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Quest 64 back to reviews
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Simple, clearly unfinished, but distinctive
Quest 64 has a kind of funny story behind its development. American publisher THQ, best known at the time for their wrestling games, wanted to branch out and try new types of games. They got ahold of Holy Magic Century Eletale, a Japanese-developed RPG for the Nintendo 64. But with the impending release of Nintendo's The Legend Of Zelda Ocarina Of Time, THQ told developer Imagineer to hurry it up and have something to release in the US by the end of the summer.

The result is a game that has some truly bizarre flaws, but at the same time a surprisingly unique gameplay system that works. The turn-based battles in Quest 64 have a type of depth you don't normally see in the genre. You can dodge attacks when it's the enemy's turn to attack (if it's a ranged attack), and you can even escape battles through repeated movement. Trees, ledges and other obstacles play a role in your movement during battle. And your stats increase based on how often they're used - i.e. continual use of magic levels up magic, continual use of physical attacks levels up your staff, taking damage increases your max HP, and so on.

What's unfinished is everything else! There's a night-and-day system that's totally aesthetic and nothing else. Since some dialog in the very first town references it being "dark soon", regardless of whether it's night or day, the unfinished nature of the game is immediately noticeable.

Townspeople stand around and do nothing in almost all cases. There's no monetary system; shopowners give you what you need if you're currently out of it. And there's no real storytelling aside from a few dialogs you need to engage in to earn a key or enter a new area or whatever. One "boat ride" is taken by talking to a character on the boat. When you step outside, it's suddenly at its destination with no transition at all. While you later earn warp shoes that let you warp to their town of origin, using them causes them to disappear, requiring you to get new warp shoes in the town they took you to.

Quest 64 may be blatantly unfinished, but I still enjoyed it back then and have fond memories of it now. From a marketing perspective, THQ may have done the right thing by rushing the game to market, as from what I recall, it actually sold pretty well in North America.
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