Final Fantasy V Advance

While the Final Fantasy series has pretty much made itself known outside Japan, many remember the time when North American gamers missed many of its installments, among them being the fifth on the Super NES. During the PlayStation era, North America finally saw the fifth entry in the Final Fantasy Anthology, although this port had its share of issues such as loading times. Years later saw a port of the fifth installment to the Gameboy Advance, Final Fantasy V Advance, which proves to be the definitive version of the game.

FF5 utilizes the franchise's active time battle system, with the player's party of four characters squaring off against enemies in random encounters. The meat of FF5's combat lies in its class system, with each character able to select one of many jobs, and classes leveled through AP acquired after combat along with money and normal experience. Leveling a class nets a character a special ability, with that character able to set it as a secondary ability when changing classes; for instance, it is possible to have a knight that can cast magic.

When a character masters a class, they acquire an innate ability that takes effect when that character is a Freelancer, in which case they are able to equip two abilities from jobs they leveled. However, being a Freelancer means that a character won't acquire AP towards job mastery. Given the endless abilities characters acquire from advancing classes, it can definitely be a tough decision on which to equip, and thus, Final Fantasy V is harder than the average Final Fantasy, and some level grinding might be necessary at times. Still, the active time battle system works decently, and the job system is among the main draws to the game.

The game's control scheme is solid as well, with an easy menu system and shopping, with the ability to see whether new equipment will raise or lower a character's stats always being a plus. The spacing of save points is a bit poor at times, but otherwise, Final Fantasy V interfaces well with the player.

The story is decent, with all the playable characters and the main antagonist having some sort of backstory, although it somewhat rehashes the stories of previous Final Fantasies with the elemental crystals. The translation also serves the game well, with the occasional pop culture reference.

Nobuo Uematsu's soundtrack is nice as well, with many catchy tracks and even a central theme and several remixes, though the battle music can get a bit repetitive. The graphics are also solid, with character sprites showing emotion alongside nice scenery, though enemies in battle are still inanimate.

Finally, depending upon the amount of grinding players may need to perform to beat the game, playing time can range from twenty to forty hours, with occasional sidequests. Overall, Final Fantasy V Advance is a solid entry to the series worthy of the Final Fantasy name, with most of its aspects, such as its class system, being solid. Granted, it's harder than the average Final Fantasy, though those interested in a nice challenge will definitely find the game to be an enjoyable experience.

The Good:
+Job system with lots of variety.
+Solid control.
+Decent story.
+Nice music and graphics.

The Bad:
-Harder than the average Final Fantasy.
-Save points are poorly spaced at times.

Score Breakdown:
Platform: Gameboy Advance
Game Mechanics: 7/10
Controls: 7/10
Story: 8/10
Music/Sound: 9/10
Graphics: 8/10
Localization: 10/10
Lasting Appeal: 7/10
Difficulty: Hard
Playing Time: 20-40 Hours

Overall: 8/10

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