Etrian Odyssey Untold The Millenium Girl reaches out to casual and hardcore RPG fans alike
After a rocky and disappointing first year, the 3DS has transformed into a juggernaut of Japanese RPGs, with developer Atlus leading the charge. This year alone, the company will have four first-person RPGs to its name: Etrian Odyssey IV, Soul Hackers, Shin Megami Tensei IV, and the upcoming Etrian Odyssey Untold: The Millenium Girl – not bad for such a relatively niche product.

The only issue comes from the fact that this particular subgenre rarely offers the accessibility of your typical Final Fantasy or Dragon Quest, though Atlus hopes to remedy this issue when The Millenium Girl launches this fall. The word "accessibility" can seemingly spell doom for a series that caters to the hardest of hardcore RPG players, but this remake of the first Etrian Odyssey intends to be a friendly intro to the world of dungeon crawling, and one that won't necessarily step on the toes of gamers who've been playing since its debut.

Etrian Odyssey veterans can turn to The Millenium Girl's "classic" mode, which keeps the difficulty of the series intact, all while offering up the improved UI and visuals of the most recent fourth chapter. Millenium Girl won't share the same sense of scope as the later entries; just like in the original game, it features no overworld, though an added mansion in the central hub town can offer various buffs to your party for a price. And if you're wondering if game music legend Yuzo Koshiro will return for the remake, The Millenium Girl will offer his original FM synthesis Etrian Odyssey compositions, along with orchestrated versions (in the style of part IV) that can be swtiched on and off at will.

"Story" mode stands as the biggest departure from the rules of Etrian Odyssey, as it features a fixed party (with fixed classes, including the Gunner from part II and the entirely new Highlander), along with a greater emphasis on plot that will explore the backstory of the titular Millenium Girl – complete with cutscenes created by the prolific animation studio, MADHOUSE. The dungeons have had a bit of their hostility stripped from them as well, and players can now immediately warp to the staircase of any given floor once they've explored a predetermined amount of it. The Millenium Girl also offers three distinct difficulty settings: picnic, normal, and expert, the last of which features Etrian Odyssey's typical level of punishment.

Since so much of Etrian Odyssey revolves around planning and tweaking the various skills of your chosen party, hearing about predetermined characters with fixed classes struck me as Atlus missing the point. Thankfully, story mode offers some wiggle room with the addition of grimoire stones – also available in classic mode – which can be equipped, leveled up, and fused to give your party the skills and weapon proficiency that would come naturally through the various skill trees of vanilla Etrian Odyssey. For appealing to newcomers, it's an especially smart decision; creating one character can often be overwhelming, and the Etrian Odyssey games immediate task the player with creating five. That's enough to keep anyone new to the series thoroughly intimidated.

While the original Etrian Odyssey remains completely playable, it's refreshing to see Atlus put its efforts behind an ambitious series that just keeps getting better, and the company rep hinted that the "Untold" brand could very well be more than just a single remake.

This article was originally published on Joystiq.