IntroductionAfter a grueling ordeal, I need something to unwind. I've already played the hardest RPG the SNES has to offer, so why not play the easiest one too?
Final Fantasy Mystic Quest is a Final Fantasy in the same way the SaGa game boy games were Final Fantasy, or the way Final Fantasy Adventure (which is actually a Mana game) is Final Fantasy. Except this one was actually called Final Fantasy in the first place.
In 1992 Square, apparently woried the JRPG genre wasn't sticking in the US market, decided to create and market a game to "beginners." Thus was born Mystic Quest, alternately known as Final Fantasy USA, like it was our responsibility for making this simpering wuss game.
Note that this game was released in October of 1992. The 7th Saga was released in August of 1993 by Enix, in a bid to prove that Americans would actually get more into the genre if it were really really hard. When the two games met, they cancelled each other out in a massive reaction, and it was within the superheated forge of the explosion that Square-Enix was born. Or maybe that never happened.
This is an easy game. It's really easy. If you do everything you can possibly do, it's not in any way possible to be underprepared for anything you encounter. Nobody stays dead after battle, anyone can cast spells (although the hero has to find the spellbooks first), and the game is broken in favor of the player anyway in several critical ways. The plot is also nonexistent; you'll know exactly everything about the plot except the identity of the final boss in this very post.
So why play it? Because it's actually quite underrated. The weapons add variety both in battle and out of it, there's puzzles to solve, there are no random encounters (monsters appear on the game map, and while you generally can't avoid them, they don't move and you can take as much time as you like getting ready for them), the characters are goofy but lovable, and the whole thing goes by pretty quickly.
And oh yeah, the game has speed metal battle music with thrashing guitars. It's SNES and all, but still. Speed metal. In an RPG.
The hero's canonical name (according to the manual) is Benjamin. Benjamin won't fit and Ben is too short and reminds me of Star Wars, so his name will be Steve. Steve's a good reluctant hero's name.
The story starts at the Hill of Destiny. It doesn't actually start here; there's some crap about a village or something in the manual and in Steve's first line, but like I said, this game skips all that unnecessary plot crap.
You want the plot of this game? Here it goes:
Steve climbs a hill because an old man tells him to, and demonstrates his fantastic ability to jump. Jumping makes an awesome noise and looks freaking amazing. Everyone who has ever played this game knows that the only way to go anywhere is to jump constantly.
Save the crystal, save the world.
That's it, that's the plot of FFMQ.
Steve is understandably incredulous given that he has no fucking idea what is going on, but fortunately our tutorial fight interrupts what little exposition there is to be had.
This is the battle screen. You can fight, you can run, or you can switch your ally from Manual to Auto control (that is, turn their AI on or off). It doesn't matter what your ally is set to, although Auto has a small advantage in that it can sometimes cast reactively (like a Heal spell AFTER you get hurt DURING the turn). But they also have a tendency to waste their spells or attack overly weak targets, so generally I'll be driving stick.
Once you select Battle, you get yet more simple options. "Attack" is what you do 90% of the time.
You hear a shwing, the sword animates, damage is dealt. Enemy attacks on you are generally less impressive and you just blink and take damage.
That's attacking. It gets slightly more interesting later, but it stays about as simple. "Magic" is actually useful in this game; spells do a lot of damage and it's not hard to keep your MP up. They're divided into White, Black, and Wizard magic. Black and Wizard are basically the same but Wizard spells are better. "Item" uses items.
Unlike 7th Saga, there is no reason to "Defend," ever. If you are defending in FFMQ, you're completely missing the point, which is beating up on somewhat cool looking monsters until they fall apart or melt.
That's right, as you damage monsters they go through one, sometimes two changes to their sprites, becoming more beat up, angry, or generally worked over. Weapons are broken, expressions are hilarious. This is not just a fun feature, but also a good way to tell at a glance how close a monster is to dying. This is one reason not to run your allies on Auto; many of them can one-shot monsters when you first get them, so there's no sense wasting their hits on a foe that's going to drop in one more puny sword poke from the hero.
Old Man Douchebag reveals a little more plot and then ditches Steve, flying off into the sky. Get used to the confused shrug (I'll try to get a better .gif as time goes on), because it's his trademark emotion and the one you'll most identify with, because this game moves way too fast to make any sense of. People tell you to go do something and you go do it. That's it. What are you still standing here for? Go, boy, go!
The Hill of Tutorial collapses and we're left with the world map. You don't wander around freely, you just pick a direction and go there. The world map features towns, dungeon areas, and battlefields, which are the game's equivalent of random encounters except for being predictable and 100% optional. Of course I'll be clearing every single one, because they give you loot if you clean them out. You can only do it once per battlefield though. In fact, most of the encounters in the game are limited in number, so theoretically there's only so far you can level in this game. It's hardly necessary though.
Old Man Douchebag gives us our incredibly vague instructions. Steve shrugs again. I'm serious about getting used to this.
A helpless old man asks Steve to push a rock one square. He jumps over the old guy since he won't move out of the way and does so.
I'm not sure I wanted to go through the forest, but now I've got another blunt order, a crappy sword, and a dry twig. Steve's really movin' on up in the world!
On the way out, a chest to loot. Wooden chests (the brown ones) respawn when you reenter the area, and are usually filled with replenishable crap. It's rare that you even need to buy restorative items because of this. Metal chests are one-time only and usually contain spells, weapons, or armor, except when they don't.
Next up is the incredibly creatively named Foresta. By the way, if you couldn't tell, we're in the Earth part of the game. Then will come Water, Fire, and Wind. Are you all capable of following this one so far? I don't want to lose anybody or anything.
I'll be taking this one marginally slower than 7th Saga, but the game is so fast that it's really not hard to get through it quickly. As before, I'll most likely record boss battles on video. The main problem with recording the dungeons is the monsters, which take up a fair bit of time even when they're pretty easy. It's kind of unfortunate, because some of the later dungeons are pretty neat, but I think screenshots can mostly convey them.
Thanks to RedBoot for letting me jack this one. It just wouldn't feel right if I didn't close the circle.
And secretly? I love this game.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1 - Foresta & Level Forest
- Chapter 2 - Sand Temple & Bone Dungeon
- Chapter 3 - Focus Tower & Libra Temple
- Chapter 4 - Aquaria, Wintry Cave, Libra/Life Temple
- Chapter 5 - Falls Basin
- Chapter 6 - Ice Pyramid, Spencer's Place, Focus Tower
- Chapter 7 - Fireburg
- Chapter 8 - Mine & Volcano
- Chapter 9 - Lava Dome
- Chapter 10 - Rope Bridge & Alive Forest
- Chapter 11 - Giant Tree, Windia, Mt. Gale
- Chapter 12 - Pazuzu's Tower
- Chapter 13 - Mac's Ship & Doom Castle