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Why Using A Name To Sell A Game is Bad
Okay, I was duped, I'll admit it. I had just beaten
Final Fantasy IV, I was 12, and I was impressed to no end, so when I saw
that shiny little title, I just couldn't resist. That feeling lasted roughly
two days, at the end of which I had beaten the game, realized how disgustingly
easy it was, and realized how unlikely it was that I'd ever play it again.
Then again, I live in a nice, dull little
Ah, Mystic Quest.. where did you go wrong? Well, first, it was the insipidly mysterious floating cloud man that would appear for no reason, tell you things that only made marginal sense, and then zip off into the sunset, leaving you to shrug in hilarious fashion. Oh, ha ha! I'm so clueless! Some old guy floating on a cloud just told me I have to save the world, so why not? I can think of a number of good reasons why not, myself, but as the character, you're left little choice in the matter; your peaceful little mountain village is (mercifully) demolished, depriving you of your 2 GP-a-month allowance and leaving you with one way out- following the handy arrows. Oh, this is the section about fighting, so I may as well mention that you'll have to at some point. You won't have to do very much if you don't want to, since the option to have your one ally(that's right folks, this is a 2-person system here! Square didn't have the cautionary example that Florida so nicely provides against that sort of thing back in 1991, so I guess they can be excused... sort of) be controlled automatically. I wouldn't recommend it however; when under automatic control, your ally tends to do mystifying things like wasting items and attacking enemies that shouldn't be attacked. The mechanics of the battle system are laughable too... It's ugly, squat, boring, and tediously rigid in terms of damage dealt and received. To keep you from dozing off while holding down the A button(yes, you can even repeat your attacks until you or the monsters die of boredom!) the enemies occasionally melt, molder, decay, fall apart, or look a little spookier as you deal damage to them, but most of the time, one hit kills, so the thrilling spectacle is usually diminished. About all I can say here is yuck.
Did I ever mention I hate picture-based menus in most cases? The only game that ever did it to my liking was Secret of Mana, and FFMQ's just doesn't cut it. At least when you buy items it doesn't show you the pretty pictures(although it may as well, since pretty much nothing else is text-based). I guess the game is geared towards a younger audience, but I still expect a little better. The world map stinks, unfortunately. Your options for movement are severely curtailed by the fact you can only follow paths lit by glowing arrows. This helps avoid getting lost, to be sure, but since the map really isn't all that big, there's no danger of that at any point in the game. Even if there was, the levitation-prone old guy on the cloud gives you enough obscurely worded hints to keep you on track, so the arrows are downright unnecessary.
I have to admit, I didn't mind some of the music in this game, and some of the sound effects were decent too. However, there were several tunes, most notably the Ice Pyramid theme, that left me wanting to strangle the composer with a rusty piece of barbed wire. At least (s)he tried, though; there sure doesn't seem to be anyone else who has in this sordid little mess.
You know, sucking just doesn't require that much ingenuity; Square has, after all, showed a remarkable propensity for it from time to time. This game isn't particularly original, either in mechanics, details, plot, structure, or anything else, really. Heck, they even left the order you restore the elements the same as the order of the Fiends in Final Fantasy IV! It's just kind of a cobbled-together pile of all the parts of other games that went wrong. Well. That's not entirely fair. This game had a couple of good elements. I just can't quite remember what they were right now.
The earth is rotting. The winds have stopped. The seas are drying up. The fires have gone cold. Or something like that. Check your friendly neighbourhood FF1 prelude for further details. With few plot twists, and a laughable bad guy behind everything, this game's storyline doesn't really have much going for it. You'd think they could have done a little better than what they chose for the end boss when they were searching about for names; but then again, they named the towns in fairly rudimentary fashion too(Windia? Come on.. at least make it look like some thought went into the name), so I guess there's no real reason for surprise.
What little text did go into this game was fairly reasonable, with the exception of the floaty old man, who verged on incomprehensible occasionally. Other than that, there wasn't much else to speak of in terms of localization; Square intended this game to be for the American market, so I guess it makes sense that they'd make sure it's acceptable in this regard .
Replay value is scant, given the total linearity of this game. I suppose you could use it as a form of water torture, but I suspect even that would have its drawbacks, since your intended victim could hang themselves with the controller in the face of impending madness. Since this is a cartridge, you can't even use it as a coaster, like those handy AOL CDs that are forever appearing in the mail; if you are looking for practical uses however, I think I once used the cart to prop up my desk for awhile.
Hum, blah. Graphics are almost on par with Final Fantasy IV, and unfortunately, that's not saying very much. Even the fact it was made in 1992 doesn't really acquit this game; I've played a number of games from that year that look better, so I'm afraid the graphics are adequate at best.
As an illustration of just how tough this game is, the final boss can be killed in less than three attack rounds if you play your cards right. The rest of the game is approximately that difficult. There's a couple of time-consuming puzzles here and there, and fighting can grow tedious since the battle system is so awful, but there's really nothing terribly difficult about it.
Remember, if this takes you more than fifteen hours, you aren't my son. Okay, you're probably not my son anyway, but I'll nominate you for honourary disownment anyway. This game is fun if you have a few hours to blow, but really, there's nothing else to recommend about it. Other games are better and more in-depth, and there's not even much nostalgic value to recommend it. That said, if you enjoy torturing yourself, then by all means, go play FFMQ. Just remember: suicide is bad, not unlike this game!
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