Video Game: Final Fantasy Mystic Quest aka: Finalfantasy Mystic Quest
Final Fantasy Mystic Quest (a.k.a. Final Fantasy USA: Mystic Quest in Japan and Mystic Quest Legend in Europe) is an early spinoff of the Shin-Shatteringly PopularFinal Fantasy franchise, released for the Super NES/Super Famicom in 1992. It's widely considered to be either So Okay, It's Average or So Bad, It's Good — although it does have a small, vocal fanbase.The story revolves around Benjamin (you only learn his name from the manual, he has no default name), a boy chosen by fate to save the world. To do so he must recover the four magical crystals to restore the world's climate to its proper order. Along the way he will be joined by several allies who have their own reasons for helping him: Kaeli, a young woman who is connected to nature; Tristam, a ninja treasure hunter with his own jazzy musical theme; Phoebe, a mage who joins you to help her grandfather stop an endless winter; and Reuben, a warrior who is searching for his lost father in a volcano. Each will join your party at various times and help you deal with the monsters infesting the land, as well as teach you useful things and give you many useful items.Your goal, of course, is to find the four monsters who have stolen the Crystals and slay them set things right. But are things really as they seem?Mystic Quest is often considered the red-headed stepchild of the Final Fantasy verse, and is criticized for being "too easy" and "full of cliches" that would appear in many console RPGs after it. Some gamers have decided that these faults can also serve as beneficial for newcomers to the series, but not quite the "gateway drug" that Final Fantasy IV or Final Fantasy VI might have been. One reason the game is hated is because many have mistakenly assumed it was created as a replacement for Final Fantasy V, which was not released in its original Super NES form in America. Although this is not the case, the two games have enough similarities in their visual styles to really piss off the fanbase. However, the game itself shares the most similarities with SaGa 3 / Final Fantasy Legend III, both visually and mechanically.That said, the game's music is among the greatest 16-bit soundtracks. Composer Ryuji Sasai also wrote the soundtrack for a much lesser known Square Soft game, Rudra No Hihou, as well as SaGa 3 / Final Fantasy Legend III. This legacy is finally getting some acknowledgment in Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call, with at least two battle tracks and game protagonist Benjamin appearing.Not to be confused with Final Fantasy Adventure, whose European title is Mystic Quest.
Affectionate Parody: There's a pretty solid argument to be made that the game was at least approached in this fashion by the developers; the Old Man who is actually the Light Crystal, at least, seems really pretty flippant about the whole "the world is doomed" issue. There are also a rather disproportionate number of comedy scenes, given the length of the game. And then there's some of the stuff in the endgame, like the double subvertedprophecy.
The Final Boss (Dark King): Alas, silly humans, I must share a terrible secret! That Prophecy? Ages ago I started that rumor! Welcome to the power of Darkness!
Double-subverted: the Old Man/Light Crystal implies that he knew it was a fake prophecy, but manipulated events so that it would come true anyway.
Black Magician Girl: Phoebe. She's essentially in a dead heat with the hero for "strongest magic user in the game"; Ben can eventually pick up a greater variety of spells, but her magic stat ends up in the nineties when everyone else, Ben included, caps out around 40-50 or less. If you're lazy about picking up the strongest magic spells, she'll be the most powerful spell-flinger by a county mile.
"Blind Idiot" Translation: Mostly with enemy names. "Iflyte" and "Zuh" should have been written as "Ifrit" and "Zu", respectively.
Somewhat side-stepped as this game was developed for the US and released in the US first.
Bottomless Magazines: Averted with Ben's bombs, Tristam's shuriken and Phoebe's arrows. However, ammunition chests are frequent inside of dungeons and respawn when you leave the area, so unless you are really wasteful, the amount is rarely a problem.
Bowdlerise: As in Final Fantasy IV, Holy was changed to White. Not that it really affects anything, as Holy is non-elemental in this particular installment.
Canon Name: Though the game has no default name for your hero, the U.S. manual refers to him as "Benjamin". The Japanese manual names him Zash.
Can't Drop The Hero: Naturally. This is Ben's story, after all. Others will cycle through your party fairly regularly.
Character Tic: Benjamin has the most understandable reaction to weird events in video game history: *shrug*
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: It's a turn-based game, so your actions are determined at the beginning of each round. Get hit for over half your life? Tough, deal with it next round. The monsters? No such restriction — unless the computer is that stupid, an enemy that was at full health at the beginning of the round, after you bring it down to its wounded form, will just cast Cure to fully heal itself. Fighting mage-type enemies, especially when they outnumber you 3-to-1 in this game, is REALLY annoying.
You can get this to work for you, if you set your ally to Auto... but that had problems too.
Convection Schmonvection: One of the dungeons is a giant volcano. The Lava Dome, where the boss guarding the Crystal of Fire hides out, has its entrance at the mouth of the volcano.
And let's not ignore the fact that when you beat said boss, the volcano erupts, too, leaving you... completely unscathed? Huh?
Cutscene Incompetence: Unlike the other characters, Reuben doesn't leave your party after beating the Lava Dome and saving Fireburg, but when you get to the rope bridge and get jumped by a single Mummy, he rather oddly engages it in a duel and gets knocked off the bridge, making him unavailable for the entire Windia area.
Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You and Disappeared Dad: Your orphaned hero notwithstanding, most of the people you meet are looking for a father figure. Your first partner, Kaeli, and her mother from the Forest world are waiting for Captain Mac to return from his voyage at sea. In the next plane, Phoebe is asks you for help in freeing her grandfather from the ice. In Fireburg, you partner with Reuben and find his lost dad trapped in a volcano. You could say that Tristam's constant meddling earns him a Promotion to Parent to the hero.
Damsel in Distress: Kaeli is poisoned and incapacitated for a little over half the game, and Norma is caught on the wrong side of the bridge when it collapses. (Why her grandpa Otto Cid Bekenstein let her wander near The Dragon is... yeah.. but at least she has the sense to stay outside the lair.)
Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: The game allows you to redo any fight you lose right then and there. If you were ambushed, then it turns into a normal fight.
Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: The game makes a point of telling you when an attack was more or less effective against a target. In addition to the magical Elemental Powers there are also Bomb, Axe (including Reuben's Morning Star as well as the hero's and Kaeli's axes) and Shoot (Phoebe's Bow and Tristam's Ninja Stars) type attacks. Most of the strategy in the game is matching attacks to monster weaknesses.
Not entirely used straight; what enemies are weak to what element tends to throw players off when they expect standard FF elemental rules to apply. Flying and digging monsters in particular tended to throw a curve, with flying monsters being weak to wind and digging monsters being weak to earth, despite using those elements to attack. Though in retrospect, a targeted tornado is a pretty good way to ruin a bird's day.
Empty Room Psych: The Kaidge Temple, Light Temple, and Windhole Temple. All of them predominantly featured on the map, the Old Man can be encountered in the former, the middle requires the Mobius Crest to reach, and the latter just sounds important. And yet, there's nothing to do in any of them besides find a few restoratives.
Epic Flail: Reuben's morning star, which strangely functions as an axe-type weapon.
Experience Points: An interesting case, because only the main character can gain levels. Partner characters' levels are all fixed, depending on when in the game they are recruited. For the first "half" of the game companions outlevel Ben when they first join. The queen of this is Phoebe, given how strong she has to be for the final Aquaria dungeon. Unless you've been grinding like crazy she'll have ten levels on Ben and somewhere around three times his health. She can solo many of the early battlefields and possibly even the first dungeon by herself, were it not for the emotional breakdown you find her in.
Cap: Specifically, level caps. As noted, all of your party members have set levels that don't go up, giving them hard caps. (Kaeli and Reuben max out at 31, Tristam a measly 23, and Phoebe is the highest at 34.) The game doesn't allow you to go higher than level 41, however, and since you don't actually gain any actual stat bonuses at 41, the "real" level cap for Ben is 40.
Surprisingly, you do earn added spell slots if you keep amassing XP (the counter continues to climb) after level 41.
Fake Difficulty: Monsters that can inflict Confuse, Petrify or Paralysis become game-ending encounters when you only have two party members and Benjamin can't get equipment to nullify those three statuses until the end of the game — your second party member doesn't get equipment at all. As well, the Life spell for Benjamin cannot be found until the end of Lava Dome (read — final dungeon in the 3rd of 4 regions), so for a good chunk of the game he's unable to revive his ally if they die, and the spell is fairly easy to miss given how large and confusing the dungeon is.
Fantasy Character Classes: Despite none being named, there actually are elements of this in the game. Kaeli is, despite the green dress, actually a sort of armor-wearing, axe-wielding Druid/Barbarian hybrid. Tristam is basically a ranged Ninja who uses light armor and throwing stars. Phoebe is a bow-using Caster of both magic types (making her the second most powerful character in the game in terms of raw potential), and wears "cloth" armor to match. Reuben is pretty much a vanilla Fighter type - tough, big weapon, heavy armor and not much else. There are even HP total differences between everyone - Ben gains exactly one "block" of HP per level, and everyone else is adjusted around this (Phoebe takes a rather significant penalty to HP, Tristam takes less, Kaeli's about equal to Ben, and Reuben has bonus HP).
Giant Spider: Dark King's second (six arms, two legs, fangs), third (an actual spider) and fourth (final) forms. (Though the final form is only part Spider; the rest is an octopus-tentacledabomination.)
Guest Star Party Member: Everyone you encounter will join your party exactly twice. To her credit, Phoebe joins for what are easily the longest stretches of the game (the three dungeons of Aquaria, and then the entire Doom Castle sequence). Tristam is infamous for his short appearances (one dungeon early on and then half a dungeon later).
... Which he will sell to YOU for a low low price of 30 GP.. 15 GP.. how much do you have on you?
How to Become a Love Interest: Kaeli and Phoebe ding this somewhat, although the characterization ends up being a bit too shallow to really go anywhere (and Ben ends up leaving them both behind at the end anyway). That said:
Lost Forever: Any treasure chests you leave in a one-time area such as Falls Basin cannot be reclaimed. As a variation, you can return to the Charm Claw's chest later on if you skipped it by accident, but if you already have the better Dragon Claw, you won't pick it up because you have something better, leaving a hole in your collection.
Low-Level Advantage: It's possible to severely damage the final boss by casting Cure on him. The spell will actually do MORE damage at lower levels. (This does not work if your partner casts cure though.)
Though the advantage hardly matters; even at max levels, it will do over ten-thousand damage a hit (in a game where no other attack is above the low thousands) and kill him with very, very few castings.
Luck-Based Mission: The very first battle of the game. Benjamin has no healing items or spells, you can't run away, and the Steel Sword tends to miss often, so you're just sitting there constantly selecting Attack and praying that all of your strikes connect, and that the Behemoth doesn't get a Critical Hit. (Thankfully you get unlimited continues.)
Magic Knight: The main character, who eventually gets every spell in the game in addition to his arsenal of weapons. Kaeli may also qualify, since she uses an axe as her Weapon of Choice.
Meaningful Name: Among the more generic names of the Vile Four, Pazuzu stands out for being named after the Babylonian wind demon.
Musical Spoiler: Lampshade hung with Tristam the ninja. Every single appearance predicating his arrival is met with an upbeat jazzy tune and the hero looking confused, wondering where the music is coming from.
Leitmotif: Notably, Tristam is the only character in the game with a personal piece of theme music.
No Hero Discount: Shockingly averted, in certain senses - almost all the gear you get is actually obtained from treasure chests or is otherwise given to you. People still won't cut you a break on restoratives even when they all know you're trying to save the world, though. Tristam, of course, invokes this trope deliberately (though he will cut you a deal... JUST ONCE).
Most gear. Steel Helm, Battle Axe, Cupid Locket and Bombs all must be purchased. Still... the game is practically to the point that Gold is a joke, as it throws restoratives at you like they're going out of style. And they respawn too, no less.
One-Winged Angel: The last boss is interesting in this regard. First he goes Multi-Armed and Dangerous, which is fairly impressive, and then he does the spider thing which seems a bit of a wet noodle. Then you realize those aren't legs in the traditional sense...
Palette Swap: EVERY enemy in the game is subject to this at least once, usually twice, with the sole exception of the Final Boss.
Patchwork Map: All four regions are neatly divided by the Focus Tower into their own climates.
Pre Existing Encounters: Enemy mobs are always visible in a set position on the map and don't move, except in two dungeons where they are hidden (by thick fog, magic, etc.) There is always a treasure in each of those dungeons to counteract their invisibility and make them visible. The "battlefields" on the World Map are also non-random, but finite.
Prophecies Are Always Right: Double Subversion... The prophecy that "a chosen boy will save the world" was made up as a prank by the Dark King himself, but the old man that sends Ben on his quest is revealed to be the Crystal of Light, and they fulfill the Dark King's fake prophecy anyway.
Recurring Traveller: The old man that Benjamin first meets at the start of the game. It's justified, though, since he is the Light Crystal.
Revive Kills Zombie: Naturally, since this is a Final Fantasy game. Using the Heal spell also inflicts random status effects on some monsters, including petrification, which leads to instant death. Thanks to a programming bug in the game, the Dark King can handily be defeated with Cure magic with each cast doing over 10k damage, compared to standard spells doing a few thousand damage at best. Epic.
In truth, Benjamin's White Magic can easily be his most devastating; on top of everything mentioned above, Life and Exit both work offensively in battle as instant death spells against anything less than a boss, and even a few of the earlier ones can't handle it. (For example, Kaeli can get an instant dose of revenge against the Minotaur that poisons her.)
Set Piece Puzzle: Many of the dungeons require you to press switches, move around blocks, or blow holes in walls. This was actually innovative for the series at the time, since most Final Fantasy dungeons fit the No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom classification. Even more odd is that very few games with the name have tried to further what the game began, or even tackled the same gameplay ideas.
Shout-Out: A triple-headed boss — one of the heads being a dragon — is named Gidrah.
Shows Damage: Every single enemy. Normal enemies have two images, major enemies have three, and bosses have four.
Squishy Wizard: Phoebe again. She might have the (arguably) best magic in the game, but she doesn't gain HP nearly as fast as the hero (note her HP total at level 15, for example, when Ben gets that high) and she'll end up with a Defense stat easily forty to fifty points lower than an equal-level Ben at the end, especially if you bother to get all the best armor.
Too Awesome to Use: For the first entire half of the game, you can only get three Seeds (magic restoring items) which are hidden in a single chest deep in the Bone Dungeon. Sure, you can leave the dungeon and reenter to get more, but that takes ages and is incredibly boring. So, until you get to Fireburg (where you can buy as many as you want), you'll be rationing those things (and spells in general) like they were made out of diamond.
The Unchosen One: The Dark King mocks the hero by revealing that he fabricated the prophecy and there is no Chosen One destined to stop him. The hero kicks his ass anyway.
Useless Useful Armor: Tristam's armor, the Doom Robe has no status resistances except one- Doom. It's the only armor in the game which resists Doom. The first enemy in the game to use a Doom attack appears immediately AFTER Tristam leaves your party for the last time.
This does lead to suspicions that Tristam was meant to be around longer during development, as he really is the least-utilized party member in the game.
Although due to Good Bad Bugs, your next partner may temporarily steal this resistance.
The Very Definitely Final Dungeon: Early on, you might suspect that the Focus Tower is this. You'd be sort of right; "Doom Castle" is built under, around and inside of it and you get teases about it at various points. The Very Definitely Final Room of the castle is suitably impressive, too, with the floating alien eyes and whatnot.
Western Zodiac: The Libra and Gemini Crests. The Mobius Crest is instead emblazoned with a lemniscate, or infinity symbol.
When Trees Attack: One of the first bosses disguises itself as a tree and attacks Kaeli, poisoning her.
Final Fantasy Mystic Quest: the only RPG where trees put you in wrestling holds.