Final Fantasy V is a traditional turn-based RPG made by Squaresoft. It was released in Japan for the Super Famicon (the Super Nintendo) 1992. This game never left Japan. They considered an English localization but thought it would've been a better investment to wait for Final Fantasy VI to be completed and bring that over instead. So in North America, Final Fantasy V was skipped. Only Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI was localized in English (as Final Fantasy II and III).
However, in 1998 a complete fan-based English translation was released by RPGe Translations. This was a milestone in history as it was the first fan-based English translation for a major RPG. This paved the way for many great RPG classics to be fan-translated to English, particularly all the gems on the SNES that never made it outside of Japan.
Final Fantasy V begins as a wanderer named Bartz/Butz investigates a fallen meteor. There, he encounters several characters, one of whom reveals the danger facing the four Crystals that control the world's elements. These Crystals act as a seal on Exdeath, an evil sorcerer. Bartz and his party must keep the Crystals from being exploited by Exdeath's influence and prevent his resurgence.
Final Fantasy V was popular enough in Japan that an anime was made based on it. It was produced in 1994, called Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals. It takes place 200 years after the events of the game, following the descendants of the main characters.
Thanks to the heightening popularity of anime in North America in the 1990s, this anime was localized in English and released. It was commonly available for rent in the anime sections at Blockbuster Video. I have a dedicated page in this shrine where you can learn more: Final Fantasy V Anime.
In 1999, Squaresoft finally brought over Final Fantasy V to North America! It was a part of the Final Fantasy Anthology, released on the Sony PlayStation 1. Final Fantasy VI was included, too.
The game was a direct port of the Super Nintendo version running in an emulator. It wasn't a perfect emulator; there were loading times and some inaccuracies in the emulation. The only additions were the beautiful CGI sequence at the beginning and end of the games. I have some of this CGI art on the art page.
In November 2006, Square-Enix (no longer Squaresoft) brought over their Game Boy Advance port of Final Fantasy V. The script was re-translated to English; they didn't use the translation from the PlayStation 1 release. They even added some jokes into the dialogue. There are references to PBS's Reading Rainbow, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Team Rocket from Pokemon.
They added four new job classes: Gladiator, Cannoner, Necromancer, and Oracle. There's a new 30-floor bonus dungeon. There's a stage called "Cloister of the Dead," where you must defeat the game's bosses in a lengthy endurance. All the backgrounds have been remade. Its colors, menus, soundtrack, and sound effects have been modified to fit GBA's hardware. There's also a beastiary, a quick save feature, a music player, and additional equipment.
Final Fantasy V was remade with high-resolution graphics! It was released for iOS in March 2013, then Android in September that same year. For the most part, the graphics were a touchup. Character sprites are all new. The more significant foes had their battle sprites completely redrawn with gorgeous detail. All battle backgrounds were completely redrawn.
The menus and battle interface have been reworked for a more pleasant mobile experience. They made the game easier so that you don't have to grind as much. There are new gameplay features such as movement in eight directions and auto-battle. It contains the Sealed Temple and super-boss Enuo from the Game Boy Advance release. View its trailer on YouTube. And I have some screenshots from it.
This remake was not received well by fans. People were displeased with the new look of the sprites. It didn't help that upon the game's initial release it was full of bugs and typos. Overall, Square-Enix didn't leave the fanbase with a good impression. Two years later in September 2015, the Final Fantasy V remake was released on Steam. Then in 2021, all versions of the remake on iOS, Android, and Steam were taken down to make way for the Pixel Remasters.
In November 2021, Square-Enix released the Final Fantasy V Pixel Remaster for Steam and mobile (iOS and Android). The Pixel Remaster features universally updated 2D pixel graphics, including character pixel designs created by Kazuko Shibuya, the original artist and current collaborator. All tracks have been remade, overseen by the original composer Nobuo Uematsu. The UI has been modernized. A new auto-battle feature was added to make random battles less of a chore. A 'boost' feature was added that allows you to increase the money, experience, and AP you earn.
The Pixel Remaster was generally well received. Not everyone was a fan of the new pixel characters. The biggest complaint was the tiny font used for dialogue and the UI, which was difficult to read and had no resemblance to the original pixel-based font. I have a page with screenshots if you want to see the tiny font. Steam users were able to remedy this by installing custom-made fonts.
A year later, in April 2023 the Final Fantasy V Pixel Remaster was released for Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. It can be purchased individually or as a Final Fantasy 1-6 bundle. Square-Enix had promised this version would offer a pixel-based font. The new font was an improvement, but fans still weren't happy with it. It wasn't nostalgic and it still wasn't easy to read. Nevertheless, that didn't stop people from buying the Pixel Remasters. They allowed us to finally have the opportunity to play the classic Final Fantasy games on modern platforms.
The battle system is loyal to the traditions and patterns we're accustomed to with the Final Fantasy series. You'll feel right at home with the naming of attacks, items, spells, and abilities. The battle UI added an ATB bar (Active Time Battle) so you can see when your characters will become active for their turn. But the feature that stands out is the complex job system.
Final Fantasy V's job system gives you the power to choose what your characters will specialize in. They can be knights, monks, black mages, white mages, summoners, ninjas, samurais, and more!
Skills you learned in one job can be equipped with any other job. You can mix and max job skills to your heart's content with hundreds of different possible combinations. In the animated GIF with the Black Mage, notice how “Summon” is below “Black”. I opted for the Black Mage to also carry the spells of the Summoner class.
I suggest focusing half of your party on melee-based jobs and the other half on magic-based jobs. There are enemies throughout the game that are strong against physical attacks, but weak against magic, and vice versa.
To learn more about job classes, I have a Job Classes page listing all jobs and the abilities that come with them. It's important to take some time to study the jobs and their abilities if you want to get the most out of the game. Try not to favor the jobs you're already familiar with from other Final Fantasy games. You may be surprised what useful abilities are hiding in the job classes you may have already pre-judged as dumb.
I've had a troubled history trying to play Final Fantasy V. Back in the 1990s, I couldn't play it comfortably with existing SNES emulation and my slow 350 MHz PC. With the release of the Final Fantasy Anthology in 1999, I played Final Fantasy V up to Galuf's world. I lost interest because the loading times on the PlayStation 1 were too much. In 2001 I bought a new (fast) Compaq laptop. Finally, I was able to comfortably play and beat Final Fantasy V! I enjoyed the game so much, from that point forward I've replayed the game several times.
Final Fantasy V has a great story with shocking twists. The soundtrack is excellent. There are a handful of tracks I still listen to even today. But where the game shines is with the job system. It's addicting! It's the same addiction I have with Final Fantasy Tactics, where the flexibility of the job system allows a large number of possible combinations. As a result, every playthrough is different and exciting; the replay value is high.
Final Fantasy V is an excellent game. I highly recommend it!
Final Fantasy V Review by my friend, LockeJV ~7/16/02
Overall (9/10): Final Fantasy V is the second installment of Final Fantasy on the SNES, and along with FFIV and Final Fantasy VI they comprise what can arguably be considered the three greatest RPG's ever created. Captivating characters take you through incredible storylines, enhanced by sound and graphics which approached the limits of technology, with a solid blend of difficulty and traditional yet innovative battle systems. Across the board, these three titles challenge perfection with a mélange of rpg attributes we have not experienced before or after.
Story (7/10): Ex-Death seeks to use the power of the crystals to engulf the world in the dreaded void, and it's your job to stop him. Generic? Yeah, very. But the characters and their experiences along the way made this generic tale into quite an exciting and unique adventure. Your quest takes you through 3 worlds, each of which are very interesting to explore. You never know what you'll find as you ride/fly your chocobo across the map, or pilot your airship to an island, or traverse to a light point in your submarine. Along the way you will receive help from several different kingdoms, the Dawn Warriors, and even moogles!
Characters (8/10): Final Fantasy V featured five playable characters, three of them female - which led to some interesting possibilities. Anyhow, the main character was Butz (Bartz), a loner who lost his parents and travels only with Boko, his chocobo. Lenna (Reina), the Princess of Tycoon joins you while searching for her father. Galuf, a powerful mysterious older guy who lost his memory along with his grandaughter, Kururu (Krile). And of course, the leader of the Pirates, Farus. The only notable enemy was Gilgamesh, as Ex-Death was rather one dimensional and forgettable. Character interactions are pretty funny most of the time, and flashbacks show you the pain each character suffers. Dragons and a Hydra play an interesting role, and the ever-present Cid (and Mid!) provide comic relief and plenty of mechanical help. Plenty of emotional moments in this one, as death is rather common.
Graphics (8/10): An upgrade from the FFIV engine, Final Fantasy V featured stunning graphics, excellent monster design, and a large variety of character design - as each character had 20 different outfits to wear in battle. Battle screen had a nice backdrop of whatever environment you were in, and the spells had nice effects.
Music (9/10): Typical Uematsu never fails to amaze. From "Fate in Haze", perhaps my favorite dungeon song, to "Lenna's Theme", "Four Valiant Hearts", "Ahead on Our Way", etc., Final Fantasy V has a vast music library which is outstanding at every twist and turn along your trek through the game. Some of Uematsu's best work, the Final Fantasy V OST will be on my RPG playlist till kingdom come.
Challenge (8/10): The enemies will keep you on your toes, unlike they do nowadays. Random encounters serve up monsters who can usually do about 25% damage to any of your characters with one good hit. And each dungeon has a 'rare' encounter that will serve up a very difficult monster who could take out your party with one spell if you're not paying attention. You must constantly monitor your health meter and magic points, the way every rpg should be. Challenging, meaningful random encounters allowed you to learn jobs and earn gold you desperately needed - kept things interesting the entire game. Challenge seems to be a lost art. Dungeons were tricky with secret passages and a slew of helpful items hidden all over. Final Fantasy V rewarded you well for paying the price to explore every nook and cranny of a dungeon. Again - the way dungeons should be. My only complaint was the Toss command and a more than generous supply of elixers got me out of situations I probably should have died in.
Battle System (10/10): A splendid class system with tons of options to keep you occupied your first trip through the game and then some. A barrage of classes (20!) include Blue Mage, Lancer, Trainer, Samurai, Mime and even Beserker! Magic, HP, MP and everything else is part of the traditional battle system FF perfected. A shining example of perfection, which seems to have been long abandoned by most RPGs.
Sub-Quests (9/10): The biggest subquest is to master each class. With such a variety of choices you are very interested to see what additional skills, kewl spells and kickass attacks you can learn. You can also search for all the summon spells, learn monster skills, and find all the pianos. Can't forget to mention the two nearly impossible bosses - Shinryuu and Omega...good luck! Could have included something extra to chew up your time, but all in all Final Fantasy V offers plenty.
Gameplay (10/10): A marvelous display of what was once right with RPGs, Final Fantasy V has me begging to bring back the past, when games had challenge, fantasy settings, fun battle systems and were more about playing the game than watching a movie or a soap opera. Gameplay-wise, Final Fantasy V was flawless.
Ending (9/10): Excellent conclusion to the story. You get to revisit everyone who helped along the way to a parade of stunning graphics and excellent music.
Replay Value (9/10): To fully get the complete value out of Final Fantasy V, you'd need to replay several times with different classes. Although the game was rather linear, it was very fun to play.
All in all, great game! I played the psx anthology version, and the only thing that bothered me was the translation of Faris talking like a pirate, and her real name being "Salsa" instead of Sarisa. Final Fantasy V isn't talked about much, and it most definitely should be - it's one of the best. If you haven't played, do so! You will be glad you did.