It’s well known that Square’s releases of early Final Fantasy games outside of Japan were sporadic at best. After the incredibly successful release of Final Fantasy VII, Square dipped into their backlog, localizing older entries in the series. One of the firsts in this effort was Final Fantasy V, released on the original Playstation in 1999, packaged along with FFVI in a collection called Final Fantasy Anthology. Was it still worth playing or was Square right to hold it back?
The FF games released on Super Nintendo (Super Famicom) are nearly interchangeable looking at their core elements. Graphics, battle system, world progression, Chocobos, it’s these components that defined the series, making the games so popular. As such, FFVI and FFIV are widely considered the pinnacle of the series. Compared to these, FFV is lacking, but that certainly doesn’t make it a bad game.
As I’ve said many times before, RPG’s come down to the story, and the battle/upgrade system. First, the latter. FFV recycled the job class system from FFIII, albeit more fleshed out and perfected. In the original, and PS1 release, 22 jobs were available, with 26 in the Game Boy Advance rerelease. Many classes had been spotted before, such as Knight, Red Mage, and Thief, with ones like Time Mage and Mime debuting here. This was the first flawless implementation of the system, innovating on the original from FFIII. Some would say Final Fantasy Tactics, and its subsequent offshoots perfected it, but I argue the V did first.
With near infinite character customization, it logically flows that only four playable characters would be available, the maximum battle party. The fearsome foursome of Bartz Klauser, Lenna Tycoon, Galuf Doe and Faris Scherwiz united to defeat the once again freed villain Exdeath. Also, crystals were involved, as per every other Final Fantasy. The weakest element of the game was easily the story. The German sounding characters were mixed with some pretty vanilla details. Exdeath? Tycoon? Sigh.
Level grinding, mastering the different classes, that was my drive playing through. It’s not that the story was bad, just weak. I can recall moments in The World Ends with You or Illusion of Gaia in exact detail, only having played both once. SPOILER With this, I can only recall Galuf dying (that he did, not how), and his granddaughter, Krile, taking his powers and his place, which was pretty cool. END SPOILERS. Aside from that, I only remember level grinding.
Again, that’s not a negative, but when compared against other FF’s of the time, this falls short. Looking at what the series has become, this is far from the worst, or even a bad entry. I would say it’s on par with FFIX, impact-wise. Unremarkable. Bland.
If you’re hell bent on playing every Final Fantasy, at least you won’t waste your time with this one. If you can’t get enough of job classes and can’t stand Final Fantasy X-2, this will be right up your alley. With so many great games available today, I’d recommend looking somewhere else.
Enjoy the job class system? Find the story as boring as I did? Comment below!
Bartz was Butz. Lolz.