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".Nippon Ichi opened an American branch, called NIS America, in 2003 that also publishes games from companies other than its Japanese parent company (much like Atlus USA, which localized several of NIS's games before 2003 and today distributes several of NIS America's games), such as Gust's Atelier series.NIS America is now in the anime licensing business. All of NIS America's releases are currently subtitled-only.*
Nippon Ichi America also serves as a publisher for several other smaller development houses in Japan. Releases from these include:
Nearly anything from Gust Corporation; the two have been partners in Japan for some time and that extends to America as well, with Gust products essentially forming the "second tentpole" of Nippon Ichi America's output. This includes games from the Atelier series (from Atelier Iris on) and Ar tonelico. Starting with Atelier Ayesha The Alchemist Of Dusk, Gust's new parent company will be localizing its games instead of NISA.
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.
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.
One Stat to Rule Them All: Because of how damage is calculated, defense 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...
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 sprited, while the backgrounds are rendered.
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 canceled 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.
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: Laharl, Ash, Zetta, Mao, and Valvatorez have the option to wield different weapons, but their stats and their promotional art seem to gear them more toward swords. Cornet and Prier averts this by using a trumpet and a baton respectively as does Adell and the The Unlosing Ranger, both of whom are geared toward using their own fists, although he does have the option to use a sword like the above characters. Only Revya plays it completely straight as he/she is stuck with the Onyx Blade the entire game.
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.
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.
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.
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 offense 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.
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 apparently hasn't taken note of this.
Stripperiffic: Many, but the sexytype 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].
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.