Old School Cool is our new original video series releasing every Tuesday afternoon on the Den of Geek Facebook page. Each week, we break out the SNES, SEGA, PS2 or another classic console as we take you on a nostalgia trip into the world of classic video games and accessories.
Old School Cool: Quest 64
If you owned a Sony PlayStation, you were treated to some of the best RPGs to ever grace a home console. Vagrant Story, Xenogears, Chrono Cross, Suikoden II…the list goes on. While some attribute the PlayStations deep RPG library to the overwhelming success of Final Fantasy VII, the fact remains that the PlayStation’s RPG lineup was unrivaled for its time.
Of course, that status is a lot easier to assign when you consider that the PlayStation’s main market competitor, the Nintendo 64, only had one true RPG to call its own.
Quest 64 was developed by Imagineer; a studio you’ve probably never heard of even if you did play the game. By and large, Imagineer was a studio that worked on international ports of other games. Not exactly the kind of team you’d hand pick to work on the most epic of gaming genres.
However, Nintendo 64 fans didn’t care who was developing the game and they didn’t care that Quest 64 was just about the worst title for a grand adventure that you could possibly come up with. They were starving for RPGs, and they would take whatever RPGs they could get.
Such is how many people who owned an N64 came to play Quest 64 at one point or another. Upon doing so, they discovered that the N64’s lone RPG was a far cry from the greatest PS1 RPGs.
The main problem with Quest 64 is that it is devoid of imagination across the board. The story is almost non-existent except for brief dialog sections at the bookends of fetch quests, the combat can be bested by the repetitive use of a couple key spells, and the characters and worlds all feel like they were cut out of the big playbook of fantasy design even though few of the elements actually work well together. The game’s camera, meanwhile, may actually be the worst in-game camera ever designed.
Most people who played the game for just an hour came to the same conclusion as many of the critics of that era. Quest 64 was a tremendous disappointment and a simply bad game.
But you know, time can twist your worst experiences in such remarkable ways that they almost begin to assume a new form. There are some undeniably great qualities about Quest 64 which perhaps didn’t receive the recognition they should have at the time of the game’s release. The graphics were exceptional, the pseudo real-time combat was actually a precursor to incoming changes on the console RPG front, and the game’s final hour or so does a lot to redeem its narrative shortcomings.
Besides, Quest 64 may be a bad game, but for millions of N64 owners, it was their bad game. Get a group of N64 owners together and they’ll likely be able to tell you of their experience with Quest 64 just as easily as they can recall that one perfect GoldenEye match or the first time they played Ocarina of Time.