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Final Fantasy Mystic Quest – SNES

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest – SNES

Final_Fantasy_Mystic_US_boxartPlatform: Super Nintendo Entertainment System

Developer: Square

Publisher: Square

Release Date: October 5, 1992

Genre: RPG

Nerd Rating: 7.5/10

Reviewed by Paladin

Let’s be honest, the Super Nintendo has some of the greatest and most innovative RPGs ever made: Chrono TriggerSuper Mario RPGFinal Fantasy VIEarthbound, Secret of ManaFinal Fantasy IV…all of these games were beloved by fans and critics alike, yet no two of them were the same. Each had its own set of twists, turns, and obstacles that made them unique and challenging. It was a golden age, if not the Golden Age, of the genre.

The problem with this influx of clever adventure games was that Americans weren’t used to them. Many gamers in the early 90s never experienced the text based titles of the previous decade and were 33723-final_fantasy_-_mystic_quest_usa-31unprepared for the difficulty level of RPGs coming out of Japan. It was this reason that stopped both Final Fantasy II and Final Fantasy III from being released in the States, leading to the infamous title confusion that the series underwent until the release of FF VII

The genre was suffering in the West and developers needed a quick fix. Final Fantasy was one of the most popular series in gaming and seemed like the perfect way to bridge the difficulty gap. In the past, Square capitalized by taking existing titles and slapping FF on the box. The Final Fantasy Legend and its sequels were well received, but fans still talked about how hard they were.

Instead, an original game carrying the Final Fantasy name with downplayed difficulty was created in order to attract new fans, but would not be a part of the main numbered series so as to avoid discouraging existing fans. Final Fantasy Mystic Quest was marketed as an intro level RPG containing all the best elements of its namesake, but with simplified gameplay.

All the familiar features are here: save the world storyline, traversing across a world map, turn based battles, new friends that join you in your quest, etc. The player takes control of the hero, default name Benjamin, as he learns about his destiny from a mysterious old man and proceeds to defeat a scary monster. As promised, everything is simplified.

Battles take you to an entirely different screen where we get to see monsters displayed as oversizedUnknown versions of themselves and rendered in incredible detail. One nice touch is that an enemy’s appearance becomes more worn down as damage is dealt. While fighting, players navigate between basic Attack, Magic, and Item menus. You select an option and then your target. That’s all there is to fighting. If that wasn’t easy enough, the game even offers to automatically control any characters that join you.

There is also a world map, but don’t get excited about exploring it. Getting from one destination to the other is as simple as pushing one of the four directional buttons and watching Benjamin as he saunters over and waits for you to push another button. There are a few places that are optional to travel to, but they’re not so much side quests as there are opportunities to get extra items by killing more monsters.

Worry not though. Square Enix didn’t become the RPG giant that they are by not knowing their craft. The story is still laced with colorful characters who come complete with their own personalities and Unknown-1specialties in battle. Certain areas can only be accessed by obtaining certain weapons, all of which can be used outside battle; bombs blow up walls, claws stretch and hook onto far ledges, swords can reach buttons to open doors, and so on.
Each area of the game has its own atmosphere, color pallet, and themes. What determines these themes? An old standby from Final Fantasy: the elemental crystals of Earth, Fire, Wind and Water, all of which have all been hijacked by monsters, subsequently throwing the world into chaos. The crystals give each town its own feel which helps keep things fresh and interesting. Unfortunately, that’s about all this game has in common with its source material.

All of the other beloved features are conspicuously absent: chocobos, common spells, iconic weapons, familiar monsters, summons, and just about anything else associated with Final Fantasy. This was a huge disappointment for fans of the series and confusing for anyone familiar with the name. Make no mistake, Final Fantasy Mystic Quest is no Final Fantasy game. The name is for marquee value only.ffmq06header

However, this does nothing to detract from the game itself, and the absolute best part is the music. This rock-style soundtrack weaves in and out of every scene so flawlessly it’s almost a character in and of itself. Every track, whether a peaceful town or a nail-biting fight to the death, augments the action to a tea, and not just as background noise. There are countless iPod worthy songs that make for great listening. Immediately after reading this go YouTube Doom Castle, Lava Dome, and all three Battle themes. They may not be Final Fantasy canon but they’re just as good.

Final Fantasy Mystic Quest may be simple, but that doesn’t make it boring. It delivers just what it promises: an intro level RPG. This isn’t a game to pick up if you’re looking for depth. It’s a solid adventure with just enough surprises in gameplay, story, and characters to leave you wanting more. Anyone who didn’t grow up in the 90s may find this title difficult to get into, but I’ve found myself able to return to it on multiple occasions. It’s worth a try, even if just for the music.

 

Written by Paladin

 
 

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One Comment

  1. Duuuuuuude, I love this game. Sure it’s crazy simple and missing important Final Fantasy factors, but it’s just so damned charming. Between your main character’s shrug animation, the crazy good battle theme, and the great artwork of the enemies who deteriorate but damage, I can’t help but like Mystic Quest.

    Awesome review! Good to see someone not completely shit on MQ for being a simpler spin-off.

     

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