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Backlog Blues - Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention

 

Greetings, fellow gamers!

My name is Jonny and I like games.

Last week, I wrote a blog about my strategy for taking on my massive backlog.  With a list of nearly 200 unfinished games, this is obviously a huge undertaking.  I'm certainly bound to come across some games that I just don't like playing.  Unfortunately, I already have a game that I'm just not motivated to finish.  That game is Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention for the PlayStation Vita.

Disgaea 3 does have an interesting setting.  In the Netherworld, occupied by demons, is the Evil Academy, where being evil is considered good, but those who follow the rules are called delinquents. This backwards way of living leads to some humorous scenarios.

For instance, Mao, our protagonist (or should I say antagonist) is the son of the evil Overlord.  He dreams of defeating his father and taking his position as Overlord.  But Mao learns from reading manga and playing video games, that in order to take on the Overlord, he would need to become a hero.  However, being a hero is frowned upon in the Netherworld.  But Mao is determined, and proceeds to capture a real hero, steals his title, and makes him his slave.

Sadly, I never got further than this point in the story.  Why is that?  There's plenty of humor, and the characters are quirky, yet likable.  In fact, I'm an advocate for good characters in video games.  But as much as I like the characters, I'm having a real tough time slogging through the gameplay.

Disgaea 3 is a turn-based, tactical RPG.  But before I continue, let me point out one thing: I'm a huge JRPG fan.  I love turn-based battle systems from games like Final Fantasy, Etrian Odyssey and Persona.  However, the tactical/strategy RPGs (aka SRPGs), have always been hit or miss with me.

SRPGs usually take place on grid-based battlegrounds.  Not unlike a game of chess, you move your soldiers strategically around the grid, take out the enemies one by one until the mission objective is achieved, usually by killing all enemies, taking out the leader, or escorting a character safely across the board.  

Don't get me wrong, I don't consider this a bad thing.  It's pretty standard stuff, actually.  But what I do take issue with is the complexity and depth of the battle system.  Not that complexity and depth are bad things either.  But too much of a good thing can become a bad thing, right?

There are so many intricacies involved with Disgaea 3's gameplay.  So much so that I quickly became overwhelmed with the expansive attention to detail.  There are plenty of tutorials, but they mostly consist of a character explaining everything through walls of text.  Frankly, about halfway through these tutorials, I began to lose interest.

There's so much to keep track of in this game.  For example, in the classroom, your party members strength and compatibility are affected by whoever they are sitting next to.  From what I could meagerly gather, by arranging your classmates around, you can change your strategies in different ways.  However, I have no idea as to what these changes are and what kind of effects it will have.  I tried several different combinations, but I'm just unsure of what it all does.  I could very much be doing something wrong, but I just can't figure out why.

The final nail in the coffin was when I realized that I wasn't properly utilizing the tools and strategies the game attempted to give me.  Depending on how well you do in each battle, you get bonus points, which leads to extra XP, money, items, weapons, etc.  There is a list of ten bonuses you can earn in each battle.  By getting one bonus point, you get the first bonus.  By getting two, you get the second as well.  This goes on all the way up until the tenth bonus prize.  

I personally have only been able to get one bonus for each battle I fought.  I ended up losing several party members, which naturally had a negative effect on my score.  It could very well be that I'm still early in the game, and I simply wasn't powerful enough.  I wanted to counter this by buying new armor and weapons for my party, but I had to spend all my money reviving them at the hospital instead. This just led to a lot of frustration, and I realized that I wasn't having fun.

And that is what it all comes down to.  What is the point of playing a game if you're not having fun?  I wanted to like this game.  I really did.  But whether it's because I suck or because I'm too stupid to figure it out, I'm just not progressing through it.  I'm ready to check this game off of my backlog.  I think I gave it a fair shot.  

Hopefully I didn't offend anybody who likes this game.  It isn't a bad game, by any means.  But it is clearly a game for a niche audience.  Its complexity will scare off a lot people, me included.

NOW FOR THE NEXT GAME...

With that out of the way, I can now move on to have another handheld game randomly selected from my backlog.  Just a reminder: I divided my backlog into two lists.  One for console games, the other for handheld games.  Since Disgaea 3 was for the Vita, the next game I pick will be from my list of handheld games.  For this round, I'm temporarily removing other SRPGs from my list, merely for the sake of wanting to play something different.  That being said, let us proceed.  With the help of the Random Thing Picker, the next game I will take on is:

Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance, for the Nintendo 3DS.

Ah, now here's a game I know I can get behind.  I'm a big fan of this series, so I'm excited to play this.  I'll let you know what I think of this game after I play it.

Just a brief progress report for my list of console games.  I'm currently playing Final Fantasy XII.  I'm about twelve hours in, and I'm having a great time with it so far. I'm looking forward to sharing my thoughts of it with you guys later.

Thanks for reading!

Stay tuned, folks!

To see my backlog, click here.

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