Throwback Bit Thursday: Final Fantasy V

Final Fantasy V Cover

Unreleased in its original SNES form in the United States, I first played Final Fantasy V as part of the Final Fantasy: Anthology Collection package released in 1999. The US only received two SNES entries Final Fantasy IV, and Final Fantasy IV under the “II and III” labels respectively.

Squaresoft, at the time, bypassed releasing the game in the U.S. because it felt that it was too complex for us simple western folks. However, with Final Fantasy VII igniting western mainstream interest in the once niche genre, Square figured that the Anthology collection would be a great place to finally introduce the title to American audiences.

Final Fantasy V’s Job System Made it Different From Most of the Other Series’ Entries At That Point

Twenty one years later, it is the game’s Job System that remains embedded in my memory. That, and the villain’s name, Exdeath, which might be the worst name I have ever seen for an RPG villain.

Nevertheless, FFV’s unique character progression system made it, and I would argue that is still is, a must play experience. Twenty-two Job Classes made Final Fantasy V a true bastion for character customization. Mixing Job Class skills made combat fun. Because progressing within a class relied on Ability Points rather than on EXP, the game featured a hefty amount of ‘grinding’ which is probably what scared Square from publishing the game on the US in the early 90s.

While my memory of the game is a bit vague at this stage, I do remember one thing about its battles. The last Boss completely kicked my arse a few times. I almost gave up, but I equipped the Coin Toss skill, and threw my hard earned cash at the foe. Just like that, I wiped the baddie out of the face of the dimensional cleft.

I can’t exactly remember how much damage I did with the Coin Toss, but all I know is that it was an overpowered lifesaver at that point. It is funny, because considering the high degree of difficulty of the game, such a simple skill was all that was needed to top one of the toughest bosses in the series’ history.

A Complex Story In terms of its Outline, but Marred by Pedestrian Character Development

Final Fantasy V Faris

 

So we know that the villain is named Exdeath, which is a ridiculous name, but we also know that when people talk about their favorite Final Fantasy character, Bartz, is rarely on any list. Only Faris seems to get some love, and there is good a reason for that.

Once the credits rolled after beating Final Fantasy V, I realized that I had performed a lot of epic deeds from my humble Meteor ‘discovering’ beginnings to the game’s end. In some ways Final Fantasy V’s plot outline is very complex, but the character development felt so…early 1990s, that none of its characters endeared themselves to me

So, basically, a lot like The Granstream Saga, Final Fantasy V has a great story behind its less than stellar character development. To be fair, in 1992 (when the game was first released), thin dialog was common in the genre (unless your game was Lunar).

Final Fantasy V is one of my Least Favorite Entries

Final Fantasy V is better than almost all of the post Sakaguchi Final Fantasy entries over the last two decades. That said, from FFIV to FFX, Final Fantasy V is probably my least favorite entry in the series. That’s not to say that the game isn’t worth a play through, as its job class system remains deep and enjoyable, and FFV is an important part of the series’ history.

With versions of the game everywhere, including Android and iOS the game is easily at everyone’s reach today. If you want to experience an old school adventure, with a complex character progression system, you can certainly do worse than Final Fantasy V.

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By Samuel Rivera

An avid video game player and book reader, Samuel has been playing video games for the last 31 years. He has played nearly every PS1 JRPG known to man, and loves Ocarina of Time more than any other game.