April 23, 2012
NIS America is giving the title another chance with a PlayStation Vita port aptly named Absence of Detention, which includes the original game's content alongside all of the PS3 DLC content and some extra additional content including characters from Disgaea 4. Now with the port coming out at a time when there's nothing to overshadow it, is it worth your money even for the hardcore who already invested time into the original? Yes, yes it is.
Our previous review of the PS3 version back in 2009 goes through most of the basics and background of the game, but for consistency, you take control of Mao, a young honor student in the Netherworld Academy who is your normal typical demon except for the fact that his father is the almighty Overload of the Netherworld. After his father accidentally steps on Mao's game console, losing millions of hours of save data, he starts a insanely convoluted scheme to become a hero and overthrow his father. It isn't your typical story for sure, but in the zany world of Disgaea it's a surprisingly good fit.
We already detailed the gameplay intricacies of the PS3 version in the original review, so the remainder of the review will showcase what's new and what hasn't changed from the original. The first thing that's still the same is the game's humorous and absolutely complex story which is a good thing and a bad thing. One of the complaints from the original version was that while the story did a great job at keeping the player interested, it tended to overstay its welcome. This is still the case in AoD as you'll get the exact same story outside of the new additions exclusive to the PlayStation Vita version that are available post-game. This isn't as much of an issue when you are playing the game at home, but for those who are going to play the game on the go it's something that need to be considered.
Thankfully, that's the only real flaw with the game, when compared to the PS3 version as the rest of the game still holds up very well three years later and even plays a little bit better due to the handheld nature of the port. Instead of getting pushed to a game over screen upon defeat, you now get sent back to the infirmary which is a welcome change. The game also takes advantage of the Vita's touch functionality by letting you use your fingers to navigate through the menus and rotate and/or zoom in/out the camera. It also lets you gain experience by travelling with the game if you own the 3G version of the handheld.
The Item World, which was known for sucking up a rather large amount of time time in the original is much more manageable in the Vita port as you can now put the Vita into standby and pick up where you left off when it's more convenient for you. The Vita's smaller screen also helps the SD aspect of the sprites as it's much less noticeable being rendered at a smaller resolution. NIS also went and fixed up the other static artwork which makes the game look even better in its re-released Vita form.
Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention is very similar to other well-known ports such as Atlus's Persona 3 Portable in the sense that it doesn't try overdoing things and keeps what worked, all while tweaking the game to work on a handheld without feeling like a substandard console port. if you enjoyed the original PS3 version and need Disgaea on the go this is a perfect fit. And for newcomers it's a great choice as long as you take the time to learn the insanely complex, but rewarding gameplay mechanics. This is one detention that's worth getting sentenced to.