Final Fantasy V is the fifth installment in the Final Fantasy series by Square Co., Ltd., originally released for the Nintendo Super Famicom. The game was ported to the Sony PlayStation, and this version was eventually translated and marketed in North America and Europe as part of the Final Fantasy Anthology collection. The Super Famicom version of the game is notable for being one of the earliest fan translations to reach completion, by RPGe in 1997. Final Fantasy V was later released for the Game Boy Advance, as part of the Finest Fantasy for Advance compilation.
The game centers around a group of four seeming strangers brought together by circumstance to save the Crystals, who have mysteriously begun shattering one by one. Eventually it is revealed that the villain Exdeath is behind this, as part of a plan to both release himself from his imprisonment, and to gain the power of the Void, a realm of nothingness which could bestow absolute power on one able to resist being absorbed by it. The four thus turn their attentions to defeat Exdeath and stopping the unstable energies of the Void from consuming their world
It is interesting to note that it was the first Super Famicom Final Fantasy to incorporate the use of, in the Japanese text, Kanji. Previous NES Final Fantasy titles had originally used an all-Hiragana script due to character-space limitations. Final Fantasy IV was the last to have this (despite the fact that a Kanji script was possible at the time), and is the most visibly connected to its predecessors in style.
The main feature of its gameplay was the revamped Job System (originally in a different form in Final Fantasy III and introduced in the original Final Fantasy), allowing all characters to potentially master up to 22 Jobs. The player starts out with no Job classes (they are defaulted as “Freelancer,” a class which can be reverted to later on), and as they travel to new Crystal locations, they acquire new Jobs. A separate form of Experience, ABP, was created for the advancement of the characters’ Job levels, while they continued to earn regular Experience Points. The system also introduced a streamlined method of “multi-classing,” allowing each character to learn Job-specific abilities and carry one or two over when they changed their class. The Job System would disappear in the series for a short time, but would reappear in the Final Fantasy Tactics series, Final Fantasy XI, and Final Fantasy X-2.
Battle innovations include reworking the famous Active Time Battle system, so that the player could, for the first time in the Final Fantasy series, see whose turn would come next. Other Final Fantasy conventions like the Blue Mage were introduced, adding new elements to battle.
Like other games in the series, this game featured “super” bosses, namely Omega and Shinryu. Both of these bosses can rapidly wipe out the party (even if every member has absolute maximum status points) and special tactics are required to defeat them. Facing these enemies is not required, and battles with them are manually initiated by the player. If the player defeats Shinryu, they will receive the strongest sword in the game. After Omega’s defeat, the party receives the Omega Medal, proving the Light Warriors are stronger than their counterparts 1,000 years ago, but otherwise an item of no use.
Final Fantasy V also features the first recurring miniboss of the franchise, Gilgamesh.
he original Super Famicom version of Final Fantasy V was never released in North America. As translator Ted Woolsey explained in a 1994 interview, “it’s just not accessible enough to the average gamer.” Plans were made to release the game in 1995 as Final Fantasy Extreme, targeting it at “the more experienced gamers who loved the complex character building”. For unknown reasons, however, Final Fantasy Extreme never materialized.
In 1997, video game studio Top Dog was hired by Square to port the original Super Famicom game to Microsoft Windows-based personal computers for North American release. Although a good deal of the game was completed, ultimately, communication problems between the Top Dog and Square’s Japanese and American branches led to the project’s demise. That same year, an English fan translation patch for the Final Fantasy V ROM image was released on the Internet by RPGe. The release was well received, and until 1999 was the only widely available English language version of the game.
In 1999, a PlayStation compilation, Final Fantasy Anthology was released, which included Final Fantasy V (as well as the also unofficially released American PlayStation version of Final Fantasy VI). Some names were interpreted differently, yielding Butz in the fan translation, and Bartz in the official. In 2002, this version of the game was released in Europe and Australia (alongside Final Fantasy IV). Some fans were unhappy with the dialogue translations, particularly Faris’ “pirate accent” which was not part of the original script. When played on the Playstation 2 the emulation graphics would glitch on the save screen, although the graphics would restore on the Overworld map. This error causes the game to crash on the Playstation 3. This bug is not present in PAL version of Final Fantasy Anthology
Bartz and his friends fight him several times over the course of the game, a concept that the series continued with Ultros (Final Fantasy VI), the Turks (Final Fantasy VII), Biggs and Wedge (Final Fantasy VIII), Seifer (Final Fantasy VIII), Beatrix (Final Fantasy IX), Seymour Guado (Final Fantasy X) and Leblanc, Logos and Ormi (Final Fantasy X-2).