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Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan

Score: 96%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: Atlus
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1
Genre: RPG


Graphics & Sound:

I have played a lot of RPGs on the various handheld systems, but I have never before found one as addictive as Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan. I have about 30 hours in it in 6 days of playing and yes, I work a full time job other than gaming, so that should give you an idea of how much of my free time has been spent on this game. To be honest, I canít really tell you why itís so addictive, but Iím determined to get to the Yggdrasil tree!

The opening graphics tell you a bit about the world that you are working in. The colors are soft and muted, but beautifully done. Youíll find as you move to each new land that the scenery changes completely. The first land is a normal green area of forests and lakes. By the time you get to the third land, you will have a beautiful wintery wonderland. The enemies are mostly woodland and other creatures, but you will encounter some human-ish enemies.

When I saw some of the character attacks, like the Forest Frogís sticky tongue attack, I turned on the 3D hoping that those would really stand out. Unfortunately, I think that was a missed opportunity. In 3D, you can tell the background is in 3D but the attacks arenít. The Forest Frog lashes his tongue towards the characters as do several of the other enemy attacks. Those would have been a nice touch in 3D. If youíre a fan of 3D, the scenery looks pretty, but personally I didnít see that it really added anything else, so I turned it off most of the time.

I love that the majority of RPGs really put some work into the background music. Etrian Odyssey IV is no exception and the background music is beautiful. I enjoyed just listening to it keeping the volume up the majority of the time. There is even a bonus CD you can get with some game purchases. Itís a great CD to listen to just to relax. You also get great sound effects with the attacks. None of the characters speak out loud at all, but really I didnít miss having voices.


Gameplay:

In Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan, you are playing as a guild of explorers who are searching for a way to solve the mystery of the Yggdrasil tree. It is a very long way to the tree and no one really knows how to get there anymore. You will need to create your own guild at the Explorers Guild and then create characters to add to your guild. There are seven different classes that you can choose from at the beginning and one more that you will unlock at the end of the second land. In each class of character, there are a few different choices for how they look, but that only affects their appearance. All characters of the same class start with the same base stats. There are at least one male and one female character in each class, so you do have some choice as to what your party looks like. You have 30 slots for adventurers, so you can create quite a few just to see what they all look like and decide which you want to keep. You can retire them at any time. Be aware that if you turn on street pass for the game, then other players near you can see your guild name, character names, and ship name.

The lands of Etrian Odyssey IV are free-roaming, but inside the city of Tharsis, you just get to choose which building to visit. To get missions, you will go to the Mark Grand Court. For side quests you go to the bar, Dancing Peacock. You can accept more than one side quest at a time, but there is a limit to how many you can accept. When you need to rest, heal, and save, stop in at the Saehrimnir Inn. Berund Atelier is the shop and it is a bit different. Youíll see items in there, but you canít get them yet. You need to sell the parts that you have collected in battle to the shop and then theyíll be able to make the armor/weapons that you can then buy. You can see which items are needed for which weapons/armor so you know what you need to find. When youíre ready to go exploring, go to the City Gates. When you first start, youíll only have the Windy Plains land to go to. As you discover different places, they will be added to the list of places you can choose from at the gates.

There are Lands, Caves, and Labyrinths to explore. For all of them, you will have to make your own maps. At first, I was a bit taken aback at having to draw out my own maps, but then I decided that I really liked it. You can mark things as you want and even add tags onto squares so that you can remember anything you want at any specific spot. Also on the map, you will be able to see FOEs, at least when you get near them. FOEs are dangerous monsters. You can see where they are on the screen which does make it easy to avoid them until you can handle taking them on. You can tell how strong the FOE is compared to your party based on the color of the fire circle around it.


Difficulty:

When you first launch Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan, you can also choose between Normal and Casual. In Casual, the battles are less difficult and you wonít run into Game Over when you die. Instead, youíll just end up back at the Inn in Tharsis. The story remains the same on either difficulty, but you will miss out on some medals if you play on Casual. If you just care about the story, Casual will keep you happy. You can change difficulty levels at any time during the game, so personally I recommend starting on Normal and kicking it down to Casual if you find youíre dying too much and stressing out. Thatís what I did. I found I was dying way too much at the beginning, because I skipped a cave and was trying to get through one that was way too hard for my character levels. Of course, my characters did level a lot quicker that way, when I could keep them from dying. Also, the Medicís heal party after battle is highly recommended to start with if you have a medic in your party. In some games, you can count on restoring health and TP when your characters level up, but that is not the case in Etrian Odyssey IV. You do not get either HP or TP restored when you level up, which does make life more difficult! Etrian Odyssey IV is not an easy game by anyoneís standards, but you can grind for levels to ease the pain a bit.

Your Party has two lines, front and back, with 3 spots on each line. You can only have 5 characters in your party at once, so make sure to customize carefully to make your life easier. Some classes work better on one line than the other. If your whole front line dies, the back line will automatically shift to the front. If you die on Normal, you can save map and exploration data, but you will lose all the items you had gathered and get a Game Over so youíll have to restore your characters and such from the last save. If you are on Casual, you will not lose any character experience and theyíll just wake up at the Inn. You will still lose items though. Also, there is only one game save slot so you canít have multiple copies of the game for testing different things.


Game Mechanics:

Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan is pretty easy to get the hang of playing. (A) is select and (B) is back. For some reason that feels backwards to me, but eventually I got used to it. After 20+ hours it became second nature. (Y) will get you into your Character Party Menu. You will need to do a lot in here. You can rearrange your party, equip weapons, use skills, and more. You have to watch your skill points and remember to use them. To use skill points, go to Custom then Skills/Burst. You start out with three points per character. Your skills can make or break a battle. At level 20, you will unlock the next set of skills, the Veteran skill set, and then the final set at level 40. You will not have any Burst options at first, but you get them not too far in. These can be really useful. There are power attacks and more. My favorite is the Full Retreat. It is quite useful when you accidentally get caught by one of those FOEs that are way too powerful for you. Be aware that if you use the "Full Retreat" skill successfully, it will put you back at the beginning of the area instead of back right where you were like a normal retreat, but Full Retreat is pretty much guaranteed to work. You canít do a full save in a dungeon, but you can do a suspended save which will let you save it and turn it off so you can go to bed or work or wherever. Of course, you can always use a thread to take you back to Tharsis, but then youíll have to start back at the beginning of the dungeon so suspended saves can be helpful.

As I said before, I am really addicted to Etrian Odyssey IV, but honestly I canít give you one specific reason why. Itís just a great balance of everything that I love in RPGs with a really interesting story that keeps me trying to discover the final mystery of Yggdrasil. If youíre looking for a great RPG that you can take with you anywhere, go pick up Etrian Odyssey IV: Legends of the Titan today!


-Cyn, GameVortex Communications
AKA Sara Earl

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