Our review countdown continues today. If you’re new to finding this out, the Final Fantasy X | X-2 HD Remaster is releasing for the PlayStation Vita on March 18th. To help prepare our staff and our readers for this, we are reviewing every other main series Final Fantasy game that is playable on the Vita before then. We have already made reviews for Final Fantasy Origins, Final Fantasy III, and Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection. It’s time for the next game in order, Final Fantasy V.
If you have kept up with Square Enix, they have released Final Fantasy V on several different platforms. Across the years, it has seen releases from the Super Nintendo to Mobile. With nearly half a dozen systems to play it on, it is readily available. Until recently, it wasn’t playable on the PlayStation Vita. However, thanks to a PlayStation Network update about a month ago, Vita players can now enjoy Final Fantasy V to their heart’s content as a PlayStation Classic. Here is our official review of that game.
The story of Final Fantasy V is similar to some of the previous titles in the series, though also allows itself to be different. The main premise revolves around the world having four crystals that maintain balance and power over the elements. This is something that was repeated in past games, such as Final Fantasy and Final Fantasy III. As the game starts out, the Kingdom of Tycoon notices something wrong with the Wind and the King of Tycoon sets out to the Wind Shrine, where the Wind Crystal resides. Apart from this, a meteor strikes the planet, setting events in motion to bring four people together just as the Wind Crystal shatters and all wind stops in the world. These four are branded as the Warriors of Light, and set out on a quest to protect the remaining crystals, carrying with them Crystal Shards, the true power and blessings of the crystals, themselves. As they set out on this journey, they’ve no clue as to the danger and world-shattering conflict they are about to enter.
The game starts out similar to past games, with this plot revolving around the crystals, but as the game progresses, it expands and becomes a story of its own, adding in science fiction elements as well as fantasy elements. It does a few things that you won’t find in any of the other games in the series.
The story isn’t wonderfully told in this version of the game, which is based on an old translation. Because of this, many words are incomplete. For example, instead of seeing “Hellfire” for Ifrit’s Summon attack, you would see something like “Helfre”. This is there in a lot of different attack names and more. This is a bit of a disappointment as some of these attacks are hard to read. This is also present in enemy names. That is definitely one thing that pulls this version of the game down.
Final Fantasy V plays much like its two predecessors, pulling elements from both Final Fantasy III and Final Fantasy IV. As with those and other earlier games, it is a 2D game that has you traveling around a world map and visiting towns and dungeons. Also kept from the older games is fighting turn-based battles against both random battles with enemies, as well as fighting larger enemies as Boss Battles. That is nothing new for the Final Fantasy series up to this point.
Along with this, you will travel in a party of four, for the most part, and will have a few things to do in each town. In each Town there will be an Inn for you to pay a fee to rest. Resting will not only restore HP and MP of each party member, but it will also revive any unconscious party members and restore them to full as well. Games like the original Final Fantasy did not do this and required you to revive a character prior to using an Inn.
There are also several different kinds of shops for you to visit to help upgrade equipment and magic. There are the normal Weapon and Armor shops, where you can buy new weapons and armor for your characters. When you’re buying, there is a small menu, showing each character and will let you know which available equipment at the shop can be equipped by whom. While this is great, it does not let you know if it will increase their stats, increasing the possibility of you buying something you don’t need or will not help you.
Apart from this, towns also borrow elements from Final Fantasy and offer Magic Shops. At these shops, you can buy new magic spells for your characters to use, assuming they’re capable of casting them. The shops sell almost every kind of magic, from Black and White Magic to Summon and Time magic. When you buy a spell, it becomes available to not only the character who bought it, but the entire party. So, you don’t have to re-buy spells. Once you buy Cure, everyone can use Cure.
What makes Final Fantasy V unique is how it takes these elements and adds more of its own sparkle to it. While battles play out the same as the previous game, with the battles being turn-based and everyone having a Time Bar that fills up until the time for a character to take their turn. The thing that makes this and the customization unique is the Job System that the game incorporates.
Like in Final Fantasy III, Final Fantasy V gives you new jobs for your characters to use at certain points of the story. The game has a total of 21 classes, and every character can use every job. There is also an element of Job Levels. This is different from Final Fantasy III’s Job Level, where the Job Level determines how strong your character is. In Final Fantasy V, increasing your Job Level with battles gives you new abilities to equip. For example, Mastering the White Mage Job will give you an MP+10% Ability to equip.
With abilities, you can equip two at once, one being the main ability of your current job. Utilizing the ability system allows you to essentially, use two Jobs at once. For example, if I train Bartz as a Summoner long enough, I will gain the Summon ability. Then, if I switch him to Black Mage, you can equip Summon as a secondary ability, allowing him to cast both Black Magic and Summon Magic in battle. This will potentially give you access to eight different job classes at once.
The other element of the Job System that makes it useful is the fact that everyone can do everything. So, if you have a Boss battle about to happen that you know has a huge weakness to Thunder Magic, then switch everyone but your healer to a Black Mage, and you now have a very easy battle ahead of you. Instead of one character doing huge damage to them with Thunder or Thunder2, you now have the majority of your party doing that, bringing the battle to a quick end.
The Job system is definitely where this game shines and the most uniqueness comes out of it. It’s fun to explore different classes and Jobs to see what suits you best.
One last thing to note is the Save Glitch that previous users know of. In this version of the game, there was a very annoying glitch that happened when you tried to save. When using the game on the PlayStation Portable, the save screen would glitch the entire game, making it impossible to see. Unless you could hear and feel your way around the menu, you just couldn’t save your game at all. However, I have been through this game and never saw it once. They’ve removed this glitch and you can now save without fear of this glitch.
Controlling 2D RPGs is never a terribly confusing process. Just as the games before it were simple, Final Fantasy V is also not hard to control. There are some pretty customizable controls through the Settings area of the PS Vita’s emulator for PlayStation Classics, as well as assigning buttons to the corners of the Touch Screen. You will probably not need them, though.
By default, movement is handled with the D-Pad, both for moving through areas, as well as navigating menus. The start menu will pause the game, allowing you to do something else and not have enemies bashing on you while you’re in the bathroom or fixing up some dinner. The other controls you will use are the X Button for interacting or confirming a choice, and the Circle Button, which cancels a choice or goes back one part of the Menu.
That is all there is to the controls. As I said earlier, you can go into the Settings on the emulator and change them for a custom setting. Also, this is not one of the games that has an altered control scheme if it is being played on a Japanese Vita.
As far as presentation is concerned, it’s at its very basic point. The graphics of this version is based directly on the original Super Nintendo version of Final Fantasy V. So, you’re not going to see the redone visuals in this that you can see in the Mobile version of the game. They work well for what they are, but compared to the newer ones, they definitely look dated.
Audio quality, unfortunately, is another thing I will note. The music is there and is the same music that there is from the Super Nintendo version. However, in formatting it for the PlayStation release, they reduced the quality. Each song sounds mostly the same, but the quality and tone is less than it is in the other releases. You normally would not be able to tell at all, unless you have heard both of them. So, Final Fantasy V veterans would be able to notice. Newcomers, though, don’t need to worry.
The last thing I will note on here is the issue of Load Times. It is widely known that many of Square Enix’s PlayStation Classic releases have issues with load times. It’s not as though the game has a hard time loading sequences, but more that it takes awhile to load each sequence. If you want to load a new area, like a town or room, it will only take about two seconds. This is not bad at all, but battles loading is where the longer times come in. To load up a battle, or get out of a battle, you will be waiting about five seconds.
The load times aren’t unbearable, but noticeable, especially if you’ve played this game on the Super Nintendo or Game Boy Advance, whom do not have this problem.
All in all, Final Fantasy V is all there and just as good as it was on the Super Nintendo. There are some issues with load times and audio quality, but if you can be patient with it, it’s a fun experience that any Final Fantasy fan should play at least once. The Job System is extensive and much more user-friendly than Final Fantasy III’s.
The PlayStation Vita Review Network Rates Final Fantasy V a 5.5/10.