The definitive version of Final Fantasy V is finally here.

User Rating: 8.9 | Final Fantasy V Advance GBA
The second English version of Final Fantasy V finally (and quietly) reaches North American shores in the most satisfying package anyone who has an appreciation for old-school RPGs could hope for. Cleaner graphics, remixed sound, tightened translation and added bonus content make this the definitive version of FFV to date.

As far as RPGs go the story in this game is rather par-for-the-course. Typical strong-willed princesses and unlikely heroes get picked by ominous forces to save the world. The dialogue never takes itself too seriously (a part of me died after the line "something's fishy, and it's not the cod") and given the campy nature of the game's story it works. The tale does take a couple great twists part-way through the adventure but you never really connect with the characters in this game. The translation has been overhauled (again) from the flawed Anthologies version. It actually seems like they took a couple of cues from the fan-translation in a couple places, (not that I've played it before *cough*) which I think is a good sign that SquareEnix is paying attention to what players want and like.

Despite the flaws in ill-devoloped characters most people will play FFV for the multitude of ways to play through with the game's once unique battle system. You can assign and change jobs for your characters at any time outside of battle (Thief, Red Mage, Knight, etc) and as they level jobs up by collecting Ability Points they unlock new abilities that they can mix-and-match with other Jobs! Nothing feels better than having your seemingly weak White Mage singlehandedly dispose of an enemy with the Monk's Barefist ability. No two people will create the same party or combination of jobs and abilities and it's this kind of mix and match that also adds a lot of replay value. As your progress through the story more jobs become available and mastering a job is a huge incentive because innate stat boosts become permanent when you don't have a job assigned! Hidden jobs from the original are joined by four version-exclusive ones as well, another reason to play through again if you have already!

The graphics in the overworlds of the game have undergone subtle changes mostly in the form of softer edges and blended colours. The most noticeable difference in the graphics is in the battle scene backgrounds and well presented new intro sequence. Animations and character sprites seem devoid of detail as they were in the original version, but you can only paint outside the lines so much before you have an entirely different picture.

FFV's wondorous tracks have been remixed slightly, all for the better. The tones seem softer and more melodic than before, but perhaps that's just my headphones rather than TV speakers. The primitive sound effects seem a little out of place over top of Uematsu's beautiful scores, but most people will play this cause they liked this generation of RPGs and are willing to forgive it. I know I am.

Whether or not you've played FFV before this game is definately worth a look. Even if you've played through the Anthologies version before the extra dungeons, jobs and overhauled translation are all excellent reasons to experience the game all over again. It's really a shame that new-school gamers will pass this up; this game really gives you a sense of the series' roots and just how far it's come. This gets me totally excited for FFVI (my FF fave!) but along with FFXII I think I'm sated until it comes out.


Orright, I'm approaching the ten hour mark so here's some more educated opinions:

You might have noticed that I've changed my opinion on the difficulty. While the game started of easy (I breezed through the first five hours) regular battle are starting to get much more challenging and I've died at quite a few boss battles. I'm excited for mastering a couple of my classes (My Mystic Knight is going to be a Ninja: double Drain Spellblades!) and can't wait to get ahold of the secret ones; I've yet to discover them.

The comment I made earlier about the characters still holds true except I'm finding myself quite attached to Galuf; he's got some of the best lines in the game. There are a couple scenes with Lenna and Faris that are supposed to be sad, but ultimately aren't. I also changed my Value rating from an 8 to a 9 because I've found myself formulating all sorts of benefictial Job/Ability combinations and I just know I'm going to dump hours into exploring them.