Disgaea 3: Return TGS Hands-On

My personal first port of call at Tokyo Game Show wasn't something shiny and new. As soon as I got time for myself I was rushing to see an old, ported game rather than one of the new-shiny titles at the show - Disgaea 3: Return, a port of the PS3 title to Sony's new powerhouse handheld PlayStation Vita.

In my eyes the Vita is a perfect machine for RPGs, with a massive, beautiful screen that allows all the important information often conveyed in more complex RPGs to be conveyed at a nice resolution that not only means no squinting to see what level you are but also means that the games look very sharp and pretty indeed.

With Disgaea 4 now out in Japan and the US and with a European release set to follow next month, fans will be pretty used to the beautiful high-resolution artwork the series sports in its latest entry my main worry going into the demo of Disgaea 3 on Vita was that the pixelated artwork would look as rough on the Vita's screen as it did on the PS3.

Here's the good news, then -  while the artwork of characters in-game and battle segments hasn't been tweaked at all from the PS3 version, everything looks a lot cleaner and sharper on the Vita screen. Part of the problem with Disgaea 3 was standard definition sprites being blown up to 720p or 1080p on screens of upwards of 22 inches. Thankfully on the Vita's 5-inch OLED, 960x544 screen, the game looks a lot better, and the need for 'high definition' sprites is almost removed entirely.

Outside of gameplay there have been edits - the character portraits that appear when characters are yapping during cutscenes have been lightly animated to make them appear that they're breathing, making the over-the-top anime characters seem a little more lifelike.

In addition to that the game will feature several new characters and scenarios as well as all the downloadable content that was released over time for the PS3 version of Disgaea 3. This includes a ton of extra stuff from save icons and music to new modes, attacks and actual story chapters.

There's also a new set of Tera Class magic spells and other small tweaks to the game - but overall this is the same game you all will have played on the PS3 but with more stuff to it - it's almost like a 'Directors Cut' version of Disgaea 3.


While those dual analog sticks do more to make shooter fans happy than RPG fans there's little they can offer to a game like Disgaea - still, some of Vita's new input features are pumped into the port of the strategy RPG.

The large touch pad on the rear of the machine can be used for basic menu control and scrolling around, while the screen can be touched to do the obvious, indicating on the game's grid-based combat areas where you want to move, attack and all that kind of stuff.

The new controls worked well, though I'd be lying if I said I felt they were a particularly compelling reason to pick up the game. Even with the demo attendant encouraging me to try out the new control methods, I found myself automatically switching back to the trusty button-based controls.

The real reason to own this is the fact that it looks prettier, includes all that DLC and extra content and best of all is one of the most addictive games made portable - and thus even easier to get a fix of - yet again.

Disgaea 3: Return is a PlayStation Vita launch title in Japan. A Western release has not yet been confirmed. There's screenshots and a trailer of the game available over in the Media Vault, and if you can't wait for the PS Vita it's available for Import Preorder over on Play-Asia.

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