Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Quest 64

Quest 64 is one the few JRPGS available for the N64, and the scarcity of the genre on that platform probably contributed to its limited success. Not that the game doesn't have some good things going for it, but by traditional JRPG standards it falls more than short on several fronts.



I'll start by saying the monster designs are phenomenal. There are over 70 different ones and although they reuse some model shapes or structures, there are no actual palette swaps that I recall. Well, maybe a few butterflies or something, but the point is this game has some of the better enemy designs out there.



Bosses are terrible, in pretty much every sense. Half the time you will have no idea who you are fighting and they will introduce themselves and say "I will kill you and take all your stuff". Even the final boss tells you more about himself then the rest of the game does. No story buildup or anticipation at all, not a good way to build anticipation for a tough fight.

Bosses have 2-3 attacks as well, with only a few attacks that are fun/interesting to dodge. So most boss fights becomes a test of how many items you have (which are limited in supply).

Not only do the bosses have little to no background, the rest of the game isnt doing much better. I'm not asking for a book full of text, but the entire game has no narrative. Every city you can just pass on through, or talk to a few people to tell what is going on and where you should go next. A little narrative or actual EVENT(S) that happen throughout the game keeps a sense of pace and keeps the player from getting bored. Instead of entering a small town and then going into the woods to kill a boss, something should happen to the player that MAKES them want to go in to the woods and kill the boss. Huge difference.

The thing that does keep this game interesting is its battle system. No game in over 10 years has replicated this gameplay to my knowledge. It mixes turn based with real time action by avoiding attacks and positioning for offenses. Also the restrictive area fields are a great strategic touch.



The AI is an issue though, as all enemies feel the need to stay as close as possible to you, which is silly considering some enemies should play a keep away game while using powerful ranged spells. Instead they come up to you to use these attacks in your face, taking away a possibility for more strategy in the battle system. Basically even though the enemies look varied, they all fight basically the same.

This causes a lot of fights to become straightforward battles with rushdowns with as much damage as possible, with you healing when needed (enemies almost never heal, or even need to really). There is so much untapped strategy sitting in this game.

Another huge problem is that the usefulness of the elements is unbalanced. Water has healing which is too important considering dungeons are long, MP is aplenty, and items are not. Earth has Avalanche which is by far the best damage ability in every situation(dealing hundreds of damage with no effort). Fire and Wind are left weak and unimpressive. Fire can raise your staff damage and cause you to heal as you strike with it, but these are admittedly cool abilities in a game where utility doesn't mean anything. Wind Cutter does good damage yes, but its still far behind Avalanche, though maybe less random. Point is extreme unbalance in elementary usefulness is a problem when the game gives you the option to increase them how you wish. A good way to fix this would be to require the player to have a mix of elements to get new abilities (which is exactly what the GBC version of the game did).

For the record, I'm not counting this game's lack of party members against it, because it performs well as a solo game, although they could have been a source for some actual narrative, AND it could have add some serious depth to the battle system and leveling system (each member with different elements sets? spreading out elements you find in the field maps?) But basically its not a glaring flaw in of itself.

The game does have a lack of RPG qualities, which isnt necessarily in issue in of itself, but it is often complained about. Its probably more just the fact the game can feel abit barren and has a lack of overall features and things to do besides the main game. No sidequests, no money (hence items being limited), no equipment. However, I cant say I'm comfortable counting these as actual flaws with the game design.
There's definitely a lack of polish though.

THINGS TO OBSERVE
+Good monster design with a lot of variety
+Battle system is fresh and innovative, even 10+ years later!

PITFALLS TO AVOID
-Dungeons are mostly just long tunnels with no traps or distinguishable features other than the scenery
-Bosses are nothing more than glorified enemies - no flashy attacks and their fights dont require any new strategies from regular fights
-Enemy AI is flawed to the point where it hurts the complexity of the battle system
-Practically no story narrative - this can potentially hurt the player's drive to continue the game
-Element attacks for the player are unbalanced to the point where only a few attacks are desirable

Quest 64 has its ideas that could stand to be revisited in a future game, but it seems rushed in many aspects. I do recall production was accelerated because they wanted to get it out before Ocarina of Time[citation needed]. Now we are left with a mostly average game that probably garnered some extra sales at the time, but we could have had a game that would always be cherished as a classic.
 

38 comments:

sewingincircles said...

I think I'm gonna try this game out.

SaysMichael said...

I haven't seen that game in forever!

Martin Wallace said...

I had a Playstation 1 as a kid but never got my hands on an N64 =(

Lundra said...

Love these retro-esque reviews, fantastic idea, great blog.

Makel said...

Quest 64 robbed me of my innocence.

Victorica said...

Nostalgia.

flowchiller said...

I´ve never played this, but I never had a N64 anyway. First it was SNES, then Playstation all the way.

Jesse Crows said...

great review! i look forward to your majora's mask writeup!

The Game Store Guy said...

Wow. Such a classic! I'm sad that mine doesn't work anymore.

Armagedda said...

DUDE...I had this game, thanks for the nostalgia. I know what I'm looking for when I get home from work tomorrow. + follow for future gems.

Jestar4A said...

Man, I remember borrowing this from a friend back in the day. Never owned a copy myself though.

Doro said...

Good old game - classic! I remember when I was plaing it, great time!

Dejch said...

never played it, but i should give it a try

Venus said...

hmmm I would like to see the monsters in this game.

game_artifacts said...

I'm actually going to add more screenshots for this game when I get the chance.

Lunarchy said...

I used to watch my cousin play this game all the time. Major nostalgia!

JustinCKO said...

Ahhhahaha I remember this on the 64. So classic!

Michelangelo said...

Ah yeah i loved this game when i was a kid! :D

Kevin said...

Looks good, will give it a try and let you know what i thought.

Graeme said...

Not for me

Nitrokills said...

N64 FTW!

Eric Peterman said...

i remember giving up on this game because it was way too long

R.C said...

I rented this a loooong time ago, and I honestly had no idea what I was even playing...not sure if I hated it...was just confused by it.

SweetShop said...

I played this game when I was a kid :D

daniel said...

Good info. I remember this game.

DynamiteGanja said...

N64 is awesome I brought it to college and play it all the time haha Super smash bros ftw

Fortune said...

My love-hate relationship with this game ruined me for years to follow

King Elysium said...

I remember this game, good times

King Elysium said...

Nostalgia'd hard

WOODLOUSE said...

I don't remember this one

mious said...

wow, I totally forgot about this.. :D

Genj0 said...

I will try this game!

Xenototh said...

I always hated when bosses would go on long tirades about their past and how your great grandfather Albuntowinmac defeated them in the 4th war where they were both Generals... blah blah. As you said, it just feels rushed.

CPH said...

Omg my favourite game!

Ogre Battle 64 was awesome, too!

rakoth said...

Nice and complete review, the game looks interesting despite its flaws.

lftrpllr507 said...

oh 64..

Chloroform said...

Soooo many hours spent playing this game!

LunaSihne said...

Ive never heard of the game, but it looks alright.

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