GSJ10: Ugly Americans

In the Japanese box art for Final Fantasy Mystic Quest, aka Final Fantasy USA (which is not a friendly “USA” suffix in the way the cool upgraded version of Doki Doki Panic became Super Mario USA, but more of a “USA dudes don’t get the sophisticated dynamics of this genre that originated in the USA” kind of snobbery), the hero appears to be stabbing the game’s title in anger. Ouch! Right in the Q. That about sums it up.

I actually didn’t get RPGs back then, not really, but I knew Final Fantasy well enough (after playing through the first two that had come to the U.S.) to realize something was grotesquely amiss when I played Mystic Quest. I was a pretty mellow kid and never really got angry at video games back then — aside from trying to get a fair fight against M. Bison on max difficulty — but Mystic Quest ticked me right off. At least I’d rented rather than bought it.

I admit I’ve developed a kinder perspective on it more recently, having come to the realization that it’s actually the sequel to SaGa 3 whose masquerade under the Final Fantasy Legend banner managed to stretch all the way back to Japan. At which point the jig was up; Square stopped peddling SaGa as FF Legend, and the SaGa 3 usurpers were supplanted once again by the series’ rightful king, Akitoshi Kawazu. So in its own way, Mystic Quest was a good thing.

13 thoughts on “GSJ10: Ugly Americans

  1. It was fun if you could only rent RPGs at the time, and wanted to beat one quickly. And hey, the music!

    • It’s not, really. It was developed by a lot of the same people who made SaGa 3… which was completely separate from the original SaGa team, who moved over the develop Romancing SaGa after SaGa 2. It’s a kind of weird, irrelevant connection, really.

  2. So I guess I’m the only one in creation who actually enjoyed this title in my preteen -> teen years?

    • No, you’re not alone. Mystic Quest was my first RPG, so I have a soft spot for it. Plus, it’s really not that bad. Sometimes I like games to be short and easy, and to me FFMQ is a nice change of pace from all of the 80+ hour contemporary RPGs that I’ll never have time to play. Plus, the music is awesome! Even the simplest of games can be fun to play if it’s accompanied by a great soundtrack (just look at Mega Man).

    • No, I loved it too, and own it on VC. Despite playing FF1 & FF2(US) prior. It was a real rental rpg. Perfect for playing the hell out of over a middle school Thanksgiving break. It wasn’t as great as the others, but it was good. Kinda like Spike McFang.

  3. This was meant to be baby’s first RPG and I loved the hell out of this game when I was in grade schoo so l guess mission accomplished. No idea if I’d be able to stomach it again now.

  4. Being a kid who played PC games, mostly RPGs and strategy games at the time, I honestly didn’t notice the now obvious differences. FF and Dragon Warrior games already were simplified RPGs to my eyes.

  5. This was exactly the right game at the right time for me–I was fascinated by the RPGs I read about in Nintendo Power, but always too intimidated by their seeming complexity to give one a try. Mystic Quest seemed aimed directly at me, offering an entry-level experience that would let me try out the genre without getting overwhelmed. Looking back, I’m sure I would have been fine going straight to FF4, but I didn’t know that until Mystic Quest showed me how fun this stuff could be.

    Of course, once I did play FF4 and see what these RPGs could really offer, MQ lost a lot of its charm. It’ll always be a significant piece of my gaming history, though.

  6. “Everybody hates Mystic Quest, and not entirely without cause.”

    MQ is one of of the three Final Fantasy games I’ve actually played, and I don’t hate it at all. Then again, I found it for $20 in a bargain bin, so maybe I knew from the start that it wasn’t going to be a AAA experience. It was fun, and yes, the music was great.


    There’s the magazine ad for this game right at the end. Funny coincidence.

    I’ll say that the game had some fun in it when I was very little. Like, before I could read properly, and things like the auto-equip were helpful. In that sense, the game was successfully targeted at me.

    Even so, like many, I have much fonder memories of the other FF titles on the SNES.

  8. Definitely enjoyed FFMQ when I played it. Probably because I had a healthy appetite for just about any JRPG back then. Even if the hand-holding tactics were obvious, it didn’t really matter; I was just enjoying plowing through the game. I’m surprised this concept wasn’t resurrected in some form for Wii, given it’s anybody-can-play-videogames attitude.

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