Ah, well this news broke a little faster than I expected! Yesterday I reported on a teaser for an an impending Etrian Odyssey announcement and today the latest Famitsu leaked. Let's make is official: Etrian Odyssey: The Millennium Girl has been announced for 3DS, to be released in Japan on July 27. Unexpectedly, Millennium Girl will be a remake of the original DS Etrian Odyssey, but with some very significant changes -- hopefully for the better.
First off, almost all of the gameplay is said to remain the same, so no need to get up in arms. That said, director Shigeo Komori said yesterday he wanted to be more "experimental" and while I might not use that word, there's definitely some new things coming to the franchise. Basically, Atlus is adding a plot to the game.
To start, the game's protagonist will be named (customizable) and fully voiced, and then will recruit a team of specific characters along her adventure. Each of them will be fully voiced as well. Basically, Millennium Girl will add a plot and arc more akin to the RPG format many gamers are already familiar with. We expect each of the characters will still be completely customizable in regards to job and equipment, but their face, voice and personality... well, they'll have them.
With Etrian Odyssey IV released in late February (full review this week), one of my largest complaints was a lack of introductory structure and the fact I never felt compelled to continue. Progression for the sake of progression is antiquated and lazy design, like, "Well, nothing else to do at level 59, guess I'll get to level 60." If Etrian Odyssey: The Millennium Girl can create a driving experience that makes level 60 a fun stepping stone on the way to the end of the game, it'll be better for it.
Etrian Odyssey: The Millennium Girl is coming to 3DS on July 27 -- for Japan. We'll update you on any developments for a North American port when they come. Maps.