Review by Braben
The lost chapter.
Why?, that is the big question here, why wasn`t this game released out of Japan?, maybe because this is the worse chapter in the Snes trilogy?, I don`t think so, even if this is the worse Final Fantasy in the Snes, that only means this is a masterpiece way ahead most games even nowadays, it is a Snes Final Fantasy what we are talking about here.
Five brave warriors have been chosen by the five holy crystals that represent the five elements because something evil threatens the earth and they are the only ones who...yeah yeah, the story seems typical even for a 1992 game, but like you SHOULD know, what it IS important about a plot is the way it is done, who cares if a game has a good premise if it is not well developed...cough ``Final Fantasy X`` cough...?
The story however, has its drawbacks, Square misses the point at a few times during the game. For me it is more than clear that this is the Snes Final Fantasy with the weakest story, it lacks the magnificence and perfect pace the other two have (Mystic Quest is another story, and not because it is a bad game or anything, at least not for me, it is just that it is a spin off and not a true Final Fantasy), the characters are not as good developed, and while full of twists and everything, they story and the events are not as wonderful and interesting as in the other two. I also think that after playing it is impossible not to think that it looks as if this game, in terms of plot and development that is, was designed before the fourth installment.
At first glance nothing much has changed, and it is true, but only at first glance, once you get more into the game you will realize that they have been greatly enhanced, the characters have more animations and the towns are much better organized and have much better designs, so much that I would say they are almost Final Fantasy VI quality, what`s more, I would say this fifth part have better ones than the sixth installment for a 1992 game . During the combats the backgrounds have improved also, as well as the enemies, which have a more serious and less cartooney look.
There is something missing here anyway, the character portraits, even if this have always been one of Final Fantasy`s weak points (excepting for Final Fantasy VII and VIII the look of the characters in the series is pretty horrible, specially in the sixth installment, their are splendidly well developed yes, but theirs looks stinks, and everything due to Mr. Amano`s effeminate artwork).
Magnificent, undoubtedly, specially all the town themes, but pales in comparison with chapters IV and VI. The music has the same ``fourth installment`` feel, but lacks its quality, there are a lot more tracks (a truly huge number, probably even more than in Final Fantasy VI) and everything, but it is miles away from the masterwork Final Fantasy IV`s soundtrack was and is, miles away.
Overall, for me the soundtrack, while I repeat, excellent, is a bit uninspired sometimes (I repeat, always when compared with the other soundtracks in the series), and there is one particular theme that just sucks, that one played at the cave next to Jacole town or in that desert or inside the pyramid in that same desert, I can`t stand that one, it is very annoying. Exactly the opposite happens if we talk about that one played when you have to find a medicinal herb for the Hyruu, the music there simply rocks, but as far as I can remember that is the only place where you can hear it, what a pity.
The gameplay, like the plot, is more in the vein of the first Final Fantasies for the Nes, only that ten times better, but we have to buy magic spells and specialize our character in different jobs again.
The battles are basically the same ones from all the previous games, but that nice and useful ``bar`` that lets us know when are we be able to attack was introduced for the first time in this fifth installment. That is basically the biggest improvement here, which is more than enough.
The Job system is very interesting, together with money and experience points we also obtain ability points, we need certain quantities to acquire different abilities depending on our job. The best thing about this is that we are able to mix techniques to create hybrid characters, Knights with magical powers, Monks with thief techniques, Paladins with Blue Magic or Samurai skills, or Magicians able to equip Knight armors. We can experiment because we can switch between jobs whenever we want, if a character has already become a thief, it is the same, just switch to a wizard and nothing happens, and there is a really nice amount of jobs.
While mastering a Job, together with the default technique of the class we have chosen (like Steal for thieves), we can only chose one more technique, to be able to quip more we need a special job obtained later in the game or use our already learned abilities with the standard character, that way we can chose three abilities at the same time. So this is a superb, original and bloody fun system, you will probably replay the game a lot of times only to master all the jobs.
Something a bit annoying is when you change your job or abilities and the game automatically equips you character with the optimum equipment, the problem is that this optimum equipment isn`t always ``your`` optimum equipment, so you`ll have to be constantly switching equipment every time you select a new job or ability. This is a minor flaw, but sometimes very annoying.
I have read a lot about this being an insanely hard game or even harder than the fourth part, but I can`t see why, and when compared with Final Fantasy IV this game is very easy, and I don`t mean just when compared with the original Japanese version, even the US version was tough when compared with this one, can`t understand why people talks so much about the difficulty, I mean, it is very hard and challenging game, but those who have already played the fourth installment simply can`t complaint about this.
Final Fantasy V is the weakest Final Fantasy in the Snes, which it is odd, I guess this should have been the fourth installment because while playing the game really feels older than Final Fantasy IV, of course never because of its graphics and the ten times more varied soundtrack, it is because of the plot, it might be ten times better than most games out there, but it is not nearly as complex and well developed as in the fourth installment. Still, you can`t take yourself as an rpg fan nor a true video game player without having played this work of art.
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
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