Platform: PS VITA (Physical and PSN Store Download)

Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention is a Japanese S-RPG (Strategy Role Playing Game) re-release of the 2008 PS3 title Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice. Apart from the addition of touch sensitive controls exclusive to the PS VITA, the game includes all previous DLC released for the PS3 version, including new content and an updated trophy list to the package.

The story of Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention takes place in the netherworld (or "Demon World") were fledgling demon students attend a Demon Academy to partake in demonic educational pursuits in the hope of rising to the top of their class through evil acts and studies.

The protagonist of the story is Mao (A parody, and nod, to "Chairman Mao"), who is the son of the Demon Overlord of the Academy. Mao's father has accidentally destroyed Mao's game console (by stepping on it Godzilla style), and after losing 10 million hours of gameplay, Mao has taken it upon himself to become a "Hero" so that he can fight and destroy his father and become the new Overlord of the Demon Academy.

So, as you can tell already, the story is humorously bombastic in every way. It really is quite endearing as to how insane the characters can seem, and in the way they are presented visually and audibly. For example: the equivalent of "bad kids" in the Demon Academy are "delinquents" - demons who perform acts of good and kindness (e.g. going to class on time and generally cheering their comrades on!)

The general gameplay will be standard to those familiar with S-RPG games. The game maps are based on a square panel design called "Geo Panels" with varying heights of elevation. You choose your characters from a base panel (or "Start Point") and control their actions as to where you want to place them, who they want to attack etc. Once your actions are complete, you can either "Execute" the actions to see the effects (for example; destroying an enemy might open a way for a new character to move further up the map) or ending your turn so the CPU can move its opposing army around the map.

The zaniness of the game's story is also reflected in the gameplay where character's attacks, special move animations and battle cries are campy, insane and generally a wonderful firework showcase. The move "Big Bang" involves your character landing on a moon and smacking it so hard that a comet is formed and thrown down upon the enemies below!

The complex diversity of strategy on each map is ramped up with the addition of elements like Geo Panels on the map being affected by "Geo Block" effects. This means a whole area of Geo Panels could significantly support or hinder your characters while under the influence of various effects, giving you extra experience points per kill, or taking 50% of your character's health away after a turn.

Game difficulty is relative to how much you explore the game's much larger side-options like "The Classroom" and "Item World".

In the Classroom, you can create characters, choose school groups for your characters to be part of, which can give beneficial effects or open new secret areas of gameplay. The most fun part however is "Passing Bills" (think school politics).


When passing a bill, demonic teachers and homeroom representatives vote "Aye" or "Nay" on whether they support your bill. Some of these demons are too drunk to understand how to vote, some are asleep (but you can wake them up by throwing a bomb on them) and some hate you for no reason. To sway the vote in your favor, you can bribe the representatives with items of which they are interested in. However, because they are demons, even if they fully support of you, they can still vote "NAY!" Bloody demons.

When a bill doesn't pass, you can "convince" them by force! This saw our level 20 characters vs. several level 500 demonic teachers. It didn't turn out well! However, later on, our characters were all Level 9999 and there was something simply satisfying about beating up a whole classroom full of teachers!

This is a very "stat-heavy" game, for those who are interested in the mathematical mechanics of grinding and leveling; the game turns the art of grinding and level exploitation into an art form. Extremely addictive!

Overall it's held up pretty well after 4 years and we dare say it works a lot better as a portable title. The main game's story maps vary in length to suit the needs of a player who is on the go, as well as the hardcore player who wants to spend countless hours grinding their character's levels to Lv. 9999 (Yes, you read right!). For example: one of the trophies in the game is based on how long you play the game!

The touch sensitive controls add a little flavor and fluidity to battle camera controls, however this becomes a little bit of a nuisance during menu navigation when you can accidently start scrolling down a list of weapons and armor by resting your fingers on the back of the PS VITA's touch sensitive back interface.

The general audio and visual production is fantastic with some truly original and crazy script. Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention does a good job of being "fun" with its storyline. A lot of video games talk about their story or overall element of gameplay being "fun", however Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention truly understands the meaning of the word in its implementation.

In conclusion, if you're a Disgaea fan, you've probably already played this and would love this game in its portable form. If you're new to the series, and love games, you can pick up and play, but it does require strategy and having to use your brain for a change. If you love stat heavy RPGs with countless possibilities for grinding and exploration, you'll be in heaven.

Fantastic presentation, original story, addictive gameplay and a fun portable experience that works for both casual and hardcore gamers alike.