Final Fantasy V - Retroview

Classes, Classes, Classes...


Review Breakdown
   Battle System 7
   Interface 7
   Music/Sound 7
   Originality 8
   Plot 8
   Localization 8
   Replay Value 5
   Visuals 7
   Difficulty Difficult
   Time to Complete

25-50 hours


Title Screen

   Back in the early 1990's, the U.S. was in dire straights - as RPGs are concerned - and we saw more than a few good ones pass us by. Final Fantasy V was one of them. If it was not for SquareSoft going into a phase of remakes, it would have been forever lost to the mists of Japan and the era from which it ascended.

   Battling in Final Fantasy V is virtually identical to every other FF game in existence. You have turn based combat during which you can select from a set of skills on a menu. You perform the various functions until you either win or perish; not much new here... Except for one thing: your characters now have the ability to switch sets of skills by changing their 'class/job'.

   Classes are divided up into 6 general sections. You gain a new section of classes/jobs by obtaining some vital object in your quest - this is most often a piece of crystal. Knight characters have skills such as Cover (protects injured allies), !Guard (defends against physical attacks), and 2-handed (certain weapons inflict 2x damage). Erstwhile, Black Mages have !Black to various degrees (e.g. Level 1 allows Fire, Ice, and Bolt to be used while Level 3 permits Fire2, Ice2, and Bolt2, etc....). After attaining these abilities, you can store them so that they are still available in battle later on. Imagine it! A character with both curative and time magic! (Hey! This came before FFVI and FFVII, so that was revolutionary, people!)

One Dragon You Do NOT Want To Mess With...
One Dragon You Do NOT Want To Mess With... 

   Unfortunately, as awesome as this might sound, it can make the game very time consuming if you want to attain the best abilities. Gaining ABP (ABility Points) can be tedious and certain classes/jobs are really not worth the minor return you get, if you're trying to become powerful in a rapid manner. The one other huge drawback in trying to make the 'ultimate party', is that for many of the jobs, you really should have other sets of skills if you want to survive (e.g. it's a good idea to be good at some other sort of magic when you start out as a Black Mage, etc....). Coincidentally, this is the one Final Fantasy game (that I'm aware of...) that more-or-less requires you to level up if you want to survive. The final boss can more than decimate you if you don't have 9999 HP and a myriad of skills to confront him with. It is for that reason alone that you are in luck; you have all the time you require to be gaining new job abilities, as you'll be trying to level up at the same time.

   The music and sound effects of FFV are more than adequate considering the days in which they were developed. While not quite as majestically sweeping as FFVI, the score holds its' own in a quiet sort of way. The sound effects - like virtually all FF games - are typical noise that somewhat fit the action around which they revolve. Little more can be expected of SNES quality instrumentation.

   One of the things that makes Final Fantasy V a wonder to behold, is the creativity with which the plot is carried out and the wide range of locations, twists, people, and characters used to do so. Each thing has a small purpose and nearly everyone in the cast has a function (albeit a small one, perhaps). With three worlds to explore, you'll never be bored, even when you're sure that the end is creeping near.

   The plot is very atypical:
The Elemental Crystal of the Wind has ceased its' endless task. Fearing the worst, the King of Tycoon journeys forth to discover the problem at hand. Meanwhile, a meteor smashes into the planet, bringing with it a mysterious passenger who seems to have amnesia but might be the key to the whole mess. It is soon discovered that there is more to the typical 'save the world' theme than meets the eye, as a creature by the name of ExDeath is bent on the destruction of all in existence by the powers of Entropy; Mu. The plot is relatively linear and will go along at a pace neither slow nor fast. It takes time to get into the story at the beginning and then first hour may even seem pointless enough to turn you off the game for good. Stick to it though; it fleshes out soon enough!

Butz As He Was Meant To Be...
Butz As He Was Meant To Be... 

   Translation is sort of a mixed bag, really. It is well enough done to make the game understandable and essentially error free but the seemingly blatant mistranslation of several of the main characters' names has an effect on the game that can't really be erased. Like most RPGs of its' time, FFV is mostly without contractions and so it seems extremely formal for the most part. Aside from these few things, the localization is fine and lets the plot shine through (provided you're good at guessing, sometimes  ^_^).

   As far as replay goes, Final Fantasy V is no different than any other game. The mere time consuming nature of most RPGs makes them a once a year - or less - run through. FFV takes that to the extreme with the dual complication of maxing out classes/jobs as well as just completing the game itself.

   On the average, Final Fantasy V is a great deal harder than all the other FFs. Items are insanely expensive and money is hard to come by. In addition to this already difficult situation, many of the boss creatures - and especially the main villain - are horrendously nasty and can cause hours of repeated death before you find the absolutely best set of skills to use against them (in short, this is one game where I fully endorse the occasional use of a strategy guide or FAQ...).

   Graphically speaking, the in-game materials are not that impressive. However, the Full Motion Videos added to it are very well done and could easily compete with those of Final Fantasy VII or Legend of Mana.

A Pirate's Cave; Back To Basics
A Pirate's Cave; Back To Basics 

   The completion of this game will give you good dreams for a week or more. Alas, it will take you at least that long to even get to the final 'dungeon'. If you can beat it in less than a single day of solid gameplay, color me impressed. However, if you're going for the ultimate job - the Mimic - then you're probably looking at a month or two of weekends at this one. Again, the speed with which you get the skills necessary to defeat ExDeath will determine the length of time it takes to be victorious.

   Final Fantasy V is by far and away one of the five all time greatest SNES RPGs. The sheer magnitude with which the game is set into your mind will astound and mesmerize you. Like the others in its' class, it is something to swear by and remember in awe afterward. But... Don't let me tell you what's what; go play it for yourself and see what I mean...

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