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Capsule Review - Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest

Title Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest
Developer Square USA
Year 1992
Platform SNES
Capsule Rating
Capsule Review: This was an attempt by Square USA to make an "entry-level" RPG - an RPG that would be simple and engaging enough for someone who knew nothing of the genre to play and move on to, say, Final Fantasy VI. Of course, many people are furious that it was released under the Final Fantasy name, but for the more level-headed, this game is not a bad endeavor if you keep its target audience in mind.

Obviously, if you compare it to, say, Final Fantasy VII, it's nothing to speak of. The gameplay is extremely dumbed down, with only four kinds of weapons, armor and items (and no equipping required). The player isn't even allowed to move freely on the overworld, and is instead constrained by set paths defined by arrows. The enemies are always clearly visible, but this won't help any, as it's impossible to avoid them. The player can only have one ally at a time, and it's not even required that this ally be under human control (although it's a good idea; the AI is amazingly stupid). The plot is similarly bland - you save crystals from Boss Monsters with a fetch quest or two per crystal.

And yet, there are redeeming qualities to this game. Despite the simplicity of the game, it does occasionally offer puzzles like the moving blocks in the Falls Basin. Dungeons are actually well-designed; to get through the Ice Pyramid, you first climb to the top and then find secret passageways down to the very bottom - then climb to the top again. Most notably, the soundtrack is a surprising stunner - many of the battle and dungeon themes are nothing short of outstanding. And since the game itself will last around six hours for the experienced gamer, it's an engaging enough way to waste an afternoon, even if it has retained very little of its already small value over the years.

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