Known as Dead ‘n’ Furious in Europe, but I’m going with the North American title for this Nintendo DS rail shooter – a touch-screen tribute to Sega‘s infamous arcade game House of the Dead. Only the title reference doesn’t work properly because there’s no “of” in it… I would’ve gone for ‘Touch of the Dead‘, which doesn’t really make sense but is better than what they used, because it at least references the original game properly. Anyway…
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 2008Nintendo 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.
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.
In my mind, developer Atlus took all of the best elements of computer Role-Playing Gaming over the past twenty years, and rolled them into this game.
Etrian Odyssey III is not perfect, however, but it’s as close to level-grinding nirvana on a console as you can get. And – having played Etrian Odyssey 1 & 2 before this, and seeing its potential – Atlus must be commended for realising that potential in this game.
The (quite wonderful) stylus/mouse-based mapping element is worth the price of admission alone. But there’s so much more to this game. The craft, quality and detail are joyous to experience, although Etrian Odyssey III is a very tough game.
I’ve not yet managed to beat the three (four actually) dragons at the end, but have otherwise been absorbed for months at a time playing this game. The combat is so good. A great example of how timings and interface make for great combat. And variety. There’s just so much variety in this game, but it’s not out of control, and Etrian Odyssey III feels like a great console game.
Etrian Odyssey III is a great console game. One of the greatest!
I’ve prepared some new grabs to show off Etrian Odyssey III‘s detail a bit more (my last post about this game I think I only posted five grabs). And remember: this is a dual-screen game (top and bottom screens). I’ve cropped most shots down to one screen, but the taller grabs are two screens on top of each other. Enjoy.
Each character has a choice of four portraits in two colour sets.
Entering the maze for the first time. Gulp.
The game is split into ‘stratums’. Each stratum has three or four levels and a different theme to the last one.
An early challenge. Trying to find a 4-leaf Clover.
Map of the first level.
Mapping in Etrian Odyssey III is amazing. You literally have to draw the map yourself on screen.
On a Nintendo DS you’d use the stylus. In an emulator you can use a mouse, but the map drawing works brilliantly however you do it.
You add icons to maps by dragging them into place, and can add your own notes too.
There’s even an ‘autopilot’ function, which can set you on an automated patrol route. Amazing.
Day and night play a big part in the game. Certain monsters only come out at night. Even the title cards reflect day and night.
Attacked by three High Onneps!
The legendary Raging Tyrant.
FOEs are enemies that patrol the maze and are sort of mini bosses that make things more tricky for you. This is a FOE.
As you complete quests they are chalked off your list.
Etrian Odyssey does have an undersea theme and it actually works really well.
The ‘whoosh’ of combat kicking in.
You are sometimes given quests to defeat as many of a certain type of enemy as possible on a level.
A lot of monsters will gang up on you.
The game is quite generous with safe places to rest. And you need them because the combat is relentless.
The first major boss you encounter: the Narmer. It’s a memorable battle too. Especially if you try to get his Gold Drop.
Arnold used Rampage!
Every now and again you’ll find a treasure chest.
Filling in the map of B5F as I go. The purple arrow is a FOE (showing the way it’s facing). The green arrow is me, and I’m facing two treasure chests).
Abyssal Death has appeared!
The game is also quite generous in reminding you of important things to do.
Electricity and water don’t mix. Well, they do, but you know what I mean.
Shut your mouth, there’s a bus coming.
The animations for the magical attacks are quite wonderful.
Five Rock Coral have arrived for a beating.
Surprised by some kind of fluffy creature, called a Pasaran.
Using Rush on a starfish and two fish.
Can’t remember what Lethal Tactic did. Some special moves enhance your attacks or protection.
Etrian Odyssey III – making levelling into an artform.
Submagnetic Poles allow you to teleport back to safety from dangerous places.
Each town or city has its own set of merchants and characters.
New monsters can enter battle, in the middle of fighting another (usually if you take too long or are unlucky). This can sometimes be a scary prospect.
The ‘leaves’ animation means that you’ve been ambushed, and that the enemy gets a free attack move first.
That little face over the Hit Point meter on the Iron Turtle means that I’ve blinded it.
Every now and then you’d come across a black FOE, which are the tougher bosses in the game.
Fighting Ketos the whale boss.
I think in this grab I’m trying a different party on Ketos. The last one might have been decimated.
Mother Dragons start out as tough enemies, but by the time you’ve gotten to level fifty they become a mere distraction.
Resting your characters is crucial of course.
The Labyrinth – also referred to as “the maze” by certain characters – is a 3D, Dungeon Master-style environment that you explore and encounter random combat in.
Entering the Molten Caves.
Faced by a wall of FOEs. Could be tricky.
The wall of FOEs from the perspective of the map.
Mmm. Doing certain things, such as this, can get you into serious trouble. Pulling the stone is a risk.
Dragon babies will hatch out of eggs (and attack you) if you leave the eggs long enough.
Floor eleven, almost completed on the map.
Hammerhead is a nicely-drawn enemy. Love those teeth.
The ‘swipe’ animation as Arnold attacks.
The Wicked Queen is a very tough boss battle.
At a certain point in the game you can unlock new classes of characters. This is actually a really great thing.
Having just unlocked the Yggdroid class of character, I’m setting up Bishop – named after the character in Aliens.
Entering the Abyssal Shrine. 4th stratum.
Metal shutters like these can trap you inside certain areas. You never get completely stuck though. There’s always a solution to escape.
This is ‘mining’ in action. Trying to dig up useful materials in monster-infested locations.
The rather complex layout of the twelfth floor.
An ominous looking door.
Using a Metopon at the right time will neutralise the enemy’s status boosts.
This is going to be tough battle…
Gina uses Formaldehyde on Shin. Formaldehyde will force a defeated enemy to drop all the materials a monster can possible drop, but only on the turn it is used. So you have to carefully use it on the turn you the kill the monster on!
Etrian Odyssey III’s exploration window shows a simple 3D graphic type display.
5th stratum. Porcelain Forest.
The Sea Quest side of Etrian Odyssey III is a whole ‘nother game. And a great one at that! It holds many secrets and special items and monsters.
Avoiding collisions is not always as easy as it seems. Well, that’s my excuse anyway.
Ruby’s Skills menu during combat. Her Limit Break meter is full, which makes certain, special attacks available.
The sea map is quite different to the usual Etrian Odyssey III Labyrinth maps. Even the border colours are different.
Some enemies and bosses can heal themselves during combat. Always a problem.
Arnold used Sungrazer!
The rather complicated-looking sea map, as it evolves.
Oceanic Poles are the Sea Quest equivalents of Submagnetic Poles in the main game.
Missing attacks from the enemy can be the difference between life and death, and certain skills make you harder to hit.
Don’t get sucked in to a whirlpool! It’s not game over, but it will cost money to repair the ship.
Footholds allow you to start further down the line on a lengthy sea adventure, rather than requiring you to start from the beginning.
Selling the Fullmoon Crown for 10,000en. Ker-ching!
Arnold at level 53.
Rampage: swing violently behind enemy lines, slashing all enemies.
Another location: the Deep City.
Locations to go inside the Deep City.
Pretty much everyone in Etrian Odyssey III will have a quest for you at some point.
One blue Pasaran, and three yellow ones.
Fighting a very tricky FOE called a Divine Judge.
Choosing which Limit Skills to use on each character in my party.
The Deep City during the daytime.
Some kind of Japanese style arches in the Labyrinth. Looks ominous…
Two Sickwood, and one cat type thing. Time for combat!
The awesome and powerful Gatekeeper. And this is his deadliest move.
It’s taken some effort to whittle the Gatekeeper’s HP down to this point.
New items become available to buy all the time. The variety in the items is astounding.
Samantha the Yggdroid at level 18.
When you succeed at combat, this screen pops up. Added EXP is animated on the bars, and the items the monster has dropped are shown at the bottom. This round of combat has resulted in quite a few item drops from the dead monsters, including two Gold Drops.
Map of B5F in all its glory.
You can put your enemies to sleep, and batter them while they can’t respond.
Map of the eighteenth floor.
Etrian Odyssey III – the only place where Astrology isn’t a load of rubbish.
Each time you enter a new floor for the first time you get a special title card.
When you discover an item for the first time, the game will tell you.
While exploring you come across a large box.
The infamous FOE called the Divine Judge, as shown in the Monstrous Codex.
You can store certain items in storage, and go back and pick them up later.
The Deathly Stone is one of the most difficult items to get in the entire game.
Taking on three Raging Boars.
The nineteenth floor.
Used a Metopon against a Divine Judge.
The Bastard Sword always gets a giggle.
What the heck is Paulownia Bark?!
Fighting different types of foxes.
The red outline on the character panels means there’s a special move planned for those characters when combat commences.
Arnold used Star Smasher!
Various different magical chokers on sale at the shop.
Spending Gina’s skill points at level 70.
Exploring the Labyrinth on a later level.
Arnold is bound, meaning: he can’t use his arms or legs.
Arnold at level 70.
Wendy at level 70.
Raddish at level 70.
Ruby at level 70.
Gina at level 70.
And so starts the quest to find the three legendary dragons.
Sailing out to find the three legendary dragons.
About to face the first of the three legendary dragons.
The first of the three legendary dragons: Wyrm. Also known as the Red Dragon. Slaughters my entire party of level 70 characters in five turns. Um. Time to rethink…
The second of the three legendary dragons: Drake, aka the Blue Dragon. He’s another ultra tough cookie who dishes out some serious pain.
Gina tries Prevent Order on one of the superbosses.
The third of the three legendary dragons: simply called “Dragon”, aka the Golden Dragon. Here it paralyses my entire party on turn eight. There is a fourth legendary dragon, called the Elder Dragon, which you can fight if you beat the three legendary dragons. I haven’t seen it yet though. And may never will!
Looking at the Arbalist class information, and deciding a sub-class.
Emmie is cute-looking level 19 Farmer. Here I’m spending her skill points on shirking.
Huygens is a level 29 Prince with the sword Schiavona.
Zamu is a level 19 Ninja, with a Hoplite sub-class.
Some of the great character artwork in Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City. Field General Kujura.
Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City – the mysterious Olympia.
Odyssey III: The Drowned City. Captain Bird’s Eye. Actually: I don’t know what this guy’s name is.
Mysterious character from Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City.
Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City. Flowdia – personal retainer of the princess and representative of the Senatus.
Some of the great character artwork in Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City.
Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City. Princess Gutrune.
King Seyfried from Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City.
Becky the Arbalist at level 29. Arbalists specialise in using crossbows.
Faced with the terrible Manticore, what would you do? Shit your pants?
About to use Regroup Tactic on a Limit Break boost.
About to start the new quest “Trial of the dragon”.
Oceanic quests are beautifully described in the log book.
I’ve been asked to collect some Cane and some Cacao by this merchant.
The fish symbols on the sea map indicate big shoals of fish. You can use nets and bring in fish to sell and use in your adventuring.
The Monstrous Codex is a visual resource that lists details of every monster you encounter in the game.
Otherspawn are quite weak (only 424 HP) and they drop Dryad Liquid, Flame Fruit and Dryad Statue when you kill them.
The Flame Lynx.
Shin has 12,420 HP. He’s a tough cookie.
There’s even a codex for all the items in the game. Every item you find will be logged in here. The detail is astounding.
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!
That’s why it is best played in an emulator. With quick saves. And a lot of repetition. If you want to get The Deathly Stone, or beat the three magical dragons, you’re going to have to cheat. If anyone out there ever beat this game on an actual DS, without cheating, then I’m a lesser gamer than you. 🙂
Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City is a level-grinder’s wet dream. Pun intended.
There’s another set of Etrian Odyssey III grabs on The King of Grabshere.