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The Bonus Gauge is a recurring feature in the Disgaea series. As the name suggests, this bar grants bonuses such as Hell, Experience, Items, Accessories and Weapons when filled. The gauge appears on all maps, filling from 0-9, with higher numbers granting better bonuses. Each map has a bonus rank, which can viewed from the selection screen.
The Bonus Gauge can be filled in a number of ways:
- In Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, simply attacking and causing damage to any enemy added a small amount to the bonus gauge. This feature was removed from all future Disgaea titles and all remakes, as it made it far too easy to fill the bonus gauge.
- Countering adds a small amount to the bonus gauge.
- Chaining attacks. Chains are performed by attacking the same enemy with different characters in one turn and in one execution. The longer the chain (to a max of '+9' generally, but when there is an attack+ tile under even one of the player's characters it can be potentially more), the total number of characters the player can have out at one time), the more the bonus gauge fills. The current chain count can be noted during the launch of the attacks, listed as "Combo Count:"
- Destroying an enemy at the end of a long chain. While long chains can add to the bonus gauge considerably, destroying an enemy at the end of a long chain doubles the amount of meter on the bonus gauge a player makes. For example, getting a Combo Count of '+9' normally adds 1 bar to the bonus gauge. However, if a player destroys an enemy, and the combo count is still '+9', then the bonus gauge is filled 2 bars. And destroying more enemies by chaining them in the combo will add even more to the bonus gauge.
- Changing the colors of or destroying Geo-panels. By getting 100 on the 'Chain hit' while Geo panels are being changed in color or being destroyed, one bar is added to the bonus gauge. The Chain hit will fill faster the higher the 'Color Combo' is.
- Clearing the board of all Geo-panels. This causes a clearing bonus, which not only causes damage to all enemies on the map, but also adds about 1 1/2 bars to the bonus gauge.
Note: In Hour of Darkness and its remakes, a Thief would make the bonus gauge fill faster than normal. In Disgaea 2: Cursed Memories and it's remake, a Beastmaster would fill the bonus gauge faster than normal.
As noted in the beginning, the Bonus Gauge grants bonuses upon clearing the map. These bonuses, however, are sometimes items that cannot be bought from the stores, most notably rare and legendary Rarity items. These items usually only appear on the very bottom of the bonus gauge (bars 7 - 9), so it's unusual to get them through normal storyplay. The best way to get a lot of bonuses from the Bonus Gauge is to go to the Item World, as Geo-panels are often in abundance there.
- Passing the Bill 'Prinny Day', only prinnies are allowed on the next map, but only items will be on the Bonus Gauge.
- Passing the Bill 'Boost Bonus Gauge' will fill the bonus gauge on the next map. It is filled randomly between 1 to 5 bars.
- In Disgaea 1 and its remakes, the Bonus Gauge when passing bills by force means nothing, as there are no bonuses to be claimed.
- In Disgaea 2, the Geomancer has a special attack to change all the bonuses on the bonus gauge randomly, known as "Bonus Change". Beware, however, as any enemy Geomancers in the Item World have this attack changed to "Bonus Blast", which changes one random bonus on the Bonus Gauge to nothing. In Disgaea 4, Onmyo Monks possess these abilities.
- Also, in Disgaea 2: Dark Hero Days Item World and Dark World, the Bonus Gauge Items one can get in Axel Mode are double the Rank of what they would be if one was playing as Adell; making the threat of Bonus Blast even more important. The Story Maps in Axel Mode do NOT have this effect, however.
- Experience Bonuses from the Bonus Gauge are given to all of the player's characters that are out on the map. Many players find it beneficial to bring out low-leveled characters onto high-leveled maps right before the map is finished when an experience bonus is given, so that those lower-leveled character can level up without even having to attack.
- The only items you can't receive from the Bonus Gauge are Rank 40 items (and in the case of Disgaea 1, Rank 41 and 42 items as well). This changes in Dark Hero Days, in which Rank 40 Items can randomly appear in the Dark World and Item Worlds for Items Rank 37 and higher.