It's not very often that I write about something other than Drupal, but frankly something's come up that deserves it. ;) A little Nintendo DS title called Etrian Odyssey II: Heroes of Lagaard.
I seriously can't remember being this geeked out about a game since I was a teenager. I spent the weekend poring through forum topics, making huge spreadsheets to help with the agonizing decision on party builds, mining databases for information about skills, etc. (Hey, I never said I wasn't a dork. :P) This kind of immersion hasn't happened in years for me, and it's such an awesome feeling! :D
If you have fond memories of dungeon crawlers like Wizardry and Ultima, enjoy hunting down and collecting items, and like drawing maps, you need to run, not walk, to your nearest video game store and pick this gem up, assuming you can find it.
What is it?
- One part brutally hard dungeon crawling RPG. You will die. A lot. Sometimes in frustrating and unfair ways. If you enjoy a challenge, there is no satisfaction greater than getting that level-up, saving enough money to buy that awesome piece of equipment, finally reaching the next floor of the labyrinth, etc. However, if you consider yourself a casual gamer, and like lots of in-game tutorials, a shallow learning curve, etc. then you should immediately run screaming from this game.
- One part Dark Cloud 2-esque collection/unlock system. If you haven't played Dark Cloud 2, it's only the most awesomest game in the world ever and you totally should. :P But basically what I mean by this is that as you kill new enemies, discover new items, etc. you both fill out a "codex" (make your own encyclopedia kinda thing) and when you sell stuff to the shop suddenly they can make newer, more awesome weapons/armour/items. It's incredibly addicting to try and hunt for new items and see what new stuff they unlock.
- One part cartography! Yes, you heard me right! Remember back when you were a kid playing an RPG and you had a thousand sheets of graph paper laying all around you as you painstakingly drew the hallways of whatever cave you were in, marked where treasures were, etc? Well the entire bottom half of the DS is that. It's a map-making tool and you draw the map of the labyrinth as you explore it. It adds an extra dimension to play; in fact, the enemy fights start to feel like they're distracting you from doing your primary job. ;)
How does it work?
You're basically running a guild of explorers, who are reporting back to the Duke about things found in this huge labryinth. You can build active parties of up to 5 members (out of a total of up to 30 registered) and can choose from 11 different classes (technically 12, but one is locked at the beginning), and each class has a number of skills they can specialize in (but not all of them), leaving you with a dizzying array of party choices.
Browsing the GameFAQs forum you'll see about 11,000 threads about how people chose to build up their parties, and what skills they choose to focus on. Here are mine:
Party #1: SPF 200
R / DH / WM
H / G
Because everyone's so pale, get it? :P This party has lots of offense which makes it great for starting out (kill the enemies before they can kill you!).
Party #2: The Pillage People
S / S / S
S / S
Since you spend the vast majority of your life in EO2 being flat-broke, this is a scouting party whose sole purpose is to go into the forest and find stuff that I can sell for muchos dineros to buy the best weapons/armour. Cheap? Yes, but I have to get core work done too sometime. ;)
Party #3: Chocobo Chicks
L / P / T
M / A
A throw-back to my childhood days of yore playing Final Fantasy for thousands of hours. There's a fighter, a paladin, a white mage, a black mage, and there's even a spoony bard! ;) And it's an all female party because, frankly, we kick butt of course!
Why on earth are you still reading this? :) GO GO GO!