Part 1: Level Forest
Dark Design is the one-man company that made this game. Square-Enix is the many-person company that had nothing to do with this game.
The intro has the same animation, just with the slightly different title and button prompt.
There's a few versions floating around. The one I got a hold of is 188.8.131.52.
Oh yeah, the art and sprites are also stolen, according to my most trusted source, Youtube comments.
Going with the "canon" name of Benjamin (according to the manual, anyway) because I'm a purist.
The introduction is pretty much the same, including the dialogue here.
I also love that this is the entire backstory of Benjamin. His family's probably dead now, who cares. Mystic Quest gives no fucks.
So, first difference, and this one is a doozy: There's no jump button. The original's jump button led to a couple cool puzzles and, of course, being able to jump all over the place in a freaking RPG. No awesome jump sound effect, no jumping over NPCs' heads, no jumping in every single direction. No, this jump is scripted.
The creator also cheats a bit here. In the original, when Benjamin makes the jump, the previous area descends, shaking violently. Benjamin had just cheated death due to the wonders of JUMP. Jump is good, Jump is sacred.
In Remastered, the game just slowly slides to the right while shaking, conveniently sliding the previous area off-screen. It's kind of a cheat, but it's one I can kinda forgive for a free fan remake in a limiting game creation engine. Of course, once you consider he tried to charge money for this...
Plot's the same, gotta go to four different parts of the world and defeat four monsters to save the four crystals. Pretty much a Final Fantasy game distilled to its barest of bones.
Much like the original, our first encounter is a Behemoth. All we can really do is Attack.
And here we get to a major difference between the two. The original opted for a rather simple scale of numbers. Benjamin starts with 40HP and gains an extra 40 each level. The levelling curve is a lot flatter than most RPGs, which makes sense as this game is designed to slowly guide the player throughout the game due to being designed for beginners in mind.
In contrast, the remake goes for big, basic RPG numbers. You and the Behemoth do a ton of damage to each other.
Much like the original, one unlucky hit or miss and you will die and have to restart. I'm kinda surprised he didn't bother to fix that considering how freaking dumb it is you can lose in the first damn battle in the game through pure luck. At least you can still retry from the beginning of battle, which is one of those features that I'm still surprised few other RPGs actually used. Mystic Quest had some surprising innovations at the time to streamline the gameplay experience for jRPGs, yet nobody used them since. What the hell?
Same as before. But once we get to the end...
How...how do you fuck up The Shrug!?!?!?
The Shrug is Benjamin's signature emotion. Pretty much 90% of Benjamin's interactions involve Benjamin encountering something mind-boggling dumb, and Benjamin shrugging helplessly for a couple seconds. The timing is perfect, just enough time to process what's going on to let you emphasize with Benjamin's continued frazzled state. This is especially true with this mysterious man. It's probably the most iconic symbol of Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, itself the helpless shrug of the jRPG world.
I may be overreacting just a tad here, but I say the biggest flaw of Final Fantasy Mystic Quest Remastered is not the creator trying to scam people with a lackluster fan remake using stolen assets, or even not being able to Jump, but that Benjamin's shrug is a single quick animation that's over in a third of a second. You cannot shorten The Shrug to such an extent and have it still resonate with the player. The Shrug needs time to breathe, to strike into the very heart of the player so that they, too, can understand Benjamin's plight in having to save the world using only the guidance of some floating jackass. Also Benjamin's family is probably still dead or something.
Map screen is pretty much the same, graphics aside.
The menu is quite different, however.
In case you wanted to play through this game twenty times, well, there's that option for you!
Also achievements! Sure, why not.
The equipment's also different in that there's equipment. In the original, you pretty much get given pieces of armor besides a couple optional buyable options. Since there's only three tiers of armor total, the game automatically gave you the effects of the highest-tier you had, which was mainly status immunities.
Here you get a regular standard jRPG equipment system. We'll see if it does anything interesting with the concept, but I wouldn't be surprised if you just get straight upgrades through the game. At least later FF games either downplayed armor or instead gave different reasons you'd wear different pieces like elemental/status immunities or what have you.
Anyway, we've got our first mission. Alright, then.
On the bright side, you can still use weapons outside of battle to solve puzzles.
Still have to recruit Kaeli before we can handle the area proper.
In the original, you had to jump over the man to push the boulder out of the way. Hell, you could jump over the boulder too and just go straight to town, though obviously you wouldn't be able to advance the plot that way.
I already miss jumping.
Some item chests, guarded by some Brownies.
In the original, Benjamin could handle Brownies fine. It would've been a bit ugly, but nothing too bad.
Here, they will stomp the shit outta you. Hope you remembered to save!
We'll come back to that. In the meantime, let's go explore Foresta.
The NPCs are pretty much the same.
The original had a whopping four consumable items you could use. The remake has a bit more than that.
Also, you can't re-enter areas to refresh chests like in the original, though to be fair that was kind of ridiculous anyway.
In the original, this was our first spell, Cure. We get a Shield here instead for a modest Defense boost. We learn magic by leveling up now.
Phoenix Downs didn't exist at all in the original, but every partner knew the Life spell so that made up for it.
In the original, Refreshers were in-battle items that reset stat debuffs. Here, they simply boost specific stats permanently. I'll just use them all on Benjamin as I find them.
There's also Hi-Potions available.
A free heal if you need it. I'll be using this a lot.
We've got our first partner! They usually tend to outlevel Benjamin and be much more useful to start.
I forgot to check if I could steal her stuff and give it to Benjamin. Maybe next time...
Kaeli hits harder than Benjamin, and the two of them together can kill one Brownie. Of course, the Brownies also hit hard, so if they gang up on Benjamin he'll go down.
From what I observed, EXP is the same no matter who lives or dies, but you have to be alive to get it. So Benjamin pretty much needs to be alive at the end of each battle or he'll miss out on sweet EXP.
A few people who played this version claim this game is too difficult, and if you just spam Fight then, yeah.
Kaeli has quite a few spells to start. Life is not as ridiculously broken in Remastered as it was in the original since it won't heal a living character to full and as far as I know won't insta-kill enemies. Seriously, Life was ridiculously broken in the original game.
In addition, Kaeli has Fire/Ice/Lightning and Sleep. The original had twelve spells, four each in White/Black/Wizard. White was the bare basics (Cure, Heal Status, Life, Exit spell), Black did damage, Wizard did more damage. Honestly Black Magic sucked except for Aero, while for Wizard magic you'd do the best spell you had at the time and just choke down a Seed when you needed it because, hey, restore all MP from one consumable, why not, what the hell is balance. For Remastered, the elements are just bog-standard Final Fantasy starter spells.
Sleep is new to the game, and from my experience it works around 2/3's of the time? Anyway, if you simply cast Sleep every battle then you can pick off the enemies more easily without getting walloped. You'll still be healing a lot, but Benjamin is significantly more likely to live that way. It certainly makes things less difficult.
At L3 Benjamin learns Haste, which...I don't think makes a big difference? Raising speed in a pure turn-based game doesn't really work, especially with only two party members. That's why Haste boosted the number of hits you made in the NES games and didn't affect speed until the ATB was introduced.
The only other enemy here is the Slime. I think it can inflict Sleep, but otherwise is around the same level of threat as the Brownie. Sleep works wonders here.
I clear out the area and get all the items.
Anyway, the boss is a tree.
As a nice touch, Kaeli actually starts the battle poisoned here. Except...there's no way to cure it. Welp!
Minotaur can be put to Sleep, too. But any attack will wake him so it's kinda moot.
Poison hurts a good bit, too, so it becomes a bit of a race.
Turns out the elemental spells are pretty damn powerful. I opt to have Kaeli focus on magic attacks while Benjamin chips in or heals with Potions when necessary.
Otherwise, Minotaur has some nasty attacks.
I will complement the Remaster so far in that these battles require more thought than the original so far. You can't just spam Attack here and try to win. This guy was actually moderately difficult!
As a bonus, Benjamin's latest level gain finally nets him the Cure spell.
Kaeli's out, so we get her axe.
Great timing there.
Next time, Bone Dungeon. Assuming I don't abandon this one, of course.