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SummaryToo simple for most, but worth a look for any RPG fan
The GoodSquare USA's inaugural effort at game making was ahead of its time in many ways. Weapons can be hot-swapped during battle, you can jump over NPCs that block your way, and (nearly) every battle in the game can be avoided. While the environments are nothing to write home about, the enemy sprites are quite detailed, and almost every single one has at least 2 sprites (they change after they get badly damaged). Weapons can also be used outside of battle which led to far more interesting puzzle opportunities than one was apt to find in other SNES Final Fantasy titles. You didn't need to grind to beat the game, and you could save anywhere you like. For all its flaws, there was plenty to like about FF:MQ.
The BadWhile it broke a lot of ground, and did many things well, Mystic Quest is criminally easy and its story isn't terribly deep. Many of the features above are nice, a few of them add to this, and can be seen as flaws. The avoidable battles are nice, but unlike later games like Earthbound, the enemies just stay in one place and wait for you to engage them. Similarly, the rationing of save points is part of the challenge of a good RPG, and being able to save in dungeons takes away from the difficulty even further. Heck, some folks even like grinding, but I prefer challenges that aren't manufactured, so no points off for that. Taking the simplicity of the game even further, treasure chests respawn in visited areas, so it's a simple matter to keep going back to the first forest and stocking up on potions whenever they're needed. It's not bad, but it's certainly the worst game in the Final Fantasy series to grace the SNES.
The Bottom LineMystic Quest is a game that I feel would make a great research study. It did many things well -- in fact, there were actually quite a few mechanics in MQ that I wish had made their way in to more RPGs from the time -- but didn't deliver quite the experience fans of the series were looking for. At the same time, it wasn't nearly exciting enough to bring new fans to the genre. I can see why it's gotten its "hall of shame" status in the minds of most gamers, but I think the more ravenous of us can be a bit harsh.
Is Mystic Quest great? Absolutely not. But it isn't half bad. It doesn't take particularly long to beat either, so really, what have you got to lose?