Final Fantasy V

Publisher: Square Developer: Square
Reviewer: Enygma Released: 1992
Gameplay: 100% Control: 100%
Graphics: 80% Sound/Music: 95%
Story: 95% Overall: 94%

To all Final Fantasy fans, this is the game we should have had. American RPG fans have had the "honor" of sorts to not only miss out on this game once, but several times. Back when the game was first released in Japan, for the Super Famicom, Square of America and Ted Woosley immediately went to work on translating this gem and giving us what we really wanted and deserved. However, some 90%+ into the finishing the game, Square of Japan pulled the plug on Final Fantasy V for the United States. Round 2, after Final Fantasy III (VI in Japan) reached it's legendary status with all RPG fans, Square once again looked at releasing FFV to the US, dubbed as "Final Fantasy Extreme." This time, Square closing the doors of it's US offices, was the problem, but the result the ended up being the same, no Final Fantasy V. And yes, there is a round 3. Eidos Interactive signs Square to a PC publishing contract for the mega hit, Final Fantasy VII, and Square also announced Eidos would also publish Final Fantasy V for the PC. Alas, after it was all said and done, Eidos and Square couldn't see eye to eye on this (each company contradicted each other on many occasions) and the result was the same. No Final Fantasy V. Luckily, rumors of the Final Fantasy Collections for the Playstation might still bring us this gem. Keep your fingers crossed Boys and Girls.

Before I get into the review of this great game, I'd like to thank Mark Rosa and Tatsushi Nakao for their work done on the translations and various walkthroughs on this game. If not for these two, I wouldn't have known heads or tails about anything going on in the game. Anyone who's imported this game, probably would echo my thanks. My hat's off to you two gentlemen.

Now, on with the good stuff. Final Fantasy V focuses on the main character Butz (pronounced "Boots" not "Butts"). He's a wanderer who's father's dying wish was for him to see the world. He only has one companion, his trusty chocobo, Boco. Along the way, Butz meets up with the Princess of Tycoon, Lenna, who is searching for her father, the King, the beautiful Pirate Captain, Faris, and the mysterious old man Galuf and his granddaughter, Cara. There's an unknown evil shattering the four elemental crystals (Earth, Wind, Fire and Water), and it's up to Butz and his companions to stop it! However, what starts out as just an odd situation, grows into an life or death struggle with the voids of darkness.

Final Fantasy Tactics fans will recognize the way this game feels. This is the second of three appearances by Square's Final Fantasy "Job System." Any character, can become any class (granted that you have access to the class). For example, you can make Faris a Knight one fight, and switch her over to a Red Wizard another, or Dancer. The possibilities are endless. Also, characters gain Job Points to where they level up in that specific class and learn new skills and such. Again, for example, Faris as a Level 3 Knight will learn the "2 Handed Grip" skill, where she would hold her sword with two hands, causing more damage, but she would not be able to hold a shield, lowering her defense. Now the cool stuff, as you learn abilities, you can use them with other classes. So Faris, (sorry, she's my fav character :) ), with her 2 Handed Grip, would be able to use that as a Samurai, holding the Katana Blades with two hands. This also has endless possibilities. A White Wizard who can also use Black Magic, a Summoner who can swing a sword, a Ninja who can sing like there's no tomorrow. So take the Final Fantasy Tactics job system (or the FFIIIj battle system, that's where Square started this whole thing, on the old Famicom system), and put it in a classic Final Fantasy world. The outcome is very addicting. Be for warned!

The music is another gem. Nobuo Uematsu never ceases to amaze me with his work. Granted, this is no Final Fantasy VI Score (In my opinion the greatest soundtrack for any game), but its blows most games away. The storyline is excellent, like any Final Fantasy fan should expect. The plot twists are good, and more importantly, the character development is also very good. You'll develop tight bonds with the characters, and feel for them when sad things happen, and laugh with them as funny things happen. There will be happy times, as well as sad. However you, as Butz, will work your way through horrors that await you and your friends to meet the unknown evil head on. However, will it be too late? Will the world survive? Or...are you starting on a journey that will defy all of time and space? Play on...it won't take much coaxing!

If there is a problem with the game, it's the simplistic graphics. And when grading it against some of the RPGs we see out there these days, it looks rather pathetic. However, what one must remember is that this game was made 6 years ago, on a Super Famicom system. It's not going to have the graphics of a 32 bit game. So anyone looking for more of Final Fantasy VII or VIII's visual brilliance will be disappointed. However, for a 16 bit game, I think the game looks fine. Those of us lucky enough to own Final Fantasy V re-release for the Playstation know, however, that the CGI intro and ending is completely and utterly beautiful. It looks like Square took the super artwork of Yoshitaka Amano and made them into CGI rended polygonal characters. It is jaw dropping. Overall, I think that anyone who criticizes these graphics, is either heavily biased, or has forgotten that this game was completed 6 years ago for a 16 bit system. Of course, this was also back when Square focused more on character development, game play, and music rather than snazzy graphics. Double Standards are fun, aren't they?

Overall, this game is a classic. It's an absolute shame that we haven't seen this in English yet. The battle system is addicting, the storyline is great, and the character development is outstanding. All the building blocks needed for a killer RPG, and add the music of Nobuo Uematsu and you have a real winner. If you're an importer, then you don't need me to tell you to get this game, because you probably already have it. If you're not an importer, keep your fingers crossed, the rumors might still bring this gem to us. I certainly hope so. The American RPG fans have missed out on so much from Japan, and this is living proof of that.


Will we ever see this game in America? Only time will tell.

The graphics look more like FF IV than FFVI. Not that much of any improvement.

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