Final Fantasy Mystic Quest - Reader Retroview  

I’m Going to Hit the Mystical Can
by JuMeSyn

10-12 hours


Rating definitions 

   Final Fantasy Mystic Quest is an odd title. It seeks to be a beginner’s RPG, yet is irritating enough to put off potential first-time players. It seeks to be easy enough for a beginner, yet some incredibly cheap enemies will intimidate those who can get beyond its irritating flaws. Beyond these flaws lies one insurmountable difficulty: the game is dreadfully dull. Why a newcomer to the RPG genre would choose this over something that is actually fun to play for a neophyte (any given Mario RPG title) is unknowable.

   Story is hardly a prerequisite for an enjoyable title, yet Final Fantasy Mystic Quest doesn’t even make an effort. The story of playing a player-named character who just so happens to be the hero of legend redeeming the crystals across the land was anything but memorable in 1992. A fair number of years after 1992 it barely registers on the player’s consciousness. The translation is pretty good for 1992, admittedly, but it cannot redeem a story so clichéd it will be known by a player before events happen.

This is modern art.  Such an assemblage of colors can only be an artist trying to catch eyes. This is modern art. Such an assemblage of colors can only be an artist trying to catch eyes.

   The audiovisual elements are adequate. There is a penalization for looking slightly worse than Final Fantasy IV considerably after that game was released, however. And indeed, FFIV will come to mind outside of battle quite a bit. Buildings and character sprites seem to have been spirited directly out of that game. The main character oddly seems to be wearing a jumpsuit from the disco age…. Music is fair, but it can become annoying after extensive repetition. Sound effects are horrid – the bizarre sound heard when a weapon strikes an enemy will become the bane of the player.

   Battle is interesting, yes. It resounds with ideas that would have benefited from further development time. The fact that battles are not random is initially nice – except for the execution. Enemies are visible on the field but do not move. Instead they block passages and are in the way, forcing the player to fight most of the enemies in any given area. There is no way to avoid this, quickly inducing combat fatigue thanks to the sheer quantity of battles.

   When battle is joined, the hero will usually be accompanied by a second character (the second character varies as the game goes on, though s/he is usually stronger than the hero. This second character is AI-controlled by default, though switching this is done in a second. Quickly enough four different weapon types are available to the player, and switching between them is a press of L or R away. Magic spells are located via several methods, and there is a total number of spells that can be cast in each class of spell (white, black, and wizard). Experience is gained after battle for the hero only (the second character stays at his/her level until relieved by another character).

When will the Greeks think up some new mythological beasts?  The minotaur is played out! When will the Greeks think up some new mythological beasts? The minotaur is played out!

   All of this sounds reasonably straightforward, and it is. The problem lies within the sheer monotony of combat. Through most of the game pressing A endlessly will resolve the battles, especially if the other character is AI-controlled and automatically healing. Getting anywhere usually requires far too much combat for insubstantial rewards experience-wise. And the turn order is prone to unpredictability, inducing frustration frequently (though many other titles feature this gaffe as well). There is also the very annoying fact that, whenever an enemy is strong or weak to a certain attack type, this information will be displayed every time such an attack is used against the enemy.

   Interaction is somewhat annoying also. Outside of battle the main character can jump, but enemies cannot be avoided by jumping over them. The world map consists of a number of locations connected by arrows. Many of these locations are nothing more than 10 battles to fight, sometimes with a reward at the end, other times not. Menu interaction is odd thanks to the save screen popping up automatically – this makes saving a breeze but gets irritating when the first order of business is to use items. Also, there is no way to tell what items do without testing them first – though this is partially circumvented by the paucity of items overall. Equipment is not an issue because it happens automatically when something new is discovered. The four varieties of weapon affect the environment, and it is annoying having to switch to the claw in order to climb a number of ladders.

   Challenge is beyond pathetic in one sense, while quite demanding in another. Certain enemies possess one-hit-kill attacks and/or petrifying power. Thanks to the unpredictability of turn order it is possible for both characters to be knocked out before the player can actually do anything. This would be incredibly infuriating without the presence of the ‘Give Up’ option. Upon death, the player chooses whether to give up or not. This holds for every battle. Not giving up means the battle restarts, and this can keep going until the player finally wins.

   The game can probably be completed in about 10 hours, depending upon play habits. Once completed there is no reason to try it out again – no hidden areas, no extra content. Unless the prospect of cleaning out any unbeaten enemy nests entices one into the endeavor of playing it again, this seems unlikely.

   Four years after Final Fantasy Mystic Quest was released, a far better game for introducing neophytes to the RPG world was released. That game is Super Mario RPG, which is not monotonous to play and melds action elements with an RPG far, far better than Final Fantasy Mystic Quest. There really isn’t much else to say about FFMQ – it’s certainly playable but very boring.

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