Review by neothe0ne

"The last two SNES titles, reborn into new glory"

Pros:
Final Fantasy V is now officially translated!
Final Fantasy VI was re-translated
Same stories as the SNES
Both games are extremely long
A few new movies

Cons:
Final Fantasy VI was re-translated
Same stories as the SNES
Both games are extremely long
Those who exhausted FF 5 & 6 have nothing substantially new
Most music is slightly distorted
Very long load times for everything from the menu to battles

Final Fantasy is Squaresoft's biggest and most acclaimed series ever, but many of their newer titles seem to lack the magic of the old retro SNES titles. Square is going to sequel Final Fantasy to death some day, and the hype will end, but thankfully, they're bringing back the past (specifically, the last two titles on the SNES in Japan). About time, wouldn't you say?

Final Fantasy V:

Final Fantasy V was released in Japan, and never made it to the US. Many of the more extreme fans of Final Fantasy played translated ROMs on their PCs, myself included. Now that the official translation is here, the full story can actually be reviewed.

The graphics of Final Fantasy V may cause disgust, mainly because the game is based on square sprites instead of rectangular sprites. The graphics are pretty colorful and bright. In battles and in the menu, the sprites are rectangular, which is an improvement. The attack animations in the battles are terrible, though. They jump forward one step, swing a sword like they're drunk, and a slash appears on the enemy... Considering the graphics have the date of 1992 on them, they could be worse. A new and changed effect in the PlayStation version of Final Fantasy V is the removal of the random battle effect of flashing forward and back. Now, there's a white swirl effect, the kind from Final Fantasy VII, except much slower and more annoying.

The soundtrack of Final Fantasy V starts off bad, and the good songs come slowly and grudgingly. The first world theme is pretty sub-par, and the danger theme of a keyboard hitting the same chords over and over is really repetitive and annoying. The bright and lively Walz Castle theme and the Mountain theme are probably the best pieces of the first world. Then, when you get to the second world, you've got a great compilation of some of Nobuo Uematsu's best. Exdeath's theme, the 2nd world theme, the Decisive Battle (Galuf vs. X-Death in the Elder Tree), and the greatest song of all time, Gilgamesh's theme, are a few of my favorites, and all appear in the Second World. The third world has an average world theme, and some great dungeon themes like Intension of the Earth (Jachol Caves and Island Shrine) and the Prelude of Empty Skies (N-Zone). Most of the music is bright and well-paced, and fit in well with the game. In addition, when all the music from the SNES was put onto the PlayStation, the instruments have changed slightly. This causes a few rare pitch changes, and makes some songs sound better than their SNES counterparts, but also make some sound worse. This problem is more serious in Final Fantasy V than in Final Fantasy VI. Note that this sound distortion problem is not an issue with sound effects because the sound effects are streamed, not sequenced. Bio still wins the infinity award for coolest sound effect. :)

Final Fantasy V's gameplay is a mixed bag. There are 5 usable characters during the entire game, and the 5th replaces one of your characters and assumes all of his stats. This was the first Final Fantasy that introduced the wait bars, so you can't complain about that. The wait time bars refill very chunky-like and very fast, though. This is a good thing if you want to attack with little wait, but the same effect happens when you're poisoned, and you lose health VERY fast. Later on, your characters can assume one of many jobs. These Jobs are the unique battle feature of Final Fantasy V. You earn experience in these jobs, and each job has their own skills. For example, there's white magic in one job, black magic in another job, the Jump in another job, a knight as a job, ect. When you get the jobs, you can change whenver you want, but each job keeps its own experience, and each character's experience is seperate. This gives you many options, but if you want to "perfect" the game, it'll take a loooong time.

Final Fantasy V has one of the longest stories in the series. There are four crystals that keep the Earth balanced and healthy. Somethings wrong with the wind, so the King of Tycoon travels to the Wind Shrine to check on the crystal. If the crystals shatter, the world will become unbalanced and will be destroyed. You play as Bartz, and join Reina and Galuf when a meteor lands. Eventually, Reina's long lost sister, now a pirate, joins your party, and the shards of the shattered Crystals grant you magical powers. Well, as for Faris the pirate.. why oh why did they translate her text into pirate speech? "Arr, humbug!" After going through many different "vehicles" like the Chocobo, dragon, Black Chocobo, and airship, you end up in another world, where Galuf is from. Exdeath the dark lord wants to wreck the world like every dark lord wants to, and you lose Galuf and get his granddaughter, Krille. Now, the two worlds combine into one, and a Void swallows whole castles and stuff. Now, if you enter the void, you will end up at the final battle with Exdeath. A repeating theme in Final Fantasy V involves royal highnesses and dear friends being killed or removed, and it happens so much that it's totally predictable and almost funny. Final Fantasy V may not look impressive, but it is a deep RPG, and is fun to play.

Final Fantasy VI, a.k.a. Final Fantasy III for the SNES in the states:

Final Fantasy VI may well be the longest and most complex RPG Squaresoft has ever rolled out. It's been re-translated, so the dialogue is different from the SNES game, but the story's the same. Actually, a whole lot more was changed than a few words...

The graphics of Final Fantasy VI are very impressive, considering that it's from 1994. The sprites are rectangular at all times, which is a welcome improvement. The detail of the visuals takes many twists and turns from Final Fantasy V. For example, the game feels less bright and less colorful, even though it's more detailed. The game, even though it's 2D, has a 3D feel to it, and the animations are much better than before. The world map is very grainy and blocky, though, and when you move, it moves too, but in distorted way. The shades of most colors have also changed from the SNES version, especially noticeable with the dialogue boxes, now bright blue and with extremely obvious chunky changes in shade. Moving in Final Fantasy VI is a little awkward, but in the strangest of ways. With the enlargement of the sprites, moving extremely fast gives you the feeling of not being in control of your character, and it sometimes even seems that the D-pad isn't responding. Note that when you get into a battle, the animation for entering the battle is different. The screen will split out in TV-like lines instead of flashing forward and back with the dissolve effect. These are really very small, minor issues, as they don't really impede gameplay.

Final Fantasy VI's soundtrack is very underrated and quite simply AMAZING. The tracks are fully orchestrated, and it was that way on the SNES, too. Every piece written by Nobuo fits well in the game. He covers every kind of mood imaginable, from the slow and lefty Shadow & Cyan themes to the upbeat Kefka theme, to the amazing World Map theme (Terra's theme on the OST). Some of the greatest songs in the game, however, involve the boss theme (The Decisive Battle), Kefka's Tower theme (Last Dungeon), and both airship themes as well as all three town themes. Again, when all the music from the SNES was put onto the PlayStation, the instruments have changed slightly. This causes a few rare pitch changes, and makes some songs sound better than their SNES counterparts, but also make some sound worse. This problem is less serious in Final Fantasy VI than in Final Fantasy V.

Final Fantasy VI definitely has the best gameplay among the SNES titles. You can have 4 members in your party at once, and there is a HUGE number of characters in this game. Each character also has his/her own special attack. Terra gains the Morph (Espher) move, Locke has Steal, Edgar has his machine Tools, Sabin has martial arts combos, ect. At the start of the game, you are introduced to the MagiTek armor, one of the nicest features of the game, and one that is granted to you very infrequently. Terra is the only character who has full control of the MagiTek moves, and all the other characters only get the 4 basic ones, fire, ice, bolt, and cure. The MagiTek fight list replaces the normal Fight command. The wait timers change smoothly and take just the right amount of time. One of the unique features of this game is the (in)famous split-party confront the advancing enemy thing! You get control of several parties that you control at the same time, and they stop the enemy from advancing to a certain point. When one party and another get to each other, you get taken to that battle. This is a nice feature of the game that occurs one more time. At the end of the game in the last dungeon, you have to split into three groups, and these groups need to cooperate in progressing through the dungeon to hit switches together. Later on, you are introduced to the real unique feature of the game, the Esphers. Esphers have magical powers, and are like the Summons in more recent FF games. You can use them in battle only one time, and they grant you Spells with more experience. These spells stay on the characters, NOT on the Esphers. You can only keep one Espher equiped at a time, plus the Left Hand, Right hand, Head, Armor, and Accessory slots. Therefore, towards the end of the game, everyone should have the same magic spells and then the real consideration is what skill they have in their second slot. Note that the number of steps you take are recorded besides the normal time and money, and that affects how much damage you get from a certain attack and other things... (Note that in the PlayStation version of Final Fantasy VI, the load times between battles are pretty long, so gameplay does drop a little in this modern version...)

Final Fantasy VI has a very long and complex story. Long ago, Humans and Magi fought against each other, until the Magi were crushed and fled. Now, the Empire influences the world, and the Empire is trying to utilize Magic in their fighting tactics. At the start, you control 2 Imperial soldiers and Terra, all in MagiTek armor. They are investigated a frozen Espher in the mines of Narshe, and the Espher turns out to not be dead. The Imperials get vaporised, Locke joins Terra, and they flee to Figaro, a kingdom who appears to be in allegance with the Empire but actually supports the rebels, the Returners. Terra, Locke, King Edgar, and his brother Sabin eventually reach the Returner base, flee down a river, and split into three groups (well, their raft broke, so it's forced on you.). You tackle these three parts one at a time, until all three groups meet back at Narsh. Eventually, you learn that Terra is half human and half Espher, after a long and maybe confusing twist in the plot. After a bunch of other stuff happens, Kefka and the Emperor tamper with the statues of the Espher's land that keep the world in check. The world gets a makeover and your airship splits and you play on in the World of Ruin, where Kefka has set himself up in a tower as lord. On and on.. until you find your missing party members and defeat Kefka. In all of this, there are many do-once-or-lose-forever things and many hard choices to make that affect the game, which makes FFVI one of the most complex games ever.

Final Fantasy VI was one of the greatest games of all time, and put together with Final Fantasy V, this is a set of classics you can't afford to miss. Apart from a few minor unimportant changes, the only thing that could daunt you are the super-long load times that detract from gameplay, but that's really no excuse to miss out on two of the greatest classics of all time.


Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 01/03/05, Updated 02/01/05


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