Disgaea 7 interview: “We wanted a back to basics approach”

by on May 25, 2023

The Disgaea series has been knocking around for twenty years now, and no other game has managed to combine hardcore stat maximisation and goofy anime nonsense quite like it. I’ve been beating up Prinnies and taking over Netherworlds since the very beginning, and I can’t imagine that’ll ever change.

The last game in the series (Disgaea 6: Defiance of Destiny) unfortunately didn’t quite hit all the right buttons for me though, thanks to a fairly small selection of classes and some terrible technical limitations on Switch.

Hopefully this October will be different, as Disgaea 7: Vows of the Virtueless is releasing on Switch, PS4, PS5 and PC. I was lucky enough to interview Disgaea 7 producer Shunsuke Minowa to find out more about the upcoming game, and his answers got me very excited for some more Netherworld nonsense.

Producer Shunsuke Minowa

This new entry in the Disgaea series has a theme based on Japanese history, what made you decide on this slightly more grounded setting?

From the beginning of development, we wanted a “back to basics” approach for Disgaea 7 and have the story be set mainly on one Netherworld. The word “Bushido” actually came up during our initial planning, and we thought about what that meant and how it could be the base for an interesting setting.This gave way to the idea a storyline of “reclaiming Bushido” that would eventually become a “historical Japanese-inspired Netherworld without Bushido.”

For the first time ever, Disgaea 7 features two main characters. What makes Fuji and Pirilika different from past characters in the series?

In the beginning of Disgaea 7, for the first time in the series, the female character Prilika takes the lead in the story while the male character Fuji serves as a support role. However, Fuji also has his own purpose, and the story gradually unfolds with two main axes. Therefore, we created the scenario with the awareness that Fuji and Prilika are not the hero and heroine, but rather “partners” who support each other.

There are plenty of new mechanics coming to Disgaea 7, but the one that I’m most excited about is Jumbify. How does this massive transformation ability work in the game?

Jumbification causes a character to grow to gigantic proportions under certain conditions and places them outside the battlefield. This allows that character to attack anywhere on the field, and each character has a specific “Jumbility” that affects the entire field. Aside from increasing your combat power, Jumbification can also let you bypass clear conditions or challenges for certain stages. Keep in mind that enemies can also use Jumbification, so make sure you have your own Jumbification ready to fight back!

Jumbify in action

I’m also very interested in Item Reincarnation. Items have always been a huge part of Disgaea thanks to the Item Worlds, how does Reincarnation fit into this?

Item Reincarnation builds upon the staple Item World feature and lets players enhance items even further. With Item Reincarnation, players can reincarnate an item that has been strengthened to its limit in the Item World. You can also take an item’s unique characteristics, such as increasing the counterattack rate or increasing movement distance, and combine these characteristics and enhance items even further by inheriting rare and random traits.

I was really glad to see the Demonic Intelligence is returning again. Has it been changed at all for this installment?

In Disgaea 7, we added a cost to using auto-battle and gave players the option to skip auto-battle at any time. This allows players to enjoy the process of leveling and strengthening their characters while giving them the option of choosing auto-battle thoughtfully, rather than making auto-battle an unlimited use feature that diminished the gameplay experience.

A screenshot of Disgaea 7

Using the AI to battle people online is an interesting way to add online play to the series. What made you go in this direction?

The Demonic Intelligence feature received a lot of criticism for negatively impacting the fun of the original Disgaea gameplay. However, the idea of using AI to control character movements was seen as a potentially interesting element that could be made fun in some way. AI Ranked Battles are one such implementation of this concept, where characters, magic abilities, weapons, and armour are augmented with AI elements to create strategic and entertaining gameplay.

I was delighted to hear that Disgaea 7 will have the most character classes of any game in the series. What are some of your favourite new additions?

The Big Eye is my favourite among the new characters. They are a type of character that has never been seen before in the Disgaea series, and their design as an advanced monster-type character fits in seamlessly. As for existing characters, I like the Magic Swordsman (female). She is a beautiful woman with rune eyes who can wield both a sword and magic at the same time.

The Big Eye class that Minowa-san is excited about us all trying

Perhaps the biggest change that Disgaea 6 made to the series were the 3d character models. What has it been like working with this new art style?

One of the challenges we faced when transitioning to 3D was that it became more difficult to hide imperfections. In the 2D era, even if a character was in a slightly strange pose or position, it wasn’t a big deal because it was 2D and didn’t look out of place. However, in 3D, even small imperfections can lead to big discrepancies and require a lot of fine-tuning, which can be costly.

On the other hand, the advantages of 3D are many. For example, we found that we could make characters larger without losing detail, and the freedom to move the camera opened up new possibilities for how we presented the game. Overall, I think the benefits of 3D outweigh the challenges, and it has allowed us to create a more immersive and visually stunning game.

A screenshot of Disgaea 7

I’ve heard that when you were younger you got really into Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days. What was it about Rozalin’s adventure you enjoyed so much?

I liked the battle system, especially the lifting and throwing mechanics and the area-of-effect skills. I’m the type who generally gets bored with slow-paced SRPG battles, but the Disgaea series has a satisfyingly simplistic approach that allows you to power up your main character and use them to charge into battle with lifting and throwing tactics and devastating AOE attacks. It was really enjoyable!

After being a fan of the series for so long, how does it feel having such a prominent role in creating a new instalment?

It’s an unbelievable experience for the version of me who was just a player, and the version of me from the day before I received an offer from the development team would probably not believe it. However, I’m truly grateful that they trusted me based on my love for the Disgaea series, and with the help of the staff who supported me, I’m happy to have been able to create the best Disgaea game possible according to my vision.