Final Fantasy V originally released on the Super Nintendo in 1992. Its the fifth installment of a series that continued to thrive through innovation and its (mostly) self-contained stories. While more popular titles like Final Fantasy VII inspired outright remakes, with the visuals and narrative changed considerably from its original release, Final Fantasy V is one of several “classic” Final Fantasy titles that have received a remaster. With new visuals, greater accessibility features, and a re-orchestrated original soundtrack, Final Fantasy V Pixel Remaster keeps modern sensibilities in mind while maintaining the feel of the original release.
Like a majority of mainline Final Fantasy titles, Final Fantasy V has a colorful ensemble cast. It’s filled with characters from various walks of life. They accompany the player on the grand pursuit of saving the world. The game begins with no exposition. While there is a cutscene that creates a solid foundation for the events about to transpire, the player is thrust into the role of the protagonist immediately. As the Wind Crystal shatters, a meteorite crashes into the surface of the planet. It provides the catalyst for the events of the story. Players unravel the mystery and significance of the Crystals and what they seal as they progress, gathering allies along the way.
While Final Fantasy V Pixel Remaster isn’t a complete reimagining of these characters or their appearances, nothing has changed in the way of the writing. So the original experience is kept in tact. In fact, the remaster proves that some of these character archetypes manage to remain appealing even decades after its initial release. I was still deeply drawn to Faris and enjoyed interactions between Galuf and Krile. That said, there are also moments within the game that draw upon now tired tropes, which is largely due to the age of the game itself. It does, though, have one of my favorite antagonists in the franchise, and as simple as the concept for the character is, it proves effective.
Unfortunately, despite Final Fantasy V Pixel Remaster featuring entirely new visuals, the pixel art for the characters suffers the most. Backgrounds are fully realized and have a new level of detail. However, this makes the players’ sprites stand out all the more. While detail has been added to some character sprites, Faris’ design for example looks more simplified. It’s somewhat jarring in comparison to the backgrounds and leaves the characters looking flat. Some of the charm of the original sprites feels almost entirely lost with the over-simplification of these already somewhat minimalistic models.
Another issue is with the new user interface. Though this is mostly regarding its design, rather than its implementation. The new font for the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster series is something more modern and isn’t the same as the original. While the use of another font for the sake of accessibility issues is extremely important, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Instead, the font is squished together and leaves a lot of excess space in text boxes, tutorials, and just about anywhere it’s used. It’s a shame, because it actually contributes to a feel of inconsistent art direction when paired with some of the new sprites. There was no option to change to a classic font either, which I felt could have been a valuable addition.
One of the greatest strengths of Final Fantasy V Pixel Remaster is the inclusion of quality of life features. These include an auto-battle function and the option to speed up combat. The Final Fantasy XII Remaster incorporated something similar, which now feels more or less like an expected addition among re-releases of these classic titles. Final Fantasy V is better for it. It made grinding for experience monumentally easier and allowed me to passively level up my party while focusing on other tasks. It’s great for those who just simply don’t have the time to sit down and grind for hours upon hours. It is also handy for anyone that easily gets fatigued with the traditional style of combat or leveling in Final Fantasy games.
Final Fantasy V Pixel Remaster’s gameplay is focused on the Job Class system. Unlike modern iterations of Final Fantasy, or even some earlier titles, players can assign any character any job. Those unfamiliar with the system may find it confusing at first, but it is easy to get the hang of it. Especially when the player begins to understand that jobs are just shorthand for different classes. Jobs are unlocked through story progression, with each major boss fight offering more options for players to select from. A total of twenty-two jobs are available, which range from the classic White Mage, Black Mage, and Dragoon to the lesser known Chemist and Beast Master. There are a lot of ways to mix and match to suit your individual playstyle. I loved to experiment with the Ninja and Berserker to see how much damage I could potentially deal through basic attacks.
Each job comes with its own unique command skills, which can be equipped and used in combat. These include the use of specific magic or attacks that are unique to each one. However, what makes Final Fantasy V Pixel Remaster fairly exciting is the ability to learn these skills and have them available to the while another job is selected. Players can do this through obtaining ABP, or Ability Battle Points, to keep these skills by mastering a selected job. This creates a wealth of different builds the player can potentially choose from. It makes Final Fantasy V feel almost infinitely replayable. With the use of the auto-battle system, farming ABP makes grinding towards your goal all the easier.
The re-orchestrated version of the original soundtrack is gorgeous. The “Opening Theme” of Final Fantasy V and “The Day Will Come” proved to be some of my favorite songs in the Pixel Remaster. It was great to know that I could listen to these songs at any time through the use of the music player. However, some tracks like “The Final Battle” didn’t have that same kind of punchiness as the original song. Some of the re-orchestrated music could be very hit-or-miss for those fond of the original release.
Another quality of life feature I felt was a great addition to Final Fantasy V Pixel Remaster is the quick save feature. This due to both convenience and because my game would sometimes freeze, then crash. Unfortunately, this would happen at completely random intervals, so I can’t pinpoint as to why it would happen. After it happened the first time, which was roughly an hour and a half into my adventure, I made sure to use the quick save feature liberally. The game also features controller support and allows players to rebind keys for the keyboard and mouse controls.
Overall, Final Fantasy V Pixel Remaster reminded me of just how fun the older Final Fantasy titles were. It will potentially be something of a hit-or-miss for die-hard fans of the original entry, with its poor user interface and reimagined pixel artwork. However, this is a great a time as ever for newcomers to check this classic entry in the Final Fantasy series out. As it offers a fair amount of quality of life improvements that will appeal to modern sensibilities and make the game easier to pick up and play.
Final Fantasy V Pixel Remaster is available for Android and iOS devices, and PCs.