Final Fantasy V

The early nineties were something of a dark age for role-playing games in North America, with very few of the major releases in Japan seeing localizations outside the country. Among the titles that wouldn’t see its original release was Final Fantasy V for the Super Famicom, with North Americans gamers first getting a taste of the title via the Final Fantasy Anthology the following generation on the Sony PlayStation, a port that had some issues such as long loading times in spite of the visuals remaining the same, not to mention a Blind Idiot Translation that the later release on the GameBoy Advance would rectify. The fifth entry would see yet another remake for iOS devices, which proves to be the definitive version.

Like prior incarnations of the title, Final Fantasy V features active time battles with a diverse job system, in which case it’s typically a good idea to have two of the primary characters as fighters and the other two as magicians. Boss fights tend to be more challenging than average for a Final Fantasy title as with before, and at times the class system can seem slightly restrictive since, when learning skills from one job, a character can only have one other skill, active or passive, from another job, unless a character is a Freelancer, in which case they can pick two active or passive abilities. A major Anti-Frustration Feature added to the iOS version is that if the player dies in a battle, standard or boss, they can “Resume” from the title menu at the spot before which they died, saving plenty of time and annoyance, and accounting for solid gameplay in the end.

The menus and shopping generally aren’t taxing, and while save points can seem poorly-placed at times, many boss fights preceded by dungeon stretches without them, the aforementioned “Resume” feature somewhat rectifies that particular situation. There’s also occasionally poor direction on how to advance the game, although late-game quests such as the search for the ability to unseal the twelve Legendary Weapons are actually completely optional, the player then able to dive right into the final dungeon if they wish to beat the game more quickly, although not doing sidequests then can somewhat increase the difficulty twofold. Even so, interaction helps the game far more than hurts.

The story is somewhat generic for a Final Fantasy title, focusing on Four Light Warriors destined to save the day and four Crystals, although the primary protagonists have sufficient development, alongside plenty of backstory, and alongside a solid translation (its only real shortcoming being the retention of Japanese names such as Hiryu for a dragon occasionally used as transportation), the plot also helps more than hurts.

Nobuo Uematsu’s soundtrack is one of the fifth entry’s high points, with a central theme and several remixes of it, and while there are occasional silent points, the music is pleasant.

The graphics also look nice, getting something of an overhaul for the iOS port, with taller character sprites that show diverse emotions, although foes in battle remain inanimate.

Finally, a straightforward playthrough, if players are lucky, can take as little as fifteen hours, although sidequests such as acquiring all twelve Legendary Weapons and unlocking hidden summon spells can boost playtime to around thirty hours. In the end, Final Fantasy V for iOS devices is undoubtedly the ideal port of the title, featuring a diverse class system with plentiful customization, solid control, an enjoyable narrative and translation, superb sound and graphics, and plentiful lasting appeal. It’s one of the harder installments of the series, however, but is nonetheless worth a look for series newcomers and veterans alike.

This review is based on a playthrough on an iPad Mini.

The Good:
+Diverse job system.
+Great interface.
+Good plot and translation.
+Nice soundtrack and visuals.
+Plenty lasting appeal.

The Bad:
-Sometimes poor spacing of save points.
-One of the harder Final Fantasies.

The Bottom Line:
The ideal port of the fifth entry.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: iOS
Game Mechanics: 8/10
Controls: 8/10
Story: 8/10
Localization: 9/10
Music/Sound: 9/10
Graphics: 8/10
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Difficulty: Hard
Playing Time: 15-30 Hours

Overall: 8.5/10

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