Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest (or Final Fantasy USA) is sort of an odd duck. In 1992, Square was under the impression that the whole JRPG thing wasnt really working for the US. Their strategy was to create a game for the entry-level player as opposed to Enixs 7th Saga which was released in the same timeframe and was basically Mystic Quests polar opposite.
And then it didnt! Mystic Quest was basically the definition of average as far as sales and reviews go. Which is hardly surprising considering the game is incredibly simple in nearly every respect. The story is as barebones as it gets. Youll learn nearly all of the important bits of the story in the first update. Im not even totally sure if its possible to be unprepared for anything the game throws at you without trying really, really hard. You dont even have to control your single party member and let the AI run wild. You dont even need to fuss with better equipment because the game decides that for you.
I was able to beat this game with almost no difficulty as a three year old. Of course, the game couldnt be completely devoid of challenge so Square decided to supplement the difficulty with lots and lots of status effects. Well well get to those later.
So why play it, especially when it has been done two times now?
I think Mystic Quests gets a lot of things right: eliminates save points, random battles are eschewed for cute little sprites in the field, and it adds some fun little exploration elements by letting players use weapons outside of battle to solve puzzles and jumping around to overcome obstacles adds some much needed variety. Theres a goddamn grappling hook, which was just the coolest shit back in the day.
Its streamlined and intuitive, offering you a lot of control at the expense of virtually any real options. Most importantly, its honestly just fun. Its got a lot of charm in spite of its issues and I have a special place in my heart for this dumb game. Had Mystic Quest not been so laughably lacking in depth, I really think it would be held in higher esteem today.
Theres a lot of weird stuff about Mystic Quest because of how blatantly manufactured it is. Artwork ranges from weirdly gritty to dopey. Character names are just sort of a toss-up. Just little oddities like that.
Is there anything new I should expect from this playthrough?
That being said there arent a whole lot of interpretations of Mystic Quest. Its not strategically deep, the games too easy to not accidentally break, and its a pretty linear affair for the most part. So lets take the game to task and see where it really went right and where it didnt. Its an easy and shallow game, sure, but I think there are a lot of lessons JRPGs can learn from Mystic Quest.
Plus there are a bunch of bizarre details that are never mentioned in the game so I hope youre ready to learn a lot of useless trivia!
Throughout updates, I'll be putting in some artwork of the scene at hand. The art featured in the North American manual is done by Katsuya Terada. I'm not sure where the European artwork comes from but it's dopey as hell so maybe that's a good thing.
So Ive heard that the soundtrack is
pretty cool, yeah. Yasuhiro Kawakami and Ryuji Sasai composed it, rather than Nobuo Uematsu. Battles have speed metal, which is more or less the entire foundation behind the awesome soundtrack praise. The rest of it is pretty enjoyable as well, though Im not entirely sure if I could call it memorable. I have a feeling everyone knows this but well compile a soundtrack all the same. Mystic Quest has a lot of satisfying sound effects that really help in making the game enjoyable.
Table of Contents
- 1. Benjamin Goes on a Journey
- 2: Benjamin Goes on a Fetch Quest
- 3. No Bones About Battlefields
- 4. Climate Change
- 5. Between a Rock and a Cold Place
- 6. Ice Pyramid? Snow Problem
- 7. A Singularity of Dorks
- 8. Like Father, Like Son
- 9. Volcano Climbing
- 10. Lessons on Fire Safety by Shrug and Reuben
- 11. This Could Have Been Worse, Just Saying
- 12. The Tree With Two Faces
- 13. A Windia Mountain Than Most
- 14. Shrug and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Elevator
- 15. The Worst Kind of Phoenix
- 16. Shrugs Creed 4
- Interlude: Odds and Ends
- 17. The Doom Castle
- 18. A Farewell to Shrugs
OUR INTREPID HERO AND FRIENDS
The hitherto unnamed protagonist, described by the manual as the most normal youngster you can imagine. A simple, responsible farmer taken under the tutelage of a Village Elder, the other kids in the village often teased him for being such a big nerd. Wishes he were faster, stronger, and more daring. I'm like 1000x sure he's supposed to be you in the 90s because only nerds play video games.
His canonical name is Benjamin, which is only mentioned in the North American manual, but
This triangles name is White, as per the European and Japanese manuals (and only those). Hes probably the village elder? Otherwise hes a mysterious old man flying around on a cloud, who just talks out loud and people happen to play along.
This is Kaeli. Her original name was the less creatively spelled Karen. She is very strongly connected to the nature and cares for the trees of the Level Forest. This deep love of the outdoors also means she is a big fan of axes. She's 15 years old. I have a feeling she's meant to be fulfill the "druid" archetype.
It's Tristam who is apparently a mercenary from some unknown town. He's kind of a huge asshole, frankly. I guess his name would actually be Lock--which is pretty appropriate, now that I think about it. He's 25 years old and the only ally to get a special theme all his own. I guess you could say he's the "thief" of the game, or the "ninja".
I'm not sure why he's purple?
Phoebe, also known as Tea or Fei, is featured on the back of the North American game box so obviously she's the most important. I have a feeling that "Tea", which used her sprite, was a debug character so that's cool, maybe? She's 18 years old and is easily depressed by basically everything. She's very clearly our "mage".
Reuben, or Red (because he's the Fire guy, get it), is 16 years old. Possibly a tiny robot? He's bewilderingly incompetent and kind of irritating. Pretty sure that he's supposed to be the "fighter/paladin".
For your listening pleasure:
Mystic Quest (Title)
Hill of Fate
Middle Tower (Tower of Fate)
City of Forest
Shrine of Light
Wintry Cave and Ice Pyramid
Falls Basin/Spencer's Place/Mine
Volcano and Lava Dome
Rope Bridge, Mt. Gale, Pazuzu's Tower
Final Boss Dark King
Mystic Quest Reborn: or, "This is NOT how you make Mystic Quest more interesting"
Forums poster MaskedHuzzah reminded me that this "hard mode" hack exists and it's, uh, certainly something. Artix, who has made some excellent technical contributions to the thread and saved it from being abjectly terrible, was kind enough to check out some of it. If you'd like, you can take a look yourself here. I should mention that there are a whole lot of spoilers here so if you're coming into Mystic Quest totally blind then I'd wait to click on that.
Hill of Destiny and Level Forest