It's generally accepted, and generally true, that american gamers are not nearly as interested in RPGs as their japanese counterparts. What's more, translating an RPG is hard. Porting some cruddy action game is easy, since there aren't many words to move over; RPGs, on the other hand, are almost all words. As a result, moving a japanese RPG to america is not always a great idea from a purely business point of view. It isn't cheap, it can't be done on a whim, and once you're finished, since american consumers are not attracted by the same things as japanese consumers, they won't buy as many copies, and they'll usually buy them for different reasons. As an effect of this, most RPGs, especially earlier ones, are in some way limited in the american release in order to "tone down" the gameplay for the reportedly worse american gamers. Difficulty levels are slashed, bosses are made weaker, entire aspects of the game are simply removed. The problem with all this is that the american gamers who do like RPGs are rather heavily shortchanged-- some of the best stuff never gets into our hands, unless we want to learn japanese and then somehow mail-order stuff, and what we do get is often watered down somehow.

So the question becomes, what happens if you just take some american programmers, put them in a room and say "OK, make an RPG", with the intent of getting as many american values and assumptions in as possible? Do you get something which is inherently american enough that american gamers can connect to it and appreciate it?

Well, kind of, i guess, if "american gamers can connect to it" means "it isn't very hard at all". What you definitely do get is something kind of sorry-ass. You get something wussy. You get something fiercely mediocre. You get Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest.

Overall the game was very simplistic, and mostly felt kind of just like Square had just given some random untrained people some basic books on SNES programming but they hadn't really mastered it yet. The game was a huge step back in terms of graphics; all the characters and other objects were very clearly icons, and unlike the ones in FF2 they felt like icons. The plot.. well, the plot was there, but it wasn't spectacular. There were a limit of two characters in your party. The most notable differences from the rest of the final fantasy series was that the enemies didn't attack you at random (plus they weren't invisible-- they were all just icons of monsters, sitting out there in the terrain, and you would fight them by going and talking to them) and that there was no freely-movable overworld map-- it was more like super mario world, where you had a couple specific checkpoints you could go to and you would move between the predefined areas (in implementation, this isn't quite as bad as it sounds). There were a bunch of little things that just kind of took a lot of the life out of the game.. like, there were inns, but that didn't matter because you could go to literally any bed in any house in the game and it would let you sleep in it.

Mystic Quest was not nearly as bad as most websites make it out to be. It wasn't painful, nor do i regret the time or money i put in the game. But i sure as hell wish i had bought one of the Breath of Fire games instead. Because the thing is, the game was worth it, but not when you compare it to all the RPGs out there which are so much better..

Note: People in other nodes have reflected that Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest has no relation whatsoever to the Final Fantasy series itself, and is merely a lame attempt to cash in on a franchise by tacking the words "Final Fantasy" to an unrelated game, thus bringing attention to it. They are completely right.

mcc wrote:
People in other nodes have reflected that Final Fantasy: Mystic Quest has no relation whatsoever to the Final Fantasy series itself, and is merely a lame attempt to cash in on a franchise by tacking the words "Final Fantasy" to an unrelated game, thus bringing attention to it. They are completely right.

They're not completely right...Mystic Quest contained a number of Final Fantasy references, or traditions so to speak. The most obvious one is the presence of four elemental fiends, and IIRC they included the traditional stable of magic spells that are in every FF game. I'm sure there are a good amount of other similarities, but...I can't, um, remember them. Yeah, that's the ticket. I can't remember them, and, uh, I don't have the time to play the game again...

(That lying at the end is especially transparent because one could probably beat Mystic Quest in a couple of hours.)
What's funny here is that Mystic Quest, in Japan, was titled "Final Fantasy USA." It was an "intro level" rpg. A game for people who'd never played role-playing games, much less, Final Fantasy, before. I enjoyed Mystic Quest, even after the American releases of Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy 2. It was an enjoyable game, and a friend and I played through it when it first came out, much like we marathoned FF2 and how Beltane and I marathoned Final Fantasy IX. The point is that the Japanese made fun of us through this easy game and it's title, and that it was still a better game than Lagoon, or several subsequent titles that were real role-players.

I mean, I'm not here to laud Square or anything, but even when they were poking fun, they were making good games. So remember that when you play through Final Fantasy VIII, a decent, though predominantly cinemema scene oriented RPG (at least if you ask me, not being able to level over your opponents is a curse, and the story and cinema scenes were the only things that got my through that game, the first FF I didn't play through more than once).

Admittedly, the advertising line for FF: Mystic Quest was kinda lame, and the game itself wasn't what Square usually had to offer the SNES, but it was a fun game, and I'd buy it over a lot of others hands down, every fuckin' time.

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