Sadly, I can only imagine how terrifying RPGs must have seemed when they first came out on gaming consoles years–nay, decades–ago. In contrast to games like Super Mario Bros and Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, here was a gaming genre that moved slowly, told a grandiose tale, reduced combat to a turn-by-turn basis, and asked the player to save frequently because there’s no way you’ll end up finishing this title off on a lazy Saturday afternoon. To ease gamers into this notion of quests of the epic nature and turn-based combat, Squaresoft released Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest for the SNES in 1992, a game that was, for all intents and purposes, a gateway drug to the realm of harder, more satisfying drugs. Drugs here being RPGs, people. Calm down.
Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest‘s plot is guessable. It’s about a young boy named Benjamin who is out to save the world. He’ll accomplish this hefty goal by collecting stolen crystals that affect the world’s four elemental powers. Yup. If that sounds familiar, you’re an attested RPGer. By the way, this unnamed world is divided into four regions: Foresta, Aquaria, Fireburg, and Windia. Go ahead and guess what each one is like, I’ll wait.
Gameplay, for an RPG, was simplified. And this was before Mass Effect II did it. Random battles, equipment customization, save points, and a full party system were abandoned for a streamlined, cleaner presentation that did most of the work for you. Newly acquired armor simply replaces the previously worn. You explored towns and chatted with folk, and you could chop down trees, blow up walls, and use a grappling hook to cross wide gaps. Sounds a bit more like a Zelda game, right? Here’s another instance of Squaresoft making it easier for gamers: the heal spell not only recovered lost HP, but also removed status ailments, eliminating the need for other item types.
I bought a copy of this game for über cheap several years after its release, after it missed the mark of finding lovers in the hardcore Final Fantasy fans, as well as the general mass market. I remember playing it for a bit, but never completing it. My favorite aspect was always how gargantuan the monsters you fought against were in comparison to Ben. Also, the main town in Windia stands out in my mind, but I can’t pinpoint why…maybe there was a band there playing music and I thought that was pretty neat? Maybe. But at some point, this game was bundled up with a bunch of other SNES carts as I traded them all in for my chance at a PlayStation. Strangely, it wouldn’t be until the PlayStation that a Final Fantasy game hit both targets of hardcore RPG fans and those not in the know.
Easy, simple RPGs, such as Costume Quest, can still be awesome, be loved. A part of me wants to believe the same can be said about Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest, but that same part also thinks that new equipment replacing old equipment against my will is extremely obnoxious.
GAMES I REGRET PARTING WITH is a regular feature here at Grinding Down where I reminisce about videogames I either sold or traded in when I was young and dumb. To read up on other games I parted with, follow the tag.