… How to you even talk about a game like Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest? I don’t mean that in an “I’m offended by it, don’t bring it up” way, I mean what can you actually? See, for those of you not in the know, Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest is a game that was designed with the intention to be an easy RPG for the US market that wasn’t too embracing of RPGs at first(this isn’t even a guess: it’s called Final Fantasy USA in Japan). For this reason, this review might be about the things that AREN’T in this game over the things that are in it. Here is Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest for the Super Nintendo.
The game starts off with Benjamin- your pretty bland main character- climbing up a hill. He meets the standard wise old man who tells him about an impending disaster and what he can do to stop it. Benjamin accepts this role and goes off to save the world by finding 4 stones in the sections of (and I kid you not)- Foresta, Aquaria, FIREburg and WINDIA (they weren’t even trying for the last 2).
This story couldn’t be more generic if it was trying. The Crystals, the “Earth, Wind, Water, Fire” elements, having to save the world… It’s pretty much the default RPG story. That being said, there are a couple of things that’s kind of neat. First off, you’ll notice that I said Benjamin “accepts” his role. It’s cool that he isn’t a chosen one for a change, just someone who decided he would help out (it still isn’t the first time this happened though). Also, you only get 1 partner at a time, so the story has to compensate for this and give the characters a reason to leave and come back later on (which is cool that they do that too). It’s not anything deep, but it fleshes them out a bit more. At least more so than our boring hero…
While the story of this game is paper thin, that can be forgiven because its default for a reason (so many other games have done it). However, the basic game play can’t be, as by this point the concept of improving on the basic battle system was set. Here’s where I really talk about what’s missing from the game: you only ever have one partner, your armour is automatically equipped and you can’t sell them, spells are found instead of learned and there is no free roaming on the world map. That last one might especially damning to the game, because being linear is not a good thing for RPGs. If you want to explore, you’ll have to do that in the towns or in the dungeons.
However, this was all to guide the player along (this is an introduction RPG after all). What I really miss though are random battles. Remember I had said in Dragon Warrior that I like level grinding? That’s nearly impossible to do here. In the dungeon areas, you see all the enemies you have to fight and they will stay still until YOU decide to fight them. The ones you can skip clearly outweigh the ones you need to fight. Level grinding is still possible… but in battle stations over the world map. They really make the fights become tedious, so I guess it works out that they’re so easy to avoid.
So you might think I believe this game to be boring…. But you’d be wrong. There is one thing that this game got so incredibly right that makes it worth it. Yeah, that’s right, I like Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest and I over look all its flaws because of the exploration. Unlike most top down RPG heroes, Benjamin can jump, and this is a mechanic that is used rather well for certain puzzles in a way that reminds me a bit of StarTropics, but less action and more cerebral. Beyond the jumping, you also have you weapons that are used as tools that will let you climb up walls or cut a path through trees (like a simple Legend of Zelda). It actually reminds me of the Paper Mario games, which is also an easy RPG that people enjoy.It’s an unpopular opinion of mine that Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest is actually as pretty good game, and for one big reason: it did its job. If this game was meant to ease people into playing more RPGs by providing a simple jumping off point, than I’d say that’s exactly what this is. It trims the fat off more complicated games of the genre so that you can pick up another one and easily build off what you already know. But in the discussion of what Mystic Quest doesn’t do, what it does do is over looked, and I think the puzzles and weapons gimmick is great. The music is rocking too and the graphics are fine (I like how the enemies show damage as you beat them). Granted it is hard to recommend this game now a days, as the fighting is boring, the plot almost not there and things are way more complex now, but it really does have a very simplistic charm about it. It’s too light hearted for me to criticize harshly. I give Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest 7 levels out of 10.