Final Fantasy Mystic Quest - Retroview

It Works In Theory, But Not In Practice

By: Robust Stu

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 3
   Interface 4
   Music/Sound 5
   Originality 0
   Plot 2
   Localization NA
   Replay Value 0
   Visuals 4
   Difficulty Easy
   Time to Complete

15-20 hours


Final Fantasy Mystic Quest

   Back in the early 1990s, Square noticed that their games were selling well in America, but not nearly as well as they were in Japan. In an attempt to draw in new gamers, they release Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest. They figured that releasing a simplified RPG with easy battles at a low price, they would draw in thousands of new gamers who would "graduate" to the more complex games like Final Fantasy 4. Sounds good, right? Right? Wrong. What we got in the end was a lobotomized joke of a game that not only failed to draw in new gamers, but drove away many people who had already played FF4 and were expecting another masterpiece.

   The story was very basic, and kind of got the game off to a bad start. You are a young man who is just walking along in the mountains one day, minding your own business, when a man on a floating cloud tells you to save the requisite four crystals, which are under the control of the requisite four evil elemental monsters. Your journey takes you through four areas of the world (one each for earth, water, fire and wind), each of which is occupied by one of the evil super-monsters who have taken the crystals captive. Along the way, you meet many friends, most of whom make recurring appearances throughout the game. Whether this is by design or because of the fact that the designers couldn't come up with more than five characters is unknown to me, but definitely something to think about.

   The battle system was as simple as you could get. It was you (and a second character if available) against a group of at most three enemies. You had the basic fight, magic, defend, item, or run. One unique thing about the battle system was that you could either control the second character yourself, or let the computer control it. The problem with this was, the computer always had the second character do the most unhelpful thing possible, so it was always better to control them yourself. One cool thing was that the enemy graphics changed depending on how much damage has been inflicted upon them. The battles were turn based, totally tossing the active time battle system of FF4 out the window. Other than that, there wasn't really anything notable about the battle system.

Yes, it's as exciting as it looks
Yes, it's as exciting as it looks  

   The interface was really simple. The menu had all the typical stuff you'd expect, but one difference was that there was no "equip" option. Rather, you automatically equip the most powerful weapon and armor in each class. Each weapon/armor carried all the characteristics of the previous weapon/armor of that class, which made you wonder why the old equipment still remained in your inventory after you got something better. When you enter a town or a dungeon, you can use whatever weapon you have equipped at the time. In other words, you can stab with your sword, plant a bomb, swing your axe, or climb a wall with your claw. One weird thing, however, was that you couldn't freely roam the world map. You were given options of different directions you could go, each of which lead to another location on the map, but that was it. Also, when you entered dungeons, you could see all the enemies (a la Chrono Trigger), and therefore avoid any unwanted battles (although you had to fight many just to progress through the dungeon). As such, there were no random battles either in dungeons or on the world map. It was an extremely linear game, and aside from battlefields (where you could fight the same battle ten times in a row), there was nothing in the way of side quests.

   One good thing about this game was the music. While not the kind that will have you reeling in awe, it is very catchy. Most of the music is of a fast paced rock style, with a few slower, more instrumental tunes. All of it is good though, and if this game has one redeeming quality, it is the music. Sound effects were also well done, as all the sounds of weapons swinging, switches being triggered, and doors opening sounded very realistic.

   This game was not very original at all. The basic mechanics had been done many times before this game, and the story was so typical, it was predictable at many points, and extremely generic. You won't find anything in this game that you wouldn't have found in a dozen other games of the time, which you'd probably rather play than this.

   The plot, as I mentioned above, isn't by any stretch of the imagination the best anybody's ever seen. In fact, it seems almost as if it was thrown together at the last second as a way of explaining why you're going from point A to point B. There was little or no emotion expressed in the game and, as such, made it very difficult to get attached to the characters. There was no real plot twists, it just seemed to follow along the lines of "Townspeople are unhappy. Go to dungeon and beat bad guy. Go back to town and get special item. Go to next town. Repeat." If you're looking for a deep story with plot twists and memorable characters, this isn't the game for you.

I felt the same way after shelling out 40 bucks for this tripe
I felt the same way after shelling out 40 bucks for this tripe  

   Fortunately, one thing players of this game didn't have to deal with was a shoddy translation. This game was American made all the way. You won't find any weird dialogue of bizarre sayings in this game resulting from translation difficulties. Then again, that might have made a better story than what we actually got, but whatever.

This game has absolutely nothing in the way of replay value. This game barely has enough in it to make you want to play through it once, let alone twice. It is short, plotless, and easy. The lack of side quests is another thing that detracts from replay value. This is certainly not a game that will draw the player back time and again.

The visuals were a mixed bag. On the one hand, you had a cool looking world map and very pretty dungeons (the ice palace will blow your mind). On the other hand, the towns, characters, and enemies were very cartoonish, and sometimes looked awkward. I supposed the designers were looking for something unique like that to attract new gamers, but after a masterpiece like FF4, the visuals looked kinda crummy, and should have been done better.

Yeah, this game put me to sleep too
Yeah, this game put me to sleep too  

Fortunately, this game doesn't take that long to complete. All the level building needed can be done simply by going through the battlefields and dungeons without hanging around for hours doing repetitive battles. Because of this, you're looking at about 15-20 hours worth of game time.

Although it has a few redeeming qualities, they aren't nearly enough to compensate for all the negative points this game had. My advice to you: if you see this game at a garage sale for five bucks, go ahead and pick it up out of interest, if for nothing else. But don't bother going out searching for this game unless you enjoy lame RPGs.

Recommendation to avoid.

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