Game Ramblings #3 – Thoughts on Etrian Mystery Dungeon

More Info From Atlas


  • Genre: Dungeon Crawler RPG
  • Platform: Nintendo 3DS


  • Roughly first 4 dungeons
  • Majority of side quests within that period

Similar Titles

Etrian Mystery Dungeon is a spin off of the often challenging Etrian Odyssey RPG series.  Rather than being a first-person turn-based dungeon crawler, it’s now a top-down action-based crawler, typical of other Mystery Dungeon titles.  End of the day this has been an entertaining title to play, and I’d easily recommend it to both fans of the Etrian series, and fans of dungeon crawlers in general.

What I Like

This may sound weird, but it’s an extreme positive to me that this still feels like an Etrian title.  The game is appropriately challenging, without feeling unfair.  There’s an abundance of player classes, each feeling unique to play, giving your team a lot of flexibility to different play styles.  Even the core gameplay loop of going back and forth between dungeon crawling and a core town experience feels very familiar to the series.  End of the day this is very distinctly still an Etrian title, rather than simply having the name slapped on.

I’m also a fan of the different penalty schemes in play here.  Dying or escaping while simply grinding out effectively carries no penalty, which is nice for when just grinding out exp or doing side quests.  However, if the party wipes while fighting a boss, you have to send in a secondary rescue party to get them out of the dungeon and back to safety.  It adds a nice inherent difficulty spike to what should be the ultimate goal of a floor of the dungeon.

What I Don’t Like

Like the Etrian mainline series, there’s a set of enemies within each dungeon section whose main purpose is to basically be an impenetrable wall of doom that you can only run away from while at appropriate level for the rest of the dungeons.  I get why they left this in per the rest of the series, but it’s always felt sort of unnecessary in the greater scheme of things.

Also, while this may be a minor nitpick, I really miss the Etrian Odyssey feature of recording the dungeon maps as you play.  While this is to some extent in place for this title, progress is wiped out after leaving a floor due to the inherent random nature of the title.   Though understandable, it’s an unfortunate lost feature.

Game Ramblings #2 – Thoughts on Box Boy!

More Information from Nintendo


  • Genre:Puzzle/Platformer
  • Platform: 3DS eShop


  • Main path and roughly half of known post-game content
  • Give or take 4-6 hours of play

Box Boy! is a fairly clever puzzle platformer.  It has relatively simple core mechanics of spawning trails of boxes, but adds a lot of world-based mechanics to add significant depth to the core gameplay loop.  I’ve seen 22 worlds of 6-8 levels, plus another couple of sets of time attack and score attack levels, so there’s a lot of content to be had.  Though there feels like a lot of fluff content early on, the game overall was easily worth playing, and for its current $5 price has a lot of value.

What I Like

The core gameplay is extremely simple.  The main character can spawn a chain of boxes, limited to a different max per-level, which can then be used to traverse puzzle sections.  However, this is expanded upon with significant in-world mechanics.  These can range from things directly related to the character, such as using box patterns to pull the character through the world, or more direct actions like gravity manipulation, portaling (including conservation of momentum like Portal itself!), some Lemmings-inspired NPC leading, and more.  Each of the first 16 worlds introduces a new core mechanic, culminating in a story-ending world and a set of post-game worlds that combine the mechanics into the tougher puzzle set of the game.

Each world also cleverly introduces the mechanics to avoid hand-holding tutorials.  The first level of each worlds is typically a very simplified level featuring only the new mechanic for the world.  Subsequent levels then ramp up the difficulty bit  by bit.  In doing so, the player naturally learns how mechanics work without having to slog through text tutorials.

What I’m Indifferent To

Each level contains a crown or set of crowns that can be collected to earn bonus currency for purchase of in-game items.  The items include outfits for the character, hint books, background music, and some extra score and time attack levels.  However, outside of the extra levels, the rest of the items feel largely unnecessary, and don’t act as a good completionist carrot.  The main benefit I’ve found to collecting the crowns at all is that they often require more advanced mechanics to collect, which helps for solving later content.

What I Don’t Like

Outside of the last world and post-game content, this game is incredibly easy.  The first 16 worlds are essentially teaching the various mechanics on their own, before being combined for the end-game.  Though this does lead to a deep knowledge of the individual mechanics, it feels unnecessarily long to get to the combined mechanic puzzles. Fewer levels in early worlds or earlier combination of mechanics would have benefited the progression curve, which in its shipped state feels very padded with fluff content.

Game Ramblings #1 – Thoughts on Final Fantasy Type-0


  • 15 hours
  • 3 main chapters
  • All sorts of side things
  • Handful of mission replays


What I Like

First things first, the battle system is fantastic.  It still feels distinctly Final Fantasy while being real-time.  There’s nice timing touches to allow massive damage or instant kills that encourage avoiding button spamming all the time.  Dodging also feels extremely good.  While I don’t necessarily like all of the characters fighting styles, there’s enough variety that I can pretty much guarantee that one of my three active members is someone I enjoy controlling in a fight.

Somewhat related, the customization of ability sets on characters is also a nice touch.  It avoids some of the general issues of having pages of abilities being unused, and forces some strategy in how your party is setup in terms of who has healing magic, who is focused on damage, etc.  As an extension, having the magic abilities be upgradeable through items acquired during battles is a nice way to allow for some amount of micromanagement in your team.

Being able to replay story missions from the title menu is also a nice touch.  Experience and items gained also apply to the story progress, so this is both a good completionist/leaderboardy feature, as well as a convenient way to gain some levels.

Also, as is common for Final Fantasy games, the soundtrack is particularly enjoyable.

What I’m Indifferent To

The story is fairly normal Final Fantasy material, but it’s not what I would consider a good or bad story.  It just kind of exists, and so far hasn’t been more than adequate.  It’s not the worst FF story ever, but I wouldn’t put it up there with the best of them.  It is extremely clear that this was originally within the FF XIII universe though with all the l’Cie bits in the core of the story.

I’m also fairly indifferent to the side questing.  A large portion of the side quests are basically retrieval quests, and I’ve mostly ended up using them as ways to level up underleveled characters.

What I Don’t Like

The interaction of the side questing and a time limiting mechanic is…slightly annoying.  The main issue here is that I can’t queue multiple side quests.  I can queue one, complete, queue another, etc.  While ones that are purely collection can be done effectively at the same time, there are some that require multiple trips out of the main city (Ex: Quest: Kill 15 troops, Quest: Capture 3 troops) that are only tracked while active and require me to leave the main city twice.  Under normal circumstances this would only be slow, but the game requires 6 hours of in-world time to leave the city, and there’s a cap before being forced into the next story mission, which wipes out any remaining side quests in that chapter.  For me this is solvable with either multiple quest queuing or removal of the time limit, both of which feel like largely unnecessary features.


We’ll see how this ends up, but so far Type-0 feels like a game worth recommending.  It’s still very distinctly a Final Fantasy game, but has some interesting ideas with the battle system to feel like its own thing.