I’ve been playing RPG’s and Adventure games since before I could even read them. Games like Capcom’s Willow
for the NES and that first Lord of the Rings
game for the SNES. And since I couldn’t read, the one thing that managed to get me through all those dungeons and puzzles was my trusty pad of graph paper my parents had dug out of their desk when I had asked for something to draw maps on. I’m pretty sure if I dug around in my basement long enough, I still have those same pads of paper full of maps(And Passwords too, of course).
So when Etrian Odyssey was first announced, I was ecstatic. Even though I’d become used to auto-mapping features in current-gen games and had found them to be incredibly useful and time-saving, some part of me still pined for hand-drawn maps, and EO looked to be the next best thing. But all told, I almost didn’t buy the game. I heard about it very early in its development, before it had even been announced for US release, and by the time launch day rolled around I had almost forgotten that little hard-to-spell game. But I picked it up anyway after incessant urging from several friends, and it’s been one of my biggest time-sinks on the DS yet, even more than Mario Kart or Advance Wars.
Anyway, as to the point of this post, the one memory that stands out to me most was not some point where I –barely- defeated some FOE or any particular memories of my characters (I just named them after characters in other games…if Japan won’t let me have any of their crazy crossover RPGs then I’m going to make my own, dammit!) In all honesty, the one thing that stands out most prominently is the first time I fought a new FOE and my team defeated it without much problem at all. I think it was…the 3rd stratum, the Azure Rainforest. I had recently fought for my life with the Royalant, and defeated it in a pitched battle that, if I remember correctly, my party managed to survive but with major injuries. After healing up in town and quickly beating a path through the ant-infested sectors of floors 15-17, I found myself in a flooded area, with large leaves used as boats between the many islands. I cruised around for a while, beating upon monsters without much problem. It wasn’t long, however, until I discovered the FOE for the floor, a nasty crab enemy that could spring out of the water and attack you from the rear! I evaded them for as long as I could, because I just KNEW I wasn’t going to be able to defeat them, the memories of my many early deaths at the hands of Ragelopes and Moas haunting over those little orange balls in my mind.
As is inevitable, one eventually caught me by surprise and I entered battle. Enemy advantage! I knew my party was doomed; I would either make it out several members short or not at all. However, the battle did not go as I initially feared. The crab hit me, but it didn’t do all that much damage at all. I decided to stay and fight the thing, against every intuition that told me to just beat feet. I stood my ground, dug up knowledge from prior FOE and boss encounters and pulled every member of my team for all they were worth. In a beautiful orchestra of attack and spell animations, my party gave the fight their all, and within scant turns, the beast was felled.
I sat in my chair, mouth agape. Had I just defeated an FOE on a CURRENT FLOOR
? Yes, yes I had. I watched as my experience creeped up and I surveyed my rare spoils with glee. All of my careful level planning, my exacting division of skill points, it had all paid off. I no longer feared the beasts of the labyrinth. It was at that point I knew I was going to beat this game; and that I was going to beat it good.
And then I got killed by the boss on the next floor.