It’s time to dungeon crawl like it’s 2010 with the immersive Etrian Odyssey III HD. The game sheds the Drowned City moniker of the DS original but receives an HD coat of paint. While series veterans will find the core game offers familiar fun, are there a few standout elements here?

“Legend has it that a part of the city sunk without warning a century ago, plunging to the bottom of the ocean and taking with it untold technology now lost to mankind.” While plot isn’t the driving force behind the game, I discovered myself involuntarily humming—somewhat disturbingly—’ Under the Sea’ from The Little Mermaid due to the added focus. I blame the oceanic setting and movie trailers.

Thankfully, the music in this game (series) is GREAT. Much better than ol’ Trev humming Disney tunes. I didn’t emphasize the soundtrack enough in my previous Etrian game review, but I won’t make the same mistake here. I’ve been a fan of Yuzo Koshiro’s work since Streets of Rage. Kirstie used words like ‘amazing’ and ‘stunning’ in her reviews of the first two games, and I can’t disagree. Moreover, the music resonates on the Switch in ways it never could on the modest DS speakers. I found myself sitting and listening for extended stretches before resuming gameplay, getting lost in the compositions. Crank it to max volume in the options for peak impact.

Shining the navigation lights back on the sea, you can eventually set sail from Inver Port when not entering the labyrinth. You sail for a limited number of turns, and it can frustrate running out of provisions. But fishing mitigates travel costs, and it’s always fun to investigate islands and report discoveries. There’s even internet connectivity to barter for items, though I didn’t test it. Charting is slower, but it gives Etrian Odyssey III HD a new wrinkle to stand out.

Of course, the core gameplay is still the maze proper. The sea theme is here too, with the Undersea Grotto being your second stratum and an eye-catching one in HD. But it is here where I want to talk about mapping, a series staple. While you can auto-map, which certainly cuts down the intimidation factor to an extent, much is still left to the player. Your take on this may come down to your experience. Or if you have a capacitive stylus (wash away those fingerprints).

Those coming to the series new, like my colleague Kirstie who reviewed the first game, will likely be okay, while others with DS experience, such as I, might find it gums up the works a bit. Different control types make it doable, and while I wouldn’t call it difficult, it’s simply not as entertaining. I’ve been spoiled with DS maps having their OWN screen, not blocking nearly half the display as they can here if you want more than postage-stamp visibility. But of course, these maps look better than any I would’ve drawn had this game been available to me as a kid.

Another introduction is new character classes. While not as prominent as sea exploration, this is still worth a mention. Party creation remains as cool as I remember, and while not as robust as later entries, the diversity is still evident. Agile buccaneers fit the sea theme, while farmers are helpful for harvesting. Farmers also are the most modestly dressed, a note for parents wondering about the “suggestive themes” in this T-rated game. Half the fun is experimenting with the party, and extra classes only add to that.

Like every game in the series I’ve played, Etrian Odyssey III HD is a tough grind. However, fear not, as the game provides multiple difficulty settings. Before venturing into the labyrinth, ensure you take advantage of provisions in town, too, which is a must to handle the challenge. Visit the local shop to purchase better armor and weapons, ensuring your party is well-equipped for the treacherous journey. Rest at the inn to recover your health, and don’t overlook the bistro, where you can accept side quests to level up even quicker. Remember, if your party composition isn’t working out early, don’t hesitate to make adjustments. This is the sort of game you can sink double-digit hours into and still feel like you’ve only skimmed the surface.

Atlus gave DS series fans more of what they enjoyed with this entry. Now, thanks to SEGA’s publishing, additional players can experience what all the fuss was about. It’s unnecessary for me to extend this review any further with nostalgic gushing or flirts with spoilers. To conclude, while newcomers might prefer starting with the first game to determine if its repetition becomes addictive, existing fans might find Etrian Odyssey III HD is the installment they want. Only please remember that the mapping, despite best efforts, has taken a hit, which could sway this final score a point in either direction depending on individual preferences.