Disgaea is a Turn-Based Strategy Game made by Nippon Ichi. Most TBS' in its time focuses on combat and giving very little to do outside combat. Disgaea, however, has several things you can do out of combat and that have a few rather strange mechanics in combat never seen in other TBS.
Not only that, Disgaea has characters that are colorful in personality: The hot-blooded Demon Prince Laharl whose father died after choking on a black pretzel, the Sexy(?) Etna who command an army of reluctantly suicidal penguin-thingies known as 'Prinnies', and the Believer of Justice, Defender of Love and Peace Angel Trainee Flonne.
These three main characters are already widely recognized throughout the otaku world and also some kind of mascot for Nippon Icchi.
I'll put up a disclaimer first: Sorry if this review seems dry. There's only 2 things going for Disgaea and that is the mechanics and the story. I can't really tell you the story due to spoilers and the fact that this is an JRPG linear storyline makes it even more important not talk about it so I will just touch on some of the mechanics.
So here I'll give a brief overview of certain mechanics. I'll try to be as neat as possible as there are many things to talk about.
Geo Panels: In Disgaea combat, Geo Panels are essentially colored panels that gives a bonus/penelty depending on what Geo Stone is on the panel. For example, if a Geo Stone that gives +50% Attack is on a red panel, all red panels will give +50% Attack to whoever is on the panel. This is covered in more depth in the in-game tutorial.
Stacking In Disgaea combat, you can "Lift" a person and "Throw" a person. This is to reach hard-to-reach locations in the game, or you simply want to get to a location in one turn. It is possible to chain this so that one person ends up carrying 6 characters. I'm not sure about the limit of this mechanic lol.
Good old TBS
Dark Assembly: Dark Assembly is a court where you can pass 'bills' and get them approved. The 'bills' are effects that affects the entire game, like "Stronger Enemies", "More Expensive Stuff". At the court itself, you have to bribe its population so that you have a higher chance of getting approved. Don't worry, you can view which character disapproves your bill and bribe him from there. If you got rejected, you can either give up, or attempt to kill all who oppose, thus initiating combat.
Item World: In every item there is a world. Depending on the rarity of the item, there will be more layers to the world. Bypassing one level of the item world will increase the item's level by 1. A common item (no color) can only go up to 30 level, a rare item (silver) can go up to 60 levels and a legendary item (gold) can go up to level 100. Every level is randomized, so because of this, Disgaea has potentially unlimited different kinds of levels.
The Item World
Item Residents: In the item, you can place 'residents' to boost the effectiveness of your item. There are several different types of residents available. To shift residents from item to item, you have to enter the item world (stated above) to find and defeat the residents.
Those mechanics explained above are only the brief overview of the more important mechanics. There are many other mechanics like Transmigation, Item Shop, Combining Residents, Team Attacks, etc. that are way too hefty to explain in a review. There are several guides at GameFAQs that you can find for those.
Because of all these mechanics, Disgaea allows you to become ridiculously powerful. Although you can get by the story without knowing half the mechanics, the real fun in this game is the grind to become powerful. If you do not enjoy the grindfest wagon, the story is still good enough for you to enjoy the game.
Here's a video I always show my friends to encourage them to play:
I hope this will motivate everyone else too :)
PS: There's a Disgaea Anime out here, do check it out HERE! :)
PSP version add-on review: to be added