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Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention review

Disgaea meets the Vita. Friends? Not quite.

NIS did implement plenty of tweaks exclusively for the Vita version of Disgaea 3. They added in extra skills for each class, a new tier of spells called Tera magic, and super-powered attacks that trigger when a character is low on health. Remember though, that last one works both ways, so enemies will strike with deadly force if you leave them with a sliver of health. It's great to see these new features enhance gameplay, adding a bit more depth.

Absence of Detention is very seldom lacking in content. The game is split into eight chapters which each contain around 5-8 maps. In addition, NIS included all the DLC available for the PS3, and yes, that means the Beryl DLC - an extra four chapters. There's plenty to keep you busy as you try to top the leaderboards to level 9,999. Hardcore fans will also appreciate the addition of some character cameos... (psst! Disgaea 4 is living on in Absence of Detention.)

While there was significant effort to enhance this port, there's one major sticking point with Absence of Detention on the Vita… its controls. All the Disgaea games are heavily menu-driven, but the Vita edition adds the use of the rear touch pad as a way to scroll between items, spells, and other selections. It’s incredibly sensitive and often if your hands aren’t placed just right, you'll get a menu scroll fest. Even knowing this, it was impossible for us to avoid it from happening at least a few times in our play sessions. Keep in mind that you can turn off this feature, and be sure to remember to do it immediately, should you pick the game up. The Vita conversion did get one thing right though – the game looks gorgeous. It's on-par with the PS3 version: the screens are extremely crisp and clear, showing off the Vita's ability to measure up to the PS3's graphical prowess.

If you're a hardcore Disgaea fan, you'll probably eat Absence of Detention right up. But if you're looking for a particularly sound Japanese tactical RPG to play on your handheld, proceed with caution. There are the trademark Disgaea hooks that'll keep you deeply engaged, but they're undermined by a lifeless cast, bland story, and some awkward control design decisions that you'll want to get away from immediately. It's a game with a huge leap forward and quite a few backward steps that add up through the experience. Absence of Detention surely won't be your most talked about Vita game, but it will keep strategy fans on their toes. We just wish it had as much spark as other entries in the series.

More info

GenreRole Playing
Franchise nameDisgaea
UK franchise nameDisgaea
Platform"PS Vita"
US censor rating"Teen"
UK censor rating""