Disgaea is a name that most would not consider mainstream. In the US, you can mention Final Fantasy and World of Warcraft, or even lesser known games such as Breath of Fire or Suikoden, and people instantly know you're talking about an RPG. If you mention Disgaea to the average person, most will just look at you funny. Even the modern day Halo gamer doesn't really know what Disgaea is. Yet, it's arguably one of the best strategy RPGs in the history of gaming, and the latest installment is about to make its way to North American shores.

The new game picks up where Disgaea: Hour of Darkness left off. Laharl, Etna and Flonne from the original Disgaea are back and ready to cause more trouble. If you've played a Disgaea game in the past, there isn't much new here in the way of gameplay mechanics. You traverse a battlefield divided into squares, and must strategize to defeat a group of enemies. You may be more familiar with Final Fantasy Tactics, which is about as close as Final Fantasy comes to this type of game.

New to this version of Disgaea is the ability to Monster Mount. Take one of your characters and ride on top of a monster. Doing so allows the character in question to attack freely (when it's their turn), while the monster takes all of the damage. Trust us, when you get to the higher levels of this game, the damage will be HUGE!

Monsters aren't the only thing that will be important in A Brighter Darkness. The relationships between characters in your party will also be crucial to success. There's a new heart scale that lets you know how strong a relationship is between two attacks. In previous games, multiple members of your party could team up for a joint attack of massive destruction. That's still possible, but now the effectiveness of that attack will rely heavily on the relationship between the characters in question. If they rank high on the heart scale, the attack will be more effective. This also impacts how powerful your attacks are when Monster Mounting. If you have a good relationship with the monster, your attacks will be more powerful.

Fans of the previous games may remember Chara World and Class World. In A Brighter Darkness, those areas are replaced by the Devil Dojo. In the simplest terms, this is where you'll be doing a lot of grinding. You can greatly increase the stats of your party members by heading into the Devil Dojo and grinding for hours on end. Trust us when we say it's way more fun than it sounds on paper.

It wouldn't be the modern age of gaming if we didn't have DLC, and Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness is no exception. You'll be able to purchase a slew of characters from previous Disgaea titles and other Nippon Ichi titles and add them to your party. Some of the more popular characters you can download include Adell and Rozalin from Disgaea 2, Mao, Raspberyl and Salvatore from Disgaea 3, Fuka and Desco from Disgaea 4, and Ash and Marona from Phantom Brave. If you're a fan of NIS titles, you should be familiar with at least a few of those names.

Disgaea D2: A Brighter Darkness released in Japan back in March, but the North American release is currently scheduled for October 8. It's a PlayStation 3 exclusive that should hold you over until the next generation console release. If there's one thing a NIS title offers, it's hours upon hours of gameplay, and A Brighter Darkness seems to be no exception.