Sunday, August 21, 2022

Detective Trigger and the Easy Money

Detective Trigger and the Easy Money (Detective Trigger, #3)Detective Trigger and the Easy Money by M.A. Owens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The third entry of M.A. Owen’s Detective Trigger series begins with the eponymous Chihuahua detective seeking police officer Petey, whom the security guard feline Robby saves from a man dubbed “Mr. Scumbag”. Early on, there’s a reference to a “dated” play called Detective Stone highlighting the racial attitudes between dogs and cats, the latter for a time being chief targets of discrimination in the book series’ setting. When the president of the largest bank in Adria seeks to hire Trigger, the canine detective researches the banker and visits the financial institution, receiving a tour thanks to a Siamese cat that concludes by taking him to Herman’s office.

After Trigger briefly interrogates Herman, the Chihuahua is knocked out and taken to the leader of the Feline Liberation Party, which surprisingly has dogs within its ranks. There’s a reference to “mythological” humans that apparently predated the canines and felines studding the dramatis personae, an aspect I definitely hope the remaining books in the series highlights. Trigger questions the falling out between the feline Mr. B and his adopted daughter Sugarplum, with the detective finding himself on his own with regards to investigating Saint, leader of the FLP. The Chihuahua investigator finds a duffel bag with money under his bed, and ultimately poses as Carson the insurance investigator again when he and Petey go to a boxing match for the final scenes.

All in all, I enjoyed the third entry of Owens’ series, given especially its anthropomorph-studded cast, with the story decently resolving the question of who exactly they are and why readers should care, just as its precursors did. The aforementioned reference to “mythological” humans sort of resonated with me, given a similar concept in stories I had attempted to write that explored the subject, and the racial issues between cats and dogs very much reflect contemporary human society’s unease when it comes to racial relations. While some may occasionally lose track of the characters’ species, I would highly recommend the book to those who enjoy furry-themed literature, and will continue reading the series.

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Thursday, August 18, 2022

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

A Link Well-Kept

I am not a Legend of Zelda fan; there, I said it. My experience with Nintendo’s fabled franchise has, since I first experienced The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past on the Super NES, been grossly inconsistent, although the first and only sixteen-bit entry of the series was positive for me, to the point where I would happily replay it throughout my early life as a gamer. Regardless of whatever adulation entries in the series would receive, in some cases near-universal, I would encounter serious issues of which I believe mainstream gamers need to be aware before playing. My latest experience with the SNES title subtitled Triforce of the Gods in Japan would be on the Nintendo 3DS’s Virtual Console. Does it still hold up today?

Before starting a new game, players can see the elaborate backstory on the Golden Land, the celestial land where the mystical Triforce lies, although the wizard Aghanim seeks to eliminate the descendants of seven sages sealing the sacred realm, among his last target being Princess Zelda, telepathically calling out to Link, who rescues her yet becomes public enemy number one in Hyrule. The narrative was definitely good for its time and has reasonable pacing given the game’s meager length, with Link himself receiving some background as to his ancestry, the bulk of scenes occurring after boss fights in Dark World dungeons, along with a satisfactory ending. There are some tried tropes such as a damsel in distress and legendary hero, but otherwise, the plot rises well above average.

The translation, however, is one of the game’s weak points, and largely fell victim to Nintendo of America’s draconian censorship guidelines that eliminated any religious references, such as Aghanim in the Japanese version being a priest allegedly with celestial origin. They even edited the Hylian language based on Egyptian hieroglyphs on the grounds it had religious references, despite its symbolism of a religion hardly anyone has practiced for millennia. There’s also a bit of awkwardness, for instance, with reference to the Sanctuary as “Sanctuary” minus “the”, which accounts for lines such as “This path leads to Sanctuary” and “The soldiers are coming to Sanctuary!” The writing was definitely a step above the NES Zeldas, but otherwise unremarkable.

The gameplay, for the most part, backs the experience well. Early on, Link receives his sword from his uncle, able to slash at enemies with it with a decent semicircular range in front of him, as well as to “charge” it and either keep it extended to poke at foes or execute a spinning attack, useful for when adversaries surround him. He also starts with three heart containers indicative of his health that, when depleted, mark his demise, with the biggest penalty of death being the player needing to restart from one of a few fixed points and have Link retrace his steps, with the player’s postmortem playthrough only partially recovering the Link’s life points.

Link also acquires a number of tools that can aid him in his crusade against Aghanim such as a boomerang useful for stunning most enemies from afar and making them more vulnerable to his melee attacks, not to mention collecting random drops such as health/magic point recovery and rupees in case they’re out of range. One particular tool that can actually be the difference between victory and defeat is the bottle, with Link able to acquire a maximum of four throughout the game, and can store things such as fairies that revive him with partial health when he dies, and potions that can fully recover his life points, magic points, or both.

Link does eventually acquire increases to his maximum health, first at the Sanctuary (or just “Sanctuary” as the translation terms it), and then from the various bosses he defeats at the end of dungeons, for a total of ten acquired as part of the main storyline. Twenty hearts is the maximum amount of health he can possibly acquire, with many quarter-heart pieces scattered throughout the Light and Dark equivalents of Hyrule, with the acquisition of any four of these lengthening his life meter by one heart. In contrast, Link has fixed magic points, although he can find a shrine to halve spell costs.

Dungeon bosses tend to involve some sort of trick to defeat them, most of the time through the use of whatever tool Link gains within their respective temples, and generally don’t take a whole lot of time to defeat, the same going for the final battle. While bottling fairies and healing potions can allow some room for error in those regards (though in some cases I actually took more damage from regular enemies and environments than many bosses), finding the bottles themselves may necessitate use of a guide, and inexperienced players in general might find it a tad difficult to go into the game blind with regards especially to the final boss. Regardless, A Link to the Past’s take on the signature series gameplay contains enough refinement to make it more than bearable.

As a Virtual Console game on the Nintendo 3DS, the sole sixteen-bit Zelda has a major enhancement in the form of the ability to create a single-slot save state, which in general nullifies whatever quibbles the player may have with the save system, enemies, and dungeon design, the last in particular being sometimes irritating, and as A Link to the Past doesn’t indicate when chambers have keys in them like Link’s Awakening and its remakes, using a key in the last dungeon on a door between two rooms reachable without one by stairs on the floor above can easily leave players lost. However, the puzzles are generally enjoyable and solvable without referencing the internet, and both the overworld and dungeons have helpful in-game maps. There are other issues such as the lack of fast-travel in the Dark World, but otherwise, the game’s control aspect rises moderately above average.

The franchise’s regular composer Koji Kondo provided the soundtrack, which has many signature themes such as the Light World overworld music, not to mention jingles such as the “discovery” and item acquisition tunes. The pregame backstory music appears in two different varieties, as well, and the Light and Dark World dungeon themes provide good ambience and mystery. “Zelda’s Lullaby” also made its first appearance, and other tracks prove solid such as the main Dark World music and its respective Death Mountain melody. Granted, the near-death alarm native to the franchise returns (which wouldn’t have been too annoying if it stopped after a couple of beeps), and there are other aural oddities such as the “Oof!” from soldiers that notice Link, but otherwise, sound is one of the game’s high points.

The visuals were well above average for an early 16-bit game, with vibrant colors and environments that appear radiant and contain unique twists such as the ringed designs of the trees, and there are some nice effects such as a few character sprites, namely the soldiers of Hyrule and maybe some NPCs, turning their heads, with Link’s sprite showing different moods as well, along with fluid animation for all models. There are some good weather and illumination effects as well, namely in the Lost Woods’ Light and Dark World variations. However, there is some rare slowdown when multiple sprites populate the screen, and some character sprites like Aghanim’s may look odd depending upon how you look at them, but otherwise, A Link to the Past was and still is a nice-looking game.

Finally, despite its scope, the sole sixteen-bit Zelda is fairly short, with skilled players potentially able to finish it in a little over six hours, but those who are new to it may take longer, with absolute completion due to things such as finding every heart piece and all tools possibly necessitating up to twelve hours’ worth of playtime, with little lasting appeal otherwise aside from self-imposed challenges.

When all is said and done, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, has, for the most part, and pun intended, stood the test of time, given its particular refinement of the signature game mechanics working far better than in its eight-bit predecessors and even many of its sequels on future systems, the effective puzzles which luckily don’t tax the mind, quality-of-life features such as in-game maps, the intricate story and mythos, and solid audiovisual presentation. Granted, it does show its age in a few respects, such as the potential difficulty of going into it blind, the possibility of getting stuck in the final dungeon, the awkward translation, and general absence of lasting appeal, but certainly doesn’t scream “the early 1990s”, and is undoubtedly the definitive top-down Zelda experience.

This review is based on a playthrough of a digital copy downloaded to the player’s Nintendo 3DS.

The Good:
+Refined Zelda gameplay.
+Great mythos.
+Excellent soundtrack.
+Good visuals.

The Bad:
-Might be hard to go into blind.
-Some occasional tricky dungeon design.
-Lackluster translation.
-Little reason to replay.

The Bottom Line:
The definitive top-down Zelda experience.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: Nintendo 3DS Virtual Console
Game Mechanics: 8.5/10
Controls: 7.0/10
Story: 9.0/10
Localization: 5.5/10
Music/Sound: 9.0/10
Graphics: 7.5/10
Lasting Appeal: 6.0/10
Difficulty: Moderate
Playing Time: 6-12 Hours

Overall: 7.5/10

Pokémon Y

The Y Pokéromosone

Though the Game Freak-developed and Nintendo-published Pokémon franchise, known in Japan as Pocket Monsters, has existed since the Big N’s original monochrome Game Boy portable system, it wasn’t until series entries began appearing on the DS that I actually got into the games, and while I found the titles to have many positive aspects, I felt their actual gameplay were somewhat unrefined. Regardless, I continued to give future series entries a chance, though surprisingly, I completely missed out on the 3DS installments of the franchise, until I recently downloaded a ton of games to my system’s SD card due to the eShop closing in 2023, among them being Pokémon Y, coupled with sibling title X, which provides an experience largely on par with other entries.

When starting a new game, the player customizes their protagonist, who lives with a single mother and goes on a quest to become the greatest Pokémon champion in X and Y’s respective region of the world, whilst dealing with the sinister Team Flare. There is some decent backstory, although to say that the generation’s narrative is “formulaic” would be an understatement, along with the typical series goal of “catching ‘em all”. The translation is definitely more than legible, although it’s fairly bland, peppered with plentiful unnatural dialogue and some stylistic choices such as using “OK” instead “okay” when in just about any kind of writing the latter has more aesthetic pleasance.

Happily, the series’ signature gameplay largely compensates for whatever narrative shortcomings the X and Y generation has, mostly remaining unchanged from generations before it aside from the ability to grant temporary “mega evolutions” to specific ‘mons, not to mention the ability to toggle on/off experience sharing among monsters in the player’s active party of up to six of the franchise’s eponymous entities. The same positive and negative aspects return, in the former case the ability to exploit Pokémon strengths and weaknesses to triumph in battle, and in the latter instance that switching active monsters wastes the player’s turn. It’s a fun system overall, and a step above the gameplay of the DS entries of the series.

Another aspect with more or less the same positives and negatives is the X and Y entries’ control, with the returning ability to record progress anywhere, adjustable text speed, and eventual ability to use the Fly Hidden Move for rapid conveyance among visited cities. However, some of the same issues return such as the clunkiness of the game menus and confirmations when it comes to things such as overwriting the current abilities of a Pokémon’s move set with different skills, accounting in the end for above-average, but certainly not perfect, interaction with players.

The soundtrack remains a high point of the X and Y games, with plenty of upbeat, energetic tracks (particularly during combat) and pleasant themes for towns and anywhere in between. The sound effects are good as well, and the near-death alarm for Pokémon is less annoying in that it only dings a few times before stopping once a ‘mon reaches low health, although the digitized cries for different Pokémon still sound primitive at times.

The visuals look pleasant as well, with pretty colors, environments, unique designs for every Pokémon, good human character art, nice cel-shading, vivid illumination effects, savvy use of the 3DS’s three-dimensional capabilities especially in battle, and so forth, but there is some degree of pixilation in addition to jaggies and some slowdown most noticeable in combat.

Finally, playtime for the main storyline runs in the upper end of the twenty-four-to-forty-eight-hour range, with plentiful lasting appeal in the form of catching all Pokémon in addition to other postgame content, multiplayer battles via online capability, a starting choice of which element of ‘mon to use, and so forth, although absolute completion of the Pokédex would probably necessitate use of a guide.

Overall, Pokémon Y is another addition to the series that only takes it a few steps forward in terms of gameplay, which is nonetheless enjoyable, whilst having general great audiovisual presentation and plentiful lasting appeal. However, it bequeaths many flaws from its precursors such as the clunk interface, garden-variety narrative, average localization, and that achieving total completion necessitates the use of the internet, be it for referencing a guide or trading with other players. Regardless, long-term fans of the franchise will likely get the most out of it, and those new to the series might find it a little more accessible than its predecessors.

This review is based on a playthrough of a digital copy downloaded to the reviewer’s Nintendo 3DS and completed through the main storyline.

The Good:
+Good Pokémon gameplay.
+Excellent soundtrack.
+Nice visuals.
+Plenty lasting appeal.

The Bad:
-Menus and confirmations can be cumbersome.
-Typical Pokémon plot.
-Lackluster translation.
-Getting 100% completion can require a guide.

The Bottom Line:
Another run-of-the-mill, but still enjoyable, series entry.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Mechanics: 8.0/10
Controls: 7.0/10
Story: 3.0/10
Localization: 5.0/10
Music/Sound: 9.5/10
Graphics: 8.0/10
Lasting Appeal: 8.5/10
Difficulty: Varies
Playing Time: 24-48 Hours

Overall: 7.0/10

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds


Both a spinoff of Discovery, whose second season emphasized Spock's pre-Original Series backstory, and a prequel series to ToS, focusing on Captain Christopher Pike's Enterprise and its crew, which includes maybe a handful of familiar faces/relatives of ToS's characters including the half-human, half-Vulcan Spock himself, with a few calls-forward to the ToS films as well, surprisingly including the maligned fifth movie. Unlike Discovery and Picard has largely-standalone episodes, although there are some overarching plot points. They really did a good job modernizing the Original Series' aesthetics with regard to the "futuristic" technology of the time, and the same goes for the music including the opening credits theme and some familiar tunes from ToS, and I really enjoyed the first season and look forward to the second.

The Horse and His Boy

The Horse and His Boy (Chronicles of Narnia, #5)The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In modern collections of English author C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia series, The Horse and His Boy is listed chronologically as the third entry, although the writer published it fifth overall, and it’s more a side-story (or midquel, for those familiar with that term) to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, taking place during the reign of the Pevensie siblings before they ultimately return to Earth after their first adventure, with the Narnian monarchs sometimes appearing throughout the story. As explained in the beginning, the plot occurs in Narnia, Calormen, and the lands between, with a Tarkaan offering to buy protagonist Shasta as a slave, who meets the male talking horse Bree and wants to run away.

Shasta ultimately meets escapee Aravis and the talking mare Hwin, and runs away with them, as well, the girl giving her backstory in an early chapter. The children and their horses soon reach the city of Tashbaan, which the Narnian monarchs visit, and where they are held captive, with the rulers of Narnia in response plotting to kidnap Prince Corin of Archenland and take him north, Shasta mistaken for the royal scion. The rulers of Calormen plot against Narnia and Archenland, the latter where the children and horses make their way, meeting the Hermit of the Southern March and getting directions to Archenland’s monarch King Lune from him.

Twists about Shasta’s lineage ultimately reveal themselves towards the end, accounting for a satisfying story, one occurring unlike most others in its series entirely within the land of Narnia and its neighbors, although there are some stylistic choices the author made with which this reviewer somewhat disagrees, such as the capitalization of some of the generic names for animals such as horses at times, not to mention the lack of a calendar system within the franchise itself indicative of exactly how many years after the main events of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe elapsed before the story opened, although fans of children’s fantasy will definitely appreciate this yarn.

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Sunday, August 14, 2022

Detective Trigger and the Grand Gobbler

Detective Trigger and the Grand Gobbler (Detective Trigger, #2)Detective Trigger and the Grand Gobbler by M.A. Owens
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The second entry of author M.A. Owens’ Detective Trigger series opens with the eponymous Chihuahua investigator looking into a murder, a letter, and the eponymous MacGuffin, owned by a fellow Chihuahua named Agatha who agrees to see the PI when hearing of a murder involving her prized possession. Trigger visits the Swindler’s Den to seek clues as to the Grand Gobbler’s whereabouts, ultimately getting information from a cat named Fernando, who had visited Agatha, after a brief fight. Trigger then seeks an individual who goes by the alias of Bad Kitty, a prime suspect in the theft of the Grand Gobbler.

When a status that appears to be the MacGuffin makes itself seen, there’s strong suspicion it isn’t real, with Trigger eventually talking with Petey at the police station and the feline Kerdy. References occasionally abound to the incarcerated Mr. B from the first book, with Trigger revisiting Agatha, who is to receive compensation for her lost property, Trigger himself receiving “hush money”. A Doberman named Lady, who serves Agatha, becomes a new suspect in the thievery of the Grand Gobbler, with the identity of Bad Kitty soon revealed, and a chase for the confirmed criminal occurring in the final chapters, a trial and wedding winding up the second book.

All in all, the second entry of Owens’ series is a general fun read, with plenty of action, mystery, and animal characters, although as in its predecessor, one can occasionally find it difficult at times to remember which species they belong to, given the absence of the Kindle X-ray feature that would have very likely resolved the issue, but they’re pretty much restricted to cats and dogs. The twists are reasonable and believable, and the callbacks to the book’s predecessor definitely help prevent the story from feeling too disconnected. Ultimately, I will definitely continue to read this series.

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Saturday, August 13, 2022


  Buzz Lightyear in the space ranger suit sees the outer space on the right. 

A "fictional universe within a fictional universe" film focusing on the eponymous space ranger Buzz Lightyear, who appears in the Toy Story movies as a live action figure. Personally, I found it a competent but generic animated science-fiction film.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight

A Knight to Remember

When I played the original Etrian Odyssey, the series known in its native Japan as Sekaiju no MeiQ (“MeiQ” a stylized form of “meikyuu”, Japanese for “labyrinth”, the full translation being “Labyrinth of the World Tree”), on the Nintendo DS, I didn’t have any expectations other than a chance to experience an old-school Japanese RPG. While it did have its flaws, I enjoyed it enough to the point where I played its sequels, not to mention remakes of the first two games on the 3DS, Etrian Odyssey Untold and Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold: The Fafnir Knight, the rereleases giving players the option of an experience akin to the originals or one with fleshed-out characters.

The second Etrian Odyssey’s remake focuses on the eponymous Fafnir Knight whom the player names, dispatched from the Midgard Library to High Lagaard to help the Duke of Caledonia’s daughter, Arianna, in her quest to complete a ritual in ancient ruins known as Ginnungagap, whilst exploring a labyrinth along with four deuteragonists. The game generally weaves its narrative well, with the five main characters, including the Fafnir Knight, getting good development, with supplemental cutscenes triggered occasionally when sleeping at the inn, and some interesting substories, one involving a hedgehog who appears in the various Stratums of the labyrinth. There are some derivative elements such as a girl who needs to perform a ritual, but otherwise, the plot helps far more than hurts.

The translation is legible and doesn’t mar the narrative, but while there aren’t any noticeable spelling or grammar errors, and the Norse-mythological naming is a nice touch, there are many questionable choices regarding dialogue, particularly that accompanied by voices. During cutscenes, for one, the deuteragonists get a lot of voice clips, and while many aren’t bad, there are some odd ones such as Arianna’s frequent “My!”, and for a few of the optional quests, the localization team mistranslated some of the goals. Battles get the worst dialogue, with most sounding horribly unnatural and occasionally mismatched, although there are a few vocal indicators of enemy weaknesses and hidden elements during dungeon navigation. Regardless, Atlus has certainly done better in the localization department.

Luckily, the game mechanics largely compensate for whatever translational shortcomings the second Etrian Odyssey Untold game has. Whilst navigating the multilayered labyrinth, a circular indicator gradually turns from blue to red depending upon how close the player is to encountering enemies, with battles naturally triggered afterward. The player’s party, organizable into three front-row and two back-row characters or vice versa, faces off against a number of enemies in similar organizations, each character having a number of means by which they can face off against their foes, including attacking with their equipped weapon, using a TP-consuming ability, defending to reduce damage, using an item, changing their current position, or attempting to escape.

After the player has inputted their characters’ commands, they and the enemy exchange blows in a turn order dependent upon agility, akin to classic Japanese turn-based RPGs. Despite this structure, turn order isn’t actually terribly critical to victory or defeat, with one of the playable characters, Chloe the War Magus, having healing spells that activate once for an individual, line, or all characters at the start of a turn, and again at the end of a round, which really spares frustration. The elimination of all adversaries nets all surviving characters experience for occasional level-ups and most of the time materials that the player can sell at the local shop both for money and to unlock new equipment and consumables for purchase.

Leveling also nets the Fafnir Knight and his party points they can invest into the respective skill trees of their current classes, with the investment of a certain number of points in lower-level skills necessary to unlock advanced active and passive abilities. Should the player yearn to experiment with different classes, they can have characters drop five experience levels in exchange for the ability to invest refunded points into the new class’s skill tree. Luckily, the game is perfectly beatable even without experimenting in different classes, and starting a new game gives players various difficulty selections that dictate how the remake handles death, thus accommodating gamers of divergent skill levels.

Another aspect is the ability of characters, when they fill respective gauges, to go into “Force Mode” with enhanced capability and the chance to execute powerful “Break” skills that necessitate the player stay at the town inn to become usable again. Enemies further drop food byproducts that players can use as cooking ingredients at the local restaurant, giving the party bonuses in the labyrinth until they return to town. In battle, furthermore, characters simply acting may spawn Grimoire Stones they can equip at the restaurant for bonuses to whatever skill tree abilities they’ve unlocked, and a few monsters may be “shining” and give experience bonuses when killed, provided they don’t run away during an encounter.

FOEs from other entries of the Etrian franchise return, visible in each floor of the labyrinth, attempting to charge the player’s party whenever noticed. Typically, fighting them isn’t a good recommendation (although they are certainly beatable, at least on the Picnic difficulty), and there’s usually a pattern to avoiding them. However, later on in the game, there’s very little room for error when it comes to evading FOEs, which is probably the biggest issue with the game mechanics, which otherwise work incredibly well, given especially the adjustable speed of combat that can make even daunting battles against enemies such as bosses go by quickly.

The intricate mapping system from other games in the series returns, with a choice in customization options of whether to map walls and tiles automatically, although players would still need to fill out things such as doors, secret passages (with voiced characters luckily indicating these when they’re adjacent), and other details. The menus themselves are generally straightforward, along with other features such as a suspend save outside combat, skippable text, clear direction for the central storyline, the ability to sell multiple items at once (very helpful regarding the materials players gain from battles), and so on. However, Atlus has been really bad about making in-game playtime viewable only after saving, and players can’t see how armaments they wish to sell affect character stats before actually selling them, but otherwise, the second Etrian Odyssey Untold interfaces well with users.

Yuzo Koshiro, as in the game’s originally incarnation, composed and remixes the soundtrack, which is as before one of the highlights, given its diverse style ranging from the peaceful labyrinth stratum themes that at times resemble easy-listening music to the energetic battle tracks, players able to choose between orchestrated and digitized versions of the sundry melodies. However, while the voicework is, as mentioned, sometimes helpful in finding labyrinth shortcuts and time to time reminds players of enemy weaknesses in battle, the frequent abridged voice clips during story scenes, along with the voicework in battle that often sounds asinine and unnatural, it can often grate on players.

The visual style serves the remake well, with superb character designs that are most noticeable during cutscenes, the portraits showing different emotions and having nice effects such as blinking eyes. The labyrinth environments are nice and colorful as well, with good lighting and darkness effects depending upon the in-game time of the day, and the FOEs appear without combat just as they do within instead of as the purple orbs in the original versions of the first two and the third mainline Etrian Odysseys. However, battles are still in first-person, but the enemies, some of which but not all are reskins, contain nice animations, with the effects of the player’s party nice as well. Generally, a great-looking game.

Finally, the main quest of the second remake is fairly short, this reviewer able to complete it in around twenty hours or so, albeit with plentiful lasting appeal in the form of the sundry sidequests (though quite a few may necessitate use of a guide, especially completing the in-game compendia), a New Game+, and both the Story and Classical Modes of gameplay.

In summation, Etrian Odyssey 2 Untold is, for the most part, what a videogame remake should be, given the intricate fine-tuning of the agile game mechanics, the engrossing mapping system, tight control, endearing narrative, excellent soundtrack with a choice between classic and modern styles, and pretty graphics. Granted, it does have a few hiccups regarding its derivative narrative, the unrefined translation that’s at its worst in combat, and a few irritating voice performances, but those that can look past these will be in for a great old-school-style roleplaying game experience, and one of the crown jewels of the Etrian franchise that has since concluded on the 3DS with Nexus.

The Good:
+Quick, tight battle mechanics.
+Intricate mapping system.
+Well-developed storyline.
+Superb soundtrack.
+Good visual style.
+Plentiful lasting appeal.

The Bad:
-Story somewhat derivative.
-Localization feels unrefined.
-Some annoying voices.

The Bottom Line:
A great remake like its predecessor.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: Nintendo 3DS
Game Mechanics: 9.5/10
Controls: 9.5/10
Story: 8.5/10
Localization: 8.0/10
Music/Sound: 9.0/10
Graphics: 9.0/10
Lasting Appeal: 9.5/10
Difficulty: Adjustable
Playing Time: Less than 24 Hours

Overall: 9.0/10