Review by German Dragon

"Enter Benjamin"

Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest was a game made released in the States, after II (IV) and before III (VI). SquareEnix apparently thought that the sales of Final Fantasy II were directly related to how complex the game was. Now it is true that when they released Final Fantasy III, they would completely shotgun their own theory, but they had a different approach to the problem at first. Someone had the idea of making a game with less items, less magic, and a simple storyline. They definitely nailed the target with development though, because what we have is a great roleplaying game suitable for beginners, as well as a game that's fun to play for people with a bit more experience.

When you begin, you'll be on a mountain that's evidently about to collapse, following a strange hooded man who is trying to help you. Though you won't see him often, he'll serve as a very loose (and confusing) guide to you throughout the game. Not long after he mentions the fact that you may be a hero to the land, you'll get attacked by your first enemy. Now things may not look to bright for the future of the game by this point -- you need only press attack over and over to win. After you finish him though, and you head into other areas of the world, to begin your quest, things pick up quickly.

Soon, you will be picking up items to use in battles, such as Potions and Herbs, which restore HP and MP respectively. You'll also pick up spells, from a variety of categories. For example, the White spells cure, revive and heal you, while the black spells burn and freeze enemies, or create earthquakes. There is also a Wizard set of spells, which do the most damage. You'll also come across an array of weapons. You get four weapon types: sword, axe, bomb, and claw. Then, you receive upgraded weapons of these as you go on in the game. With the press of a button, you can change them in battle.

In battle, you usually have a party member, although there are a few stretches in the game where you will not. You can either set them to auto, where they will fend for themselves, or you can set them to manual, where you choose all of their actions just like you would with your own character. Since they sometimes have a completely separate idea of what would be a smart thing to do, you'll probably want to put them on manual. You can then select from the options. All of the basics are there, like attack, run, defend, magic, and item. All of these work as you would expect, with the characters and monsters taking turns attacking, with the one with the highest speed going first, and it continuing by going down towards the one with the lowest. This is nothing new to any of those who have played a roleplaying game.

Though there's not a huge selection of weapons, it is forgivable. The reason behind this is, that they are so fun to use! Unlike most roleplaying games, you can use your weapons as you walk through the area, when you are not in battle. They all have separate uses as well. For example, the axe can be used to cut down trees, and the bomb can be used to blow open doors, while the claw can be used to scale particular types of walls. As you upgrade them, they even get new features. For example, you'll receive bombs that you can toss, and you'll get a claw that acts as a grappling hook. When you first reach the areas where you have to adjust to these elements, the game feels fresh again, and that's always a good thing.

You can even jump! Unlike many similar games, where the only joy comes from battles, and learning of the story, this game actually makes travelling through dungeons fun. The enemy encounters are not random, either. All enemies have icons on the screen, that if you touch, you'll have to fight. Often, they'll block the only path so you'll have to fight them. This, in my opinion, is a great system because you'll never have to worry about getting into that fight as you try and leave a dungeon, with only a few hit points left.

What makes the game all the more enjoyable, is the amazing musical score that it contains. This game has what is perhaps the best battle theme of all time. The battle music goes hand-in-hand with background music that always fits the setting you are in. The steady flow of great music continues right up until the last minutes of the games breath; and indeed, the best music after the battle music comes as you travel up the floors of the final dungeon in the game. Upon the release of the game, an official soundtrack was even produced. And unlike today where every other action game seems to get one, it was rare back then.

The graphics of the game are colorful and bright. The world map is laid out extremely well, and the battle animations usually look nice: Fire scorching, lightning extending from a cloud, or a snowman falling from the heavens and landing on a character. The one thing that stands out, however, is the enemy design. Although there are many sprites reused simply with palette swaps, even of bosses, all enemies have incredibly well-down designs. Everything from minotaurs, to wizards, to dragons, to ninjas, to tree demons -- basically, anything that you could think of that would belong in a game is here; and they look good to boot.

History dictated that Final Fantasy III would completely overshadow this game in sales and popularity, and so it did. That does not mean that you should overlook this game though. An illegitimate, un-numbered game in the Final Fantasy series it may be, it is a quality game. People tend to either love it or hate it, but if you go in with a mindset that you're going to have fun, and not to just compare it with other games at every step, you'll have fun. This is a gem that far too many people mistake for a rock.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 11/19/05

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