Final Fantasy V (Pixel Remaster)


Review by · September 15, 2023

When it comes to early Final Fantasy games, the odd-numbered entries represent a curious sort of continuity. Final Fantasies I, III, and V all feature customizable parties, tales of four heroes saving the world with magic crystals, and a generally more lighthearted tone when compared to II, IV, and VI. Of these, Final Fantasy V is often regarded as little more than a curiosity: the bastard stepchild sandwiched between two beloved fan-favorites, full of Butz, Bokos, evil trees and other such nonsense. And that’s a shame, because Final Fantasy V is an absolutely delightful adventure, and a quintessential RPG text that genre fans should not pass up. 

As many RPGs do, Final Fantasy V begins with a world in crisis. With their Wind Crystal in apparent peril, the king of Tycoon goes to investigate on dragonback. Fearing for her father’s safety, Princess Lenna of Tycoon follows suit, only to be caught in the wake of a falling meteorite. After being accosted by monsters, Lenna is rescued by a traveling adventurer named Bartz, who is investigating the site of the meteor crash. The duo then finds an elderly amnesiac named Galuf, who emerges from the meteorite with little memory of his past and a dire warning: the world’s crystals are in danger and need protecting. Together, along with the pirate captain Faris, our heroes find themselves embarking on a journey to protect the crystals from the encroaching power of the Void.

Screenshot from Final Fantasy V Pixel Remaster featuring Galuf facing off against Gilgamesh.
Enough expository banter!

Final Fantasy V won’t win any awards for originality in terms of its plot, being something of an extension of the themes established in previous Final Fantasy games. Where it does excel, however, is in its humor and wit. Put simply, the writing in this game is excellent: characters engage in witty banter, there are jokes and puns aplenty, and the game maintains a lighthearted tone throughout. That’s not to say that there aren’t moments of pathos throughout the narrative. For a Super Famicom title, Final Fantasy V packs a decent amount of character and world building into its narrative, as well as some dramatic story turns that predate some of the more famous moments from the franchise’s PlayStation 1 days. There are also plenty of series standbys that got their introduction here, like the blundering comic relief villain Gilgamesh. And, yes, the main villain is a giant angry tree, although Exdeath spends the majority of his time moonlighting as Blue Golbez instead.

The real meat of the experience, though, is in the gameplay. Final Fantasy V has all the hallmarks of a classic Final Fantasy that you would expect. There’s an overworld map, towns to visit, numerous dungeons to explore (some of the best in the series up until this point, in fact!), and enemies to engage in turn-based combat with. Like Final Fantasy IV before it, V uses the active time battle system to great effect, where both party members and enemies can execute their turn when a bar fills up, requiring players to stay on their toes a little bit.

Screenshot From Final Fantasy V Pixel Remaster featuring the party sleeping around a campfire in a forest.
A cozy campfire repose.

The job system from Final Fantasy III makes a triumphant return in Final Fantasy V, only now it has advanced to its final form. Put simply, party customization in this game is absolutely sublime. Each of your four heroes can choose from a number of different jobs, which level up independently of your characters as you gain experience in battle. The kicker, though, is that you can equip one skill from a different job as a sub-action, opening up an impressive amount of customization. Want a Knight that can cast a little white magic? How about a Dragoon that dual-wields spears? Players are encouraged to experiment with as many jobs as they can in order to unlock more skills, and are bound to find a combination that works for them. While a few bosses strongly encourage the use of specific jobs, the system is way less restrictive than it was in III, and just about every option is viable. There’s a reason that Final Fantasy V has maintained an active following over the years: the job system is just that good. 

Really, my only criticism of the game has to do with the Pixel Remaster series’ decision to cut all of the optional content that was added in other versions of the game. While none of this content was particularly excellent, it did include a few additional jobs and an interesting secret boss, and I’m kind of sorry to see it go. A few weapons and items also have secondary functions that aren’t described anywhere in the game to my knowledge. While this is in keeping with the game encouraging players to experiment, I feel like the remaster could have taken this opportunity to include more detailed weapon and item descriptions. Still, “faithfulness” was apparently the name of the game when it came to these titles, and I can’t really begrudge them that. 

Screenshot From Final Fantasy V Pixel Remaster featuring the party facing off against three enemies.
Hey, those look familiar!

The Pixel Remaster treatment means that this version of Final Fantasy V is the best the game has ever looked. I know there are a few fans of previous re-releases who aren’t overly fond of this aesthetic, but personally, I find the retouched sprites to be crisp, clean, and reasonably faithful to the original release. This holds especially true for the detailed boss and enemy sprites. I also adore how each party member has a unique sprite for each job, something that wasn’t present with the Onion kids in Final Fantasy III. The remastered music is also excellent, particularly the new rendition of the iconic “Battle on the Big Bridge.”

There’s really little else to say about Final Fantasy V Pixel Remaster other than that it’s a solid, faithful, and accessible rendition of one of the more underrated Final Fantasy titles. While it kind of bites that we don’t get to see the extra content from the Game Boy Advance version in this remaster, that’s a negligible quibble in the grand scheme of things. If you’re a longtime Final Fantasy fan who has somehow missed out on the adventure of Bartz, Lenna, Galuf, Faris and company, then this is a perfect chance to redress that. 


Great mix of comedy and pathos, likable characters, terrific job system, gorgeous sprites and music.


Some missing content from previous re-releases.

Bottom Line

Final Fantasy V is a criminally underrated Final Fantasy game, and the Pixel Remaster is a great version of it.

Overall Score 89
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Peter Triezenberg

Peter Triezenberg

Peter is a reviews editor for RPGFan, and quite possibly the spooniest bard you'll ever meet. He's also the site's resident Kingdom Hearts fan, Final Fantasy XV apologist, and Yu-Gi-Oh! enthusiast. In between playing video games or writing news, he can usually be found drinking unsafe amounts of caffeinated beverages. He also really likes cats.