearance, though. Scene skipping has been added to let players avoid dialogue scenes, which is helpful if you are replaying them, but Disgaea 1 Complete was meant to stay true to the original game.

The sprites and user interface (menus) have been recreated, not softened, for a smoother and crisper look in high definition. At a glance, the sprites feel as if they were based on those from the PlayStation 3 game, Disgaea D2, a direct sequel to the first Disgaea. However, when comparing the sprites from the original PlayStation 2 game, it’s night and day.

Disgaea 1 Complete Disgaea 1 Complete

Unfortunately, the backgrounds haven’t received the same treatment. Some objects feel stretched and not rendered properly such as the skull resting on the weapon/armor shop; and the throne in the throne room just looks off. Other objects that are temporarily in the room were redrawn. Making one wonder why everything else didn’t get refreshed as well.

There is also a curious note about the music. When Disgaea was released in early 2000s the game was published by Atlus, the company that created the Persona series. When the game switched to its new publisher, NIS, not everything was transferred, including a few vocal tracks such as “One With the Stars” and “The Invasion from Within.” These tracks are still not in this version of Disgaea, which is a bummer but not a dealbreaker.

While a fifteen year-old game may not look glamorous on a 4K television, it looks and plays smooth on the Nintendo Switch’s portable screen. Players who have played Disgaea 5 Complete on the Switch will know the advantages of taking a role-playing game anywhere.

Play to Win

Disgaea is a tactical game that’s based on a chessboard-like grid layout. You have a limited amount of characters you can place on the board, and once all your characters are defeated, it’s game over. Fortunately, defeated characters are not gone forever; they are merely waiting for you at the Netherworld’s hospital to be treated. When you treat your allies, or vassals, you can receive exclusive items from the hospital. Just make sure you grab them before you leave the menu screen.

During battle, you can place your team around each other to try and activate a combo attack. These combos, especially the obscure ones, make the battle more entertaining. The stronger your characters are that are aiding you in attack, the better the damage. Just don’t expect a Level 1 Prinny to do much damage.

An additional way to make the game challenging is by using the Geo Panels, which are glowing pyramids that appear randomly on the board. These pyramids can either hurt you or help you, such as giving enemies a boost in stats or awarding you extra experience points. The Geo Panels only work if they are placed on colored squares on the field. If you happen to be on the color square that resembles what the Geo Panel is on, you’ll be affected. Don’t worry as you can remove the source of the problem by destroying the pyramid.

The game explains the basic rules at the beginning so you aren’t going in too deep without knowledge. In the end, you just need to have strong characters who can gang up on an enemy. Don’t try to make your characters wander off alone unless they have incredible stats to take the damage.

Disgaea 1 Complete

Inventory Roulette

Weapons and armor are available right off the bat when the game starts. The inventory is quite unique compared to other role-playing games. Each time you leave and return, the item’s stats change. You can find some rare stats for your item, so it’s not a bad idea to play around with the game’s shops for half an hour to find that weapon with perfect stats. You can also increase the item’s stats by visiting the “Item World.”

If you’ve played previous Disgaea games, then you are familiar with the Item World, a dimensional dungeon that exists within an item in your inventory. You can go in with guns blazing, but be careful how deep you go since the farther you descend, the stronger the enemies. You have the ability to leave the Item World after every 10 floors you pass. However you can quit sooner by using an item called Mr. Gency’s Exit. This is, by far, the best and most efficient way to gain levels and achieve that cap level of 9,999. (Yes, you can go up that high.)

Your Personal Army

Taking a note from Final Fantasy Tactics, players can create their own army of vassals. Picking from simple monsters like the Prinnies to humanoid fighters like the ninja, the game goes fairly deep in creating your characters. While you cannot change the vassal’s features, you can alter its colors when your vassal’s class has upgraded. After upgrading, you can reincarnate the character to boost its stats; but be aware that its level resets as well, so you will have to build them up again. Happy grinding!

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

Players can get through the story mode fairly easy but what makes the story entertaining is the humorous dialogue. Each chapter can go fairly deep into the serious business between demons and angels, but when you’re not competing for the Netherworld throne or battling angels, the game has some rather silly scenarios. In one, for example, you are tasked with finding the zombie pets for a Netherworld servant who won’t accept the protagonist as the Overlord. Unless you help find his pets. While the quest sounds dull, it’s actually quite hysterical as you find out more about each zombie’s unique parts. It’s unexpected, but it works so well.

Disgaea 1 Complete

The Overlord’s Final Thoughts

Regardless of the texturing issues, Disgaea 1 Complete looks good and plays quite well for a fifteen-year-old game. Returning players will feel right at home, and newcomers will enjoy what made Disgaea a popular, tactical role-playing game in the first place. Best of all, playing on the Nintendo Switch allows you take this great, comedic adventure anywhere. Basically, when it comes to whether or not you should play, the answer is clear: Aye Aye, Dood!

Check out our thoughts and photoshoot of the Disgaea 1 Complete‘s Collector Edition. Additionally, grab yourself a Disgaea 1 Complete wallpaper for your desktop and/or mobile device.

Disclaimer: A digital review copy was provided by NIS America for the Nintendo Switch.

Disgaea 1 Complete - Gameplay Footage

About Seth Hay - Editor-in-chief / Webmaster

When Seth is not designing or developing, he spends time with his family and his occasional dose of anime, sports and video games.

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