Mystaria - Review
Mystaria shows signs of being half finished
By Martin Drury, RPGamer Writer
Time to Complete
Mystaria, a first generation Strategy-RPG for the Sega Saturn suffers
all the typical problems associated with first generation games, while also
showing signs of an overall poor design. Still, I must admit, at times I did
find the game enjoyable.
Mystaria's graphics are a mixed bag of semi-brilliance and downright
pathetic. The CG stills that appear in the game are smoothly rendered, and
have a quality that makes one wonder what happened to the rest of the game.
Some of the 3D battle backgrounds are inspiring as well, a stark contrast to
the battle animation itself. In battle, the characters are reminiscent of
Granstream Saga for Playstation, but with faces. The animation of the attacks
harkens back to the 16 bit era, with fuzzy explosions and dithered effects, and
is the first hint that the player receives that the game is less than ideal.
The overworld graphics are secondrate as well, again more suited for the 16
The music of Mystaria is one of the more disappointing aspects
of the game, but the main problem with the music has to do with something
non-music related, the length of battles. Music that sounds good the first
few times, gets irritating during 45+ minute battles.
The battlefields are one of the bright spots in the game.
They are similar to Vandal Hearts or Final Fantasy Tactics, but without
the "squareness" of the environment, a definite plus, and increased realism.
Even though the characters move via square tiles, the environment is rounded
and well designed. The size of the battlefields is also a plus, though poorly
utilized through most of the game, resulting in long, tedious battles
(45-60 minutes) on several occasions. Together, these two factors help to
provide some immersion into the battlefields, but is often spoiled by the
overhead camera view.
The battle system of Mystaria varies from the traditional
Strategy-RPG somewhat. Each character in the game is limited to a single
class, but most defensive and some offensive techniques are available to each
class. Also, characters can have up to 9 techniques in their action menu at
one time, but these can be changed during the battle, with no penalty.
Mystaria has the usual assortment of close, ranged, and special attacks, as
well as magical attacks. During each round, a character can move a set number
of spaces, however, the more spaces they move, the more energy is used, and
some attacks become unavailable for that round, since the character has used
up its energy.
Beware the Holy Avenger.
Unfortunately, the battle system is also the target of
one of my largest complaints about the game. It is, in a word, unbalanced.
At the start of the game, the battle system is okay, and there are a few
battles that are very easy to lose. Bosses are difficult, and require
strategy to defeat at first. About 10-12 hours into the game, however, the
tables begin to turn. This change would come sooner, if it was not for the
fact that money is difficult to come by at the beginning of the game. By the
end of the game, in most battles you can throw caution to the wind, charge in
with special, ranged, and magic attacks, and destroy most opponents with
little need to worry about dying. In fact, by the end, its possible to kill
most bosses in no more than 2 rounds of battle. A few other minor annoyances
infect the battle system as well. Unlike most games, the undead in Mystaria
are not effected by fire, but are vulnerable to ice attacks, a contradiction
to the norm, and another minor flaw.
The plot of the game is a bit cliché, but still could
have provided a basis for an excellent game, if not for one small detail.
The designers were addicted to plot twists, which would sound like a good thing.
However, they spoil almost everyone of them, for instance, in the first 5 minutes
of the game, when several characters are introduced and described, a plot
twist is given away in some of the character's descriptions. Although most
of the plot twists are only moderately spoiled, by about halfway through the
game I became convinced their sole purpose was to prevent the game from
being only 15 hours long. There are also 2 side quests, one of which becomes
accessible 3/4 of the way through the game, and the second one near the
very end, though it is repeatedly hinted at from almost the beginning of the
The translation of Mystaria is yet another disappointment. While
most of the dialogue is okay, with only minor errors, at one point, near the
end, the lead character changes gender! If anything is unforgivable in a
translation, that would be it. The translation is better than Final
Fantasy Tactics, for instance, but not by much. The dialogue suffers from
some non-translation problems as well. Characters often repeat themselves,
which is not a bad thing if you take a break from the game and come back after
a while, but one conversation sticks out as an example of over doing it. Even
with not reading the text and pressing the button for the next page, it last
well over a minute. Conversations like that one are not meant to be repeated,
and only lead to annoyance.
It is extremely rare when one can complain about the control of an RPG. Mystaria's
overworld provides the player with an opportunity to do just that, with an
image of the character cruising along at about mach 5, it is possible to
trigger events such as reading the sign posts, without intending to, but
luckily the designers put yes/no questions at town entrances and country
A well designed menu
The game is moderately entertaining, but has little replay value.
It is definitely a title to be rented instead of purchased, unless you can
find it used. Being able to take a 1/4 of a boss' HP in a single attack is
quite satisfying for anyone who has ever been butchered time and time again
by Ruby Weapon, but even that tires quickly. The Battlum side quest brings
some replay value to the game, but it serves as little more than a distraction
from the main plot of the game.
Overall, Mystaria is a bright light covered with soot, a game
that definitely falls into the "could have been great" category. Its strong
point is its graphics, with elements that put even Vandal Hearts and Final
Fantasy Tactics to shame, but at the same time, other elements of the graphics
are extremely lacking. Mystaria reminds me of my father's car, with some time
and effort, it could have been a contender.