If this wasn't enough, each and every item in the game, from chewing gum to swords, can be levelled by entering the object through the Item World. Here, randomly generated floors make up each level of the dungeon, and for every floor cleared the item's level increases by one. It's a lengthy procedure, but the payoffs can be huge. A new feature of the sequel also allows characters to receive felonies – considered a great honour in the demon world – which have numerous benefits to a character's development. Ultimately, Disgaea boils down to creating the perfect army, and this takes a very long time. It's a deep, deep game, with endless character development and near infinite replayability.
The script is as sharp and witty as always, with comical dialogue and frequent non-diegetic comments that really speak to the core audience. When Adell and his cronies enter a particularly dangerous area known as the Murderer's Vault for example, a schizophrenic, French speaking frog by the name of Tink (who is just as entertaining as his description would allude to) cautiously remarks that 'monsters of level 100 can be found in the area!'. Another time, a character asks Adell why he is human, suggesting that it's because "he's the main character". Like the original, Dark Hero Days will have players laughing out loud, if not at the gags, then the sheer bizarreness of it all.
Despite the great dialogue and humour, the overall plot lives in the shadow of both Disgaea and Disgaea 3, possibly as a result of a sub-par protagonist. Where the original Disgaea's Prince Laharl was obnoxious, rude and arrogant in the best possible way, Adell suffers from "clichéd RPG hero syndrome", an unfortunate disease that makes him spurt pretentious nonsense about truth, trust and justice every five seconds. He carries the narrative competently enough, but lacks a certain pizazz that the anti-heroes of Disgaea 1 and 3 bring to the table. Fans will be pleased to see the return of the scantily clad demon Etna, however, who brings a much needed injection of "badass" to the often overly sentimental plot.
Niggling narrative gripes aside, Dark Hero Days is still the definitive Disgaea 2 experience, and improves on the original in several significant ways. Firstly, the game includes all new Axel chapters, which follow the fading celebrity Axel's ongoing disagreement with his director. The core gameplay has also been improved with the addition of Disgaea 3's Magichange mechanic, which allows ally monsters to be turned into ranged weapons. As well as all this – and pointing out the slightly obvious – the game is portable, and the quaint 2D visuals have never looked better than on the PSP's widescreen.
Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days sees the unashamedly hardcore strategy game return to the PSP in style. Fans of the original might be distressed to discover recycled character sprites, attack animations and music, but the experience never feels stale. Those that have played Disgaea 2 on the PS2 a few years back might be enticed by the new Axel chapters, and the Disgaea 3 mechanics spruce up the strategy nicely. For newcomers to the series, Dark Hero Days is as good a starting point as any; offering the most comprehensive Disgaea experience to date. Whatever category you happen to fall into, though, be prepared to sacrifice all of your free time; Dark Hero Days is a bottomless pit of gameplay that will command your attention from start to finish.