Review by Zylo the wolf
The Final Fantasy that no one talks about.
Maybe Japanese RPGs aren't as hot or interesting today as they were ten years ago, but that's because ten years ago Squaresoft was the RPG Gods and kept releasing one marvelous game after another. And even if they have done a lot of great games besides the Final Fantasy series, it's these games that people think of when someone mentions Squaresoft (Or Square-Enix as they now are called since they fusionend with another great RPG company called Enix. The series started (just many other popular video game series) on the Nintendo Entertainment System. What is odd is that while the first Final Fantasy actually was somewhat popular when it was released in North America, neither of the two sequels on the same system was released in North America.
One of the reasons was by the time the first Final Fantasy actually was released in North America, the Super Nintendo was about to get released and instead they decided to translate the new Final Fantasy that was going to be released on the Super Nintendo instead. Just so it wouldn't confuse the American gamer, Final Fantasy IV's got released as Final Fantasy II in North America. Since that also became a hit, you would think that the next game in the series would also get translated and released in North America, but for some reason Final Fantasy V didn't get released in North America. However Final Fantasy VI did, under the title Final Fantasy III (thank god Final Fantasy VII got to keep it's original title.)
It wasn't until 1999 when Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI got released together as Final Fantasy Anthology on the Sony Playstation that the game got an official translation. I bought that game and even if I enjoyed it, the port had a lot of loading times which made it impossible for me to really enjoy it to 100%, so I recently decided to play it on the original system. Even if it never was officially translated to English, we live in an age where you can play SNES games on a emulator and there are many fantranslations to games that are in popular series but never was officially translated, so it shouldn't be that hard for anyone who knows how to use Google to find one.
Even if the previous games in the series never had anything that said that the games took place in the same universe, every game but FFII focused the story on four elemental crystals, and Final Fantasy V is the last of these games, marking an end of an era and something new began in Final Fantasy VI. The story begins with that our hero Bartz are out on a journey with his only companion Boco the Chocobo. One day Bartz sees a small meteor crash in a forest and he decides to investigate it. There he sees how the young princess Lenna is attacked by two goblins, and since Bartz is a real hero he defeats these two evil goblins.
Outside the meteor the find the confused old man named Galuf who seems to suffer from amnesia, but for some reason he remembers that he had to go to the Wind shrine for some reason. It turns out that Lenna is also going to the same shrine, so Bartz decides to keep the two company. On their way to the shrine they also meet the Pirate Captain Faris, who also joins the three on their journey. During the game you get to learn a bit more about the characters, like Bartz past and follow how Galuf slowly gains his memory back and the secret between the crystals.
But most people agree that the story is not the special thing with Final Fantasy V. It sure makes the job done, but it's nothing really special about it. I think it was about 6 years since I played it the first time and I had forgotten about most of the things. However the reason why I and many others like this game is because of the clever job system this game got. The series already had job system in Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy III, but in the first game your character could never change his job, just upgrade it ones, but in Final Fantasy 3 you could change it as long as you had enough job points.
At first, all your four characters start with the bare class, which is a class that allows you to equip everything but you don't learn anything with this job. Early in the game you will get a few jobs which include Knight, Thief, Monk, White Mage, Black Mage and Blue mage, you know the obvious jobs. A few events later you will get more jobs to pick from, and then even more, and then even more. There are a total of 22 different jobs to choose from, and each job makes your character learn different abilities.
Yeah that's right in this game you can permanently learn the abilities with comes with each job, and then you can choose one ability to use when you have picked another job for your character. In order to learn an ability you have to increase the job level on a job, and in order to do that you have to gain a certain number of ability points, and you get those when you defeat an enemy just like how you get experience points when you defeat an enemy. This system has been used in many of the Final Fantasy games released after this one as well, in some way or another.
There a four different types of abilities that you can learn. First there are the command abilities, like steal, protect and all the different type of spells. Then there are the abilities that in some way makes you better in battle, these can make your characters faster, allow them to counter an attack, give them more HP and such things. Then there are the abilities that allows you to equip some things, making it possible to have a black mage with a katana. Finally there are those abilities that allows you to run, see hidden passages, avoid traps e.t.c.
What really makes but sadly also breaks the game are the bare and the mimic job. The mimic job not only allows you to mimic the previous character's action in battle but also allows you to pick three different abilities, while the bare job allows you to equip every kind of weapon and pick two abilities. If you have mastered a job you also get all the abilities which aren't command or equipment abilities, which makes you want to master many jobs to create the ultimate warriors.
However the sad thing is that it's not hard to make the ultimate warrior, and then became so strong that the game no longer is funny when you picked the bare job. I only played this game for 45 hours and I beat both of the super tough optional bosses (who are supposed to be the two toughest optional bosses in any FF, but I disagree) in just three turns. My two magic users could use the mightiest summon five times in a row, and one of my melee warriors could attack 8 times each turn. In other words while it fun to level up your characters in this game in order to make the ultimate warriors, the game is not fun at all when they actually are super strong and the game is not challenging at all.
Also until really late in the game, you only get 1 or 2 APs from each battle, which means it's much faster to master jobs if you fight enemies that takes 1 second to kill. And it only takes about one 2 hours for each character to master one of the magic user jobs enough to be able to cast the mightiest spell with any other job. The game is often praised as one of the most difficult Final Fantasy games when in fact it's one of the least challenging ones, which says a lot.
As for the story, it's nothing really that special either. For example the characters really don't got more than just their looks and a few stereotypes: Bartz is a young boy looking for adventure, Lenna is a character that just disappears during the game, she's there but she doesn't do or say anything. Faris is another typical girl trying to be a man and Galuf is just a confused old man. The main villain Exdeath is just another evil villain trying to take over the world for some reason. Then there's Gilgamesh, which is by far the most interesting character in the game, but it would be a spoiler to say why.
Don't get me wrong, Final Fantasy V is a good game, and if you are a RPG fan that you will most likely enjoy it. I know that FFVI copied a few things in the story from this game, but it still managed to copied those things by making them better. To end this review, I once again say that Final Fantasy V is the Final Fantasy that no one talks about, because it's not the best, but also not the worst.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
Product Release: Final Fantasy V (JP, 12/06/92)
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