One of my favorite PlayStation 2 games of all time arrived on PC last week, and the transition was far from painless. Still, nothing a few settings tweaks, opting out of Steam betas and possibly buying a game pad can’t fix.
Beneath several bugs and bad style choices the game that launched Nippon Ichi’s successful series of ridiculously deep turn-based tactical role-playing games (sans a few music tracks licensed by original U.S. publisher Atlus) is still present. You’ve just got to wipe away a thick layer of nonsense to get there.
The first order of business is making sure the game isn’t dropping into sub-playable framerates. While some players are having no problems at all, others are organizing mass refunds and stockpiling torches and pitchforks.
NIS America suggests a couple of tweaks to get the framerates up to par. First, disable Steam betas. NIS America is still trying to figure out why, but for some reason being signed up for Steam’s beta program makes Disgaea PC lag. Turn it off, restart Steam and things should be much better.
The other main reason for frame rate drops is equally silly. Users trying to play the game with only their mouse and keyboard and no game pad attached are experiencing unbearable slow down. This is just plain stupid, and NIS America is working on a fix. In the meantime, Disgaea is really a game you should play with the game pad. Trying to click on map areas with the mouse is tricky, and anyway why don’t you have a PC game pad? They give them away in cereal boxes these days.
Once the accidental technical issues have been addressed, it’s time to address the issues NIS America put into the game on purpose. By adding new map textures, SSAO, character filtering, normal mapping, enhanced shadows, depth of field and screen edge blurring, NIS America has made the 2003 PlayStation 2 classic (technically its 2006 PSP re-release) look like a 2016 mess.
On my system SSAO results in horrible texture seams, which can be more readily seen in the video at the top of the post. The edges of the screen are blurry nonsense, the shadows too intense for no logical or aesthetic reason, and the normal mapping makes textures that should be flat look like they’ve been run through Photoshop.
My suggestion? Turn all of it off. Well, leave on V-Sync, because otherwise the tearing is ridiculous, but the rest of it can go. Especially that character filter bullshit. Making pixel art blurry does not equal high definition.
Switching between new and old map textures and user interface is a matter of preference. As long as the rest of the settings are switched off, Disgaea PC should look and play decently enough for new players to lose themselves for several hundred hours.