For any strategy role-playing fans, NIS America's Disgaea games are great! Each can last hundreds of hours at a time for those who are truly dedicated! Disgaea 3 was the first installment in the series to get a next-generation update when it released on the PS3 a few years ago. Of course, it doesn't always look like a next-generation update (far from it, actually), but it sure looks a lot better on a high-definition television than your average PlayStation 2 game. And it plays great too!
Where Disgaea 3 truly manages to take advantage of its new platform is with its downloadable content, which got started in earnest in the December after its initial release. Fans like me were pleased to see old standbys like Disgaea 2's Adell and Overlord Priere from La Pucelle: Tactics putting in appearances, even if I did have to pay to access them. Thankfully, aside from the classic characters, there also was a downloadable side story floating around starring Raspberyl, the story's heroine. That add-ons alone add quite a few hours of gameplay to an already lengthy (to put it mildly) experience.
The game itself really loses nothing in the translation to the next-generation. That is it to say, it's a lot like its PS2 predecessors. It's just as amusing as before, starring as it does a high school demon named Lord Mao who happens to be plotting revenge against his father while attending (or more likely, not attending) classes at the Maritsu Evil Academy. Usual elements like the hubs make their return; as do the graphics, oddly enough. Much criticism has been heaped on the sprites, which lack every bit as much detail as before, even though they happen to be in high-definition. Final Fantasy XIII this is not, though it's not like anyone was really expecting that anyway.
Overall, Disgaea 3 is about as nichy as you're ever going to get, and NIS is happy to provide just that. How do you get explain to the average player that not only do items have levels, but that there are tiny creatures inside them called Innocents who have levels as well? I really have no idea. And that's only really scratching the service of a game where you can customize almost anything about your characters, weapons and monsters.
But while I call Disgaea 3 nichy, I do believe that it fills the sort of niche that needed filling on the PlayStation 3 in its early years. Games like Disgaea are the kind of games that offer a catalog of depth, something which consoles like the Nintendo DS and the PlayStation 2 have in spades. While downloadable PSN and XBLA titles have filled in admirably, none of them have the ridiculous sort of depth that you'll find in your average Disgaea title. And to my knowledge, none of them have exploding demonic penguins either. In my book, that makes Disgaea 3 a winner.
So why do I recommend it? If your PS3 has been collecting dust on your shelf, alone and forgotten, a game like Disgaea 3 is pretty much the cure. No doubt there are legions of Disgaea fans locked in their rooms at this very moment, their play clocks in the hundreds of hours as they try to plumb every last secret of this game. Seriously, if you want an RPG with enough depth to keep you engaged over a VERY long period of time, then Disgaea 3 is it.
It's definitely not mainstream in any sense of the word. Viewed from a distance, its learning curve is like a vertical cliff face that rises to the point of Mount Everest. It's definitely not as bad as it looks, but the lengthy list of features is enough to make newcomers understandably nervous. Dedicated RPG fans like me live for that sort of thing though. And even those who find the mechanics daunting will find something to love in the trademark writing.
It's probably not for everybody. Most strategy RPGs aren't, actually. But for those with the time and the inclination, Disgaea 3 is a rare treat in a world where most of the games of its ilk never make it out of Japan in the first place. It certainly deserves a place in your library, if for no other reason than the fact that there certainly isn't much else like it in this generation of consoles. So there you have it, what are you waiting for? Go get it.