By Janelle | September 27, 2009 at 2:54 am
The announcement of Disgaea Infinite is barely over a week old, but already there was a playable version at the Tokyo Game Show. From what I played of it, it doesn’t appear to be an RPG, but what it is exactly requires some explaining. Take a dialogue-based text adventure game, Prinnies, and the movie Groundhog Day, roll them all together, and the result might look something like Disgaea Infinite.
In setting up the game for me, the booth worker told me apologetically “The opening is a little long.” Indeed, it took going through a full game day’s worth of dialogue before the game’s premise and system began showing itself. Disgaea Infinite opens with a hapless Prinny in the Netherworld, fretting in the throne room of Laharl’s castle. It isn’t too long before Etna shows up to terrorize him, demanding a particular snack under threat of punishment. Dialogue plays out like the story sequences in the original game, with portraits against backgrounds that now animate between states, and occasionally, some field sprite scenes will overlay the screen. As new characters and glossary terms showed up in dialogue, a pop-up box on the right side of the screen shows the number of that particular entry that can be looked up for more information in the game’s encylopedia. A clock in the top left of the screen showed the time of day and current location. The day officially begins at 7am in Laharl’s room, where the Prinny, looking around, spots a mysterious pocket watch-like device that speaks to him in a robotic voice.
The day progresses, quickly diving down into the Disgaea world to pull out as many characters as humanly possible. Laharl, Flonne, Gordon, Jennifer, and Thursday all put on appearances, and the Prinny followed them throughout the castle during the day. I understood a little bit of the dialogue, but the wacky, ridiculous tone of it was apparent throughout the whole demo. Suddenly, near the end of the day, Flonne encounters Mao from Disgaea 3, who immediately flees off screen. The day finishing with many questions left unanswered, suddenly the Prinny’s device begins to beep, and the clock hands spin back.
When he comes to, the Prinny realizes that he’s back in Laharl’s room at 7am, and seems to be having an out-of-body experience. This enables him to track back and forth during the day’s timeline to fill in the gaps. Now, all the previous scenes will play out again, but some will have extra dialogue choices that influence where and how the story will go next. Opening the menu, a timeline for the whole castle can be seen, with character faces and lines indicating direction and movement over time and locations such as the Throne room, the Rosenqueen shops, and the castle exterior. At this point, many of the characters haven’t been tracked for their whole day. For example, Flonne appears early in the day, but falls off the radar until near the end when she reappears. It’s up to the Prinny to find out who was doing what throughout the castle that day.
Undoubtedly, the full game will probably unearth the appearance of the most of the cast of Disgaea 1, and if Mao’s appearance is any indication, characters from other entries in the series as well. The full extent of Disgaea Infinite‘s gameplay remains to be seen, but for fans of the original’s wacky characters and dialogue, this game has the potential to be a treat.