Way, way back in the history of videogames, you could tell an adventure game from its name. They were called things like Adventure. Or, if you owned a ZX81, Adventure A. Or Adventure B. Or... well, you can probably work out the other two in the series for yourself.
Someone at THQ obviously had a quick look at a thesaurus, because their latest game is called Quest. Synonyms aside, it doesn't have much in common with its distant ancestors. Back then, you had to type go west to get anywhere, and most of the time the response would be YOU FALL DOWN A PIT AN D DIE. These days, of course, you get to see your trip in glorious, fully animated, Technicolor 3-D. Surely an improvement? We'll see.
Quest 64 is the N64's first 'proper' RPG - while Konami's Goemon had some RPG elements (character interaction, finding and using objects), it was for the most part a platform game. Quest makes sure from the start that you won't mistake it for anything as frivolous, by excluding a jump button. Of course, this does mean that the hero can be stymied by obstacles the height of the average matchbox, but hey, this is a fantasy world.
Said hero is called, erm, Brain.
Now, without wanting to offend the literally dozens of Brians who read 64 Magazine, it's hardly the most stirring name you could find, is it? Fantasy heroes should be called things like Aragorn and Conan and Kuldath the Invincible, not Nicholas or Clive or Dominic the Accountant. On the box art Brian looks like a manga-style rendered teenager, a heroic Luke Skywalker type on a mission. In the game he looks about eight, a rosy-cheeked muppet wearing his bigger brother's hand-me-downs. Which do you believe?
Brain's 'quest' (clever wording, cheers) is to find his missing father and recover a magical book, without which Celtland, the world in which the game takes place, will plunge into chaos and despair - the usual fantasy stuff. Being an apprentice Spirit Tamer (a magician, not a tonic) Brian has the ability to learn magical spells as his skills and experience grow. bread) or useful advice, but most of them just repeat the same inanities in slightly different ways.
Some months back, before the game was finished, developers Imagineer said that there would be other characters who could join the hero in his quest, namely a princess and a pirate. Hmm, guess they never got round to putting them in Brainbread) or useful advice, but most of them just repeat the same inanities in slightly different ways. Some months back, before the game was finished, developers Imagineer said that there would be other characters who could join the hero in his quest, namely a princess and a pirate. Hmm, guess they never got round to putting them in. Brain has to face alt the dangers of the world on his own, which is a bit of a bummer for an eight-year-old.
These dangers come in the shape of numerous mutant monsters, who pop up from nowhere as Brian wanders around. The combat system is straightforward enough; Brian can either hit them with his staff, or use one of his magic spells. Fights are turn-based, Brian alternating his attacks with one enemy at a time. A circle around each fighter shows how far they can move in their turn, and a larger circle shows the boundaries of the current barney - if things are getting too hot, Brian can run from the outer circle and leg it.
The system is simple enough - maybe a bit too simple. After a while, combat becomes extremely tedious, and to get anywhere in a bearable amount of time, you just end up making for the outer boundary of the combat zone as quickly as possible. You can't avoid getting into a fight - monsters appear from the ether entirely at random, with no warning of approaching danger.
Wandering monsters are a longstanding part of videogame RPGs, and to be honest they're a part that I wish programmers would realise everyone finds a complete pain in the arse. Quest 64 is a particularly bad offender. There are times in the game when, having just despatched one gang of unwelcome wanderers, Brian literally only takes two steps before another bunch appear from nowhere.
It's not as though these random enemies are easy to defeat, either. Early enemies can be taken out with just a couple of spells or a swift whack from Brian's trusty staff, but it doesn't take long before much tougher freaks appear, and in numbers.
Here's a test for you, based on real events: Brian has 100 hit points, and can inflict a maximum of 30 points of damage per attack. Facing him are four enemies, each of whom can survive at least three of Brian's mightiest blows, and themselves inflict up to 30 points of damage per round on the tuftyhaired little fella. Which side is going to win? As our American cousins would say, "do the math."
Never Say Die
Although you never actually 'die' as such - the worst that can happen after losing a fight is that you begin again at your last save point, where you can regenerate your energy - losing in combat becomes an annoyingly frequent event, because it doesn't take long before the sheer power and number of opponents overwhelms you. Early on in the game you encounter a boss who is holding one of the four elements you need to find. Basically, the first time you meet him, he hammers you. Unless you've got a plentiful stock of health-reviving Hovis in your bag and a hit point score around the 70 mark, you'll have a truly tough time beating him.
So what's the problem there? Simply put, in normal play you'd never get up to that level by the time you meet the boss! Instead, you have to wander aimlessly around outside the castle and in the woods, beating up wandering monsters and gaining experience and extra hit points. About an hour should do it. While you're doing that, are you progressing in the adventure? Are you learning new tactics? Are you having any kind of fun at alt? Are you buggery. You're just running into the same seven or eight monsters over and over again and using the same techniques each time to bring them down.
Another less than impressive feature was the saving system. The game can only be saved at inns (which can be a long way apart), and Quest 64 also managed to crash while I was saving a game, losing all my saved games and, more to the point, nuking my until-then loopercent reliable Datel Shockwave in the process. Now I not only had a dead memory card, but also had to start the game again from scratch, meaning another tedious process of beating up wandering monsters until I'd built up Brian's hit points and magic to a useable level once more. There's a word for this kind of situation, and that word is 'fugginbollogshidwenktwaddin-arzoles!' Or something similar.
All this might be tolerable if Quest 64 had other elements to catch the imagination, but there's not a hell of a lot else to the game. The plot and setting are identikit fantasy stuff that could have been thought up in half an hour by anyone who'd ever read a bit of Tolkien, the other characters Brian meets play no real part in the story, and the puzzles... sorry, what puzzles? The nearest thing you'll find to puzzles are the locked gates blocking the way at certain points. As it turns out, these open automatically once Brian kills the local boss. Wow, solving that nearly made my brain implode! Ooooooh!
Getting through the game is almost entirely dependent on combat, which in turn is dependent on running round in circles until another gang of ridiculous Brian-fodder materialises, then killing them to boost your hit points and gain magic. To be honest, even Goemon is more of a true RPG than Quest- it's got multiple characters, puzzles, an actual plot...
It would be unfair to compare Quest 64 to something like Final Fantasy, since that game has three CDs (1950Mb, or i5,6ooMbits - 60 Zelda 64s!) to play with, instead of a single 128Mbit cartridge. Even so, there's a lot of wasted space that could have been put to better use - rooms with nothing in them, characters who don't do anything, vast areas of land with no purpose that take ages to run across. Had the designers not been so keen to make a real(ish) world, they could have created one that was interesting instead. Even the text-only adventures of old were more involving. Stupid monsters do not a fantasy world make, and spending a good 30 minutes running and fighting along a barren path just to reach the next save point may be fun for marathon runners, but not for anyone sane.
Quest 64 is almost a junior RPG -the basics of the genre are there, but simplified to the absolute bare minimum. There's not enough content to keep older players interested, but the younger players at whom the game seems to be aimed will get bored very quickly with the endless trudging about.
Let's just hope that Zelda 64 doesn't make the same mistakes.
Download Quest 64
Quest 64 is a significant game for several reasons, but the most important may be the simplest--it's the first RPG for the N64. Developed by Imagineer in Japan, Quest 64 will actually hit the U.S. first. You guide Brian, a young Spirit Tamer out to find his missing father, who disappeared while trying to retrieve a stolen book of magic. The game isn't quite the action RPG that Zelda 64 will be (where you have full control over the battles), but then it's not quite the traditional RPG that, say. Final Fantasy III was either (where the battles are turn-based).
In Quest, fights take place in real time, but they occur randomly.
When a battle begins, you're confined to a certain area where you can move freely and attack as you wish, but you can't move outside of that area until the next round of attacks. Aside from that novelty, the game is strictly traditional. Brian cannot jump, and the majority of the game takes place moving from area to area, collecting items, talking to people and exploring dungeons.
Quest's magic system, however, is unique. As a Spirit Tamer, you have control over the four elements (wind, earth, water and fire), and each of the four C buttons corresponds to one of them. You can mix spells for different effects (there are more than 50 spells in all), and you can increase the strength level of each element by gaining experience in battle or finding power-ups.
One other innovation is the passage of time in the game. It's not a new concept--but it's not used often enough in RPGs, and this is the first time it'll be put to use in a 3D environment (needless to say, the graphical contrast between day and night is very nice). Your compass in the upper left-hand corner of the screen guides you along, while its red dot indicates the time of day. Certain events may only happen at night (or only in the daytime), so time will play an important factor in gameplay.
T-HQ is planning to release Quest 64 in June. That should give RPG-starved N64 owners plenty of time to see everything this huge game has to offer before RPG heavyweight Zelda 64 hits home this fall.
One of the most represented genres on the Super Nintendo had to be role-playing games. Nintendo, along with a number of third party developers, carved out the RPG genre and turned it into what you see today. Surprisingly, the N64 has yet to see its first real RPG, but thanks to THQ, one has finally arrived. The real question is, can Quest 64 live up to the high expectations of the die hard RPG'ers out there? The answer? Read on and you shall see.
The back of the Quest 64 box boasts this game to be "a massive adventure RPG." This is quite a bold statement, especially with the past history of RPG's, not to mention the enormous Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy Tactics for the Sony PlayStation. The game has you playing Brian, an apprentice Spirit Tamer. The Spirit Tamers watch over Celtland and keep all the spirits of nature calm. The Spirit Tamers keep all their magic secrets written in Eletale's book, and only the Spirit Tamers have access to this book. Needless to say, the book gets stolen and Brian's father, also a Spirit Tamer, sets out to find the evil person who stole it. It seems that whoever stole the book is using the magic for evil and the countryside is filled with monsters and beasts and all of the towns are afraid. You decide that it is up to you to find the book, rescue your father and save Celtland.
I am not a big RPG guy. How is that for getting straight to the point? Anyway, I am a casual RPG player but I usually don't have the time to invest in a game to really get involved. The last true RPG game that I got into was Suikodenn on the PSX. I never could get into the Final Fantasy games, and I never could understand how a person could brag about playing 40 hours and still be on the first disc. So why am I telling you all of this? I am telling you this because I actually liked Quest 64 to a certain extent and found it quite simple to play. This should tell you that if I found it simple to play, die-hard RPG fans will probably breeze through it without even opening both eyes.
Even I, a proclaimed RPG novice, know that this game is a bit simplistic. One of the basic ideas behind RPG's is complexity. People want an intricate story that is woven into the very fabric of the game. Quest will probably disappoint those players. Don't get me wrong. The game does follow the above storyline, but does not really expand on it. Basically, you spend your time going from location to location looking for The Book and your father. It would have really helped the story along if there were a few more sub-plots going or if there were other characters that you could develop as well. The story definitely need a little more inspiration.
The game is basically broken into two separate types of action. You are either walking around towns or you are in combat. Actually, you can be walking around outside of towns, but that is when you switch to combat. You are safe in the towns and most towns have an Inn, a tavern and a person who has magic wings. The Inns are where you can save your game and if you stay the night, you will receive a full recovery of your hit points. The tavern usually has a person who has some kind of potion or healer (usually bread) that they will give you if you don't have any in your inventory. The wings you receive are used for teleporting back to that town. Also, the towns are populated with people who love to talk, so you will spend a great deal of time interfacing with the townsfolk.
The other area of the gameplay is the combat. This is where you will spend the majority of your time. As you venture out past the friendly confines of the towns, you will be frequently (too frequently) attacked by various monsters. When you are attacked, the screen will change to the combat screen. The combat screen is really not much different, other that the fact that there are two different force fields. The outer force field signifies the battlefield. That means if you are able to reach the outer force field, you can escape the battle without killing the monster or monsters. The inner force field signifies your attack range. You can either use your staff for a short range attack if the enemy is inside the inner force field or you can use a magic attack (see next paragraph) if they are outside the inner force field. I really thought this combat system worked well. It was easy to follow, and you always knew what and where you could attack. The combat was turn-based, so you always had the alternative of attacking or using an item in your inventory.
Since you are an apprentice Spirit Tamer, you have limited magic abilities. As you progress through the game, you will find things called elements. You have four different elements that you can use. These are the four elements of the world: Fire, Earth, Wind and Water. When you find an element, it is in a generic state and it is your decision where you want to put the element. The more you build a specific element, the stronger you become with spells that pertain to that element. For example, if you find an element and place it towards your fire element, you will have a stronger fire attack. The more elements you place in one area, the stronger your spells from that particular element will get. I also really liked this because it forced me to think about the different spells that each element was capable of before I placed it. One thing I was a little disappointed in was that even when I maxed out my elements at 50, they were not much stronger than a close-up attack with my staff, so I would tend to just sit there and whack away with my staff until the enemy was gone. There was not much benefit in using a spell unless the enemy was outside my inner force field.
I am going to do something that I have never done before. Since I really just described the gameplay above, I am just going to list out what I liked and disliked about the game and let you decide from this if it is a game you would enjoy. I will start with what I liked. First was the fact that it was not too complicated, and even an RPG novice like myself could play without getting lost. I also liked the combat system. I thought it made it easy to fight battles. Finally, I really liked the elements. I think this added a bit to the game and without it, the game would have been a bit shallow. Now for what I did not like. First, I did not like how often I was attacked. It seemed like every five steps I was attacked by another set of beasts. This got really frustrating because I just wanted to get where I was going and I kept getting interrupted. Also, I think the story was a bit underdeveloped. It would have been cool if there had been more (or even some) interaction with the person who stole the book. Also, the only thing you as the player hear about your father is from people in the towns who may say they saw someone who looked older than you recently. It would have really helped if the player found things left behind by him or something. The last thing that kind of bothered me was that I would spend a lot of time in caves, and it was way too easy to get turned around. Even though I had a compass, it was hard to always watch it and not where I were going because every time I got attacked (something that happened quite often) I would have to remember which direction I had been heading. I can't count the number of times that I retraced my steps, thinking I was heading deeper into the cave.
I really liked the graphics in this game. This is what I expect out of the N64. The world is all 3D and very colorful. All of the towns looked like towns and the forests looked like forests, etc. The enemies were well-done, if a little weird, but they looked great. One cool thing was that the game featured day and night so as you played, it would get dark and light. I am sure this was not really hard to do, but it was still a nice touch. All in all, I think the graphics may be the best part of the game.
I think die-hard RPG'ers will not be satisfied with the ease of this game and will rip through it. If you have never played an RPG before and have felt a bit intimidated by the other games that are out there, this is your chance. The easy interface and simplistic gameplay should get you going in no time. This game is a great stepping stone before you start into the complicated games. Like I said before, I really enjoyed this game for the most part, even though I found some things to be a bit lacking, but I am also not a big RPG guy. I would still check it out just to get your fix.
Should have been a great RPG, but ended up so simplistic and challenge-free that it is actually rather a bore to play.
Brian-er, Ayron - the adventurer sets out again and nothing seems to have changed!
The first time Ayron the fearless (and obviously neglected) infant ventured alone into the wilderness, nobody was particularly impressed. Now he's embarking to save his pop over here in Blighty, and his home of Celtland is just as dull.
In the import version of Holy Magic Century (called Quest 64) we saw tremendous expanses of space never really populated to their highest potential, and the same is apparent for the latest copy due for release. The characters that inhabit Celtland are just as unresponsive and have problems with the basic mechanics of movement. Either that, or they've all had their feet cemented to the floor.
The combat system is just as monotonous as before too. Poor old Aryon, who should obviously be at school, stumbles across random bad guys at every turn. It's not as frequent as in Quest, but the fighting still causes problems. Firstly, it gets boring, but second, and more importantly, they all have a tendency to knock your health down before you've had enough time to build up hit points.
It's not only the gameplay that is identical to the other versions, but graphically Holy Magic Century is the same as its predecessors. Fortunately, it does look quite pretty. Obviously there are better looking games out there, but standing on its own merit it isn't too bad.
If you've already got a copy of Quest 64 there would be no reason for you to look at this. If, however, you haven't got it but are interested, remember these two things. We've warned you about this game twice now, it's for younger gamers only and even they will get bored. Also, you could get Zelda 64 instead!
Competent RPG, but finished in a hurry and it shows.
Take Control Of The Life Of Brian
The story within HMC is pretty much what we've come to expect - young lad goes in search of something, in order to bring peace to the land of somewhere. In I this case, the lad's name is Brian (not a good start), and the item he's searching for I is a magical book that will keep the continent of Celtland free from upset.
Brian is a bit of a spirit-tamer, meaning I you can pull a Paul Daniels by using 'elements' won through battles or found strewn across the landscape. When picked I up. these automatically supply you with more powerful spells, allowing Brian to progress from using a pitifully poor red/yellow fireball, to chucking magma balls about with the best of 'em.
All these spells would be great if the battles weren't so irritating. Although helped by Brian's ability to move about (see boxout). they occur randomly - if you can call one fight for approximately every three seconds walking time 'random'. This means that the long trek between towns can take anything up to half an hour, assuming that you aren't finished off in the meantime by the fist-denchingly difficult nature of the attacks.
The look of each town makes up for all this a little. Packed with atmosphere, each populated area consists of lush green fields, glorious castles and lovingly-crafted thatched houses with gently smoking chimneys. The people, meanwhile, are happy to do that RPG thing of standing around like statues, but at least they give you puzzles to solve.
Or so you'd think. In fact, all the residents are content to say much the same thing, normally along the lines of "Ooh, if only someone would go and kill that big boss character!" And considering that the town or forest where the boss lives is usually - gasp! - the next place on the path you're following, you can almost get away without speaking to anyone.
Smack Your Boss Up
So, there isn't much to do in Holy Magic Century except wander along endless paths, smacking up monsters and defeating bosses. This isn't, therefore, a game for your casual games-player. Hardcore RPG fans might just about be satisfied, but it's all over so quickly that even they'll end up with a depressing empty feeling inside.
Anyway, as you read this a little green pixie by the name of Zelda should - no. will - be but a few days away from sitting like a glimmering jewel on the shelf of your local games emporium. So, it's a simple matter of choice. A half-hearted, old-fashioned, repetitive RPG. or a Miyamoto epic that's been developed and perfected over three years. It's not that difficult, is it?
Let Battle Commence
Battles in Holy Magic Century follow the usual RPG tradition, whereby you and your opponent take turns to smack each other until one party drops to the floor. But what makes HMC unique is the glowing octagon that surrounds Brian. Within it he can move at will, avoid some of the slower-moving spells cast against him and position himself for some of his own spells that require him to be a certain distance away from his target - the 'rolling rock' invocation being a perfect example.
There's also a larger octagon that surrounds all the fighters. If Brian manages to make his way towards the perimeter of this one, he's given the option of escaping. This is an excellent way of dodging fights if you're low on hit points, or just sick of pummelling. Be prepared, though, to take quite a bit of damage from your livid opponents as you rudely scarper away.
Often, defeating monsters is simply a case of avoiding their attack and then giving them what for. When slinky dodging isn't possible, it's often best to manoeuvre yourself so that the monster launches its least damaging attack -either close to or further away depending on your opponent. It's also worth using a spell appropriate to the monster's weakness -enemies with fiery attacks often suffer the most damage when attacked with water spells, for example.