Review: Final Fantasy Mystic Quest (Retro)
- Release Date (NA): October 5, 1992
- Release Date (EU): October 14, 1993
- Release Date (JP): September 10, 1993
- Publisher: Square Enix
- Developer: Square Soft
- Genres: Role Playing Game
- ESRB Rating: Everyone
- PEGI Rating: Three years and older
- Also For: Nintendo Wii, Nintendo Wii U
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
Are all RPG games this complex? Why can't there be any of them that is just... Easy? Oh wait, what is this?
Today I'm going to share with you something I hope you will enjoy. Believe it or not, this was the first RPG I ever played when I was younger. Back when I had a Super Nintendo and was busy playing games like Super Mario Bros. & Mega Man, even Castlevania, you could tell I was all about those action platform games. Then I saw my brother had played a game like Chrono Trigger. How much cool stuff was in the game and how my brother would tell me that the characters was made by the same person who made the Dragonball series, I had to try it! But then I was caught in a "hold up" moment when my other older brother brought this game to my attention. He he wouldn't let me try until I did play this one and beat it, so I did. I put the game in and started playing, of course he was there watching me the whole time.
So we have Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, a "Spin off" to the "Now popular" Series of Role Playing games. I say now popular because once upon a time, it wasn't as popular internationally. I could go into great detail, but I won't. What I will say is that during the time of JRPG games not being popular internationally, the developers at Squaresoft was actively trying new ways to sell the JRPG genre overseas. This was one of many early attempts to do so, probably why my brother insisted I try this game first before any other. Enough about that, time to get into this.
The game story goes as simple as one can get. It starts with a character you can name, but let's just call him Benjamin, cause that's what I been told. The young fellow is a adventurer who lives for the sake of... adventure, he one day decides to climb the hill of destiny, at the same time his home is sinking into the ground from a earthquake. He meets a old sage (who can fly on a cloud) that speaks of a prophecy. Four evil beings are draining the crystals of the world and as the knight of prophecy is your job to stop them. Sounds simple right? Well naturally as a adventurer you do it regardless if you are the real knight or not. So the plot is simple, defeat the evil, save the crystals and fulfil the prophecy. No, is not overly complex like Final Fantasy IV which is a game that came out before this one.
At first glance, the game doesn't look like much, well compared to Final Fantasy IV this is true. You might hear me mention that game often during this review. The character shapes are blocky meaning everyone on the maps are all the size of a Super Mario "?" block... even the monsters. Unlike Final Fantasy IV, the monsters you encounter aren't random, they are visible in the same block shape, everything is basically like a grid. But there is some various environments to see, forest, grass, trees, rocks, mountains, sand caves, water caves, towers, villages, volcanoes ice; yes plenty of scenery here, is on par with, you guessed it... Final Fantasy IV. This game doesn't feature much animation either.
During fights, your character appears with kind of an over-the-shoulder perspective, instead of the usual way which looks like you're the referee in a tennis match viewing it from the side of the net. All the monster are static images, the only change is when they lose HP they change images to show how damaged they are, besides that they flash and flicker when attacking, and the flying enemies have a hover effect... until they are paired up with monsters that don't fly then they don't have hover effects, weird. Just as I said, if you seen Final Fantasy IV, then you have no reason to be impressed by this.
The presentation in the game is kept to a minimum, again this basic style is the focus of the game. One thing to say is that you do get a very decent lengthy demo if yo don't press anything at the title screen. Humorously the character name is "DemoPlay" and always on Level 25, and with most kinds of demos, has every possible thing at their disposal even if the player can't technically have it at the time in the game. The demo shows off some places in the game and how general gameplay works, this is basically just a player's guide of sorts as it shows off some hints and tips of progressing and battle strategies. Is not much to say but is simple to understand what a demo is for... so why am I explaining it? You're welcome.
One thing I do like about this game is the music, instead of Nobuo Uematsu the long time composure for the Final Fantasy series and most known for some iconic music for the melody and the piano opening themes, new composers add some flare to this soundtrack. Providing a upbeat rock & roll theme for most of the game, it sure takes a different direction from the usual calm symphonic and relaxing music. It has some catchy music, this music gets you so pumped up, so hungry for excitement and adventure, makes you feel like you are the knight of prophecy, you can do anything, is inspiring and yet is not as memorable. The music that makes the player feel empowered fits the theme of having you motivated to finish that quest. Sounds like is more than it has to be, but with a game made to be easy, you want to have the right mood to feel like there is nothing you can't do. Good job.
The game cannot be any simpler than it is I suppose. You explore the world in search of crystals, the world map is a simple navigation of just pressing a direction to go to next destination, none of that actual exploration of the huge world map Final Fantasy IV had, no flying machine, none of that. When you get to a town or dungeon to explore you have a much bigger area filled with stuff to interact with. Villages have people to talk to for hints or just common JRPG NPC stuff, you can rest at a inn, and even buy some items, there even some treasure chest there with items as well, in the dungeons, you have monsters... and just as much treasure there too, all with items. Navigate the dungeon, and find the exit, some have bosses you do battle with.
Guess it's time to explain the battle system. On your quest you find four other friends to help you Kaeli, Tristam, Phoebe, and Reuben, now they don't all join you at once, just one at a time, in short... you only have one of these friends with you. At specific plot points, you trade off on them each with their own preset stats that serve to make your quest easier. During battles you can fight with them, the feature in this game allows you to set them to automatic control. This is helpful if you don't want to focus on inputting commands for them. On the plus side of things, they are programmed to be useful such as healing you when your life is low with their magic or items. They also show off some battle strategies such as hitting the enemies with their weakness attack to teach the player how to be efficient in battle.
The magic is also different, unlike most games where you learn spells from level up, you get them by finding them like any other item. Also instead of having a MP counter, you have a unique system. There is a total of twelve spells in the game, four of them are tied to a specific category, white magic for supporting the player, black magic for attacking the enemy and wizard which is much stronger attacks against the enemy that can hit multiple targets, each of these three categories have specific uses which increase with the levels you gain. Also during battles, there is only a limit of three monsters max, so any battle can never get higher than that.
In the game, you can get a total of four weapons to attack with; sword, axe, claw, and bombs which runs in limited supply of 99 max. You also get armor and accessories too, the thing that makes this different is that you don't really focus on equipping them, you just find them in a treasure box or sometimes buy them from villagers and is always active, each better equipment is always upgraded and working with no need to equip them. Besides the armor, you can use the shoulder buttons to swap weapons, which is important for specific parts of the game play, remember this is "Adventure Roleplaying" meaning there is more to dungeons than just walking, sometimes you have to jump across pits, use sword to unlock doors, climb walls with the claw, cut down trees with the axe, and blow up walls with bombs. More to it than just boring walking of Final Fantasy IV, you know for variety. Kinda reminds you of another game where you such adventuring... Legend of Zelda.
So you're probably wondering with a game intended to be easy if it would be challenging? Well yes, there is challenge in the game. Even if the game is intended to teach the player about the RPG genre of games, doesn't mean is gonna be easy. Sure playing it is simple for you with all the stuff made available, dungeons are filled with plenty of treasures that have potions, each one gives you three of them and even can be reopened after leaving a dungeon and entering again. Earning GP to buy anything is not as necessary but there to keep the experience there, the auto guest character shows the player useful things like using a healing spell to damage a "undead" class enemy which I never did know until I tried it in Final Fantasy IV and so on. Is still a challenge, the idea is to teach someone about the genre, make it a entry way to open up more possible games to consider... like Final Fantasy.
Some monsters are difficult having some cheap attacks that mostly just luck you can win a fight, like this one move "death dance", an instant KO attack that always seem to hit despite supposed to have low accuracy, or getting both members petrified in a single turn at the start of a battle when enemy has initiative, and enemies that have counter attacks with status effects or reflecting magic. It has a decent share of enemies with some things you won't understand, but is not frustrating. Is supposed to teach you how to play the game and it does well, don't attack enemies that counter with your weapons, use magic, don't attack enemies that can reflect magic, use weapons, find those white magic spells to defend yourself and the black magic to exploit weakness, that was the goal of the game and it teaches you that well. It provides a proper tutorial for someone who never play RPG games before.
Most people who play this game now would probably not really care for it, sure after playing much harder games over the years, this one is easy, but you shouldn't be trying this if you are a advent experienced JRPG player, this is for beginners. The game provides enough content for a short adventure that can be beaten in a day with enough time and not to intimidate people away from JRPG games at the time. Most people would wonder why they would consider selling us a dumb down game like if we was too stupid to play their stuff. Is not really trying to insult us by doing that and I never thought so, I'm grateful for this game, it taught me a lot that I now know about playing a RPG. These game may have gotten more complex over the years but they still have basic things like the enemy weaknesses, always trying to cure undead to find out it hurts them is now always satisfying to me cause I learned that from a video game. This game is like JRPG Kindergarten.
Even if you are an experienced player by now, one can always try this game, this is something from my past, or maybe of game history that made an impression on some people. It may seem insulting to have a "Entry level rpg" but is not a bad thing to some people. Is always nice to look back on history and see how things shaped us and our present, during a time where Squaresoft was gaining popularity with Roleplaying games in Japan but wasn't really selling internationally, they tried many things to share the genre with us including Secret of Mana, Secret of Evermore, Chrono Trigger and Super Mario RPG which all tried to do something different than the common Final Fantasy games. This was one company that didn't give up and eventually broke through with a game like Final Fantasy VII and some others as well to get the RPG a universal acclaim it now has which is good now that there is plenty of them to enjoy. Now excuse me while I go play Chrono Trigger like I wanted to before I tried this game.
+ Educational game
+ Helpful experience
+ Upbeat rock & roll heroic soundtrack
- Unimpressive graphics (Compared to previous game)
- Lacking presentation
- Very short game
The presentation is nothing much compared to Final Fantasy IV, the story is told in game with text boxes and no scenes are acted out, the game does provide information for the player to use that helps them progress and never feel lost, the demo play and automated guest character helps show off useful tips and hints at battle strategies that help player to fight more efficiently which is the goal of the game in the first place, it does it well but could add more to the presentation.
The gameplay is basic for a reason, is not about fancy customizations and freedom of many choices, it focuses on giving the player an experience of a common RPG game. It's true that other RPG do offer more development and should have considered that in this game, but this is just a doorway to those things, it offers basic common RPG content that gives players an interest to consider more games in the future along with this experience.
This game is pretty old. Not many people would bother with this game now. If they was to reinvent the game, maybe introducing it into modern times just as a piece of history to show us how they tried appealing to the demographic of the past, I would enjoy that. Having a classic mode close to the original and maybe a new mode for advanced players. Either way this is probably an under-appreciated game. I appreciate it cause it was my first so it's different for me.
out of 10
(not an average)
This game is fun. It was fun back then, but now is only as fun as I remember it, still some things about it make me want to play it again but only cause I remember it for sentimental reasons. It is a good game and while not a main part of the Final Fantasy series and long forgotten under the other titles who get so many updates and ports, this one is waiting for a turn. A new fresh coat of paint in HD and some new gameplay changes for advanced players and maybe some more content, this would fit well alongside some other remake that get resurfaced now and again.