It's time for Etrian Mystery Dungeon to get another chance
Roguelikes and Dungeon Crawlers - DRPGs - feel like they should go together about as well as water and oil, and that was my initial worries when Etrian Mystery Dungeon was released on Nintendo 3DS all the way back in 2015. Yet, while the mash-up between Atlus’ own Etrian Odyssey and Spike Chunsoft’s Mystery Dungeon certainly wasn’t a match made in heaven for everyone; it was for me. Now with the first three Etrian Odyssey games seeing a remaster for Nintendo Switch and PC, I’m left wondering; why can’t the same happen for Etrian Mystery Dungeon?
Etrian Mystery Dungeon, which was released in 2015 was a landmark title for both Atlus and the Etrian Odyssey series as a whole; for one, it was notable for being a near-simultaneous release in the era where localizations would take months on end to happen. Etrian Mystery Dungeon instead only took a modest month-long wait for North American players to get their hands-on with the title. While Persona Q: Shadow of the Labyrinth offered a spin-off for both the Etrian Odyssey and Persona series in 2014, Etrian Mystery Dungeon was the first spin-off for Etrian Odyssey that truly shook up its gameplay - and the ways in which both Etrian Odyssey and Mystery Dungeon’s DNA meshed for Etrian Mystery Dungeon still impresses me to this day.
In 2020, two of Spike Chunsoft’s earlier Mystery Dungeon titles saw re-releases on Nintendo Switch; Shiren the Wanderer: The Tower of Fortune and the Dice of Fate, as well as the remake of the original Pokemon Mystery Dungeon in Pokemon Mystery Dungeon: Rescue Team DX. Both of these releases were great in their own right, but it’s hard to ignore that we’ve yet to see any other releases from the franchise since. Notably, we never got Etrian Mystery Dungeon 2, either - the game itself released far too late in the 3DS’ lifecycle, bombed in Japan, and seemingly the first game didn’t fare too much better either. Whatever the reason was, Mystery Dungeon fans have been left wanting over the last several years, and the last real new entry in the series outside of the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon remake essentially never existed for anyone outside of Japan.
Now, for those of us that even had access to a Japanese 3DS that was needed to play it natively, there’s no easy way to access the game. Of course, the same goes for Etrian Mystery Dungeon - the first one - as well as every other Etrian Odyssey game that released on the Nintendo 3DS, too. Yet even beyond the hope that Etrian Odyssey IV, V and Nexus might get ported to modern platforms - or that Etrian Odyssey Untold and Untold 2 might see the same - now is the perfect chance for Etrian Mystery Dungeon to get a second (third?) lease on life, and for fans of the spinoff to be afforded the chance to play its follow-up.
With the 3DS eShop’s closure, a landmark title for two series stands the chance of being lost to time. While both Etrian Odyssey and Mystery Dungeon might have seen games release in their respective series after Etrian Mystery Dungeon 2’s Japanese release, there’s an argument to be made that the game was the last truly new entry in either franchise. Etrian Odyssey Nexus, as great as it was and is, acted as more of a celebration of the series’ history; incorporating many locations and classes from prior games in the franchise. Etrian Mystery Dungeon 2, then, was the last time that either the Mystery Dungeon or Etrian Odyssey franchises released something truly new.
I still have hope we might see a new Etrian Odyssey release in the future, or a new Mystery Dungeon. Yet even if that comes to pass, it would be a shame if such a major release in both series’ history was never given another chance to shine. Etrian Mystery Dungeon and its follow-up are both fascinating games in both franchises’ history; I can only hope that more players are given the opportunity to experience the games for themselves.