Well, may as well get this knocked out and on with other things.
To start this off, my impression is that most fans of the main series are not particularly fond of this game. I can understand why, of course. The challenge and a lot of the themes from the main series, especially up to the point where this game came out, were not present in this game. I must say, though, that I quite like it. Sure, it's not Final Fantasy 4, or 6, but it's still a good game, especially for the intent behind it. I've played through this game, I dunno, maybe a dozen times since 1992, and I still enjoy it every time.
With regard to the intent behind the game, yeah, it was meant as an intro game into the RPG genre for people who had wanted to get into them but may have been intimidated by the scope of the other titles on the market at the time. I said at the very beginning of this that I was so excited about having another Final Fantasy game come out after 4 that I went right out to buy this soon as it was available, at least partially unaware of what it was. Over the course of playing the game again, I remembered that I was a Nintendo Power subscriber at the time, and was going to check their website to see if there was something in their archives, like a back issue or something, with an article about the game. Turns out, the mag actually went out of publication a couple years back, and finding that information will probably be a little more difficult than it needs to be for this particular project. The idea behind trying to find that quick was to see if I might have known the intent ahead of time and went ahead anyway.
It would have made buying the strategy guide doubly foolish if I had, I suppose. At the same time, knowing me at the age of 15, I might have gone ahead with buying it all the same, too. I still kind of wish I'd managed to keep that, just for the hell of it. I'd certainly feel a little less snookered out of that money, but too late to worry about it now.
One thing I've been saying about a lot of media lately is that I'm not entirely sure who the target audience is, who the producers think is going to buy something. That's a line of thought that applies to this game now more than it did back then, of course, but it still did to some extent. Back then, I think there may have been more room for growth amongst people who were not yet RPG fans, and it made sense to think that maybe there were a few people out there who were saying “A Final Fantasy game that's not so intimidating and time-intensive? OK, I'm in!”. And since this was a good five years, anyway, before Final Fantasy 7 came out the first time, it was a lot easier to think that way.
At the same time, though, I think they also understood the power of the marketing they were doing by using the Final Fantasy brand on this one. Sure, there are a lot of elements from the main series that show up in this game, but at the time, there were also two other RPG series for the Game Boy that also shared the Final Fantasy title: Final Fantasy Legend and Final Fantasy Adventure. This game borrows quite a bit from the Legend series, specifically FF Legend 3, which is something I had to look up to be sure of the details. Just as they were using the Final Fantasy name to sell those games, which spun off into the Mana and SaGa series, respectively, if I'm not mistaken, the same could be said of this game. While it makes sense, I sometimes wonder if we wouldn't have been just as well off with these games being given other titles.
I guess it comes down to the issue of staff. Like I was saying last time, I noticed a lot of familiar names from the main series games that came out either side of this one in the credits. This next thought is going to show just how little I actually know about game development. I can't help but wonder if it would really have been that much more problematic to just have done Final Fantasy 5 for a global release back then and have had the Mystic Quest title be its own game, separate from the Final Fantasy name.
With all that in mind, I guess we can call this game one of my guilty pleasures. Yeah, this game is really easy, and stripped down compared to the other games in the main series, but I still like it all the same. I would recommend giving it a shot if you get a chance. I think it'll be worth your time, just for the sake of saying you've played it.
The end stats for this run were that I had Ben at level 37, which is about average, and pretty close to the cap level of 41. Not sure how that was decided, but there you go. The total play time was 16 hours, 43 minutes, which seems about average as well, far as I can tell, without grinding. My previous, just-for-fun playthrough had similar stats, with the only really notable difference being that I managed to get Ben one level higher, but I don't recall there being any significant differences to that end.
So, that leaves us with the matter of where to from here. Right now, I'm thinking I'll at least try to go back to and finish Final Fantasy 8. I think I left off where Squall and the others were on their way to the space station, but I'll have to look that up in my notes again, just to be sure. I'll probably do a Final Fantasy Tonight when I finally get ready to go on that.
Anyway, until then, stay safe, have fun, keep gaming, and DFTBA!