Forget Mystic Quest. This Is The Worst Final Fantasy Game

You know how people like to use the word "rehash" to describe games? "Oh, that Call of Duty 44 is such a rehash." "Can't believe they're rehashing Halo again." That sort of thing?

In the wake of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, I think it's time to find a new word.

Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, a direct sequel to 1991's Final Fantasy IV and Square Enix's first foray into episodic gaming, was originally released piecemeal for mobile phones in 2008. A year later Square ported it over to the Wii as downloadable episodic content. And last year, they packaged the whole thing in Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection, a PSP roundup that offers graphical remakes of both After Years and the original game as well as some brief fanfiction about what happens between the two.

I never could convince myself to dish out for episodic content on the Wii, so I bought The Complete Collection last summer. For a while it sat on my shelf, collecting dust with the rest of my backlog. Then I picked it up on a whim two weeks ago to see what sort of crazy things had happened in the world of Final Fantasy IV.

This was a mistake.

Final Fantasy IV: The After Years is so derivative it should be taught during calculus. A more fitting title would be Final Fantasy IV: The Remix. This is the dubstep of RPGs.

Let me explain.

The After Years is broken into episodes, each focusing on the adventures of a character from Final Fantasy IV. Episode 1 focuses on Ceodore, the son of previous protagonists Cecil and Rosa. Subsequent episodes focus on Rydia, Yang, Palom, Edge, Porom, Edward, Kain, FuSoYa and then everyone all together.

In each of these episodes, you'll play as characters you played in Final Fantasy IV as you explore dungeons you explored in Final Fantasy IV and fight bosses you fought in Final Fantasy IV. Very few of these dungeons or bosses have changed. Your characters will even comment on this phenomenon, frequently shouting things like "This is just like before!" or "It's all happening again!"

Here's a rough breakdown:

Rydia's Tale

Returning Dungeons: Passage of the Eidolons, Sylph's Cave (optional), Sealed Cave Returning Boss: Demon's Wall

Yang's Tale

Returning Dungeon: Mount Hobs Returning Boss: Mum Bomb

Palom's Tale

Returning Dungeon: Lodestone Cavern Returning Boss: Dark Elf/Dark Dragon

Edge's Tale

Returning Dungeons: Mount Ordeals, Cave of Eblan, Tower of Babil Returning Boss: None.

Porom's Tale

Returning Dungeons: Underground Waterway, Passage of the Eidolons (second time!), Mount Ordeals (second time!) Returning Boss: Cooler Mammoth (palette swap of FFIV's Octomammoth)

Edward's Tale

Returning Dungeons: Underground Waterway (second time!), Antlion's Den, Underground Waterway (third time!), Underground Waterway (fourth time!) Returning Boss: None.

Kaine's Tale

Returning Dungeons: Mount Ordeals (third time!), Underground Waterway (fifth time!) Returning Boss: Octokraken (palette swap of the Cooler Mammoth and Octomammoth)

Lunarians' Tale

Returning Dungeons: Lunar Subterrane, Lair of the Father Returning Boss: Zeromus

You might have noticed that while most of Final Fantasy IV's dungeons have made appearances so far, we haven't seen a lot of the bosses. Don't worry: they're all in the last area. As you progress through the giant moonbase that serves as the final dungeon of The After Years, you'll stumble upon every single boss from Final Fantasy IV. From Baigan to the Four Fiends to the robotic CPU, they're all in there.

Then, as if the designers suddenly decided that retreading just Final Fantasy IV wasn't enough, the final dungeon starts whipping out bosses from other Final Fantasy games. Games I, II, III, V,and VI. Four bosses from each. This is not optional content, nor is it an easter egg: these bosses are a major part of the final dungeon.

Final Fantasy IV: The After Years costs $US32 to download in its entirety on your Wii. Granted, there's some new content sprinkled among the 20-year-old maps and monsters. Some of it is even great. You'll just have to suffer through a hell of a lot of rehashed material to get there.

Some other assorted annoying facts about The After Years:

  • The random encounter rate is obscenely high. At least on Kotaku you only get Random Encounters once a week.
  • Stat bonuses shift based on cycles of the moon. Cycles of the moon change every time you rest to heal your party. So you have to worry that healing your party will inadvertently gimp them.
  • One of the main characters is named Ceodore. Ceodore. Ceodore.
  • The fate of one main character is left on a seriously major cliffhanger.
  • A large number of boss fights are scripted, meaning that you can't die. But the game won't tell you when a boss fight is scripted. Sometimes, you'll think a boss fight is scripted, then instantly get your arse beat and see the Game Over screen.
  • In addition to the rehashed bosses and dungeons, you'll see many flashbacks from Final Fantasy IV. Flashbacks! Of a game you're basically playing!

I'm setting the bar here. We can't get much lower than this. I hope that The After Years represents the worst moment in Square Enix's history. This game makes Final Fantasy Mystic Quest look like motherf**king Chrono Trigger.

At least things can only go uphill from here.

Random Encounters is a weekly column dedicated to all things JRPG.


Comments

    This is why I skipped the PSP version. Then again, I wasn't a huge fan of FFIV on DS, I liked it more than 3 but I didn't think it was that great, getting bumped back to level 1 mid game totally sucks.

      Actually... stats wise if your comparing DK Cecil and Paladin Cecil. Paladin Cecil was actually really fat/strong on the first few lower levels even compared to his earlier stats.. just to compensate for the "restart". Even then Cecil still end's up w/ the most Base HP and Def in the game as a Paladin.

    I never understood why people hate on Mystic Quest so much. It was not meant to be some deep FF experience, it was intended to be an introduction into the genre and i think it was great at that (I know i would not have played any other FF or JRPGS for that matter, had i not rented it by chance all those years ago). Not to mention it had an awesome soundtrack, with battle and boss music i have not seen topped today honestly.

    But yeah, i did not bother reading the article as the headline said everything i needed to know about the author.

      Stopped reading when I got to "This is the dubstep of RPGs". Talk about a wet blanket.

    Even with Kyonove's point, I still liked it, and I certainly wasn't the RPG-beginner the game was directed at.
    It was a pretty okay guy.
    I also hear The After Years wasn't too bad either, but I guess I haven't played it.

    XIII and XIII-2 were much, much worse than the after years.

    But I liked Mystic Quest :'(
    While I prefer deep gameplay and rpg storylines etc, I could appreciate mystic quest for its simplicity. A handful of characters that you never learn a great deal about, but still get all warm and fuzzy inside near the end when Phoebe joins your party and "holy crap, she has the White wizard spell" or when Tristam plays the "smell you later scrub" card every time he leaves the screen. The soundtrack, while of a different style to traditional FF games still had some of the greatest tracks that still stand up today and the dungeons required some decent puzzle solving/exploration skills. Not sure about the rest of you but when I first played it at the age of about 8 or 9, how long did it take you work out you needed to move the ice columns into place to jump over them in falls basin?

    /removes nostalgia goggles

    Yeh ok the game was pretty simple, looking back, but it had its charm and while I would be hard pressed to call it a great game, but it was far from crap

      And hey it wasn't even titled Final Fantasy Mystic Quest in Australia, it was titled Mystic Quest Legend, which I suppose is what they should have also done when releasing it in America.

      And yeah, I was stuck at Falls Basin for ages, lol. But like other comments here it was my first experience with an RPG so I doubt I'd be into them as much it it wasn't for that game.

        I picked it up from a pawn shop for $25 dollars, my second visit. The first visit I bought a game called Gods which was all kinds of difficult at that age. I remember being able to cast life magic on the Flamerus Rex boss in the bone dungeon to kill it, which if I remember correctly, you weren't able to do in the US version as it would, in fact, heal him, not harm him.

    Sigh. Once again I completely disagree with this authors opinion.

    Are you serious? The After Years is great, The story allowing me to see how all the returning characters have changed and how well off the world has been since the defeat of Zemus.
    And how can you complain about the moon phases? That's one of the best parts, I bet you're one of those guys who just grinds character levels then when in a battle just mashes the Attack command until it's over. The moon phases mean you have to mix up your strategy and not just rely on one dodgy tactic.
    Oh and of course some of the dungeons/areas are the same IT TAKES PLACE ON THE SAME WORLD! There are enough new areas to mix it up anyway.
    Also, you didn't even talk about the Bands ability, it's pretty much the Dual Tech from Chrono Trigger which is awesome.
    I mean, in a world of remakes and ports it is nice to at least see a new story playing out, and I enjoyed the story of both games.

    Mystic Quest isn't even a Final Fantasy. It was the first in the Seiken Densetsu series. How you manage to not mention this is beyond me.

      Because he's talking about the SNES one not the Gameboy one.

      The Mystic Quest in question is a stand-alone game released on the SNES (Mystic Quest Legend or Final Fantasy Mystic Quest). The one you are referring to is a gameboy release titled Final Fantasy Adventure which was a precursor to the mana series, known as Mystic Quest in Europe.

      No it wasn't. Mystic Quest wasn't even developed in Japan, it was done by Square US at the time.

    Fairly sure it's not considered fan fiction if it's in the actual game correct?

    Still better than FFXIII.

    ANYTHING is better than XIII.

      second.

    Article title is suspect. Given that Final Fantasy Adventure, the Legend series, 11, 13 and 14 exist Mystic Quest has never been the worst.

      Are you claiming FFXI to be bad? I demand your reasons!

    Keep a few things in mind here... its a sequel. No surprise its set in teh same world. You go pretty much every where in the world in the first game... where should you go thats new? also, sequels should touch on the original characters etc. For all your whinging, if you know every boss in the final dungeon, you obviously finshed it, so it cant have been that bad.

      The logic in your post is outstanding. Keep on fighting the intellectual fight, Eltial.

    This sounds less like the dubstep of gaming and more like the Before Watchman of gaming. Not that that's any less terrible.

    While you make a few good points the game was still ok. This game deserves a little credit for trying a different approach plus it's original medium fits it a lot better. It was designed to be played in short bursts on the commute home or during breaks like most other phone games. Therefore the episodic approach helped the player feel like they were making more progress in the game with each 1 and a half to 2 hour episode being completed.

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