Disgaea 4 Complete+ is a goldmine of content that’ll keep you busy leveling up for the next year with its highly advanced, challenging gameplay mechanics and seemingly endless well of storylines.
This review contains plot spoilers for Disgaea 4 Complete+.
Disgaea 4 Complete+ is a rare sapphire in a post-modern decaying gaming world filled with DLC consumer heists and in-game currency purchased with its real life equivalent. When Developer / Publisher NIS says Complete, they mean Complete, nothing was held back. If you’re looking for worthwhile, story based, single player content, there’s a megaton to be found here. Though the game has an Item World as in previous Disgaea titles to level up both your characters and equipment through its version of randomly generated battles… It never feels like you’re forced to go on a month worth grind in order to advance the main plot, just making the game easier on yourself.
The title applauds skillful planning to victory rather than simply power level pushing. Meaning, if you locate a weakness or exploitation of your enemies through the game’s stat changing color blocks/cubes or plethora of items, (Immortal Pill comes to mind) you can win. Even if relatively underpowered compared to your demon adversaries. It’s what makes Disgaea as a franchise so addictively entrancing, endless possibility through precise strategizing. Of course, if you’re trying to get a bill pushed through the game’s Senate and fight a level 900 Senator demon with a level 100 character, you’ll still lose. There’s only so much inherent power difference to offset through strategy and tactics alone. Things are kept realistic so the desire to power-up remains high.
Comparison to Disgaea 5 Complete :
Disgaea 4 Complete+ is just a better game overall than Disgaea 5 Complete… Valvatorez and his inextinguishable love of Sardines alone makes for a more intriguing character than Disgaea 5’s more prototypical brooding Killia. Regardless of how cool Killia looks instantly as a character art-wise, there’s just something more endearing about Valvatorez. A style that falls in line thematically with what was established back in Disgaea 1. Quite frankly Disgaea 4 is the closest the series has come to reaching the gold standard set by NIS’ pioneering original.
Take away the story/plot aspects and Disgaea 4 Complete+ is still vastly better gameplay wise for one reason, it’s way more challenging. Disgaea 5 Complete’s practically instant availability of characters like Metallia and Laharl through the bonus chapters made it exceptionally easy for a Disgaea title. Which also created somewhat of a disillusionment when an ‘extra’ bonus character become stronger than Killia pretty early on unintentionally.
There is however, one important and highly impactful disadvantage to the change. Many who are short on time will not ever take advantage of Disgaea 4 Complete+’s bonus characters available in the post-game chapters like Adell, Rozalin, Mao, Priere, Gig, the Prism Ranger, the list goes on and on. Even more noticeable is that Disgaea 5 Complete had full blown story based chapters to unlock each character. In Disgaea 4 Complete+, you’re more or less presented with the same interview intro and battle in the same lava/dungeon location. There’s comparatively less uniqueness in this regard than Disgaea 5 Complete.
If you want characters like Laharl in Disgaea 4 Complete+ you’ll need significant mana to pass legislation in the Senate, an extra step that casuals will likely never ever accomplish. Sure, you can literally cheat from on the onset of the game pretty easily but those looking to do honest work are looking at hundreds of hours of investment… At a point where the main portion of the game will be long left behind unlike Disgaea 5 Complete, so it’s a tradeoff.
Disgaea 4 Complete+ has a surreally modern plot for half the game featuring false/fake news about Death Emizel’s fabricated death being reported as fact. The weakening of human bonds to the Netherworld & Hades and Celestia (Disgaea’s versions of Hell and Heaven) by lack of belief only adds to a highly intricate, mature storyline. One that basically more than alludes to the current state of growing atheism and religious apathy among the general popular. If humanity is more scared of each other than the Demons below in Disgaea 4 Complete+, demons lose their power (fear energy) and the same for the heavens above who receive no faith (awe energy).
Former Tyrant turned Prinny Instructor Valvatorez is constantly surprised by the weak demons he, loyal vassal Fenrich and gang face throughout the journey. Until facing off with old rival President Death King Hugo, who reveals he cannot even transform anymore because of the lack of fear energy from humans. Going further in detailing humans studying demon DNA (later revealed to make their own clone demons) and controlling the Netherworld.
Meanwhile, intriguing character Fuka Kazamatsuri refuses to believe she’s died and become a Prinny (or hybrid of sorts). No matter what evidence is shoved in front of her face, she maintains everything is all just a dream. Although played on as a humorous sidestory, it’s actually a pretty fascinating concept when one thinks about it. How would anyone react to being told they’re dead? It’s most likely they wouldn’t believe anything was true, the dream angle is most plausible.
The story only begins to unravel its well written tight ship post Chapter 7 with the introduction of Judge Nemo. While the idea to destroy the moon served as entertaining foil for Fenrich as a werewolf, the change to Nemo over Hugo as lead villain relatively hurt the plot overall. Instead of a Final Fantasy 7 style opening rebellion mission, Disgaea 4 Complete+ devolves into complete cartooniness featuring the sudden introduction of alien councils to the mix (looking to eliminate humanity).
Valvatorez and the rest of the group (+the Netherworld and Earth) having to prey to making Archangel Flonne’s giant robot work to save them (and the moon) was also a rather overt direct message for any game. Albeit with an interesting metaphor that people can’t be threatened into praying like Fenrich attempts with the aliens.
Disgaea 1 original Flonne is a full fledged character in the main game, not a side story chapter character. She’s unlockable through a post-game relatively easy to approve low mana, post-game Senate bill.
Fuka’s father claiming to create Fuka the world beating little sister boss she always wanted only helped enhance the cartooniness of the plot. One that was still rather serious in tone as a metaphor prior. Then Fear the Great (personification of Judge Nemo’s hate towards humanity)… Chapter 7 would have been a good place to end the main plot on a high point, with the rest of the chapters as bonuses. Or have the origin story of Valvatorez/Fenrich main, which added a lot to the central plot.
There’s bonus chapters galore post-game by the way, including the Fuka/Desco show and time traveling antics. The inclusion of multiple endings (particularly should you lose + credit roll) is a big time detail that every game should have.
In terms of overall lead story though, Disgaea 1 is still the king.
Tactical/Strategy RPG Mechanics :
Simply put, the gameplay strategy/tactical mechanics of Disgaea 4 Complete+ are top tier. Arguably the best in the whole genre. You could write a thesis to describe how utterly complex the system actually is while being exceptionally addicting. Getting to the next power level for another character is always in grasp, not too easy but not requiring ludicrous amounts of grinding either. You could spend years customizing your squad, weaponry, Evilities, boosting and weakening skills (in order to save mana), the list goes on and on. In the higher stakes battles like Minotrose in the post game origins bonus chapter, even the simple decision of lifting and throwing an injured but all powerful Tyrant Valvatorez forward on the battle grid is make or break.
If you’re only playing for the gameplay either way, Disgaea 4 Complete+ is tactical/strategy RPG heaven. It never gets old, and the constant opportunity to unlock more characters and bonuses in general pushes the need for one more battle even further. You never really feel like you’re playing just to play with no reward waiting.
Casual Player and Hardcore Gamer Reception :
This is of course, part of what will separate casuals and hardcore gamers. Disgaea 4 Complete+ is a demanding investment of a game because of sheer vastness rather than grindyness. You’re not getting through Disgaea 4 Complete+ in one casual weekend play through. Those that arrive from previous Disgaea games will know what to do no problem. It’s hard to say how someone just jumping into the complexities of the game with no prior will react at the learning curve. There is very little hand holding despite the initial Prinny instructing chapter at the beginning of the game.
Not to mention the entertaining Sardine Japanese-language centric background Valvatorez provides in the cutscenes is most definitely not a by the numbers generic affair. The game will attract a specific niche of hardcore gamers, and unfortunately might also shut the door for some at the same time. Those who aren’t already immersed in Anime style stories or strategy/tactical RPG games are less likely to find that instant break through connection Cloud provided in FF7 to give it a try. Those that stick with getting to know Disgaea will love it.
The art style is beautiful, gorgeous level. Honestly, most people who tried any Disgaea franchise for the first time were impressed by artist Takehito Harada’s spectacular work. From general conversational scenes to just wandering around the base to battling, Disgaea 4 Complete+ looks astoundingly pretty to look at. The character and enemy design is top notch, definitively unique. 2D art on a 3D plane done right. If you were a fan of Ogre Battle 64 and Dragon Force back in the day, you’ll find plenty to love about the art here.
The detail is immense, and thus a defining characteristic that makes the title so grand in scale. No matter how many times you see Fuka unveiling the bat or Valvatorez lifting his arm in anger, revealing a vampire wing, it looks as great as the first time. The anime influence is obvious, and if you like that style, the draw is instant.
The boss theme above, played when facing Minotrose (an excellent post-game storyline) and Gig is one of the best in the Disgaea 4 Complete+. Composed by Tenpei Sato, the game’s soundtrack is generally laid back like always in the franchise and greatly enjoyable. It really adds to the whimsically relaxed yet at times dead serious nature of the Disgaea universe. Lots of recognizable tracks and sound effects from previous Disgaea titles will be noticed by returning players. The franchise has a way of making its players feel comfortable, both audio wise and visually. It has much to do with why Disgaea players stick around and get into a battling/leveling routine each night.
Additionally, on the voice acting side, Troy Baker did an especially great job as Valvatorez. Really added to the Sardine one-liners. Fenrich’s Patrick Seitz (who I recently interviewed on One Piece: Stampede) along with the rest of the cast provided worthy counterparts.
Disgaea 4 Complete+ never takes itself too seriously, constantly making fourth wall breaking game references. From why a character is a mid-boss (which started back in Disgaea 1) to cure revelations ‘confidently’ happening if a boss is defeated according to lead Valvatorez. There’s even a Super Mario Bros. style ‘Princess is in another castle’ element in the game. When you’re on the moon looking for Judge Nemo’s device set to destroy it, Nemo says there’s actually another one after you wreck it, then post second device there’s the reactor.
Most of the game’s humor is in Valvatorez constant belief that his power originates from Sardines. That he no longer requires blood as a vampire, which is a key component of a serious storyline with romantic Angel interest Vulcanus/Artina. Or even Valvatorez’ anger at the misspelling of Prinny as ‘Primy’ in the Netherworld’s newspaper. However, the best Chapter comedy wise features the A-Virus which turns the Netherworld’s demons all into Warden Axel clones.
Axel is presented as a bit of a buffoon in the same manner of Street Fighter’s Dan, one that keeps coming back and back. The A-Virus has a dark serious overtone many might miss at first glance. Axel is called an ‘idiot’ by Fenrich and the others of the group, suggesting a world of an uneducated permanent underclass of society by the Netherworld’s ruling class.
Overall Review and Score:
If you’re looking for a fresh tactical/strategy RPG to sink a mighty time investment into, you won’t find much better quality gameplay than Disgaea 4 Complete+. Disgaea 1 is still the king of the franchise but the fourth iteration is the heir to the throne.
Full Disclosure: NIS America provided LiveGameDeals.com / TheNaturalAristocrat.com a review copy of Disgaea 4 Complete+ for the PlayStation 4 console.
Concerning the Amazon affiliate purchase links in this article: LiveGameDeals.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
Visit Disgaea.us, the official website for the title and watch game trailers.
Be sure to check out Live Game Deals’ interview with Nippon Ichi Software President Sohei Niikawa on Disgaea!
The vocals of Psycho Soldier’s Kaori Shimizu and uncredited American counterpart are one of SNK 40th Anniversary Collection’s starring attractions.
There’s something about being serenaded as otherworldly enemies are vanquished in Psycho Soldier that makes the title an instant attention grabber. Quite frankly, it could easily pass for a new breakout retro anime-styled indie release right this second. Psycho Soldier is immediately accessible, action-focused, and old-school. Not to mention, packing a syrupy sweet soundtrack that you’ll come back to no matter what the calories entail.
Hardcore SNK fans are no doubt well acquainted with the treasure chest of rich Arcade and NES classics featured in SNK 40th Anniversary Collection. A fountain of nostalgia to leap into and re-access those vivid coin-op memory banks of days past.
An epoch in time where you slipped a pair of quarters into a just-in fresh import on the corner of your local arcade… Not knowing what to expect and loving that fact. A whole new mysterious digital universe drawing you in on-the-fly. For legacy devotees, it’s a chance to recall those soothing mementos of wonder trying out a brand new title for the first time.
For casuals, who in recent years have dabbled in Hamster’s ACA Neo Geo multi-console classics line, the NEOGEO X, and NEOGEO Mini International, it’s an opportunity to explore SNK’s lush history. Just as Namco Museum Volume 1 opened new Tekken fans at the time to NAMCO’s storied history once upon a time on the PSX, so too is SNK’s ambition with this collection.Psycho Soldier (Arcade) – Photo Credit: SNK via NIS America
Neo-Geo devotees born in the 90s will naturally be curious about the origins of The King of Fighters’ Athena Asamiya before their time. New SNK fan recruits fresh off completing Metal Slug 3, who never experienced Psycho Soldier, are in for an opulent surprise.
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection: Games to Check Out
High-octane arcade highlights of the collection include top-down shooter SAR: Search And Rescue, simply pure fun with noticeable influence from the Alien films. It’s one of those titles from the classical era of gaming where you could just relax and react to what’s happening on-screen instead of checking in-game maps, compasses, and inventories.SAR: Search and Rescue – Photo Credit: SNK via NIS America
Ikari III: The Rescue, part 3 of the Ikari Warriors trilogy is the one that most stands the test of time today. Quality large animated characters on-screen fit beautifully in the top down brawler/shooter. Though its parent titles are fondly remembered (both Arcade and NES editions are included in the collection), there’s something about the large animated sprites that’s more appealing to the eye.Ikari III – The Rescue (Arcade) 03 – Photo Credit: SNK via NIS America
The rotary joystick controls for both SAR: Search and Rescue and the Ikari Warriors trilogy being reworked twin-stick style with the right analog stick works well. R2 and L2 on the DualShock 4 serve as the attack buttons like traditional, modern FPS titles on the PlayStation 4.
Neo-Geo Pocket Color owners will be pleased to find Beast Busters, the parent game of the excellent Dark Arms: Beast Busters released back in 1999. It’s naturally one of those games that requires a light gun for home use like House of the Dead to play as originally intended. However, great care has been done with the PlayStation’s DualShock 4 for speedy controls to make the home experience refreshingly playable.Beast Busters Arcade – Photo Credit: SNK/Hamachi, Papa and Team, Images Design via NIS America
There’s excellent in-game museum information included on Beast Busters by the way, including how the game’s sprites were animated three times each to create the 3D jumping at you enemy effect.
NES action RPG favorite Crystalis and for many SNK Nintendo owning fans of yore will likely be the go-to title for in-depth playtimes. Crystalis is the complete opposite of the arcade line of titles included in this collection and naturally targeted at a different audience. Fans have wished for a Crystalis 2 for years now, even attempting their own homemade sequels. Any Zelda aficionado is sure to enjoy this one.Crystalis (NES) – Photo Credit: SNK via NIS America
When it comes to traditional ship shooters, Prehistoric Isle in 1930, takes the collection throne with its colorful visuals, enjoyable gameplay, and let’s face it, dinosaurs! The setting is reminiscent of Jurassic Park, despite actually predating the novel by one year and the film by four years. It’s a standout piece, an obvious curiosity to Neo Geo AES fans who had such demand for the sequel (released in 1999) the MVS version was constantly converted by !Arcade! and others. There’s a ton of ship shooters in this collection from Alpha Mission to Chopper!Prehistoric Isle in 1930 (Arcade) – Photo Credit: SNK via NIS America
P.O.W, a traditional Final Fight/Streets of Rage beat-em-up in a more Metal Slug style war setting is worth a play through. You will occasionally be cheaply hit but there’s unlimited continues (for every Arcade game) should issues arise.P.O.W. – Prisoners of War (Arcade) 02 – Photo Credit: SNK via NIS America
However, it’s bit more old-school Ghosts ‘n Goblins-like in the original Athena as you’ll have to start the level all over again! Guerrilla War is quite similar to Ikari III, although a bit more in line with the original Ikari Warriors series. SNK sure loved the war theme back in the day, NAM 1975, Metal Slug, Ikari Warriors, Guerrilla War, P.O.W, just all at the pattern!Athena (Arcade) – Photo Credit: SNK via NIS America
Some titles in the collection like Sasuke vs. Commander, Paddle Mania, Munch Mobile, and Fantasy are more on the nostalgic side for variety. Meaning, you’re less likely to stick around longterm if you weren’t around for the original release.
Paddle Mania plays like an early Windjammers and it’s definitely fascinating to see game development throughout the years. There’s just too many games out these days demanding your time so realistically, one will likely play one of the subsequent spiritual sequels (like Windjammers on the PS4/Switch). That is unless they were there for the original.
Widescreen stretch support included!
Finally, widescreen stretch support 16 by 9 support for those who want it! Yes, many gamers like to stay pure and faithful to the original aspect resolution but there’s a reason stretch mode exists on almost all modern television sets. The option should be a native feature in all 4:3 content released as remastered these days but somehow it’s ignored quite often.
Digital Eclipse however, does not disappoint and you can fill the whole screen! No bars on the sides, or barely viewable screen filled more by artwork than gaming. Kudos for including the option for those who want it, and it looks amazing! Like an early SNK version of the HDMI modded NeoGeo AES.
SNK Museum and Gaming Soundtracks
One of the top features of SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is the Museum mode where you can learn about the history of each game and SNK itself in the process. The amount of vintage advertising material and artwork alone is worth the price of admission for retro fans but the soundtracks complete the package. Each main game entry plays out a bit like a modern, sleek slideshow with a photo and caption. When you press the X button to move forward, then next chapter of the story unveils. Artwork can also be zoomed in on.
Serious work has been placed into this section of SNK 40th Anniversary Collection. Any dedicated SNK fan will relish touring the history of the company and maybe even learning something new about Neo Geo’s parent. The sleek presentation and calming background theme adds to the refined polish.
* Soundtrack wise, it’s a bit surprising the Psycho Soldier cassette tape single with Japanese idol singer Kaori Shimizu is missing. There’s no English version of the original theme included either, although the Japanese original theme is intact.
While both (the single and English version) are readily available on YouTube, they would have been naturally welcome additions. Two curious omissions for such a complete package. Especially, since Psycho Soldier has some of the title’s finest audio work and is renowned for having the first vocal track used in an Arcade game. Maybe a future DLC?
Speaking of DLC, Baseball Stars is included in Museum content despite not being a current entry in the collection… Will it arrive in DLC form this year?
Continues, Rewind feature, Save States, Watch Feature
There’s unlimited continues in SNK 40th Anniversary Collection and an easy to use rewind feature on top of it. Although you might occasionally bump it by accident, it’s a very modern, seamless addition. The rewind feature was enjoyed by fans most recently in the SNES Classic and if you own one, it should be quite familiar.
It could come quite handy in Athena, which makes you go back to the beginning of the level upon losing. However, dedicated gamers of the Bits console generation might abstain from the feature, as it kind of feels like ‘cheating’ in a way. Save States which are present feel simply in line with modern convenience. Nevertheless, the rewind feature runs perfectly smooth for those who want to use it. Considering the occasional perceived cheap damage taken in some of the titles, you could find yourself more than justified to rewind! Set the record right!
There’s a watch feature that plays out like an AI controlled speed run. Usage will vary, as many gamers will want to do the playing organically rather than know how to play the game perfectly.
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection: Game List at Launch, Price
Alpha Mission (Arcade / Home Console)
Athena (Arcade / Home Console)
Ikari Warriors (Arcade / Home Console)
Ikari III: The Rescue (Arcade / Home Console)
Guerrilla War (Arcade / Home Console)
P.O.W. (Arcade / Home)
Prehistoric Isle in 1930
SAR: Search and Rescue
Sasuke vs. Commander
T.N.K. III (Arcade / Home Console)
Victory Road (Arcade / Home Console)
Price: SNK 40th Anniversary Collection for the PlayStation 4 is currently selling for $39.99 on Amazon for a physical copy.
Developer: SNK (Originals/IP) / Digital Eclipse (Collection)
Publisher: NIS America (U.S.A region)
Console: PlayStation 4 (Physical and Digital)
Release Date: March 19, 2019
* Also available on Nintendo Switch (Physical and Digital).
All Neo Geo based content. Any SNK fan will notice this omission instantly for a 40th anniversary collection, no Fatal Fury, no Metal Slug. Even early titles like Magician Lord and NAM-1975 (both would have fit in perfectly) are missing in action. Most likely, this is because they’ll be released as part of Hamster’s excellent ACA line at some point… However, being included here would have gone a long way for good will with the Neo Geo community. It’s not too late by way of potential DLC!
No online play. For so many co-op games, online play would revitalize the collection. Just imagine playing Ikari Warriors online with a friend. Netplay has been around on emulators for these titles for many years, and Nintendo recently brought online play to NES games on the Switch. It’s miles from a make or break but it would add potential longevity after a play-through.
That said in the age of digital content, all games have the possibility of expansion, as seen in SNK HEROINES: Tag Team Frenzy’s DLC addition of a certain World Heroes’ favorite!
One of the all-time greatest game collections is Super Mario All-Stars for the Super Nintendo/Super Famicom which beautifully remade the originals is a 10 for the collection genre. Namco Museum Vol. 1 (PSX) pioneered the whole museum concept with a gorgeous 3D museum to visit, is a 9 for the collection genre. SNK 40th Anniversary Collection receives an 8.2, for bringing a streamlined collection of enjoyable games and detailed museum worthy of a read! Extra credit for including widescreen stretch! The only thing really stopping the collection from scoring higher is the lack of inclusion of any Neo Geo titles at all.
Rare for example, brought out an amazing collection for the Xbox One, (no widescreen for Conker though), so bringing the big names is expected. Casuals for the prior collections had Mario, Banjo-Kazooie, Conker, and Pac-Man as frontmen but this collection primarily highlights SNK itself (and Athena) as a whole. Akin to Midway and Williams’ Arcade collection years back. Meaning, if you’re a hardcore SNK or KOF Athena fan, you’re already playing but casuals might not recognize some of the titles. Maybe Crystalis if they owned an NES. When you have one of the greatest game lineups ever, you don’t have to include them all but expectations are always trending up.Psycho Soldier (Arcade) – Photo Credit: SNK via NIS America
SNK 40th Anniversary Collection is definitive buy for any hardcore, dedicated SNK fan. It’s bursting at the seams with rich history, enough to pop a button out and send it flying across the room!
For reference purposes, this review was based on the PlayStation 4 edition. Visit SNK40th.com, the official website for the title and watch game trailers.
Review copy of SNK 40th Anniversary Collection was provided to LiveGameDeals.com by NIS America.