Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention is the revamped PS Vita version of PlayStation 3’s Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice. Nippon Ichi Software made sure this wasn’t a lackluster port to a new system, and that players familiar with the original would look forward to this re-release. All of the previously released additional content: 20 additional characters, three new gameplay systems, 40 more background music selections, and a new storyline with Raspberyl have been added. Other features, such as touchscreen functionality, two new characters, cutscene animations,and more have been included specifically for the Vita.
The Vita’s front touchscreen makes the characters jump on screen, while both the front and rear screens can control the camera. Tapping on the screen will swap between a player’s allies on the map, which becomes useful as the maps become larger and more intricate. Absence of Detention is also a prettier game than Absence of Justice, which is owed in part to small graphical improvements. The cutscenes now have added more animations to better show off the characters’ emotions. The game’s sprites haven’t been touched up, but look better on the Vita’s display than they do blown up on a big screen TV.
Now, for those that haven’t played any of the games in the Disgaea series: be prepared to get your grind on. I’m talking R&B-slow jam-until the candles burn out-until the sun rises, sets, and rises again grinding. Not having played much of the games, I was not aware of this. In the beginning I used only three characters; it wasn’t until I neared the end of the second chapter that I realized I was going to need a lot more help than my trio could offer. The upside to all the grinding players will have to do is that this re-release can go anywhere! It’s a perfect game to want to put almost 9999 hours into.
The story of Absence of Detention follows Lord Mao, Evil Academy’s number one honor student. To be an honor student as a demon, “one shall not follow the school regulations.” Mao’s journey begins with a quest for vengeance… for his SlayStation Portable. All because his overload father crushed his game system with giant monster feet. Sure the overlord offered to buy Mao another, but it wouldn’t replace the 4 million hours he put into the game. It’s pretty ridiculous, but it takes the smallest thing to send a demon child off the deep end.
As the story progresses, Mao and his team fight through levels of different characters getting in Mao’s way of defeating his overlord father. When someone’s in the way, it’s time to fight. The Disgaea series has always been a grid-based, tactical role-playing game; Absence of Detention does not stray.
In the beginning Mao is given a team hand-picked by his very capable and surprisingly creepy butler, Geoffrey. Players can stick with these chosen ones or eventually create their own. Different types of characters to create will become available as characters level up, and in certain cases after Mao and his team defeat others in battle. The only problem with creating these new characters later down the line is that they will be level one – a large part of the need for grinding.
Players can go into the classroom and rearrange where the characters sit to get the most out of the battle system. When in battle, if one character is lined up with another who sits next to them and attacks an enemy, a combo attack has a higher chance to be launched. The only problem I found with this set up was I kept forgetting which characters sat near each other. I would waste a few turns because I set up the attack wrong and then would waste a special attack on the enemy trying to make up for lost time.
Special moves can range from magic to brute force attacks. Players can even stack on each other in order to be thrown to another tile, or to complete the “Tower Swing” special attack. Characters can learn “Evilities,” which are passive abilities that help boost an aspect of a character. New to Absence of Detention are the “Tera-level spells.” “Tera-level spells” allow players to boost their learned spells and wreck someone’s life.
The website says there is also content that hasn’t been revealed yet. Whether that means DLC, or players unlocking something new after a set time is unclear. In my time with the game and sitting down to write this, I feel like I haven’t made a dent in the game. It baffles me late at night to know that such a huge game is on such a small system. Looking through the Absence of Justice strategy guide I see there are at least 8 chapters, which for Detention means the additional content and whatever is to come.
For those that have played the original version on PS3, you’ll know what’s to be expected in the portable version. For those that are new to the game and series, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. If you can’t handle the sass, snark and ridiculousness Disgaea 3 offers, skip this title. If you are looking for something that will offer you multiple playthroughs and hours of demon-filled goodness, the Absence of Detention is the one for you.