Our next podcast recording (12.8.18) - 332: Final Fantasy V

This is where you'll find threads specific to the games we're covering in Volume Six
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Our next podcast recording (12.8.18) - 332: Final Fantasy V

Post by JaySevenZero » December 31st, 2017, 3:38 pm

Here's where you can leave your thoughts regarding Final Fantasy V for possible inclusion in the podcast when it's recorded.

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Re: 332: Final Fantasy V

Post by duskvstweak » April 26th, 2018, 9:58 pm

I first played Final Fantasy V when I was sixteen via the Final Fantasy Anthology collection. At this point, with six through ten covered, along with the first game, I would have claimed Final Fantasy as my favorite series. Five did it's best to challenge my love. While I found a retro charm in the first Final Fantasy's D&D like adventure, the fifth game felt even older and archaic to me. While the first game had little to no story, Final Fantasy V''s story left me bored to tears. The pacing, the characters and the plot were as dry as could be, making the game feel like required reading vs. wanting to play it. It had the job system, which was interesting to play around with, but at that point I had Final Fantasy Tactics to cover that mechanic. It seems strange that this game is between Final Fantasy IV and VI, because they're both examples of fun story telling, where as this game had me struggling after each hour to keep going. Out of the first ten games, this entry remains my least favorite experience, one that, fifteen years later, I remember with boredom rather than any sense of nostalgia.
Except the pirate music. I like the pirate music.

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Re: 332: Final Fantasy V

Post by Magical_Isopod » June 1st, 2018, 7:43 pm

In my mind, Final Fantasy V is the most underplayed and underrated in the entire series. It's really a hidden gem as far as Final Fantasy titles go. It's now had four releases in the west, but sadly, only the Gameboy Advance version presents the game correctly.

I've personally played FF5 on PS1 and GBA.
The PS1 version had a game-ending bug for me where an NPC was blocked by another NPC that was not supposed to be in the scene; reloading my save did not fix the issue. It also has some nasty load times upon *every single* random battle.
However, the GBA version really ought to be considered the definitive version, and in my mind, the only good version of this game readily available in the west. It features a significantly improved translation, new job classes, cleaner graphics, and greatly improved music.
The later Steam and mobile versions feature gaudy artwork and a bad UI design. In my mind, these are very disrespectful adaptations.
Alternatively, for those looking to play this one on the cheap, I recommend picking up a Japanese import copy and loading it on the Retron 5 or Polymega with a translation patch applied. It can be had on eBay for less than 10 Canadian Loonies.

In a previous podcast, I described the previous entry in the series, Final Fantasy 4, as a bit of an ambitious experiment. In my mind, FF5 takes a lot of the foundational ideas from 4 and perfects all of them.
While the story never delves too deeply into profound subject matter or melodrama, it's always easy to follow; the Four Crystals are being destroyed, and our heroes try to save the world as it the forces of nature disappear from their reality.
When we hit a late-game shift from medieval fantasy to dimension-hopping science fiction and ancient technology of civilizations past, everything makes narrative sense, with an explanation of how things are happening and why our characters are carrying on. There is no Zeromus, there are no poorly-explained moonmen...
And perhaps my favourite element of Final Fantasy V, the thing that makes it stick most in my brain: When Square's writers shift from fantasy to sci-fi, it seems less of a jarring switch and more of a genuine shock - it still leaves me with this amazing sense of discovery, knowing that this world I've been exploring for several hours is just one plane of existence of many - that quaint, idyllic villages hide incredible technologies of the peoples who came before them.

The job class system makes this my favourite battle system of the series, with the exception of maybe 7. There is so much diversity in the selection of jobs, so much variety in experimentation... Want a dedicated Healer that can throw spare change at enemies? You got it. Want a Knight who can steal? Done.

5 also features my favourite villain in the series, possibly in gaming on the whole: ExDeath. I seem to be alone in this view, but I'm not sure why; instead of being an overblown anime antagonist, ExDeath is evil made manifest - the result of dark spirits being sealed into a tree, so many that the tree could no longer contain the dark energy. He is a constant threat throughout the entire game, and there is no last-second swap-out for a "greater evil behind the curtain". ExDeath does some absolutely horrible things in this game, and the stakes are constantly being raised in pursuit of this guy.
He's evil, he knows it, and he chews the stage. His lackeys are constantly messing up, and he never lacks in confidence to take things into his own hands when necessary- and he can absolutely wreck house if you're not prepared to face him.
The more popular Kefka of Final Fantasy 6 does some absolutely atrocious things, but his appearances leave you feeling disturbed and unsettled... With ExDeath, it's almost like a parade coming into town. His theme absolutely bellows, he has an entourage, he even sucks an entire continent into a trans-dimensional void and dares you to come after him. Kefka is terrifying, but ExDeath is the kind of bad-ass who could have "I'm Sexy And I Know It" playing in the background when he shows up, and it wouldn't feel out of place beside his arrogance and self-assuredness. I really wish RPGs had more villains of this ilk, ExDeath is the kind of villain I get excited to see show up.

I've also seen this game incorrectly described as, "Just another crystal hunt", similar to the driving force of the first game... But this just isn't the case. Not only is gaining all four crystals not the main thrust of the plot, but your party actually fails in that goal - all four of them get destroyed. ExDeath wins. And despite this, the story continues. The party faces their "darkest hour", and they overcome it. It's a fairly classic fantasy story, but with a lot of really cool elements including shifting dimensions, lost civilizations, and paranormal forces. It's just a wonderful game, and I really, strongly feel it hasn't been given a fair shake by fans and media.

Oh, and it's got some of the best music in the series... That overworld theme! The ExDeath motif! Battle on the Bridge! Love this game. Please play it, listeners.

I recently created a list of my personal Top 100 Games of All Time, and this one came in at #34 - and Third in terms of Final Fantasy titles.

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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (11.8.18) - 332: Final Fantasy V

Post by Mr Ixolite » July 24th, 2018, 8:06 pm

I first experienced FF 5 when the SNES games saw PAL release on the playstation one. At this time I had just devoured final fantasies 7 through 10, and was completely engrossed in the series. So while I was happy to also get three “extra” games, I was not without reservations: The games looked antiquated to a boy of the PSX era, and the only one I was really excited for was 6, which was supposedly the series’ finest hour. So, I played its predecessors mostly as a formality. Some 16 odd years later, my manual for FF anthology is still filled with notes from my teenage self on job abilities and their possible combinations. FF 5 turned out to be not just my favourite of the SNES batch, but one of the best in the series for me.

Jobs & fights

FF5 is one of the few games I find myself “playing” even with my console off; “Should I keep Bartz as a Trainer for a while longer? Maybe I should try out a Dragoon-Summoner hybrid?” And so on and so on. The job system is amazingly addictive to play around with, but it is also immediately gratifying, as you can gain access to most jobs’ high-end abilities from the outset. Once you’ve bought the spell, any newly minted white mage can use Cure 3.
As if to fully capitalize on this system, the game features a slew of memorable bosses, whom almost always have some trick up their sleeve. Some players might be annoyed that certain bosses are virtually unbeatable with certain party compositions, but I found it rewarding since it encouraged experimentation. The game is certainly hard and wiped me out on several occasions, but I never encountered anything I couldn’t overcome with a slight adjustment to my lineup.
All in all, in terms of pure gameplay, I consider FFV a top tier entry in the series. Only X-2 has it beat in terms of job system and ATB, but FFV compensates by not being an aesthetic affront to the senses.

One thing that often go unmentioned is what a step up FF 5 is in terms of dungeon design. Almost every location has something to distinguish it, both in terms of aesthetics and gameplay. One has invisible floors, one has sweeping sandcurrents, one has moving book cases, and one throws a ferocious turtle at players who get too greedy for Gil. Even the overworld can feature unique challenges, as the game dares you to step out of bounds from the route outlined by a friendly moogle.
By themselves these things don’t amount to much, but they make the world feel more interesting and varied. Its an important spice to the gameplay experience that I feel the series sadly eventually left behind.

The overall consensus on FF5s plot seems to be that it is clichéd, corny and simple compared to its peers on the SNES. These things are all true. But as they say, they are features, not bugs, and I find that FFV accomplishes its storytelling goals with panache. For instance, the main cast may be stereotypes, but they are also very likeable, and refreshingly unburdened by emotional baggage. I can easily see people being disappointed with this, but to me theres something charming about main hero Bartz having a fear of heights as his main emotional trauma. He’s even surprisingly progressive for his time, cheerfully declaring “Who cares? Faris is Faris!” when her secret is out.
I found that the game sells a strong sense of camaraderie between its cast, as the characters will often have playful banter with each other, Yet also feel genuinely concerned for each others well being. The small party size also made me feel more affection for the characters than in several other games in the series. As a result I found the death of Galuf to hit surprisingly hard, especially since you actually see the others try every trick in the game to save their friend, and fail.


Even if the games characters are placed in a simple story, that story is simply fun to experience. Because the secret weapon of the game, the glue that holds everything together is TONE. And that tone has been set firmly to “Fun, tongue-in-cheek Adventure”. If FF5 just had its job system it would be a fun game in its own right, but it is this charm-factor that ultimately elevates it to classic status for me. It permeates virtually every facet of the game, most notably with its clear sense of humor. Right from the start, where Galuf calls out Bartz’ intentions for helping Reina, the game simply makes me laugh, and of course theres everyones favourite henchman, Gilgamesh. But my personal favourite moment has to be in the Boss who tries taking everyone down with Holy…having forgotten that he’s boss of the no-magic tower.
The games lighthearted feel is also what allows Exdeath to work as a villain. He’s the games Skeletor, a paper thin villain who goes “MWA-HA HA”, and is evil because he’s made of evil monsters. But he can be appreciated as such. Sometimes its nice to have a straightforward Bad Guy. Plus, he’s clearly pegged as the antagonist through the entire game, he’s personally involved and doesn’t get his spotlight stolen by someone else in the end, which are not a given in this series.

The games fun-loving feel is also greatly supported by its presentation. Characters are now highly animated, and capable of engaging in elaborate slapstick routines and action scenes. Time will be spent having a Chocobo do a little jig before you can fly it. The game clearly conveys emotion, ranging from sadness to fist-pumping pride in your piano skills, and it is truly amazing what some floating question marks does to endear a character to you. The graphics are brimming with color, and the music is unsurprisingly amazing; the sound of the games main theme makes me want to grab a backpack, and head out into the wilderness on an adventure.

Game Boy advance
One of my favourite things about FFV is how despite its lighthearted tone, it never feels like a farce.
And for this reason, I am part of the apparent minority that prefers the PS1 translation over the GBA one.
Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the correction of copious spelling errors and plain wrong dialogue, but the new translation doubles down on jokes to a distracting degree. It seems every other NPC throws a zinger at you, and the sagely Gill becomes a complete jerk who constantly belittles you. The game also gains some distracting pop culture references, which are layered on an experience that was funny from the outset. The sight of an evil tree locked in combat with a sagely turtle is amusing in and of itself; theres no need to add a Ninja Turtles reference on top of that.
Plus, one version of the game goes “Victory!” after the battles, whereas the other goes YEEEEEEESSSSSSSS. I know which one I’m sticking with, though to be fair, nostalgic bias has given me affection for every little oddity of the PS1 translation, even including Faris’ deliciously corny pirate speech.

In case it wasn’t readily apparent, I truly love this game. It represents many of the series older virtues, and stands counter to the more restrictive, selfimportant path it would eventually pursue. It simply prioritizes being a fun game, as well as a fun time.
Whether FF5 is the best of the series is up for the debate, but it is undoubtedly the most underappreciated. And In terms of being a peak Old School example of Sakaguchis vision for the series, I'd say its definetely the second best one. A real gem that more people should try out,

3 word review: Best of SNES

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Re: Our next Final Fantasy podcast recording (11.8.18) - 332: Final Fantasy V

Post by Magical_Isopod » July 28th, 2018, 5:15 am

Three Word Review:
Most Underrated RPG

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Re: Our next podcast recording (12.8.18) - 332: Final Fantasy V

Post by ColinAlonso » August 11th, 2018, 11:14 am

Three Word Review:
Great boss battles

(Yeah, I'm not writing a long piece, I'd be parroting a few of the above points but a little bit less enthusiastically)

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