Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest Review
by Jason Venter
Between the release of Final Fantasy 2 and 3 on the Super NES, us Americans got this little game instead of Final Fantasy V. To be honest, we got ripped off. But it's not as horrible a picture as the one some people paint. Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest isn't trying to be epic. It's trying to be a doorway for new gamers to discover the RPG genre. And in that sense, it's a success.
The first stride it takes is in the graphical department, which looks more like a cartoon than an epic, swaschbuckling quest. I liked that graphical style when first I played this, but that was only because it reminded me of the style in the Dragon Warrior series (and I love that series). The maps are made up of vibrant colors thorughout, and so are the dungeons. In fact, this whole game is bright, no doubt an effort to make it more like mainstream games. Bosses fall apart as you fight them, though the decay isn't really animated. Overall, I would say the graphical style works quite nicely, and is certainly not a weakness.
Then there's the music. The game features some really cool stuff, but it's not as epic as the main Final Fantasy games. Instead, players get a rocky kind of sound, again an effort to appeal to gamers used to stuff like Mega Man. The battle theme gets your blood pumping, dungeons have creepy, poppy music, and there's a wonderful tune if you die at one portion of the overworld. So while this isn't full of orchestrated beauty, it's excellent just the same.
In the story department you have just the standard stuff. It's pure fantasy as a boy tries to find why his father disappeared into a tower. Along the way, he gets pulled into the typical Final Fantasy quest (at the time, every Final Fantasy story seemed to involve four magical crystals). By game's end, he must save the world. Far from orignal.
One advantage to an RPG wuss is that Square wanted this to attract new players and made the game easy in order to accomplish that. If you raise your levels, no boss will provide a real challenge. Dungeons are mostly simplistic. If you die in one, you have the option of fighting the enemy that killed you again (as often as you like) until you win. Only one dungeon in the game, about halfway through, even puzzled me. And there aren't many dungeons, about 10 in all. The boss is easy if you use the right spell.
Despite what other gamers say, I think Square succeeded in making a fun game here. It's fast-paced, and not quite as passive as some games. For example, you can cut down trees in dungeons as you progress, a relatively new concept at this game's time. You don't have to spend forever wandering around, either. Text is lively. You can enjoy about 15 hours of good, solid fun here. It was fun enough that I played through three times.
If you are looking for an old Final Fantasy classic, this isn't the one. Square made a lot of copies and sold them cheap. You can find this title all over the place. But just because it isn't a classic doesn't mean it isn't worth playing. I have this in my collection, and it fits in nicely with all the serious RPGs. It's just different.
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