Back in March 2022 I promised this would be the next video game review I wrote. It took a while to finish, largely because my gaming time mainly happens in July and August and last year I was a stay-at-home dad with a baby that turned one that August. It’s finally ready, though.
Title: Final Fantasy V Pixel Remaster
Developer: Square Enix
System: iOS, Android, Steam, and now other consoles.
Release Date: Originally December 6, 1992 for Super Famicom. The Pixel Remaster came out on November 10, 2021.
Game Type: JRPG
Four strangers band together to save the world from a crystal-destroying evil.
The job system elevates this to my favourite SNES game of all time, and often my favourite game for all systems. The story is simple compared to others in the franchise, but this pushed the available hardware to the absolute limits.
The storage space needed for the job sprites and the reluctance of game designers to do the “same sprites, new colours” enemy designs as much as in past games didn’t leave as much room in the cartridge for story as previous entries in the series. There’s still a lot of story compared to most games of this generation, but not as much as Final Fantasy IV or Final Fantasy VI.
The plot is not original, and it is growing out of previous FF games, but it does have a lot of original elements. The job system is a vast improvement over that from FFIII, and is one element that is almost universally respected in my social media groups. (Everything else about the game is up for debate, especially from players who weren’t alive for the SNES era.) That said, as innovative as the gameplay is, the story doesn’t push a lot of boundaries or break new ground. It does introduce Gilgamesh, the best adversary in the franchise, so that’s a good thing. This was also the final game in the series developed by franchise creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, who then stepped aside feeling he had nothing left to contribute as he would be unable to improve upon this entry. I give it 5 out of 6.
The story is engaging, if derivative. It’s logically sound, Exdeath has goals that are clear, the world has a history relevant to our heroes that we eventually learn, and the characters are diverse and entertaining. It’s just an amalgam of pretty standard fantasy elements. I give it 4 out of 6.
The graphics are great for their day, and updated nicely. The characters are emotive, and have completely unique looks with each job they take on in the course of the game, plus the numerous ability animations. The bestiary certainly has some palette swapping foes, but not to the same degree as either previous or later games in the series. I give it 5 out of 6.
The sound includes music by Nobuo Uematsu, later released in a 2CD set with 67 audio tracks. Once again, while other game composers of the era seem to be thinking in terms of the limits of the hardware, Uematsu seems to be composing for a 300 piece orchestra and then later worry about how to squeeze that music into the SNES hardware. That’s over and above the well designed sound effects. I give it 6 out of 6.
The playability is excellent, except for bugs that cause occasional crashes. (About once every ten hours, the most annoying of which was about 90 seconds into the game ending cinematic cut scene, causing me to have to fight the last two battles all over again, starting from a save state. Thankfully, that’s a massive improvement over the way Final Fantasy Anthology would creash on the PS2, so I can actually save the game most of the time, particularly since the autosave feature means it’s ONLY that last pair of fights I need to fight.) The job system is the champion here, allowing for massive customization. (You can learn a black mage skill and then equip it on a knight, for example.) A bit of a hint here: if you master a job, some of the passive skills are inherited by the Freelancer job along with the key stat boost, so if you take the time to master every job, the Freelancer becomes an incredible powerhouse. I give it 6 out of 6.
The immersion is effective because I love the characters of Galuf, Gilgamesh, and (more recently) Lenna. (Lenna reminds me of my wife, and this is my first time playing the game since meeting Ngan, so I like Lenna a LOT more this time through. Ngan’s hair isn’t pink, though.) For those of us who like to tweak and tinker with stats, the job system will keep us very thoroughly engaged. I give it 5 out of 6.
Overall, this game is very easy to recommend to anyone who enjoys 16 bit JRPGs. I give it 6 out of 6.
In total, Final Fantasy V: Pixel Remaster receives 37 out of 42. My next video game review will be the Final Fantasy VI Pixel Remaster, but I have no idea how long that will take to complete.