by Jason Parker (Ragachak)
Final Fantasy Mystic Quest is considered in America to be a “beginner’s RPG”, a game with training wheels to get newcomers started in a franchise that can be unforgiving and brutal. At the time of its development, RPGs were not popular in America. Sure we had Final Fantasy, Dragon Warrior, a few other titles, but they were nowhere near as commonplace as they are now. Square felt that we didn’t play RPGs because they were “too difficult”, and so Mystic Quest was specifically designed for an American audience. Looking back, this is kind of an offensive opinion, but I don’t think a “beginner” RPG is such a bad idea. This is the same train of thought that gave us Super Mario Bros. 2 instead of what is now known as Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels.
By the time I had played Mystic Quest, I had already played and beat Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy 2, and a few other more challenging RPGs. I did not appreciate Final Fantasy Mystic Quest for what it was, because I was much too proud. I came to it later and really began to enjoy it. There’s a lot more challenge in Mystic Quest than you might think. If you avoided it because it looks too childish, sod all that and go play it. It also has some of the best and most memorable music of any RPG I’ve played. I very much enjoyed listening to this album, and Sean Schafianski puts together great remasters. You can find out more about them right here. As far as honorable mentions go, Battle 3 (feat. Ro Panuganti) because I did mention the first two battle themes, but I didn’t want to lump all three together. Battle 3 stands out on its own with a much different style. Also Hill of Fate, Fossil Labryinth, and Middle Tower. Every song on here is a treat.
“The soundtrack to Final Fantasy Mystic Quest is a cult classic,” comments arranged Sean Schafianski. “The blend of rock, jazz, and delightfully cheesy synths was probably the best part of the game! As with the rest of the ‘Remastered Tracks’series, I wanted to stay as true to the original as possible, while still adding in some flair for a modern twist. Performers sometimes took the liberty of a solo here and there, but for the most part, this is the same soundtrack that we all fell in love with. I hope you enjoy this album as much as I did making it!”
Battle 1 and 2 (feat. PirateCrab)(Tracks 5 and 9): As a much younger man, the Final Fantasy Mystic Quest Battle 1 and 2 themes were the first to me that really sounded like they were written for an electric guitar. It just … it just feels right. For such a bright, colorful game to have such a metal, such a dark battle theme really did something for me. The original was all synthesized, of course, but it still had that hard rock sort of feel that made every battle, no matter how cute or cuddly the enemy was, very dangerous. I love the keyboard in the background, lurking behind that amazing guitar, they compliment each other quite well. If I had to pick between the two, I love the melody of “Battle 1” more, but the raw shredding on Battle 2 feels far more intense to me. I wanted to put these together because they’re very similar, despite having considerably different compositions. A similar feeling, but a different sound.
Dungeon of Ice (Track 14): What a foreboding song. The song sounds like it echoes, much like sound would in that horrible ice cave. Is there an ice dungeon that’s not absolutely awful to play through? This song is really interesting to me because each note feels played deliberately, without much use of Sluring (notes played together without separation). Instead, there’s a lot of staccato in the background string, and each note on the piano feels separate from all of the others. Each step in an ice cave must be taken carefully, each jump made deliberately, and so the music for this dungeon, and this remaster also feel the same way. I appreciate that sort of attention to detail.
The Last Castle (feat. Tiago Rodrigues)(Track 22): This song belongs in a Lufia title, and that’s not hyperbole. It would feel right at home in Lufia 2, or on any Power Metal album. By this point, we have visited with all of the Crystals, and it’s time to save this world once and for all. My first time playing, I didn’t realize you could Cure the boss to death (Rohner actually taught me that), and it kind of takes some of the challenges out of the final battle. But this song feels suitably climactic. I can see a hero boldly standing int he wind, ready to kick down the doors and fight his way through one more army of menacing, but cuddly-looking monsters. The Power Metal guitar and drum rolls, coupled with what sounds like brass behind it is really a fantastic addition. It adds a lot of gravitas to the final moments of this adventure.
This has doubtless been one of my favorite albums to review this year. You can find it below: