Review by Ice Water
"This game kicks so much ass, that you'll probably go blind!"
Back in 1992, Squaresoft created their masterpiece Final Fantasy V. The game had everything: ass kicking, pirates, chicks in distress, princesses, liquor, and manly men who could put Chuck Norris to shame. The game was also one of the most difficult Final Fantasy games that they had ever produced, even more so than their previous title, but due to the complexity of the nature of the game's inner core, America ended up never seeing this game until 1998 or so.
Finally being able to get this game on the Playstation instead of the Super Nintendo, Final Fantasy gave America a good taste on what the ultimate RPG battle system should be like. Unfortunately the translation for the game sucked so much ass, that people just didn't give a damn to play through it in order to experience the game head on. Those who made it through the translation and thought it wasn't completely terrible were able to get the gist of the story and were able to enjoy one of the greatest RPGs ever created.
Now its nearly the end of 2006 and Square Enix has decided to help the Gameboy Advance go out with a bang by redesigning every one of the SNES Final Fantasy's, making them portable, and slapping on enough extra's to make people go nuts over them. After seeing the buggy remake of Final Fantasy IV thanks to it being designed off the Wonderswan Color version of the game, Final Fantasy V Advance has been completely remade in a different style that leaves fewer bugs to go around.
A simple story outline makes for a helluva great game. Seriously, Super Mario Bros had that whole 'save the damn princess' thing going for it and its one of the best games ever. The game starts out with the king of Tycoon heading out on his wind drake to go find out what's going on with the Wind Crystal, ditching his daughter Lenna to watch over the castle while he's gone. Unfortunately for him, some bad things are happening at the Wind Shrine where the Wind Crystal is stored, and the crystal shatters right in front of his eyes. During the king's absence, a giant Meteor falls from the sky and lands smack dab in the middle of a field, stirring up the interest in a lone traveler named Bartz and his chocobo Boko. After investigating the wreck, Bartz, Lenna, and a mysterious old man named Galuf head off to the Wind Shrine to see what has befallen the king.
Starts off pretty interesting, then you get the whole save the world thing shoved to you on a silver platter. Easily Final Fantasy V has the weakest storyline in the series, but what it lacks in story telling it makes up for in the core of the game: Game play.
The only complaints that many people may have with the game are the newly translated lines spinning off of recent internet culture. For some it may be a welcome addition reading something mildly humorous instead of the same old bland NPC talk, but to others it may be their worse nightmare. Personally, I find the translation to be quite humorous since it fits with Final Fantasy V's nature of being a light hearted game. To each his own I guess...
Keeping true to the Gameboy fashion, the game controls are a cinch to pick up and learn in no time. The A button is used to confirm everything from talking to random people, to choosing which item to use, to attacking. The B button is used to cancel out whatever action you may be in the process of selecting, and holding the B button in towns/dungeons will allow you to run at a faster pace than regular walking. The Start button will bring up the menu outside of battle and will pause the game during combat. The L and R buttons will allow you to run away from battle if you choose to do so, or they'll allow you to swap between menu screens with ease. Also using the R button on the over world will bring up the world map once you acquire it (still as small as hell as it ever was though...).
After playing this game, you'll wonder how you were able to deal with the lack of customization in the rest of the Final Fantasy series. After you make it to the Wind Shrine you are able to experience the job system for the first time in the game. At first you start out with a measly six jobs to choose from, but as the game continues you will be able to score a total of 22 different jobs, not including the four new classes added into this version of the game. Unlike Final Fantasy III's job system though, Final Fantasy V introduces the ability to mix and match abilities. Ever wanted a Dragoon that can cast Haste on itself? How about a Black Mage that can fight just as good as a Monk? Maybe even a White Mage that can attack with swords? Thanks to the customization of the Job System, almost anything you can think of is a possibility, provided you AP train enough.
The only downfall to the job system is that jobs require an assload of AP to be able to get anywhere, but once you put in the time, the payback is totally worth it. Even if you do not master a class entirely, the levels of the Job will completely pay off. An example is the Red Mage, who requires the most AP to master. If you can get the Red Mage's Job level up to three, you will have the ability to use level 3 Red magic, allowing you access to half of the White and Black magic spells in the game for any class at any time!
To make up for the amount of AP training you will need, Final Fantasy V doesn't skimp out on the random encounters. This may be one of the few games in the series where you won't mind the fights since the benefits in the end will completely pay off. Using the standard Final Fantasy battle system, the battles are fought using the Active Time Battle system first seen in Final Fantasy IV. Once your ATB bar fills up, your character will be allowed to take an action available, most likely Attack and Item, with the option of two more abilities depending on what your current Class and extra ability are. While you are making your selections though (depending on if you have the battle mode set to Wait or Active) the enemies won't be sitting there just waiting for you to wail on their ass, cause at the same time you're making your selections they'll be making theirs to make your life a living hell so quick thinking may be the best choice of action....or not if you use the Wait mode. Then you have all the time you need to select your items or spells. And battles will continue like this until either side's characters lose all of their Hit Points (HP) so having curative spells will save your butt in the long run.
Probably the most noticeable improvement in battles compared to Final Fantasy IV Advance is the lack of lag on the enemies and battles in general. On occasion, you may notice a small bit of slowdown that was also present in the Playstation version of the game, but even in that version the lag was hardly noticeable (well, except maybe when the battles are initially starting). And much like the original SNES/PSX version of the game, as soon as you choose a skill/ability, your character will use it almost instantly, instead of having to wait a few seconds to fire off that Cure spell you need, or to make your Dragoon jump off into the sky.
Sounds and whatnot
Much like the previous Final Fantasy game, this version is no exception to the 'ported SNES music just doesn't sound the same' rule. Fortunately, Square Enix got on the ball with this version and tweaked the sound effects and music so that they work pretty damn well with the Gameboy's small ass speakers. Aside from a few note changes on the main world theme, and a few other changes here and there, the music is pretty damn close to the SNES version of the game...probably the closest any Final Fantasy game has come since Dawn of Souls's near perfect Playstation soundtrack.
The sound effects also went through the same transition, though I wish they stuck with the original sound effect for the spell Bio...oh well, can't win them all.
Extra content and crap
Now for the moment you've all been skipping all that text I just spent an hour or two writing for! As with Final Fantasy IV Advance, this game has added in the following additions:
-a bestiary for you completionists
-an unlockable dungeon after certain conditions are met
-FOUR additional classes never before seen in any other version of this game
-new bosses that give the already hard as hell optional bosses a run for their money
-a friggin' Boss rush where you fight wave after wave of bosses with no time for curing in between!
-probably even more that I forgot!
Replay? You bet!
Thanks to the nature of the Job system in this game, every time you play the game from scratch has the potential to being a completely new run through! You can literally change the difficulty of this game just by selecting a different selection of classes for different bosses, so you can all of a sudden make the hardest boss in the game look like a sissy or the weakest boss in the game look like the hardest damn thing ever! The power is yours!
So go throw down your thirty bucks and pick up this awesome game ASAP. You won't regret it unless you didn't like the job system from Final Fantasy Tactics or something.
Reviewer's Score: 10/10 | Originally Posted: 11/10/06
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