This 2009 ‘spin-off’ in the Megami Tensei series is a turn-based tactical combat game, with the usual demons, magic, exploration and battles – presented in a mix of comic-like panels (for the conversation sections) and isometric landscapes (for the combat sections).
This pioneering Japanese RPG was first released in 2007 and paved the way for one of the greatest series in the history of level-grinders… The Etrian Odyssey series.
Number three is my favourite, but one and two are excellent too (see also the Nintendo 3DS fourth instalment), and all follow the same credo. Which is: to base a game around exploration, mapping, and turn-based combat. And to make the party system flexible, so that adventurers can take out different parties and experiment with character skills.
This 2008 Nintendo DS release from Atlus is up there with the best in terms of top quality level-grinders – it really is superb.
The Etrian Odyssey series is all about mapping and exploration, item drops, boss battles, levelling, and lots of excellent turn-based combat, and this second instalment is a clear evolution of the first game, although arguably not quite as expansive and refined as its remarkable sequel.
Known in Japan as Jigsaw Party, and in the West as Pieces, this 1994 Super Nintendo game is an intriguing and compelling mix of Tetris and jigsaws. Which might sound as dull as hell, but it’s actually surprisingly good.
Japanese developer Cave made a name for itself in the mid 1990s with a series of manic vertically scrolling shooters, including ESP Ra.De. from 1998.
I want to post some more grabs from Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City on the Nintendo DS. Because it really is one of the best RPGs of all time, and because I can’t recommend you play it highly enough.
Taito’s Lufia series has enjoyed moderate success over a number of platforms and releases over the decades, but this Game Boy Advance release (out in 2002 in Japan, and 2003 in North America – it never got an official European release) is the best game in the series, in my opinion.
This third game in the Atlus Etrian Odyssey series is a serious contender for the best RPG of all time. It is just so beautiful and so detailed and so well constructed that I haven’t got anything negative to say about it. Other than it is rock hard!