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Review Rewind: Final Fantasy V

Author: Philippe
Posted: 22 Aug 2004, one and all, to another Review Rewind! I'm your host, Philippe, and we'll begin momentarily. As soon as everyone puts their seats in the full upright position and does something with a tray table...

As soon as everyone gets a beer and revs up the ol' SNES. That's much better than the nonsensical airplane stuff. Hooray me!

OK, cats and kittens. This week, we'll be looking at the second Final Fantasy game on the SNES and one that was never actually released in the U.S. until much later. Certainly not on the SNES. Due to...well, OK, small sidebar into video game history here and then we'll get into the game.

The Nintendo company was ruthless in the beginning. The NES was the only product worthwhile on the market. They had all the best games and nobody gave two shits about the Sega Master System.

Part of the reason why nobody cared about Sega's product was that Nintendo made all of their developers sign a non-compete clause. You either made games for Nintendo, exclusively, or you didn't make them for Nintendo at all. No video game company wanted this deal, but nobody could live without the NES. Too many people owned them. It was too much money to give up.

Nintendo even pulled this nonsense with the SNES, which is why there weren't nearly as many games available for the Genesis as there were for the SNES. Nintendo had the lion's share of the market. They were helped, especially, because of Nintendo's own line of games such as Mario, Zelda, and Metroid, to name a few. Unfortunately, Nintendo also started charging a lot more money for their precious seal of approval. Remember those? All you had to do was pay for it and it was yours., this pissed everyone off. Enough so that a lot of gaming companies told Nintendo to go fuck themselves as soon as a better option appeared, namely the Playstation. It was cheap, it was ridiculously easy to develop for, and you didn't need to pay Sony any money to make a game. They took a small portion of the profits for the games sold and also had guidelines that you needed to follow (ie, no blatant pornography, etc), though Playstation didn't have nearly the same guidelines on adult content that Nintendo did, namely with regards to violence and gore.

So, everyone left Nintendo and went to Playstation. The N64 died a horrible death while still in the womb and, were it not for the Gameboy and a little something called Pokemon, Nintendo would have gone bankrupt.

End all be all to this nonsense. Final Fantasy V was released in Japan only, and then later on the Playstation, and never got close to any sort of Nintendo release. Luckily, Nintendo has started apologizing to game companies, and almost everyone seems peachy these days. Even Square-Enix.

Thus ends your history lesson. Now, onto the game.

If Crystals were the buzz word for Final Fantasy 4 (released as FF2), then the buzzword for this game was Jobs.

A bit tricky to get used to but, in the end, the Job skills made Final Fantasy V my all-time favorite RPG.

Basically, when the the big bad boss from 1,000 years ago comes back into town, he destroys the 4 elemental crystals and gives their powers to his generals, as it were, using subterfuge and general evil and trickiness (sounds familiar, eh?).

What he doesn't realize is that some of the powers get transferred to the characters in the game. The fun thing is that you can train your characters any which way you want., for instance, you can assign jobs to your characters. Lets say, for example, in your group you decide to train a White Wizard, a Ninja, a Black Wizard, and a Knight. After every fight, in addition to XP, you also get ability points, which are credited to the job you are training in. Once you master the job, (for the white wizard, for instance) you can switch that character to be a knight with white magic as a secondary ability.

And you can do this over and over again! Some abilities are just crazy cool. Some of the abilities you could get were a huge dodge rate, never missing a target, and automatically hitting a target back when you've been hit. The list is nearly endless, which makes customization of your party one of the most intricate of all the games. With 4 characters and, like, 20 total jobs to choose from, what's that math work out to? 4 to the twentieth power? Well, essentially, over a million combinations of things. Granted, some of the jobs are kind of crap. I mastered one of my characters in Alchemy just to see if there was some sort of insta-kill-you ability, but to no avail. The Alchemist is worthless.

Still, there were plenty of jobs to choose from and, in fact, that was my favorite part of the game.

The storyline of the game was...well, let's face it, you already know the damn storyline of the game. Big Baddy Ex-Death was locked away 999.9 years ago and is now primed and ready to escape. Woo. The characters themselves are also on the bland side. I think one person's reason for joining the group was actually listed as boredom. Yikes.

The world map was a bit different and fun, though, as it went through three different full world maps and an underwater submarine map that actually held some pretty neat secrets if you had insomnia and felt like exploring the entire thing.

So, while the story is a bit lacking as compared to FF6, and the graphics weren't a huge improvement over FF4, the game was one of the most fun and addictive FF games I've ever played. I give this bad boy 5 out of 5 stars and say "rock on, Square Enix." Because of the awesomeness of this game, I forgive you the clusterfuck of bad that was Crystal Chronicle. Find it, buy it, or emulate it up. This one's a winner.

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