Final Fantasy V (Super Nintendo) Review

By Gabriel Jones 19.12.2017 1

Review for Final Fantasy V on Super Nintendo

In what seems like less than a month, an entire world was brought to the brink of ruin. The wind stopped blowing, the water became fetid, fire disappeared entirely, and the earth had begun to rot. The crystals, long known for protecting the four elements, had shattered. In their wake, four heroes rose to the task of saving the decaying planet. Eventually, they would come face to face with Exdeath. A being of pure evil, his dream was to destroy the entire universe. Though the battles with this fearsome foe were costly, the Warriors of Light eventually triumphed. It's time now to revisit Final Fantasy V, one of the greatest RPGs of the 16-bit era.

The anime Yu-Yu Hakusho features a lot of fighting. In fact, its most notable arc, the Dark Tournament, is essentially a series of one-on-one battles. What makes this series work so brilliantly is that the characters use ingenuity and tactics to overcome the odds. Yusuke, Kuwabara, and the rest of the heroes succeed because they make the most of their unique talents, rather than simply try to pummel their opponents into submission. Besides, unlike the average RPG, they can't just grind away on weaker enemies until they get their stats high enough to defeat tougher adversaries. It's the "outwit, not overpower" ideology that helps to make Final Fantasy V an absolutely phenomenal game.

First and foremost, while Final Fantasy III introduced the job system, this game perfected it. Here is an RPG where the player can not only decide what jobs they want their party members to be, they're also free to customize them with a slew of abilities. The white mage, who usually twiddles their thumbs during random encounters, can be taught to use their bare hands as well as any monk. However, they miss out on the monk's large HP pool, as well as other benefits. This unparalleled freedom is bolstered by allowing one to access jobs and abilities at any time outside of battle. There's always time to prepare for the worst.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy V on Super Nintendo

Going further, the job system becomes immeasurably deep when one applies limitations. Remember those times trying to complete the first game with a full party of white mages? The same applies here. Literally any combination of jobs and abilities is capable of seeing this adventure to its conclusion. If having four heroes is making things too easy, then feel free to attempt a solo run. Of course, these challenge runs can be ridiculously difficult, especially if the player limits themselves to one particular job. This highlights the importance of taking every avenue. Whether it's equipment, abilities, or one-time use items, every problem has more than one solution. If a fire spell isn't available, then breaking a fire rod (which results in a casting of firaga) is an acceptable alternative.

It's actually astonishing how this game manages to account for so many possibilities. Shortly after obtaining the first set of jobs, the heroes arrive at a ship graveyard. These wrecks are crawling with undead, which are susceptible to cure spells. This is a good opportunity for white mage parties to earn a few levels. Later on, that same party will encounter Garula. This titanic beast is a physical powerhouse that does immense damage with its counter attacks. At this point, the white mages could choose a more effective job, but in the interest of challenge, they'll devise a new strategy. By exploring a few optional locations, they'll come across an elven cloak. This handy accessory boosts evasion by a fair amount, which mitigates some of the counter damage. Basically, the fight goes from nearly impossible to improbable. It might not sound like much of a difference, but it's still superior to not having access to the cloak at all.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy V on Super Nintendo

If the idea of taking on extreme challenges isn't all that appealing, then there are the myriad of ways to break the game in twain. Thanks to the spells "Level 2 Old" and "Level 5 Death," blue mages can destroy any monster whose level is a multiple of two or five. That Garula from earlier can be turned into a frog, and then silenced, so his attempts at curing the ailment will fail. If that seems like a bit too much work, the whip earned in a previous boss fight can be used to paralyze the mammoth. Outside of a few specific circumstances, every monster is susceptible to something. The game doesn't railroad the player by giving enemies a bunch of immunities. Lately, it seems like the only way to win RPGs anymore is through raw numbers, and that's a shame. The multitude of viable strategies for every encounter lends Final Fantasy V an immense amount of replay value.

For the most part, this entry shies away from long cutscenes. The focus is clearly on party building and dungeon exploring. Lengthy grinding sessions are also unnecessary. If someone is stuck on a boss fight, it's usually because their strategy needs work. All of the dungeons are diverse and paced extremely well. There are enough puzzles to keep things interesting, but never to the point where they drag the rest of the game down. The few set-pieces are handled intelligently, offering additional rewards for exceptional players. The escape from Karnak Castle is a good example. There are only a few minutes before the castle explodes, but one can't just ignore all of the valuable treasure lying around. This is the kind of RPG that stays fresh, even if one were to play through it two or three times a year.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy V on Super Nintendo

It's fair to say that the story isn't anything special. Aside from some unique elements, such as travellers from another world arriving via meteor, it's nothing that hasn't been seen before. Although, its dramatic moments have a bit more weight to them. Everyone and their twin brother sacrificing themselves got a little tiring in Final Fantasy IV. It also helps that the cast is all-around likeable. The friendship they share is contagious, and the player can't help but root for them as they struggle against Exdeath and his cronies. There are a few quirky scenes, such as the reveal that Faris is a woman, but nothing especially problematic. It's not like the sixth game, where Edgar hits on anything with two legs, and Locke keeps his comatose girlfriend in a mad scientist's basement.

Then there are the villains. Everyone is familiar with Gilgamesh. After all, he's made numerous appearances in future titles, sometimes with his "Battle on the Big Bridge" theme song. In this entry, his antics never cease to amuse. Exdeath isn't nearly as compelling, but that isn't a big deal. His schemes aren't convoluted, nor are his motivations hard to understand. All he wants to do is wipe out existence itself, which is actually rather refreshing. Then again, maybe this critic is just nostalgic for the olden days of RPG villainy. Numerous other foes such as Byblos and Atomos are memorable in their design, and they tend to be fun boss battles.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy V on Super Nintendo

Cubed3 Rating

10/10
Rated 10 out of 10

Masterpiece - Platinum Award

Rated 10 out of 10

Final Fantasy V is a masterpiece; a triumph of game design. The mark of great RPG is one in which it allows players to devise their own methods for success. There are an unbelievable number of methods for handling every situation, making for an adventure where there really isn't a wrong decision; it's all a matter of following through with it. Taking advantage of all these unique mechanics gives every playthrough its own flair. Traditionalists that prefer swords and spells will have an enjoyable time. Someone who has an appreciation for experimentation might take on the role of a beastmaster, who captures powerful monsters so that they can be unleashed on bosses. In any case, the player's ingenuity is always respected and rewarded.

Developer

Squaresoft

Publisher

Squaresoft

Genre

Turn Based RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  10/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

It amuses me what each fan considers the masterpieces or extreme high points of the series. If everyone ended up reviewing their fave FF games, we could quite easily have ended up with 10s all over the place lol.

For me, the only other games with comparable character customisation to FF5 are FFX-2 and LRFF13.

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