This page is about both the N64 game "Quest 64", and its GBC remake, "Quest: Brian's Journey". Also known as Holy Magic Century
Anything you say about one won't always apply to both, so be sure specify which game you're talking about if that's the case.
There is no such fucking thing as "Quest: Fantasy Challenge" for the Game Boy Color, and you should NOT acknowledge any claims of its existence. Such tales are lies.
User 1's NotesEdit
Add anything you feel like adding here.
This might be one of the few times I can sum up a game in one word:
That's pretty much Quest in a nutshell. Of course, that's kind of a cop out and a lame note to end the page on.
Pretty much any normal RPG fare that you can think of, Quest does differently, and at times, very strangely. You name it, it's probably different: Items, magic, attack, stat growth, level ups, town-to-town fast travel, and so on. Here's the big thing to note though: "Different does not always mean good or bad.". Sometimes the stuff Quest changes is pretty good, sometimes it's bad, and at times, it's just different and balanced, or you just don't give a shit.
Starting with the "bad": I fucking hate Quest's item system. It doesn't make any sense logically and is completely fucktarded, even when you exploit it. The story gives a reason for it, but it's still stupid. To explain, there's no shops. The "shops" gift you an item, depending on the shop, and you cannot get more of that item from the shop until you are out of that item. Items also drop from monsters, however, the drop rates tend to be very uncertain, depending on the item. Here's where it gets dumb. The monsters don't drop items if you have them either. So in order to maximize your inventory, you have to use chests. This involves an silly amount of backtracking at times though, and unless you REALLY want a full inventory (you don't), it's not worth it. It's best to to just use what you've got from towns and save what you get from chests for when you really need it. It's not a hard game to begin with, so you there's no need to go full Smeagle and horde and save everything for "when you really need it" on the level that you would ever really hold all 110 items (or so I've read). Especially when you consider the inventory only shows like 7 items or so at a time. Technically speaking, you are a "mage" type character, so if you're going to be relying on anything, it should be your spells.
This where things get "neutral". The leveling system in this game is just kinda... uh... eccentric? You have your basic stats of attack (increases staff damage), defense (lowers damage taken), and agility (dodge rate). However, each one, along with HP and MP, have their own "experience" and "leveling up". You raise these by doing different things in battle, such as taking damage, casting spells, physically attacking, etc. versus just gaining some when leveling up. It's sort of like Final Fantasy 2j in a way, but you can see the results easier and you can't punch yourself in the face. I'm hardly fond of the staff attack though, being so short ranged and pretty meh until mid-game or so, then (depending on your play-style) you can boost it up with spells. Before that point, it's more of a last resort thing or way to save MP. It pretty much stays in that role (unless you like to utilize attack buffs and Vampire's Touch), but at least gets to the point where it packs a better wallop.
This leads me into the best and worst part of Quest which is, without a doubt, the Magic system. Unlike games where you get to build and define your character's specialty, Quest demands that you play like a mage, and magic the fuck up. Your "experience" points that you gain from a battle being used solely for level ups which involve boosting your magic capabilities is enough evidence of this. As you decide which way to boost your elements, that in turn effects how you play. Even going for a balanced level among elements is an option (though not a good one). What's interesting though, is how you can create a mix of sort. Like say, if you wanted to go more staff-offensive, you raise fire to get Power Staff and wind for Wind Walk. If you want to play your battles safe, you raise water for Healing and earth for Spirit Armor. It's a neat little system, but the problem is that it doesn't quite work as ideally as one hopes. Some of the spells you want to aim for can take a long time to get and in addition to that, there's a rather notable imbalance between elements and the rate you get the better spells of the bunch. The Wind Cutter line being rather meh, and Ice Knife being notably weaker than water pillar (though with better range and an occasional stun-effect to foes), and don't get me fucking started on Avalanche and Magic Barrier. Once you get those, the game becomes a piss easy cake walk. That's my problem with the system. One, going in blind and just fucking around with the trees won't really benefit you. Two, even though you can see what you can learn, the game doesn't make it too clear what the spells do. For things like Level 2 versions of spells, yeah, it's a given, but how is the player supposed to know something like "Homing Arrow" blows megachunks? Last, why even have so many attack spells if most of them don't even matter compared to alternatives? Granted, the game revolves around you Rock-paper-scissoring opponents with their weaknesses, but at the same time, some of the attacks spells just blow compared to your alternatives. Fire Pillar, for example, is like a Water Pillar for fire spells, but when you have Hot Steam and Fire Ball 3 way before then, both of which have better range and area of effects, it just feels like they hamfisted it in just for the sake of trying to round things out. Granted, it makes sense from a theoretical perspective, have more magic attack types for each element you build up, and if the player only puts points into one category, you have to keep it somewhat fresh. The problem is that in practice, you're trying to exploit the RPS factor of enemies to kill them fast and with minimal hassle. In addition to that, spells of an element rely on the points you put into it. So using a Water magic on a mid-game foe when you've only boosted your water power 5 times isn't gonna do hardly jack shit. It's a nice idea, and executed decently, but it's also unrefined and imbalanced (the latter being in your benefit in some occasions), and this becomes more apparent if you replay it. It can be worked with and figured out, but it shouldn't HAVE to be such an issue.
There's a few other little nags that keep Quest down a bit. One notable one being that the camera is kinda shitty. This isn't a major problem in itself, but when you do battle and win, Brian does a stupid victory pose, and it fucks with your camera and becomes disorientating to readjust to where you were TRYING to get to before you entered battle. The encounter rate is pretty high too, especially considering that you're the only character fighting against multiple characters. Granted, the latter keeps things from being DQ1 levels of simple, but at the same time, fights can drag on a bit, even some of the easy ones. One last thing which I'll probably get shit over, but fuck it, this game has some pretty ugly graphics, even for its time. I'm hardly a graphics whore, and while I like the style of the artwork, the in-game stuff is way too simplistic, and you can tell from the low-polygon count across the board, along with mostly flat and sparse settings outside of town. It's been a while since I've played it, but IIRC, loading times were almost non-existent, if there even were any to begin with. Was this the reason? I dunno, but it's a good excuse. Granted, most N64 games lacked loading to begin with, but for most RPGs at the time, load times sucked, so I guess Quest gets a free pass here.
One thing that I flat out don't really give a shit about, and you shouldn't either, is the wing system. One, because if you're trying to get back to town, you can just die in battle and pop back to the last town you saved at with no consequence (Not like they COULD. What are they gonna do, take half your gold?) Sure, any items you used are gone, but as I mentioned before, you probably won't need them too much and you can still get some stuff at the "shops" in towns. Your stats, experience, and levels are as they were upon death, so you still made some progress and the next round going in will (technically) be easier. The Water magic line has some escape and exit magic, but I don't see much of a point, since you might as well get something out of a trip back to town instead of nothing. In addition, the warp to town magic only applies to the last one you saved at (IIRC), so you might as well just use a fucking wing for that. In addition, because towns are pretty much just the hubs for the next dungeon, everything is extremely linear, and most of the shit you get for recovery at the beginning of the game is gonna be balls like a third of the way through anyways. It'd be different if the game was non-linear, towns changed items, and there was significant advantage of going back to them, but as is, it's just kinda, "whatever". Once you get to the next town, the last one may as well not exist. Given that there's only like 6 towns (plus a few separate hub, inn, and save spots, but those don't have wings to warp to), it's not even something worth fretting about to begin with.
One thing that's fairly enjoyable though, even if the instrumentation isn't the best, are the melodies of the music. Tying in with some of the celtic themes of the game, it's very folksy while managing to stay rather different from conventional styles seen in most RPGs, even now. Granted, not every song is like this, but a majority are, and it's done nicely. A definite contrast to the graphics at least.
Moving on (finally) to the GBC variant... Music aside, I actually prefer this version of the game to the N64 one. The story's better, Brian isn't a fucking mute (which, when you're on a solitary journey, is pretty boring (this coming from a DQ1fan is rather ironic)). His character is a bit simple, but effective. He's not a "Beef Mega o' Clock Shadow" type of hardass or a "joe animu hurt feelings edition" whiny brat, he's just kind of an inexperienced kid who grows into a braver kid over time. It isn't exactly the most well done transition, but it's a hell of a lot more entertaining for the player versus a doll who doesn't even emote outside of a victory pose or when he's dying/dead, nor does he have someone who can act as a sort of personality companion (doesn't have to be Navi-tier or be an expository faggot) or foil (like say in a rival enemy who you meet across the game). In addition, other characters act beyond their initial meeting, or act differently. In Quest 64, for example, you see Leonardo, and you kinda wonder who this guy is, but in GBC (I'm not about to abbreviate this as "BJ") you actually fight him and he appears in scenes afterwards. The same applies to Kiliac and a few other characters, though you don't have to fight a majority of them. In general, people talk more and characters are a bit more interesting and not just feeling like one-off "cameos" in their own game.
As for other newish things, spells are actually adjusted notably. Not exactly much or balanced, but some tricks and spells aren't as good as they once were, such as Avalanche, so you have to rethink your strategies if you played 64 before this. From the options I'd chosen before, I'd consider it better than the N64 version for the most part, but I haven't fully tested the extents of both to make a final judgment.
One thing to note between versions is that stat gains work a little differently from before. The same sort of concept applies, but what you do for each one is a bit different. The only complaint I have with this is that you can actually game over now as a result of dying. Kinda makes sense if they were trying to give a level of tension to fights, but there wasn't really any need to do this before. If anything, it just makes staying alive inconvenient and makes those water warping spells worth a fuck (which may have been there intention, but it's still dumb). All in all, it evens things out a bit more, I guess.
It's still a pretty linear game though, and there is literally ONE sort of reason to bother backtracking. That is the added lottery. I guess in an attempt to make a sort of "shop" type thingus, with "equipment", while still staying mostly true to the no-money bullshit, the devs half-assed this up. There's only 3 prizes worth a fuck, but the problem lies in that it's still a lottery, not a guarantee. On top of that, you have to wait and move around for a pretty extensive amount of time before a messenger bird pops up to tell you if you won or lost. Even if you win, you have to backtrack ALL THE FUCKING WAY to Melrode Monastery to get your prize. This isn't a problem if you get the fucker early on, but that damn bird can take fucking forever to pop up. You might even forget you entered the lottery by the time you see him again. It's not like you "need" the items either, all they do is make an easy game (a bit harder than the N64 version) easier. It's a nice intention, but something like the Medal King from Dragon Quest IV would have been a far more preferable alternative.
In terms of battles, I prefer this version. The pixels are easier to judge for attacking and dodging, and it's easier to tell when your movement range has increased a bit more over time, versus Quest 64 where it took forever to notice an improvement. The graphics still aren't great but aren't as laughably bad as the Q64's were. Even on the overworld, things are still a bit sparse and overly linear, but easier to tell what's where, what's what, and you don't have to deal with a wonky camera. Music is naturally a bit weaker, but the melodies are quite faithful and the voice division used is pretty good. Can't say I'm a fan of most animations having very few frames. Oh well, I guess something had to give.
Strangely enough, I rather like these games (more so the GBC game), despite all of my complaints. I get the feeling that they ran out of budget and time for both, making them the way they are. Imagineer was never big or rich to begin with either. I feel like more ideas were going to be implemented, given the additional elements (cough cough, that's a stupid joke) seen in the GBC game over the N64 original, but it just didn't work out. I mean, Leo and Flora travel with you to an extent, but Brian's the only one you control. It's just kind of a let down knowing that they could have done more. Well, they wanted to. A second "Eltale Monsters" (the series name in Japan) was planned and teased, however, nothing came out of it. Some of the aspects I mentioned they could have fixed seemed like a possibility, given that there was a sword fighter girl and a mage guy, both of which were supposed to be the main characters and controlled, IIRC. If anyone were to touch on it again via buy out or something, I'd hope for a better spell arrangement at the very least. Maybe make one element predominent in attacks, and another in buffs/debuffs, etc. or possibly a skill tree or something like the Sphere Grid in FFX:U where you go for a variety of possibilities and adjust things at your choosing. At least two characters to control would be cool, especially since we now have dual-stick controllers where you could make both characters dodge attacks simultaneously. Maybe have a third controlled via AI or a second player, I dunno. Hell, you could even have all 3 controlled by separate players. I dunno. It's just a shame to see a series with great ideas have its potential squandered.
Still, it's not like you can't see aspects of this game elsewhere. It was definitely inspired by more than a few things (such as strategy games and FF2), and a few things can arguably be seen as noting some aspects of it. One example could possibly be the Mario and Luigi RPG having a heavy reliance on reactions and countering different types of attacks. Sure, you had defending in SMRPG and PM, but the level of attack avoiding was taken to another level in M&L. Was it because of Quest? Fuck, I don't know, and I'm sure as hell not gonna guess, but I'll be damned if they aren't born from similar concepts. Great minds thinking alike, I guess. The method of Magic "mixing" (even though it was just altering your selection, technically) could sort of be seen in something like Magicka, like how "mixing" fire and water gave you the Hot Steam spell.
I'm not about to keep talking out of my ass though, so I'll just leave it at this: Quest is an okay series that could have been so much more, but is still worth playing and observing. You might even find yourself enjoying it.
And just for the imaginary record, Quest Fantasy Challenge is one of the biggest fucking wastes of time I ever paid 35 bucks for, and nobody should ever play it.
It's a good thing it DOESN'T EXIST.