Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Great Gaymathon Review #34: Final Fantasy V (Super Famicom)


Game: Final Fantasy V
Genre: RPG
Developer: Squaresoft
Publisher: Squaresoft
System: Super Famicom
Release date: 1992

I can't remember if this was the first video game I ever imported from the Land of the Rising Sun or if that honor belongs to the PC Engine version of Detana!! TwinBee. Regardless, Squaresoft's second 16-bit Final Fantasy was one of my first experiences with a Japanese game. What prompted me to pick it up--especially when I had to pay a premium (over $50 for a banged-up used copy) for it? I absolutely loved its predecessor, for starters. I also loved what I had seen of its battle--which are as beautiful as they are brisk--and job systems in the gaming magazines of the day (namely DieHard GameFan and Electronic Gaming Monthly). The latter system is the main reason I keep coming back to Final Fantasy V today, by the way. Sure, the game's story--which involves a bunch of crystals, a group of heroes, 12 legendary weapons and a baddie named Exdeath--is enjoyable, if a bit thin, and its controllable characters are lovable, if a bit generic, but neither of those things can compare to the aforementioned job system, which allows players to freely choose and master up to 22 jobs or "classes." (My favorite is the geomancer, who not only can channel the powers of the surrounding environment but can wield giant bells as weapons.) One thing that can compare to the game's job system: Its music. I'm especially fond of Final Fantasy V's more somber tunes--such as "The Day Will Come" and "Dear Friends"--although I enjoy its upbeat tracks, too. ("Ahead On Our Way" and "Harvest" are two good examples.)


See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts

26 comments:

Kamiwoo said...

I echo everything you've said about this game, and more! Final Fantasy V is a gem that any fan of the SNES Final Fantasy games or 16-bit RPGs in general owes themselves to play.

You're not the first person I've heard about that imported a copy, but my first experience came in the form of Final Fantasy Anthology for the Playstation. It was an amazing experience to play a "lost" Final Fantasy that was at the same time both nostalgic AND new to me!

Considering how much I enjoyed Final Fantasy Tactics' job system, to be able to play a game with a similar system by way of a "regular" RPG was right up my alley, especially at the time.

You're definitely right about the music, as well. Some of my favorite FF tunes originate from this game. I still think the "Battle on the Big Bridge" part of the game is truly epic, and the music that plays during it only adds to this. Heck, just the regular battle theme is one of the catchier ones in the series, in my opinion.

Whereas Final Fantasy IV was a solid, classic RPG that helped set the standard for future titles of that generation, and Final Fantasy VI was the crowning achievement in presentation and story of the SNES FF era, Final Fantasy V is the goofy game in the middle that's just plain FUN. Wonderful game, and one of my all-time favorites as well ;D

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, well, now I've got echo everything *you* have said about the game, Kamiwoo! FFV really is a gem. It's also, as you said, just plain FUN. It's one of the only RPGs I've played more than once, and I think the fun factor has something to do with it.

Really, the review I wrote is far too brief for this game, which deserves many more words of praise. I like to keep these 'Great Gaymathon' reviews short, though, so I kept my wordcount to a minimum. I really should have mentioned the game's battle scenes, for instance, which are as beautiful as they are brisk. Maybe I'll edit that in somewhere later tonight...

Kamiwoo said...

Whenever I write about games, I simultaneously fear writing too much (as you said) and leaving out important details! I know I could go on and on about this and other favorite games of mine, myself... especially those "underdog" games that I wish more people would try out! So I understand what you mean ;D

Bryan Ochalla said...

I love reading long reviews, Kamiwoo, but I've never liked writing them. I have a hard time finishing them, for starters, and I nearly always think they come off as bloated in the end. So, I stick to short ones -- even if I have to leave out a some important details :)

Trxd said...

Still playing this game :)

I agree with pretty much everything you've said, I'm really enjoying the plot (Exdeath just combined the two worlds) but I agree its a it thin in comparison to other Final Fantasies where we are trying to save the multiverse from the dead alien mother of a deranged mako-fueled clown from space, or something like that, but that's okay, I like the simpler but more straightforward storyline.

The Job system is fucking epic, I don't know why they haven't brought it back yet...

Bryan Ochalla said...

Ah, I forgot you were playing through this, Trxd! And you're enjoying it? Even better :)

Anyway, the simple/straightforward storyline is nice, isn't it? Really, some of the other games in this series have stories that are so convoluted that they become silly -- and I don't mean in a good way.

Also, yes, the job system is completely epic. The best in the mainline games, IMO...

apricotsushi said...

I've never played this one! I have Anthology, like Kamiwoo, but it's another one of those games on my shelf that I haven't gotten around to playing.

I hope this doesn't make me seem less cool, but I didn't grow up playing SNES games, so the graphics are a little bit too "old-school" for me, even though I can appreciate them, you know? It just doesn't have the same nostalgia factor for me, which I think is really unfortunate. I didn't get to play games until the Playstation, and the first game I remember really playing for that was FFVII, which is a huge reason why I find it difficult to get into some of the older FF's, I think.

Regardless, I will play this one day!! Actually, it's more likely my husband will play it, but I'll be sure to watch (he powered through FFVI a couple of months ago)!

Trxd said...

Yup my review will be up in a couple of weeks :) (I guess, cos I'm on the last world now).

Btw I've only just started using Geomancer (as soon as Cara joined) and its pretty pimp, don't understand why it hasn't returned in any future FF's :(

Kamiwoo said...

apricotsushi: The fact that you're willing to give it a shot is the important part! Believe me, it's even hard for me to get into games with older-style graphics if I've been playing nothing but HD-quality games for a while. Hopefully you'll eventually form a taste for 16-bit graphics and be able to appreciate them on their own terms =)

Funny you should mention watching your husband play, because my wife-to-be does the same thing with a majority of console RPGs! But I think older games, especially those with fantastic gameplay like FFV, are way more interesting if you actually play them yourself, though. No pretty cutscenes to see or anything, plus it'd be fun to compare/contrast your taste in job classes!

Trxd: There are Geomancers in FFIII (bells and all), and the class appears in a slightly different form in FFT (no bells, unfortunately ;_; )

Bryan Ochalla said...

I understand, Anne. I can see where if you came into gaming during the 32/64-bit era (N64, PS1, Saturn), going back to 2D games w/ pixels could be tough. Also, nostalgia plays a bit part in every gamer's life, IMO, and if you don't have that with earlier/older titles, going back to games like this can be even tougher.

That said, I definitely recommend checking out FF IV, V and VI at some point, as well as some of Square's other 16-bit RPGs (Secret of Mana, Treasure of the Rudras, etc.) All of them are quite wonderful in their own way, even if you can't or don't fully appreciate their graphics.

apricotsushi said...

Hmmm, maybe you're right, Kamiwoo! FFVI was fine to watch since it had a fair bit of plot, but even that got really hard to stand sometimes (mainly when my husband was trying to get all the monsters in the Velt, oh lord...). Maybe we'll play alongside one another to see how our styles differ–I can probably get a ROM for my Mac and he can use the TV ;)

apricotsushi said...

Thanks, Bryan! I have an ever-growing list of games to play, and you're not helping! ;) I think I'm going to have to take a break from writing so much about games and actually start playing them. Imagine! haha

Bryan Ochalla said...

Er, I meant to say that nostalgia plays a "big," not bit, part in every gamer's life :P

Bryan Ochalla said...

Trxd: I look forward to reading your review of this one! As for the Geomancer: I didn't realize the job was never used again! I guess it's not the most useful, but I like it's clownish costume and ability to fight with bells :)

Bryan Ochalla said...

Kamiwoo: I forgot that Geomancers are in FF III, too! Of course, I've barely played the Famicom version of this game. Guess I'll have to fix that soon :)

Bryan Ochalla said...

Anne: If you thought FF VI was a bit long-winded, you'll likely find this one a breath of fresh air. The story in FF V is much more straightforward, as Trxd suggested earlier.

As for playing games rather than writing about them -- I agree! I need to do a bit more of that myself :P

Kamiwoo said...

apricotsushi: You sat through Veldt farming? I think you deserve a fancy dinner or some other kind of pampering after such a traumatizing thing! That's terrible even when you're the person playing xD

And yeah, you could definitely use a rom, or find a cheap copy of the GBA version, although using two different translations might get confusing, with character names especially.

Bryan: I'd highly recommend the DS or iOS versions of FFIII if you're going to play it, but the Famicom version has its own unique charms as well. If geomancers are the deciding factor, they're much more useful in the remade versions, just so you know ;D

Bryan Ochalla said...

I actually have the DS version of FF III, Kamiwoo. Unfortunately, I've barely played it any longer than I've played the Famicom version.

Honestly, I'd probably rather play the Fami version at this point. I'm a big fan of 8-bit and 16-bit graphics, and as nice as the 3D visuals are in the DS version, I think I prefer the Fami's visuals.

It's nice to know the geomancers are more useful in the remakes, though. maybe I'll just have to play both sometime soon :)

Kamiwoo said...

The retro graphics style is definitely one of the interesting factors of the original version, plus I think the music is really incredible, especially for a Famicom game! I'd recommend playing both eventually, to soak in the differences.

Basically, the original FFIII tends to favor switching to new jobs when they become available, while the remakes balance things a bit more and make older jobs more useful to hang on to. So that explains Geomancer's usefulness, among other jobs.

Still, gotta keep up your retro gaming cred, so I'm with you all the way in wanting to play the FC version first ;D

Viewtiful_Justin said...

I've never played this one. I might have to find it on a current console or handheld. I'm assuming it's available for the DS...

Bryan Ochalla said...

Kamiwoo: Yeah, I kind of like the idea of playing through the Fami version and then the DS version, to see what changes, improvements, updates, etc. were made from the earlier to the later version. Of course, given my ability to concentrate while playing games these days, that may be a tall order :P Still, I'll try!

Oh, and thanks for sharing all of the interesting info about the two versions. I appreciate it!

Bryan Ochalla said...

You've never played FFV, Justin? I'm surprised! As for it being available for a current console or handheld -- well, do you consider the GBA current? If so, FFV Advance was released for that system, and it is quite nice. You could even play it on your DSlite, if you still have it.

Otherwise, there's Final Fantasy Anthology for the PS1, which has the SNES versions of both FFV and FFVI on it. You have a PS2, right?

If you have a choice, I'd go for FFV Advance (GBA), as it has slightly enhanced graphics and has more content.

Another option, which I know I shouldn't suggest, but I'm going to anyway: Play the GBA version via emulation :)

Trxd said...

But make sure you don't play the anthology release Justin! It's a shitty version just by being REALLY unresponsive and really long loading times just for a simple battle. It just sucks playing that, you should get the SNES or GBA version :)

Bryan Ochalla said...

Oh, DUH, I should have recommended playing the SNES version via emulation, too, shouldn't I?

As for the Anthology release being crappy, Trxd ... I guess I just don't remember my play time with it that well. I remember some loading, but I don't remember it bugging me.

Still, it seems the GBA version is the best bet, via emulation or via purchasing the cart, with the SNES version via emulation being a possibility, too.

Viewtiful_Justin said...

GBA it is!

Bryan Ochalla said...

Great! Let us know what you think of it after you get it and play it for a bit, OK?