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Final Fantasy V (Game Boy Advance)

80
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
4.1
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  Bregalad (917)
Written on  :  Aug 13, 2007
Platform  :  Game Boy Advance
Rating  :  3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars3.6 Stars

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Summary

Decent remake, but nothing more than that.

The Good

Welcome to my review for Final Fantasy V advance, which is a Game Boy Advance port of of Final Fantasy V, which was originally released on the Super NES. I will especially focus on the remake during this review, and assume you already know about the Final Fantasy series prior to reading this.

So yeah, the best thing in this port is the translation, which for the most part is better than the fan-translation of the Super NES version, with the exception of a few names of items, spells, equipment and names that I've preferred in the original translation. Characters are deeper developed and the plot is smoother to follow. The plot the same as before, I love the story of this game even if it's not the most complex story from any game, there is a lot of cutscenes and jokes (I guess they even added a few jokes in the GBA port) and provides lot of fun overall. The story is better presented than before on the SNES, and they added a great intro (it even plays the airship's music, which fits surprisingly well the intro).

The graphics have not much changed except for the menus, the battle backgrounds and a couple of effects in battle (at least the instant death and mute spells looks slightly different). They also added faces when important people (mostly the party and a couple of other characters) are talking, which is a nice touch. The rest of the graphics are untouched, and to be honest, they didn't need to be touched, as Final Fantasy V's graphics were and still are detailed, colorful and somehow magical at times. It looks like a SNES game still on the GBA and don't look as good as, say, Golden Sun, but this really isn't a problem for me. The overall game have no problem being ported to a smaller screen with the same graphics, as menus are scaled down, battle sprites are narrowed a little and the field is untouched, which doesn't affect much gameplay anyway. So everything is fine when it comes to the graphics of the port.

The gameplay is still very intense, just like it has always be. You can pick one job and one "ability" per character at any time, each piece of shattered crystal will give you a new job, and level up a job will give you abilities. Eventually the abilities will be automatically available (without selecting them) once you mastered the job, so in the end the best job is "free-lance" (the neutral job) which allow you to use all abilities from jobs you mastered. I found it beautiful that "free-lance" starts the worst job and end the best one. Additionally to this great job system, enemies are tough and most (especially bosses) needs some sense of strategy to be beaten. There is a lot of places to explore on the world map and new enemies to fight, so this hardly get boring. You also have to fight most summons before acquiring them, which add a lot of challenge especially for the later ones.

The Bad

While Final Fantasy V advance is a decent port and a nice way to play Final Fantasy V on a portable system, some flaws are still notable.

There is occasional serious lags in the game, especially in boss battles (the last battle was probably running about 1/3 of the normal speed so it was lagging), but also on the field during some cutscenes, which is completely ridiculous. This make me thing they went a bit lazy when porting the game engine to the GBA. Oh, and during battle the time stops for a long time with no apparent reason (monsters passing their turns ?) which can get annoying, but it's noting near as bad as FF4 advance anyways.

Also, I know the GBA sound capabilities does not match the SNES' and that the original Final Fantasy V have a really amazing soundtrack that takes full advantage of the SNES hardware, and I know the mighty Nobuo Uematsu isn't present anymore at Square Enix, but still the soundtrack really doesn't sound too good anymore on the GBA. They didn't remove too much harmonics (as it's sometimes seen), instead they replaced the warm instruments by cold aggressive instruments. The worst should be the bass, as a hard slapping bass is heard everywhere through the game. They probably did so to have it be listenable through the GBA's small speakers with very weak basses, but still it sounded bad (even with external speakers). The very worst was that harp intro on the cave's song. It originally sounded very soft and somehow magical, starting quietly with harp arpeggios that become louder and then the actual music starts. Now they replaced the harp by a very aggressive harp sound, which starts immediately loud, and all that magical effect is gone. In some songs, some instruments play their song one octave too high or too low, which don't always sounds good (the melody on the first world's map come to mind). The trumpets playing the melody for the battle theme sound very aggressive, almost fuzzy. Well the music port is a catastrophe, especially for fans of the original music like me, but you still get used to it after a while. At least all songs are still there, and the piano lessons sounds more like piano. I also liked how the music heard in Lix (Bartz' hometown) sounded on the GBA, the instruments were aggressive but it still sounded somehow more nostalgic than on the SNES. It is probably the only song that was actually improved to my opinion.

The sound effects sounds different, but for the most part they were ported better than the music. I still don't like some new sound effects, especially the Aqua Breath and Bio spell, and the sound for the Life spell (or Phoenix Down) sounds okay but is not synchronised with the graphical animation any longer, which suck.

Finally the difficulty is seriously lowered. The original game is very difficult, but I really like it that way. Every battle was a challenge, and the boss battles were totally insane no matter how much you leveled up. Now the random battles go easy, and the boss are still harder, but by far not as much as before. Maybe this is partially due to the fact I already know the game, making it easier for me, but there wouldn't be a such big difference. It obviously took me less time and much less effort to beat the game on the GBA than on the SNES (less than 40 hours as opposed to 50+ hours, and about 1000 battles instead of 1500 to reach a equivalent level of power). I also always enough gils to buy what I wanted, but I remember it wasn't just like that on the SNES.

Also, a little complain, but I miss the spells named with the old fashion (Ice, Ice2, Ice3 as opposed to Blizzard, Blizzara, Blizzaraga). Since I have the European multi-lingual version of the game I could test a lot of language, and it was interesting to see how things were translated differently for some language. In French, the sage Ghido for some reason says "Hum" at the start of each sentence, while he doesn't say anything special in any other language. Weird, huh ?

The added content is futile. You can quick-save, which is nice since the game is portable (instead to actually get a save-everywhere feature like real portable games, which would make the game way too easy). You can run without having a thief in your party, however, when you have one, you can run even faster, which is kind of ridiculous as the regular walking speed is fast enough for me, I almost never ran anyways. Eventually you have 3 new jobs, available only very late in the game, whose, trust me, just suck. You have a bonus dungeon where you meet very hard monsters every 3 steps, and that have a very annoying layout, that uses the tile set of Final Fantasy V but just feel wrong placed here in the game. To access it you have to press a button and the game writes "the room seems to have moved". It this really WAS Final Fantasy V, there would be another cutscene such as "Barts : Huh, what's happening ? Lenna : Oh, it look like we're moving. Faris : Is this a secret place with freakin' treasures ?" (all this with fun sprite animation). Come on, they are unable to do what they did 15 years ago, and this is really ridiculous. Trust me the new content is crap. Just don't buy the GBA version looking forward to an interesting new content.

The Bottom Line

Final Fantasy V advance is a nice way to play FF5 outside of your house nevertheless, and it is easier so if you just want to pass that masterpiece again, have a better understanding of the story and not have too much trouble doing so, you're coming to the right place. If you hope anything has improved or are looking for a enhanced content, prepare to be disappointed. If you just want to play Final Fantasy V because you love the series, I really recommend downloading it with a translated patch for the Super NES and ignore the GBA version. If you're already fan of the Super NES game and are ready to play it again on the GBA even with it's flaw just to play it a bit differently, this may be a good choose. If you'd want to buy only one of the "advanced" Final Fantasy games, I'd recommend FF5 over anything else, as FF4 and FF6 already exists in English for the SNES officially, so there is even fewer to gain from those (the translation is still not the same tough, for the satisfaction of people that hate Ted Whoselay for some reason). And yes, FF5 is a masterpiece and everyone should play it, but the GBA port is just not as good as it could have been, and the true Final Fantasy V is still a SNES game.