The tactical RPG genre hasn’t gotten much love since the turn of the millennium, so you can be forgiven if you counted down to the release of Disgaea 6 with Nippon Ichi Software. In the absence of more games like Final Fantasy Tactics, this franchise brought a sense of zany fun that can eat hundreds of hours of anyone’s time.
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Nippon Ichi Software introduced the world to the Disgaea series way back in November 2003. For almost two decades now, the developer has delivered unapologetically fun and deep tactical RPG action. Whether you’re a long-time fan or you fell in love with the trailer for Disgaea 6, today is the perfect time to look back on the best games in the franchise.
10 Disgaea 5: Complete (Switch)
Disgaea 5: Complete arrived on March 25, 2015, for the Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, and Microsoft Windows. Nippon Ichi Software earned a solid B- grade with an 81 Metascore for this title. Critics praised it as an excellent port that can take hours of your time in a blink.
While some appreciated Disgaea 5: Complete on the Switch for its wealth of content, that also hurt its overall score. The game also lost some points due to critics who felt that this title was a heavy grind that requires over 100+ hours of playtime for completionists. That didn’t stop Nintendo from allowing to make the game free for a week in September 2020.
9 Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited (Vita)
Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited released on January 30, 2014, for the ill-fated Playstation Vita. This iteration of the franchise received praises for bringing a solid port of the fourth title to the handheld and earned an 82 from Metacritic. Its score ticked upwards due to the value-add of gameplay changes both experienced and novice players could appreciate.
Disgaea 4: A Promise Revisited received some criticism for being a “copy and paste” version of the last game. Occasional framerate issues on the handheld also lowered the overall score from critics.
8 Disgaea DS
Disgaea DS came out on September 23, 2008 through NIS and on April 3, 2009 in Europe. The series may seem incompatible with the Nintendo handheld, but it released with strong reviews and earned itself an 82 from Metacritic.
Some critics criticized the title for sacrificing too much quality to squeeze the series onto the handheld. Others were disappointed that the story didn’t rise to a level that would make it one of the 10 best JRPGs for the Nintendo DS.
7 Disgaea 4 Complete + (PS4)
Disgaea 4 Complete + arrived on the Nintendo Switch and the Playstation 4 on October 29, 2019. While the game earned an 83 from critics, its user score tells a different story at 5.6 / 10. Most critics gave the title compliments on its quirky characters, excellent voice acting, and complex gameplay.
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The game’s score suffered from critics for lacking new content while charging a high entry price. The complaints about this title tend to follow the same line as other Disgaea games. For fans of the series, however, that might be the appeal.
6 Disgaea 1 Complete (PS4)
Disgaea 1 Complete released for Nintendo Switch, Android, and Playstation 4. The latter received an 83 from Metacritic, and it launched with only positive reviews from critics. Most sites praised the game as an overall improvement on the original that provides a wealth of new content.
Disgaea 1 Complete lost some points from its score due to fatigue regarding the grind to reach the highest levels. Whether or not you plan to reach level 9999, you can’t go wrong with the PS4 version of this tactical RPG that doesn’t take itself too seriously (like Dungeon of Naheulbeuk starring Felicia Day).
5 Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days (PSP)
Nippon Ichi Software unleashed Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days onto the world on September 8, 2009. The game released to largely positive reviews, and it has a score of 83 on Metacritic. Critics praised the title for bringing a quality tactical RPG experience to the PSP.
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Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days’ score suffers from some publications that felt it didn’t offer much beyond those who already made it an acquired taste. While this may not have earned the top spot as the best Disgaea title, it’s still a solid and beloved entry.
4 Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories (PS2)
Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories released on February 23, 2006 in Japan for the Playstation 2. Critics were enthusiastic about the sequel’s ability to bring 100s more hours of gameplay to the table. Its stylish graphics and excellent writing continue to grab both publishers and retro game collectors alike into its time-sucking vortex (even if they’re more of the hack and slash type).
While some may have fallen in love with the zany humor in Disgaea 2, it didn’t connect with every audience. Couple that with a familiar “copy and paste” argument against the series gives you a respectable Metascore of 84.
3 Disgaea: Hour of Darkness (PS2)
Disgaea: Hour of Darkness jumped into the world on January 30, 2003 for the Playstation Portable, Microsoft Windows, and the Nintendo DS. The first title in the franchise sits at a respectable 84 on the Metacritic scale. Critics and fans alike fell in love with the style of humor and dedication to hardcore tactical RPG gameplay from its turn of the millennium beginnings.
The “over the top” style of Disgaea continues to delight most while completely turning off others. While the original title holds up incredibly well today, some critics found it hard to recommend after playing the first game in the series.
2 Disgaea 4 Complete+ (Switch)
Disgaea 4 Complete + launched on October 29, 2019 for the PlayStation 4 and the Nintendo Switch (sorry, Xbox owners), but the latter gathered slightly higher reviews. Critics familiar with the Vita version fell in love with the idea of having the tactical RPG done the right way on the Switch.
Disgaea 4 remains notable because it built upon the foundations in ways that fewer critics could claim it’s merely “copy and paste” content. Combine that fact with having every piece of content in one tidy package, and you get a Metascore of 85.
1 Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness (PSP)
Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness unleashed itself upon the world on January 30, 2003. It hit the shelves with positive reviews, and it takes the top spot with a Metascore of 87. Critics and fans alike still love it for bringing a fun tactical RPG to a beloved Sony handheld.
Some reviewers felt that the game didn’t bring enough to the table to make it more compelling than the PS2 version. Others felt that Disgaea: Afternoon of Darkness could only appeal to a smaller group of gamers. With that said, this title has the last laugh because it’s the highest-rated game in the franchise’s history.
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Aaron Wolfe is a freelance writer from Seattle, WA. He has experience as an English Language Arts Teacher with reading and writing specialist endorsements. Aaron also worked with Microsoft Partners to transition businesses to cloud solutions. He’s a life-long gamer and PC enthusiast with a passion for collecting retro games.
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