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Quest 64

Rated E for Everyone


Nintendo 64 (N64)






June 1998

ROM Size:

96 megabits






Controller Pak (2 pages per file)





> Final Rating: 3.5 out of 5.0


Nearly two years after the system's release in the U.S., the N64 finally has its first full-blown role-playing game. Surprisingly, it didn't come from anyone you'd expect. Quest 64, as the game is known in the U.S., was produced by THQ and developed by Imagineer. Imagineer is the same company that produced Multi-Racing Championship and Fighters Destiny, but a different development team made this game, so it definitely doesn't have the same "look" as those two. Unfortunately, Quest 64 isn't geared toward the same audience, either.

Gameplay & Control

Much to many gamers' dismay, Quest 64 is an RPG/adventure on the simplistic side. You won't find members to add to your party, you won't find hundreds of items, you won't find complex Materia systems (like Final Fantasy), you won't find weapon or armor upgrades, and you won't even find any money. Of the items that are in the game, they are either given to you or you might find them in treasure chests throughout the game. Furthermore, the story is also quite straightforward, with zero drama and no side plots. I would like to think that the game can be likened to Dragon Warrior on the NES, except Dragon Warrior was even more complicated than this game.


The most unique and different aspect of Quest 64 is its battle system. The battles are turn-based, but that's pretty much where the similarities end. First, there are hexagonal "force fields" during each battle. The larger force field is the battle area. You must get outside this if you want to escape. The smaller force field is for you to move around in. By moving around your force field, you can get closer to do battle, you can get farther away to try to escape, or you can sometimes dodge an enemy's attack if you move before or after they attack.


Yes, the battle system may be intuitive, but it's confusing and clumsy. You'll often find yourself missing an enemy because you hastily pressed the A button before realizing the staff icon disappeared from the screen. Also, you'll frequently be disoriented after coming out of battle because it's not clear as to what direction you're heading, even with the on-screen compass. The main problem, however, is that battles occur way too frequently. You can't see the enemies; they just pop out of nowhere. It would have been better if they were visible so you could avoid them and so you could fully explore the vast frontier without getting frustrated.


Not so fast, though, because you'll soon realize that you need to fight many battles. Quest 64 is a chance to hark back to the old-school RPGs in which you had to build up your levels over and over, and you'll certainly be spending hours and hours building up your levels because the game can get quite difficult. This also makes Quest 64 kind of repetitive as you go along, because you basically go to a town, fight something in a forest, go through the main world to a cave that is very long, get through it, end up in a town, go into a forest, head back out into the main world to another area to do the same thing, and so on.


The control in Quest 64 is fairly basic. The Control Stick is used for movement and feels much like Super Mario 64, though it might seem a little odd at first that there isn't any jumping. The A button is used for talking, opening treasure chests, using items, casting a selected spell, and attacking with your staff in battle. The B button is used to rotate the camera (face what you want to see and hold it down) and to cancel selections. The C buttons are used for magic and are explained below. The L button enables you to change the camera zoom distance in the overworld and rotates the view in battle. The R button brings up the item screen. Finally, the Start button has several screens underneath it. You can view your status, look at information about your magic, and, most importantly, view a large-scale map that will help you if you get lost.


During battle, when you get close enough to a monster, a staff icon appears over its head. You can then press A or Z to use your staff for an attack. Your staff attack remains your strongest attack throughout the game and will be used about as often as magic. If you're trying to escape, you must turn and run away from the enemy and press A once you're at the edge of your personal force field. That will give the enemy its next turn. Then your force field will move closer to the edge of the larger one. So you must run to the edge again and press the A button. Once Brian, the young lad you control, is outside of the larger force field, then it will say "Escape!" and you can move on.


Besides your staff attack, there is also plenty of (albeit unimpressive) magic in the game. You increase your magical prowess by using existing magic to build up levels and by finding hidden "spirits" in the game. There are 50 spirits for each of the four types of magic, and when you're near a place that has a spirit, a question mark appears on-screen. Originally enough, the magic in Quest 64 is activated by pressing one of the C buttons to bring up the magic list for that element. Left C is earth, Top C is fire, Right C is wind, and Bottom C is water. Then you just select a magic spell and press the A button.


As you defeat enemies in battle, you will gain experience points. (You don't have to defeat everyone in battle; you can defeat only some of the enemies to gain some experience.) You start out with 50 hit points and 15 magic points, and you will, of course, raise those levels as you battle more and more. Hit points are replenished by staying at hotels, which also save your game; by casting your healing spell; and by using items that could come in the form of bread or portions. Magic points are restored by using an item, staying at a hotel, and, somewhat surprisingly, just walking around.

Graphics & Sound

Graphically, Quest 64 looks sweet. Everything is large, bright, and colorful. There is an impressive number of textures, and there's a lot of detail in the areas compared to the likes of first-generation games such as Super Mario 64. I love how the towns and buildings were pretty much built just like the RPGs back in the 16-bit days, with different minute details in each room. In the rooms, towns, and castles, you'll also find pre-programmed camera angles that get the job done. But you'll probably still need to tweak the camera every now and then to see everything in a room. Sadly, there aren't any real-time introductions or cut-scenes, which is something sorely needed in a game like this.


Quest 64 also moves much like Super Mario 64, with smooth scrolling and vast areas. In fact, the areas are often quite impressive in size with distant horizons and awesome towns, but there is too much clipping and the game occasionally slows down. You will, however, find an impressive number of enemies and non-playable characters in the game. The modeling of them is nice. Moreover, Quest 64 has a polished, smooth, and clear look to it, not to mention that everything is perspective corrected. My guess is that it looks so nice because nearly every graphical feature of the N64 is turned on, which is obviously possible with the lack of action in RPGs.


The sound department doesn't disappoint in Quest 64, either. If I'm not mistaken, this is the first epic/orchestrated soundtrack on the N64. OK, so it's not exactly as good as the music in the SNES Final Fantasy games, but it does get the job done. Basically, it seems to follow the Celtic theme of the game. You'll probably realize that there aren't many instruments (maybe four to six) in any one musical piece. Well, you can blame the N64 for that, since the graphics and the sound are handled by the same chip. Because the graphics are so nice, there must not have been many "cycles" left for the sound. When it comes to the sound effects, there isn't any voice, but there are sound effects for the various situations that fit well, except for the annoying footsteps. As a final note, I'm happy to report that the music is in stereo.


Despite the gameplay being on the simplistic side and getting repetitive, I've found that Quest 64 is a pretty enjoyable gaming experience that's long and challenging. You should realize this is coming from a casual RPG fan, though. If you're a die-hard RPG fan who has played many PlayStation RPGs, then I don't see how you can go back to a simplistic RPG like this. But if you really haven't played any RPGs since the Super NES days, then you just might enjoy Quest 64. Let's just hope Imagineer, THQ, or someone else uses the very same engine to make an involving, complicated RPG.
















Even though Quest 64 is highly touted as the first RPG for the N64, you will probably like the game a little more if you think of it as more of an adventure than an RPG, because it doesn't hold a candle to Final Fantasy (SNES and PSX), Dragon Warrior (NES), Earthbound (NES), Super Mario RPG (SNES), etc. Unfortunately, the biggest problem with Quest 64 is that it's a one-way trip with almost zero replay value. True, because the quest is so long, you'll be turning on the game many times your first time through. But after that there just isn't much to do. It's not like there are other people to find, nor are there non-linear subplots to follow. The only other way it gets an ounce of replay value is because of the hidden spirits throughout the game, which brings on the yawn factor. But, hey, the first time through is somewhat entertaining. So the search for a real RPG on the N64 continues…


Review by: Scott McCall

First Reviewed: July 14, 1998

Appendix Added: October 19, 1998




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