Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Game #60: Final Fantasy Mystic Quest (SNES) - I'll Take a Double Scoop of Nostalgia (Finished)

Game 60

Title: Final Fantasy Mystic Quest
Released: October 1992 (September 1993 JPN)
Platform: SNES
Developer: Square
Publisher: Square
Genre: RPG
Exploration - Top-down
Combat - Turn based
Series - Final Fantasy

This game is often spurned by Final Fantasy fans for being too simple, childish. In fact, that does seem the direction intended by the developers. The thought process was that RPGs weren't as popular in the US because they were too complicated. A strange notion as I see it, since most western RPGs popular at the time were much more complicated than anything a console had seen. The game was ultimately a failure in its goal to bring RPGs to the mainstream, but what was created was a fun-loving easy adventure through a familiar story of four elemental fiends hoarding the power of four corresponding crystals.
And it's short, very short for a Final Fantasy game
The game opens with the hero (named by the player) entering the Hill of Destiny after his village was swallowed by an earthquake. An old man on a cloud instructs him to run and jump over a gap (that's right there is a jump button). He then goes over the story: four fiends, four crystals, you're the knight of prophecy, here fight this monster.
It's possible to game over here, but the game allows you to resume from the beginning of any battle
We're then automatically put in the Level Forest, which is looking decidedly dead. The old man instructs us to save the earth crystal before running off. We then need to talk to another old man, and help him push a boulder that's blocking the path to Foresta. Before heading off, he tells us to seek out Kaeli, and show her a withered branch so she will help us heal the forest.
Kaeli comes with an axe that unlocks the rest of the forest area. I picked up the Cure spell in town before tackling the boss. Aside from the jump button not normally seen in RPGs, the hero is able to use his currently equipped weapon. The sword is used to reach high switches, the axe can chop down trees, there's a bomb that breaks open passages, and claw that enables him to climb certain walls (and a later upgrade that allows him to cross certain gaps). Kaeli chops down a glowing tree, and out pops a Minotaur that poisons her. She helps finish the fight, but collapses afterwards, giving us the axe.
The world map has set destinations, and flashing arrows once you've opened the path to the next location
Scattered around the world are battlefield areas that have ten fights to clear. Each rewarded me in some way (experience, gold, or an item) once I'd cleared all ten. To the north was the Sand Temple where the elixir to cure Kaeli was held. Tristam, a treasure hunter, had already collected it though. He offered to sell it for the exorbitant amount of 9,000gp. We struck a deal; I'd help him with his next score in the Bone Dungeon, and he'd give it me. In the process, he also sold me some bombs to open up passages inside.
I avoided a well known bug where the party member elemental and special defenses aren't updated unless you restart
Defeating the Flamerus Rex at the end of the dungeon provided Tristam with the Dragon Claw he desired, and restored the Earth Crystal. I made a short trip to give Kaeli the elixir before continuing my journey on to Aquaria through the Focus Tower. Tristam left the party in search of more treasure. On the way, the old man on the floating cloud suggested I find someone named Phoebe and Captain Mac. Phoebe was in the Libra Temple where she recruited me to free her grandpa Spencer from the frozen water in town.
Using the claw Phoebe gave me to climb walls
There are no random battles in this game. Enemies in dungeons are normally visible, but block choke points that force you to fight most of them. Bosses are also visible. I obtained a Libra Crest, which allowed me to teleport to the Life Temple where I got a drop of Wakewater that restored the heart of the town. This didn't unfreeze the whole town, but it thawed the pass to the Ice Pyramid where I could restore the Water Crystal. To get there, I had to traverse the frozen Falls Basin, which was full of block pushing platform leaping puzzles.
I remember being stumped here when I first played for quite some time, not realizing that the sword could reach this switch
The Ice Pyramid culminated in a battle with an Ice Golem that was rather easy with two fire spells. Phoebe was so excited to see her grandpa that she left me to find my way back. Aquaria was finally unfrozen, and the path under Phoebe's house led me to Spencer, one of Captain Mac's friends. Spencer told me that Captain Mac was stranded on a rock ledge after a lake dried up. While Spencer continued to dig a hole to the captain, he gave me a key to investigate some earthquakes in Fireburg.
Guess I'm helping you save your dad
In Fireburg, I found myself teaming up with Reuben to save his dad. This involved finding Tristam to give us a key to open a lock of a cowardly explosives expert that gave us the mega grenade, a throw-able bomb. I took this to the Mine across from the giant boulder, and through a maze of one-way treadmills and trolley buckets I made it to the summit where I threw a grenade to move the boulder. This opened the way to the Volcano where I could investigate the earthquakes. With a near unlimited supply of seeds, I used my most powerful magic in every battle from this point to the end.
I'm pretty sure I missed the life spell somewhere, it's the one empty slot I had at the end of the game
The defeat of the Dualhead Hydra freed the Fire Crystal. After I freed each crystal, a coin was found nearby that opens another area of the Focus Tower. The next area led to a bridge where Reuben fell. He was fine, but on a cliff I couldn't reach. Tristam was there to pick up the slack. Party members don't share in the experience, and thus don't level while in the party. The only time their level increases is when they rejoin at a later time. On the other side of the bridge was a giant tree blocking the way. Seemed I needed to find Kaeli to speak with the tree, and ask it to move.
Wow, Kaeli, where have you been grinding?
I returned to Aquaria, where Spencer and Tristam joined up to find some treasure. The tunnel was slow going, and Phoebe thought she'd help by blowing it up. That collapsed the tunnel, and now I had to drag Kaeli, who was recently bed ridden, all the way to Windia. The giant tree wanted us to clear out the monsters inside of it before he would move. The boss was a chimera named Gidrah. Defeating it dispersed all the other monsters. In Windia, Otto wouldn't assist us until we saved his daughter, Norma.
You mean I killed all those monsters for nothing
At Mount Gale nearby, I confronted the monster Dullahan. He caused the strong winds that broke apart the rainbow bridge that led to Pazuzu's Tower. I found Norma right away, and sent her back home. Pazuzu was holed up in an elevator, and escaped whenever I came near. The key to getting him to stick around was to seal off the shaft on every even floor. The tower itself was more long than tough, but that may have to do with unleashing full spell power at every chance. Defeating Pazuzu unlocked the elevator, which I rode to the top to free the crystal and collect the coin.
Back in Windia, we discussed the Captain Mac's situation with Otto. Reuben showed up, and told us of a stairway to the top of Focus Tower. Just then Otto had a brilliant idea. We could drain the lake water from Spencer's cave all the way into the dry lake. With the cave-in, the only way to reach it was to increase the power of the Rainbow Road with a Thunder Rock. Reuben joined to help fetch the rock from his father. Filling the lake only moved the ship down to the nearby cave. Getting to that cave required me to find the Mobius Crest inside Spencer's cave, and the tile within Windia that traveled there. I rescued Captain Mac, and met back up with Phoebe in Windia where we learned something startling.
Alright, let's go get Chaos... I mean Dark King
Focus tower was a push through four floors of a boss rush against powered up versions of the four fiends. The room before Dark King refilled my seeds, heals, cures, and arrows. Honestly, the restorative items are thrown at the party so fiercely that I wasn't in fear of running out. They're also so weak that they're useless in the final battle, except seeds, but I only needed 2 at most.
I'm not really sure this boss needed four forms
With Dark King vanquished, peace returned to the world. The old man floating on the cloud revealed himself as crystal of light, guiding me throughout the adventure with cryptic messages (I didn't bother to mention many of them, but they weren't exactly helpful). The hero revisited all his companions, and said his goodbyes. Instead of settling down, he sailed off into the sunset in search of another adventure.

Elapsed Time: 8h50m (Final Time: 8h50m)
Honestly, he just had to get away
Combatant - There's good progression, but the simplicity of the game is evident. Monsters are a strange mix of fantasy stylized animals and creatures. Most of the game devolves into simply casting the best spells. Each monster is weak to at least one spell or weapon. The final bosses of the game have some lockdown status effects (paralyze, stone, confusion) that make them a bit RNG, but manageable eventually.
Rating: 5
Who decided the white background was a good idea?
Admirer - At least you get to name the hero. The default name is Benjamin according to the manual. There's no other customization, but you can choose to skip spells or items if you know about them ahead of time. The different weapons usable on the dungeon maps is an interesting mechanic, but they don't reflect the changing equipment (except the dragon claw).
Rating: 3
The character animation for the hero was funny as well
Puzzler - The puzzles are really light, but there are some things to figure out aside from the strategy of combat. Weapons take on a new aspect as they're used for navigating the game world in addition to slaying monsters. There aren't any side quests to speak of, and only a single solution to reach the conclusion.
Rating: 4
I suppose it's these two I have to thank for these elements
Instigator - The story isn't a stretch for the franchise, but they wanted to keep it simple for their audience. In that I think they succeeded. There aren't any detailed descriptions or lore to find, but it's a fun journey (or maybe that's my nostalgia talking). NPCs are rarely directly helpful, and more often have inane comments on the current situation.
Rating: 3
The translation was actually a big step up from Final Fantasy II, although that may have to do with it being geared for an English audience
Collector - The economy is completely broken. I never had to save up or choose my purchases with care. There are a large number of items and equipment to collect, and it's easy enough to find everything (although I still missed the life spell). The most powerful armor is automatically equipped, and only the latest weapons are usable. There are also more than enough space for consumables that storage isn't an issue.
Rating: 6
I think there are more people in the Special Thanks than the total number that worked on the game
Explorer - The music is wonderful. The graphics, especially battle backgrounds, are simple. The world itself is set on rails, and there's no chance to explore or really miss a particular area. It's no grand world to wander around, but that wasn't really the aim.
Rating: 5
It just keeps going
Final Rating: 26 [43%]

Definitely a bit of nostalgia coloring my opinion, but I don't really care to revisit the numbers. It's a simple, light, easy game that you could get through in a weekend. I'd recommend it to anyone interested in finding out what RPGs are all about (or mostly about). It's a good first impression. I enjoyed the trip down memory lane enough that I didn't hate the game afterwards, but I don't think I'd revisit it again any time soon.
Finally reached the end
Next up we have Legend of the Ghost Lion (often shortened to just Ghost Lion). An NES RPG that's a little different from other RPGs. There are no experience points in this one. Levels are instead gained by collecting a certain item. This one just barely tipped the scale in its favor. I actually hadn't heard of it before starting down the list, so I'm curious to see what it has in store for me. Hopefully it takes longer than a week as I still haven't fixed the TurboDuo.
Maybe they expected to continue the adventure


  1. You and another blogger I follow were both playing Mystic Quest and the same time, coincidentally. Made for a bit of personal confusion! He's still playing, but posts from neither your blog or his really sell this as a "good" game. An interesting attempt, but it seems to have fallen short.

    1. Yeah, it's nothing I'd try to sell to my friends, but it's a fun enough of an adventure. It won't be challenging in any way.

  2. I played Mystic Quest a long time ago, and it didn't really leave an impression on me. The combat was mediocre, and the story was extremely minimal.

    I have fond memories of Ghost Lion (which may or may not be entirely due to nostalgia), and I'm looking forward to your take on it.

    1. Ghost Lion post should be up this week. Less and less motivated to write about the games. It's all sort of feeling samey.

  3. This probably wasn't a bad idea, a low price, low budget, babby's first RPG, but there weren't really enough casuals at the time to make it really work in practice. The only people really interested in RPG's at the time would have been people that had already played much more involved and challenging games, whether Phantasy Star, Dragon Warrior, or the main FF games, or even the computer stuff like Ultima or Wizardry. This either came out way too early or way too late to hit it's mark. That said, it's fairly competent and inoffensive for what it is

    1. I'm not sure anyone else really tried to hit a younger or inexperienced market like this. It was a good effort, even if it didn't find its audience.

  4. The one thing not touched on in any detail about it here is the MUSIC. The soundtrack for FF:MQ is wonderful and easily the best part of the whole thing. Definitely check out some of the tracks if you've got a few minutes to kill. Great stuff in there.

    1. It's hard to encapsulate music for me. I know this is one of the better scores. At the same time, when the music is bad it doesn't bother me as much as most. I did say, "the music is wonderful" though. ;)