RPG Review #75: Final Fantasy Mystic QuestNuMetalManiak We've hit yet another multiple of 5, so it's Final Fantasy game time. Only this time we're playing a complete and utter outlier in the series. It's a game with cliches, and it's a game meant to ease the North American RPG fans, but the problem is, the RPG fan probably didn't even need it. Needless to say, it's a short one, and also very, very easy.
Gameplay: Not your main Final Fantasy, oh no. The gameplay in this one is very simplistic. There are some similarities between this game and Final Fantasy Legend III, yes that particular one, and it's because the two games were made by the same team. The battle system is in the same mannerism (except in color!) and there's even a goofy jump mechanic. That's not all though, in dungeons and such some of the items the main character uses can be used for things. Poke a sword at a switch to use it, or cut trees with an axe. Put down or lob a bomb, or climb walls or cross chasms with a scaling claw. World navigation is a simple directional button input, which means there are no randomized encounters to speak of.
Oh yeah, and speaking of which, the encounters in this game are in two parts. One is set battlefields on the world map, in which you can fight up to 10 of a certain monster group. Clearing it out results in a reward. Regular monsters are dungeon mainstays, staying in place entirely, but always in the way (no you can't jump over enemies). It's all turn-based from then on, your characters versus up to three, so exploit weakness and pray you go first. Magic in this game is in three categories, white, black, and wizard, throughout the game, there are books to get which permanently give the main character a spell. A few battles can be quite unforgiving due to status effects, especially since you can have at most only two characters in the party. The main character in the only one who gains the levels in-game, while the partner has preset things on him/her and does not gain anything. Also the partner can be manually or AI controlled, and the L and R keys can switch weapons, both in and out of battle. I prefer magic, since it's easy to miss with regular attacks.
Then again, I did say the game is easy, so why exactly? Well, there are chests in the dungeons and towns that seem to replenish every time you reenter them. The main items are not that expensive to buy either, and it's easy to reach the cap there. Levels cap out at 41 too, but by then, the main character would be strong enough to endure things well. Armor is simply upgraded when you get better ones. There's a level bug at battlefields where it is possible to gain two levels instead of one, and the final boss apparently has a HUGE bug making the cure spell from the player his worst nightmare. Grade: C
Characters: Benjamin: The main character's canon name. Benjamin's not a notable hero, he was just chosen for some prophecy and is more remembered for the way he shrugs his shoulders.
Kaeli: Some princess of sorts, missing father, first person to join. Also wields an axe and has nice status resistances.
Tristam: A ninja who throws ninja stars. Generally weak otherwise.
Phoebe: Has the best magic and consequently is the best party member. She's luckily available for the endgame.
Reuben: Wields a morning star and is mostly a typical fighter.
The four partners in this game join Benjamin twice on his quest. Again, preset levels, stats, abilities, and no level-ups. Other NPCs exist, but are mostly marginal. At least the characters talk. Grade: C+
Plot: Ready for some cliches? In comes adventurer Benjamin, witness to an earthquake that destroys his hometown. In comes old geezer dude that acts as a mentor. In comes mandatory first battle. And the old man tells Benjamin to fulfill some ancient prophecy, as he is yet another chosen one. Find and unseal four crystals! Start with Earth! Benjamin then starts to go to town, finds Kaeli, she joins up. First mission? Rid a forest of monsters, though since enemies respawn upon reentering, that point is moot. The big one here manages to poison Kaeli, incapacitating her so Benjamin can find a new partner later on in Tristam, who is your average everyday thief and treasure hunter. The bone dungeon's main boss frees the Earth Crystal upon defeat, giving more life to the forests that are dying. Tristam gets treasure, in exchange, Benjamin gets the elixir to cure Kaeli, then it's off to the Water Crystal! That went quick.
On the way Phoebe tags along, trying to find a way to thaw the ice in her town because apparently her grandfather hangs out underground in a waterfall. The first solution is to find something called wakewater, and wouldn't you know it? Their first solution DOESN'T WORK. Naturally, it's off to the ice pyramid, defeating the big guy there to unseal the Water Crystal and thaw the ice. Benjamin goes for Spencer, who is Phoebe's grandfather, and now it's off to the Fire Crystal.
Not much else, so Benjamin journeys to the well-named Fireburg. Reuben is on a search for his missing father and joins up. Meanwhile the thief Tristam gives them a key and then they free Arion, Reuben's father. Of course, the fire crystal just has to be in a volcano, and wouldn't you know? It of course blows its top while you're inside, luckily no one dies except maybe the main guardian of the Fire Crystal. As a result, the place no longer suffers from earthquakes.
The Wind Crystal path is the longest. Reuben stays with Benjamin until he for some reason tries to take a monster on a bridge, which makes him fall. Tristam joins Benjamin at this point, and find more about the tree that bars their path to the aptly-named Windia. Now let's swap partners and get nature-lover Kaeli back in for a monster-cleaning job inside the tree. How wonderful is that? Not really. Well we reach Windia, then we have one of those eccentric mad doctors to help out, and he coincidentally has a damsel-in-distress relative that needs to be saved, of course, one must venture to stop the wind from going out of control first. What a nice name for a tower by the way. Pazuzu's tower? At least the boss is someone named Pazuzu, and the Wind Crystal does feel nice to free. Kaeli then agrees to take care of that girl that was the damsel-in-distress, while Reuben decides to join on the quest to get Captain Mac.
Now, Mac is mentioned multiple times, and is apparently Kaeli's father, but many players would've gotten confused by those things. At least with Spencer we knew who we were trying to find. The duo of Benjamin and Reuben rescues Mac, and Reuben apparently decides to showcase an injury from that fall he had earlier. This makes Phoebe the last partner for the endgame. And what do you know, a full-fledged dungeon rush fighting reminisces from previous dungeons, up till we reach the Dark King. Oh no! The prophecy was a fake! All a ruse to the Dark King, but Benjamin doesn't care and takes him out instead. The epilogue just has Benjamin going on an adventure. How many cliches did you find in this story? Yeah, I gotta say the plot was the weakest thing about this. Grade: D+
Music: This one saves the overall grade by actually being good. I enjoy the battle music for this game, and a few other ones too. No track here was utterly unlistenable. Grade: B
Overall grade: C+
Beginner's RPG? Nah, this one doesn't tutorial you much. But it's full of cliches, easy, breakable gameplay, decent music, weird level design, and so forth. Maybe its best quality is that it is really short. Next time I do a Final Fantasy game it most likely will be much longer than this one.