RPG Review #65: Final Fantasy V

NuMetalManiak
Another review with the number 5 in the one's place, this means I'm gonna play something Final Fantasy-related. While gleefully still avoiding the second game I ended up playing Final Fantasy V, which predates the popular VI which got localized to III in North America. Yet Final Fantasy V itself never got a North American port on the SNES, so again, a fan translation comes into play with this one. I could've also played the Playstation or Game Boy Advance versions though, those were properly translated, but I'm always playing at the roots, so here you go.

Gameplay: For whatever reason, FFV's gameplay was apparently considered too complex for North Americans according to the developers Squaresoft, but having played enough RPGs on the SNES, I know the system isn't too complex (unless you want to talk about Live-A-Live's battle system, of course). FFV once again gives us the Active-Time Battle System, much like IV pioneered it. This was the first game to give the bar that shows when your character can attack next though, so it gets credit for that. It also worked heavily upon the job system that Final Fantasy III used, making it a whole lot better.

Oh yes, the job system. I have to say this was well done for what it's worth. You get jobs as the story progresses through the early parts of the game, can switch between any of them, level them up, and use their abilities in combat or even on the field. The well-known classes from before, like Knight, Red Mage, Ninja, Bard, you know those ones, along with some brand new ones like Blue Mage (this one pioneered the Blue Magic learned from monsters), Dancer (special equips plus flirting abilities), and Chemist (a hilariously broken job where mixing chemicals and using them has tons of effects. Although I didn't play it, the GBA version had a whole lot more. Obviously, tweaking jobs changes stats around, and jobs each have their own level. Actually, this was the main grasp of grinding in this particular game, for job levels. ABP or ability points are granted after battles, and leveling up a job allows for an ability to be used on another job for a certain character, so there's a lot of diversity already. I aimed for 100% completion of the jobs when I played, all before reaching the final dungeon as well.

And as expected, there's optional content up the wazoo, and many types of strategies can be invoked against enemies and bosses alike. Getting tons of abilities from the jobs helps in the long run, the Dash ability allows running while equipping certain equipment also can make the game go by faster. The normal job doesn't gain ABP but it can equip anything and use any abilities learned. With so much versatility the game actually wasn't as hard as it seems, though with the optional bosses, it evens out. I mostly tried to keep uniform with my character development though, so everyone got the same job to level up each time, and the abilities gained helped. But it took me quite a long time to get everything hooked. Trying to get every single spell and item also made it much more of a chore. It was worth it in the end. Gameplay Grade: A

Characters: Five main playable characters in FFV, how nice:
Butz Klauser: Yes, everyone, that was his default name in the game, Butz. His hometown is called Lix which really does not make things better. Eventually though, he would be known as Bartz which is only slightly better. Oh well. He is an adventurer drawn into this game's plot, where he actually manages to be the least royal of the group. The only character that actually can be named in-game. Wind element.
Lenna Charlotte Tycoon: Pink-haired princess of Tycoon and one of the first characters seen in the intro. One port named her into Reina I believe. Water element.
Galuf Helm Baldesion: This old guy is my favorite, he starts off as an amnesiac but gets the best character development later on. Earth element.
Faris Schweriz: There's more to this saucey pirate than meets the eye. Related to Lenna in a way. Fire element.
Cara Mayer Baldesion: Galuf's granddaughter, another princess of a land too. Her name is changed to Krile in other ports, and she basically is the same as Galuf, earth element.

I didn't spend too much time on character stats mostly because FFV lets you tweak things greatly. A lot of fantasy-related characters here, with very few technological things (well at least there's a Cid who's always like that). This was also the first game to give a comedic boss in the form of Gilgamesh, and even the main villain Exdeath has shades of hilarity at times. But these characters weren't entirely that strong when you compare them to others in the franchise. Grade: C

Plot: We hear about how the wind stops, and Bartz (I am gonna use this name instead of Butz because I don't like it) journeys with his Chocobo Boko to the meteor crash site, finding both Lenna and Galuf, the later of which is suffering amnesia. These three then get taken by pirates under Faris's command. It seems everyone wanted to go to the Wind Shrine, and Lenna's father, Alexander Tycoon, wants this group of four to be warriors protecting the crystals. Gee, this certainly seems original, does it not?

Unfortunately Faris loses his ship along with his dragon Syldra, and at the ship graveyard, it's revealed that Faris is actually a girl! That's a good reveal. And unfortunately for the heroes of this journey, they each arrive too late to save the crystals from their respective shrines, even if they get the power from the crystal shards. This seems very similar to FFIV's plot in how the villains are one-upping the heroes. Wait so who is the villain? Oh, right, Exdeath. He was sealed by the crystals' power, but with them destroyed, he is unleashed.

Around this time Galuf does regain his memory and returns back to his world. Two different worlds, okay that's actually quite new. Bartz and his group do follow him on a one-way ticket, only to get captured by Exdeath and the hilariously incompetent Gilgamesh. Galuf has the big hero moment by rescuing them, and eventually they reach his castle. As it turns out, he is a king like Lenna's (and Faris's! Plot twist!) father, with a granddaughter in Cara. Not only that, but he's also one of the four original heroes, along with Zeza, Kelgar, and Bartz's father Dorgan. As cool as it is, Dorgan was already dead by the game's start, and the rest of the original heroes meet their fate later on. Zeza's comes after destroying the barrier to Exdeath's castle, and the next one is actually one of the greatest Final Fantasy deaths in my opinion. Galuf himself gives it his all in a solo battle to save his companions and Cara, fighting at no health which surprises his opponent Exdeath. What I liked about this death was that the rest of the gang tries to use reviving items on him, something that other characters in the Final Fantasy franchise never think of doing. Here it doesn't work. Poor Galuf is lost forever. At Exdeath's castle, the weakened Kelgar also dies after revealing the true form of the castle so that Bartz's group, now with Cara, can defeat him.

One again, the villain is one step ahead. Interestingly, the group is now in the combined worlds, the worlds where Bartz and Galuf were from were once one, but split to avoid the return of what is known as the Void. This is what Exdeath wants to unleash, and he eventually does so to numerous places, including Bartz's hometown and Tycoon castle. The group gets information on twelve legendary weapons and other things to eventually combat the Void, a lot of this is very open-ended. Eventually though, it must come to an end, and the way to do so is to destroy Exdeath and the Void. For some reason, Exdeath's final form is a tree, weird. Regardless, NeoExdeath is his real final form and the final boss and must be stopped, restoring the world to normal. Interestingly, this game features multiple endings depending on the status of characters in the final battle. So if someone dies, dialogue in the ending is different and characters are missing, except they turn up later on.

Overall I didn't actually like how predictable most of the plot was, and it seems that there was a major lack in character development. Bartz was the only one without much royalty in him, Galuf had the best character development, and Faris had a few surprises. Lenna wasn't much and neither was Cara to an extent. And sometimes I didn't pay much attention to the story, especially when grinding jobs. Grade: C+

Music: It's Nobuo Uematsu, of course its good. The only thing I can say is I actually haven't heard these particular songs before, so I don't know much about them. The themes are nice, loved at least two particular dungeon themes. Actually, bonus points to this category because of the fact that there are five distinct battle themes in a game known as Final Fantasy V. Grade: B

Overall Grade: B-

I often resent the time I gave Final Fantasy IV a higher rating than I would. It mostly comes from new experiences with the Final Fantasy series, and that its plot wasn't really much different from this game's plot. Not a whole lot of character development in this one either, which is also bad. The music is fine. The gameplay can be cheesed lots of tweaking, but I found other games to be much better in that regard. It's alright, not the best, but it's not one to consistently spark my interest.

Comments

Good job. You're one of the best game critics on the site in my opinion. - Skullkid755

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