A child like you shouldn’t be in a hurry to die.
Quest 64 is a first for the N64, since there are no other RPG-style games
currently available for the system (unless you consider the lame Mystical
Ninja to be a role-playing game, which it really isn’t). You are Brian, an
apprentice Spirit Tamer (or those who are able to use the magical forces of nature)
on the island of Celtland. Unfortunately, the sacred text of the Spirit Tamers,
Eletale’s book, has been stolen. Whoever has the book is wreaking havoc across
the land. Once gentle creatures are now fearsome monsters, honest citizens are
huddled in their houses with fear, dogs and cats are living together – you get
the idea. Your father, Lord Bartholomy, also a Spirit Tamer, mysteriously disappears
while trying to recover the book. Your quest, should you choose to accept it,
is to find your father and recover the Eletale book.
Sounds pretty much like the
basis for any of the hundreds of RPGs out there. Although Quest 64 has
a role-playing flavor, it lacks the necessary substance and depth. In fact,
the game itself is just a stripped down, bare bones version of an RPG.
Basically, Brian runs around killing things, and looking for the earth, wind,
water, or fire elements that powers his weapons. The quest portion involves
killing boss characters at the end of the level, and it’s not very hard – or
interesting for that matter. There are no puzzles to solve and no sub-quests
to go on. There are only four stats to keep track of: Hit points, magic points,
agility, and defense.
On the plus side, there are a total of forty spells ranging from the standard
fireball to walking walls of water. All in all, the spells are laid out nicely
and easy to access. The only other option Brian has to casting a spell is hitting
with his wooden staff. The staff itself cannot be upgraded and there are no
other hand-to-hand combat weapons in the game. However, all of your attacks
get progressively more powerful depending on the number of elements you have
at the time.
There are quite a few monsters in the game, but they all look like bizarre genetic experiments gone wrong. Killer butterflies and Kobolds dressed in red vests and tan
dress shoes put aside their fashion differences and fight side by side. Giant spiders and fish
(Fish?! The entire game takes place on dry land for chrissakes!) launch magma rocks at you.
Although this may sound like innovation, it looks just plain lame to me.
The turn-based combat mode in the game uses an interesting interface. There is one large
octagon that surrounds you and the enemies, which delimits the boundaries of the melee. A
smaller octagon denotes each creature’s range of movement within the larger one. As soon as
you are able to travel outside the larger octagon, you have the option of escaping from battle.
What really detracts from the combat scenarios is how most of the enemies move in agonizing slow-motion. Maybe those damn fish don’t have anything better to do the rest of the day, but Brian’s got
places to go, people to meet, quests to solve, and bigger fish to fry (pun intended, definitely).
The gameplay gets so repetitive it really drives you to the brink of monotony, sending you careening down the cliffs of monotony and into the ocean of monotony (where those fish must have come from).
The graphics are above-average for an N64 game, with some really inspired and impressive
background scenes. Your field of vision is excellent, with nary a hint of the infamous
“Nintendo Fog”. An especially nice touch is being able to see daytime turn to several shades
of afternoon sun, and then to night, with the corresponding coloring and shading on the
surroundings. The final level is especially well-done, if you have the patience to get
The music is standard Nintendo fare; really toyish but with some catchy melodies here and
there. Hey, you don’t play cartridge games for sound and if you’re anything like me, listening
to Led Zeppelin at insane volumes on the stereo kicks over any game soundtrack (with the
possible exception of Goldeneye or Star Wars: SotE).
The biggest complaint I have about this game is the bizarre camera angles. Most of the time
you’re in the standard 3D adventure game view: the camera is behind and slightly above Brian. However,
the camera changes angles every time you get into a battle which is roughly every twelve
seconds or so. The camera then changes to another angle when the enemy takes a shot at you. By the time you’re done fighting, the camera has swung around so many times that if you’re not dizzy, you’re lost. And I’m not even going to mention how maddening it is to have a tree or a roof-beam come between the
camera and Brian during combat.( Uh…you just did. – Ed.). With all the battles that crop up, searching even the tiniest area of the island is an exercise in patience and frustration.
The menu is lacking as well. The stat screens are mildly helpful, but the only map you get is
one that shows the general layout of the entire area you’re in. There are no separate maps for the
cave/forest/castle areas. While the layout of these areas is straightforward, it’s easy to get
turned around in the wrong direction thanks to the much maligned camera angles mentioned
Hardcore RPG’ers will get bored quickly with Quest 64, but other gamers may appreciate its
simplicity. Some of the backgrounds look spectacular and the final level is literally out of
this world. Most of the time, however, I found that the most challenging aspect of the game
was trying to master the tedium of its weak and repetitive gameplay.