Nippon Ichi Software (often shortened to NIS or N1) is a video game company based in Japan. They are relatively famous for their use of detailed pixel art sprites instead of the photorealistic 3D models toward which the rest of the industry is leaning, and their many Strategy RPGs
with absurdly high Power Levels
"Nippon Ichi" is Japanese for "Japan One" or, in other words, "Japan's Best
". It also happens to be part of Mai Shiranui's Catch Phrasenote
Nippon Ichi opened an American branch called NIS America in 2003 (which has also operated in Europe since 2009, under the same name), which publishes games from both its Japanese parent company and other smaller companies (much like Atlus
USA, which localized several of Nippon Ichi's games before 2003 and today distributes several of NIS America's games). These include numerous games developed by Idea Factory
, Compile Heart
and Hitmaker, and nearly anything from Gust Corporation; the two have been partners in Japan for some time and that extends to America as well, with the Atelier
series (from Atelier Iris on) essentially forming the "second tentpole" of NIS America's output.
NIS America is now in the anime licensing business. Up until March 2014, all of NIS America's releases were subtitled-only.note
Their first dubbed release will be the re-release of Toradora!
Games developed by Nippon Ichi:
Games from other Japanese development houses published by NIS America include:
Anime licensed by NIS America (Which are all, for the moment, until July 1st 2014, sub-only):
Tropes that are commonly found in Nippon Ichi games:
- Absurdly High Level Cap: Most games stick with two-digit level numbers (or they'll give you a level 100 if you're lucky). The norm for Nippon Ichi is four.
- Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You might have 50+ characters, but you can only ever bring out 10 on any given map.
- Attract Mode: Most games will either play a cutscene with backstory or demonstrate some of the crazier stuff available if left alone at the title screen.
- Bonus Boss: Cameos from just about every other game appear in every other game, but Baal deserves special mention — he is in every major game by Nippon Ichi and is always the ultimate threat.
- And as soon as Zetta calls him on this fact, Asagi makes her premier.
- Bonus Dungeon: Any item, any character, and in some games, any adjective.
- Cap: Averted in most, there generally is no damage or stat caps and characters can do many thousands or even millions of damage in a hit if brought to a high enough level.
- Color-Coded Armies: Usually life bars only, although the Disgaea port for the Nintendo DS also featured colour-coded icons on the mini-map.
- Combat Medic: Most Nippon Ichi healers can fight just fine, though some require tweaking using things like Disgaea's Apprentice system.
- The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Usually averted, as the computer cannot throw except in Phantom Brave and Makai Kingdom (one of the NIS-produced strategy guides even mentioned this, pointing out that the games would be far harder if the computer had this ability). The Anti-Matter ability in Soul Nomad is an exception.
- Everything Fades: Applies in all games except Phantom Brave. In that one, piles of corpses may impede movement or targeting. A moderate amount of damage applied to the corpse will remove it. You could also simply use them as a weapon, stepping stool, distraction, etc etc.
- Extended Gameplay: By the bucket, even if you do generally have to start a New Game+ at least once to get at some of it.
- Glass Cannon: Common result of obeying One Stat To Rule Them All. The Magic-based classes typically fall into this trope.
- Hub Level: Games that don't use a world map typically have one of these. Phantom Brave combines the two.
- Improvised Weapon
- Level Grinding: And how!
- Magic Knight: From Disgaea on, there is a class explicitly named this. Some plot characters also qualify, and use of reincarnation can make almost anyone a Magic Knight.
- Mana: Mana in Nippon Ichi games is different from how it's handled in other similar games. There is indeed a secondary bar called "SP" which drains as you use special abilities, but Mana is a separate statistic from that. It's usually generated from defeating opponents (depending on the game) and is a measure of how much hidden power or potential a character may have. In the Disgaea games, this means you can ask for different things from the Dark Assembly. In Cla Dun it's how many slots a character gives you for upgrade items. In Phantom Brave, mana is used to gain new skills on weapons and fuse them to make them stronger.
- Min-Maxing: All of Nippon Ichi's Turn-Based Strategy games thrive on this. Once you reach post game, it's all about making your character(s) as stupidly powerful as possible.
- Monster Allies: From the very beginning, monsters can join the party.
- New Game+
- Non-Standard Game Over
- One Stat to Rule Them All: Because of how damage is calculated, defence becomes increasingly useless as attack power increases. At high levels, the most viable strategy is to pump your attack stat (usually ATK or INT) as high as possible and just blitz the enemy in a one-turn do-or-die attack. In Phantom Brave, Speed can claim a tie or even a solo first if used as the attack stat.
- Over Nine Thousand: The sheer amount of high levels in most N1 games is just staggering to the average RPG fan. Add in that you can also level up weapons and abilities to insane levels and...
- Player Headquarters: The Hub Level of each game generally serve as this.
- Player Mooks: A staple of nearly all the Turn-Based Strategy games. Makai Kingdom takes the cake here, as until you get to the bonus content, literally none of your playable characters are plot characters.
- Randomly Generated Loot: The stats of the items sold in shops or won in battle tend to vary (there's usually a way of increasing an item's stats with a bit of grinding anyway, though).
- Recurring Boss: Baal, Laharl, Prier, and Asagi.
- Rocket Tag Gameplay: High-level random dungeon enemies and bonus bosses can usually kill player units in one hit regardless of defense stats. The reverse is generally true, though bosses are a bit more resilient.
- Signature Move: The skill Dimension Slash has become a recurring sword skill and usually one of the strongest ever since the first Disgaea, though it's name and appearance somewhat changes with each game.
- Splash Damage Abuse: In games with tiles (La Pucelle and the Disgaea games), the area of effect for magic can be abused to extend the range of your spells by a couple tiles. The 7-tile checker array is especially good. In titles like Phantom Brave and Makai Kingdom, the trope still applies, though targeting can be a bit trickier (this is due to the tricky aiming with area of effect skills in these non-tile games).
- Sprite/Polygon Mix: The characters and interactable objects are sprites, while the backgrounds are rendered.
- Super Move Portrait Attack: They actually provide the image for the trope.
- Turn-Based Strategy: Most of their games, in fact.
- Updated Re-release: Currently, Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, Rhapsody A Musical Adventure, Phantom Brave, Disgaea 2, La Pucelle, Makai Kingdom and Disgaea 3 received one, though the PSP versions of La Pucelle and Makai Kingdom have yet to leave Japan. Only Soul Nomad & the World Eaters has yet to receive one.
- Video Game 3D Leap: The Witch and the Hundred Knight is the first game developed by Nippon Ichi that doesn't use sprite based or Sprite/Polygon Mix graphics.
- White Mage: The Healer classes.
Story and Characterization Tropes:
- Ax-Crazy: Every Disgaea game has at least one somewhat ax-crazy guy, but Sapphire embodies it. Everybody in the demon path of Soul Nomad.
- Bad Ass Normal: Pick a human, any human (in the context of game play). Sapphire embodies this trope story wise. Subverted with Adell who only thinks he's human.
- Bittersweet Ending: Several, the normal (non canonical) ending of Disgaea 1 is probably the worst offender.
- Black Comedy: There's usually at least a little of this in most Nippon Ichi games.
- Butt Monkey: Poor, poor Asagi. You can't sink much lower than second banana to a Prinny.
- The Chessmaster: Regular trope, used even by good characters, (used most often by good ones at that).
- Cross Over: Most Nippon Ichi games feature Secret Characters from other Nippon Ichi games.
- Cute Bruiser: Almost every game in Nippon Ichi's collection has at least one, and usually many more.
- Dark Is Not Evil: That's every Nippon Ichi game in a nutshell, really.
- Deadpan Snarker
- Defeat Means Friendship
- The Ditz: Usually as a foil for the Deadpan Snarker.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Asagi... maybe, kinda. To elaborate, Asagi was a demo character used to test out the engine of one of the games (the persistent rumor is that she was supposed to be the main character of the cancelled Makai Wars for the PSP), but the developers liked her so much that they kept her around as a cameo in other games. She usually bemoans the fact that she doesn't have her own game yet and tries to take your game for her own. So she's an Early Bird Cameo for a game that hasn't been made yet.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Seedle, Drazil and Super Hero Aurum all get lectures like this.
- Everything Is Better With Penguins: Prinnies have been a Nippon Ichi staple since Disgaea, dood.
- Everything Sounds Sexier in French: Mid-Boss, as well as the fact that a lot of characters have French words for names (La Pucelle especially so).
- Fallen Hero: Thorndyke and Gig in Soul Nomad. Thorndyke's fall is in the Demon Path and Gig was tossed (through the actions of Drazil before the game) down. Super Hero Aurum also applies.
- Guile Hero: Sereph Lamington, Champloo (to a lesser extent) and Lady Virtuous. Lamington especially shows just how scary these characters can be.
- Heroes Prefer Swords: Revya with his/her Onyx Blade is the only one to play the trope completely straight. The other main characters either avert it or swords are just one option among the other weapons he/she is capable of wielding (Though promotional art and their personal stats might pull them closer to this trope).
- Heroic Sacrifice: It usually ends up triggering the main character's Unstoppable Rage and, in some cases, their Superpowered Evil Side. Coincidentally, a good portion of them are blondes.
- Hidden Depths: Lamington, Adell and Champloo are much smarter than they look and act.
- Improbable Weapon User: Oh boy. Every game has plenty but Phantom Brave takes the cake. Or fish. Or phonograph.
- Light Is Not Good: See "Dark Is Not Evil".
- Like a Badass out of Hell: Kill too many Demon Overlords (or a strong enough singular one) and you become one. Very important rule to remember throughout the games. This is the canonical ending to Priere of La Pucelle — in the bonus ending she becomes Overlord Priere after beating up too many things inside the bonus dungeons, in all her cameos, this is the role she appears as.
- Milestone Celebration: Five games have been in development in celebration of Nippon Ichi's 20th Anniversary. These games are The Guided Fate Paradox, Toku Hou: The Truth of the World, Disgaea Dimension 2, Zillions Of Enemy X, and Battle Princess Of Arcadias. Of the five, only The Guided Fate Paradox, Disgaea D2, and Battle Princess of Arcadias were released outside of Japan.
- Multiple Endings: And it's usually far harder to get the worst endings than the good endings.
- The Multiverse: All of the tRPGs take place in the same multiverse.
- No Fourth Wall: Mostly in the Disgaea series but even the more serious games have been known to break the fourth wall (Usually in post-game content).
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Marona and Almaz. Deconstructed with Artina's death in Disgaea 4, which caused Nemo to become an Omnicidal Maniac.
- Noble Demon: Most of the demons claim to be evil, but they're simply rude jackasses at worst.
- Obligatory Swearing: The developer's localization team are fond of placing at least one mild to strong cuss word (shit, ass, bitch, slut, etc.) in all games with a Teen (or equivalent) rating, which actually is almost of all of their games; still they're rare and doesn't sound gratuitous at all, exception goes to Makai Kingdom in which the script doesn't waste a chance to drop some bombs, and yet it comes out pretty funny.
- Older and Wiser: Borderline—many of said Bonus Bosses tend to be earlier heroes.
- Only Sane Man: One per game.
- Our Werewolves Are Different: In NIS games there have been two recurring types of werewolves, one is the constantly transformed man-like werewolf and the other is of the "humanoid with a wolf tail" variety, who are rarely seen completely transformed, if ever. The first type appears in the Marl Kingdom games and in Phantom Brave, the other types appears as plot related characters in both Marl Kingdom games and Disgaea 4, namely Gao, Ran Ran and Fenrich.
- Out-of-Character Moment: Quite common in NIS games, particularly the post-game content.
- Parental Abandonment: It would be easier to list the NIS characters who have living parents.
- The Plan: Used a lot by both good and bad guys.
- The Power of Love: Expect this to play a vital role in the plots of nearly all their games. It's used as a serious plot device even in the stories that directly parody it.
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: How Seedle and Hawthorne are revealed to be utter monsters. After Jennifer asked whether demons molested Laharl, he took offence to the human perception that demons are rapists.
- Really 700 Years Old: The demons and angels in their games have very long lifespans, to say the least: for a simple formula, take their estimated age based on their appearance and multiply it by 100.
- Red Is Heroic: Pick any main character of a Nippon Ichi game. Chances are they will have some red on them whether it's their hair color or an article of clothing. Asagi, who wears mostly black and white, hasn't taken note of this.
- Running Gag: Asagi attempting a Hostile Show Takeover in each game. It sorta works in Prinny: Can I Really Be the Hero?, where she's the main character of her own mini-campaign... about various Asagis attempting this.
- Scarf of Asskicking: This trope shows up enough that even Nippon Ichi's Moe Anthropomorphism has one◊.
- The Stinger
- Stripperiffic: Many, but the sexy-type monsters (drawn by the artist of the Marl series instead of the Disgaea artist) take the cake. Not to be outdone, the Disgaea artist has drawn nudist green flower-guys and warrior women wearing a pair of belts as a tube top.
- Lampshaded in Disgaea 2, where said flower-man's name is 'BRIDGET.'
- Not to mention that only a handful of the male characters actually cover their chest.
- Super Hero: The Prism Rangers, Super Hero Aurum and the newest, Absolute Victory Unlosing Ranger, Star of Z.H.P. [yada yadda].
- Token Mini-Moe: Expect at least one character fall into this trope in every single of their games. Even if there isn't in the original, expect one in remakes instead.
- Translation Style Choices: The localization team always goes for exotic English names for some titles and locations for The Multiverse, and even the game itself; Maoh (Devil King, Devil Lord, The Devil) becomes Overlord, Makai becomes Netherworld but it's basically the same thing; also as seen in Obligatory Swearing above, words and titles like Badass and Frickin Badass are used to set in stone how strong the character is.
- World of Ham
The anime licensed by Nippon Ichi's branch, NIS America, provides example of:
- Digital Piracy Is Evil: Although they use the popularity of a series via fansubs as a basis for licensing it, this company is usually well protective of their series when they license them. If you don't believe me, check this link. At the time of writing this, more than 250000 links were removed by Google, regardless of the fansub.
- I Gave My Word: At Anime Expo 2013, they announced that they are looking to dubbing in the near future, something that surprised many of the fans, but many fans didn't expect them to keep their word. However, 8 months later on March 2014, they kept their word with the announcement of the reissuing of Toradora! with an English dub.
- Shoujo/Josei: A lot of the anime they are licensed are usually romantic/drama anime geared towards this demographic.
- Limited Special Collector's Ultimate Edition: Like Aniplex, NIS America is found with this trope when they release their anime, albeit cheaper than Aniplex due to the fact that they originally refused to dub any of their anime.
- No Dub for You: Like Sentai Filmworks, they were originally a big proponent of this trope. Their anime titles were like that since 2010 because they entered the anime market around the time companies like ADV Films and Bandai Entertainment were falling all over, and they completely refused to do any anime dubbing. That is until March 2014 when they announced that they are reissuing Toradora! with an English dub, much to the surprise and joy from many anime fans. And the upcoming Cardcaptor Sakura re-release will have a dub as well, though it is an older dub licensed from another company.