#215 Final Fantasy V

Posted: 19th November 2021 by Jeroen in Games
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1020th played so far

Genre: Role-Playing
Platform: SNES
Year of Release: 1992
Developer: Square
Publisher: Square

I think I decided quite early on that I would want a Final Fantasy game as my final RPG and, by extension, as the penultimate game on the list. I originally planned it to be Final Fantasy VI, but Before I Kick plans meant I played that earlier and replaced it with Final Fantasy V instead. After all, it’s a series that has stood the test of time and produced a number of RPGs that I loved – whether it’s from our shared love of Final Fantasy X, the great polish and world I’ve been experiencing in Final Fantasy XV, the weird references from Kingdom Hearts or the many spin-offs such as the Dissidia series, there’s so much to enjoy here and a lot of it remains good if not great. While a series like Dragon Quest may have preserved the core of JRPG gameplay better, it’s Final Fantasy that has shown that the genre is as malleable as western RPGs or other genres while being able to stick to some sort of common root.

The fifth Final Fantasy is the final mainline game that initially wasn’t translated for the western market, so instead we’ll play the PC port that was released years later – not as authentic (I won’t do any graphic comparisons this time) but it is obviously more playable even if it lacks some of the options to reduce grind later ports get. Time to finish one of my favourite genres, knowing that I have plenty more to play both by revisiting them and looking towards new games that are on the way.


I don’t think it’s a surprise to readers that RPGs are my favourite genre. I was always interesting in D&D, even if I couldn’t afford the books yet, and when I played my first one, Thunderscape, there was something that connected with me. Both the exploration of the gameworld and its richness, with its sidequests and other distractions, and handling character growth, with your characters getting stronger and feeling that progress in the game (where you can even grind if something doesn’t feel quite possible). I still have fond memories finding out what to do even as now I recognize the game’s flaws.

Since then, my tastes have changed, and when it comes to western RPGs I’ve found some games that I’ve enjoyed for the blog as well, and played since. I’ve done more runthroughs of my favourites Planescape Torment and Baldur’s Gate II and recently overdid it on the Skyrim modding to have a world to mess around it (is it any wonder that Legacy of the Dragonborn works wonders for my completionist brain?). My first post-blog game project is even to finish Jade Empire, as it’s the last old time Bioware game I have left to play.

And while my favourite love is always going to be the western RPG (the CRPG book would be a likely sequel if I didn’t want my life back… and I really do), I’ve really gotten deeper into JRPGs as well. I’ve discussed my love of Final Fantasy elsewhere in this write up, but I’ve really enjoyed getting into a number of others as well. Dragon Quest surprised me by having more to it than I expected it to and Suikoden managed to grab me more than I thought it could. And there’s even Pokemon, the series that grabbed me and never quite left me. In the end, it’s hard to point to many games in the genre I didn’t like, some horrendously action-based ones aside, and a lot are already on my list to get back to soon.

Our Thoughts

With all that praise, how does the final RPG of the list hold up? The basics of the story, visit each of the elemental crystals, get powers from them and in this case see them being destroyed, which then leads into the sequel. There are some orphans of unknown parentage and such, as seems quite common for the series. You can partially forgive that with this being earlier in the franchise, with these standards being set, but it does feel like part of the reason it does this is to make sure the narrative justification for the job system is available.

It felt like there was another layer of the story coming, with the way it sped you through these early bits, and having seen some of the follow up maps I don’t think I’m entirely wrong there. To enjoy the job system, you nee dot interact with those four crystals first so all your options are available, and that takes time. As overdone as some bits were, I have to say that most of the game’s story and its conversations are a lot of fun to experience and that I really enjoyed that process.

Mechanically, the focus is around the job  system. You always have four characters in your party, but you can determine their class and through that their abilities. They learn these more permanently as you go on, giving you flexibility in how you set up your characters. Starting off with the basic warrior, black mage, white mage, thief and so on, later crystals give you more interesting options. The game even starts playing with these jobs in its narrative – although the first two crystals play it straight and give you the jobs straight away, later ones delay some of that until later. Not only is it a nice narrative conceit, it also gives you the time to play with each job more thoroughly rather than scaring you off with the large number of options you get.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot to see and do in Final Fantasy V, as the game has a lot of content, a lot of options to really build your character in a way that’s more like a western RPG than a JRPG, and a list of abilities that seems wonderful to explore. It’s ready to hit all of the beats, with a cast that really stands out as individuals even if they have to be flexible in gameplay terms. I’ve already decided I need to come back to these games, and this game really cements why I love the genre so much.