Final Fantasy V - Retroview

It Should Have Stayed In Japan

By: Robust Stu

Review Breakdown
   Battle System 8
   Interface 6
   Music/Sound 3
   Originality 4
   Plot 3
   Localization 1
   Replay Value 3
   Visuals 4
   Difficulty Medium
   Time to Complete

35 Hours


Final Fantasy V

   For many years, Final Fantasy V was considered something of an enigma. It was the only Final Fantasy from the SNES era forward that we didn't get on American soil, at least not until recently. Sure, we were scheduled to get it a few times, but for various reasons we didn't get our grubby little mitts on it. That all changed when it was released, along with Final Fantasy 6, in the Final Fantasy Anthology. At the time people were thinking "Wow, this is awesome, I can't believe we never got it!" Now that it's been a couple of years and we've had some time to reflect, it's easy to see why we never got this game in the mid 90s.

   You play the part of Bartz, a wandering traveler whose campsite is disturbed one evening when a meteor crashes nearby. You go to investigate, and wind up rescuing Reina, the young princess of Tycoon and Galuf, a mysterious man who has no memory of his past. Along with Faris the pirate captain, the four of you set out to discover the truth of Galuf's past, a quest which will bring you across three worlds and pit you against an evil being who, as you could probably guess, wants to rule the world for no readily apparent reason.

   The battle system in and of itself is typical of Final Fantasy games, with the Active Time Battle system, which is a combination of turn based and real time. What this means is that while it is menu driven, the enemies won't wait around all day for you to decide what you want your characters to do, they'll just start attacking if you take too long. The main innovation of this game, and what probably added a lot to the mystique of this game is the job system. Every time you discover crystal shards, they each give you a job, such as fighter, red mage, white mage, black mage, thief, archer, and many others. The job you equip on your characters will affect the equipment that character can use, and what skills they will have available to them.

If I were in this game, I'd bury myself under the desert, too
If I were in this game, I'd bury myself under the desert, too  

   One thing about this game is that the graphics are not very good at all. Square is known to, especially with the Final Fantasy games, push the envelope as far as graphics go as much as they can in each successive game. Not only did they not do this with FF5, I have to say that this game actually looked WORSE graphically that Final Fantasy 4. Everything from the backgrounds to the characters and enemies were very cartoony, not detailed at all, and just generally a step back from the previous game. I really expected more by this point.

   The soundtrack was equally bad. Most of the pieces sounded very similar, with a mysterious kind of sound to them. While there were a good variety of tunes, none of them really appealed to me very much. The sound effects were about on par with Final Fantasy 4 but again, I feel they should have improved by this point.

   Probably the worst part of this game was the localization. Yeah, they translated it to English and you could understand it, but it really felt more like a literal translation than an actual localization. As a result, the whole game sounded very bland and uninteresting and coupled with a bland and uninteresting story. Add in a really ugly font, and you've got a really crappy localization.

   Aside from going through it a second time to become a god by mastering every single job for every character, there isn't much in the replay value department for this game. It was a very boring game, storyline wise, and I kind of felt like "Is this game over yet?" by the middle of the game, which is a bad sign. After you've played it once to see what all the hoopla was about, you'll probably shelve it for at least a while.

Can you see out of that thing?
Can you see out of that thing?  

   In terms of originality, this game is low on the list. The drawing point for this game is the job system, but that had already been done, in a previous Final Fantasy game at that. It refined it a little bit by gaining skills based on ability points gained toward each job, but that's about it. Everything else was very generic and common, and didn't give this game a very special feeling.

This game had long load times, presumably being that they seemed to directly port the game with a built in emulator of some sort rather than remaking it properly, so this game is going to seem to go on forever. I don't know if the load time is factored into the overall game time, but by the time I finished, I had put in about 35 hours. Then again, I was in no way inspired to sit there and master all the jobs, so if you decide to go for that, you're probably looking at something like 60 hours.

After playing this game, I almost wish they left it across the Pacific. It was really not what I expected out of a Final Fantasy game, and it seemed like Square just needed something to work on to justify existing in 1992, so they pumped out this uninspired game. This is easily the worst Final Fantasy, and unless you're one of those people who HAS to play every single Final Fantasy game to completion, I'd stay away from it.

Strong Recommendation to Avoid.

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