Final Fantasy V

Like many people, I came to the Final Fantasy series late. I was in fact completely unaware of its existence until FF7, which got a bigger marketing push than usual and was available for PC. I played that when it was new, and the PC version of FF8 well after it became old, and somewhere in between I started playing through the Playstation remakes of the earlier games. I’m up to episode 5 by now.

I’m doing this mainly because I’m a completist (obviously), but also because it’s fascinating to me to see how the franchise evolved. Final Fantasy I was basically just another Ultima-style 1 “Ultima” means “final” in Latin. Coincidence? Probably. tile-based fantasy RPG in a quasi-medieval setting, with monsters lifted straight from D&D, turn-based combat, ciphers for heroes, and a shadow of a plot organized around defeating four elemental “fiends”. How did it get from there to what I know from the later episodes — the playful mishmash of genres, the bizarre monstrosities, the lengthy examination of player character backstories?

Piece by piece, that’s how. By FF5, we have distinctive characters and most of the basics of FF7/8 gameplay (including the “ATB” combat system), but the milieu is still standard high fantasy, and the plot is still based around the four elements. The monsters are starting to get weird, though. The real acid trips tend to come at higher levels, but I’ve already encoutnered skullclouds and cats that fly by means of batwings strapped to their forelegs.

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1. “Ultima” means “final” in Latin. Coincidence? Probably.

1 Comment so far

  1. Merus on 24 Nov 2007

    You mention that you’re playing the PlayStation version, which is a shame, because Square Enix only started getting decent translators around the release of Final Fantasy IX. The GBA translation is a big improvement over the PlayStation version.

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