Disgaea: Heart of Darkness Soundtrack, 2003, Tenpei Sato
It’s always fun to cheer on the little game that could and see it not only succeed, but turn into a burgeoning franchise selling millions of copies – without losing its charmingly eccentric character. Before the release of Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, developer Nippon Ichi had been releasing one game a year, constantly on the precipice of closure should that game fail. All that was about to change with Hour of Darkness, a zany strategy RPG starring Laharl, son of King Krichevskoy, overlord of the Netherworld – who passed away while Laharl was sleeping for a couple of years. Setting Laharl’s quest to reclaim the throne in a setting like the Demon Netherworld gave the developers liberty to apply an “anything goes” approach, according to producer Sohei Niikawa. The result was a strategy RPG that was as deep as it was irreverent (not many RPGs can claim exploding penguins as their mascots).