Why FINAL FANTASY V pixel remaster is the ultimate FINAL FANTASY

With the release of the FINAL FANTASY V on Nintendo Switch and PS4, we look at why this FINAL FANTASY a tribute to the series itself.
By Edward Price

With the release of the FINAL FANTASY V pixel remaster on Nintendo Switch and PS4, veterans and first-time players alike can experience the series’ second main entry on the Super Famicom with a fresh new coat of pixels.

Unlike what came before in FINAL FANTASY IV or the iconic journeys that followed it, FINAL FANTASY V was an altogether different experience at the time. Rather than focusing on telling an epic, sprawling adventure, or a serious treatise on war and peace, the ballad of Bartz is one that felt less concerned with being a grand evolution or breaking the mould of what came before.

Instead, FINAL FANTASY V put time and care into being something altogether different: a loving tribute to the series itself that was as reverent as it was self-referential.

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A Subversive Story

The legacy of the crystals has shone throughout the FINAL FANTASY series, and in its fifth mainline instalment, they’re just as important as ever. The story begins when the King sets out to investigate why the wind has been acting strangely, only to arrive at the Wind Shrine just in time to see its crystal shatter.

Suddenly the wind stops and an asteroid crashes. From there, we’re introduced to Bartz and his Chocobo Boko, who upon investigating the landing site find Lenna, in search of her father the King, and an old man named Galuf, who only knows his name and that he must find the Wind Shrine. From there the story sees your heroes resolve to save the remaining crystals and donning the moniker of the Warriors of Light once more.

FINAL FANTASY V pixel remaster screenshot

Simple though the plot may seem, it unravels to become anything but, with a story that both relentlessly parodies fantasy tropes while revelling in them all the while. Galuf’s amnesia may make his intentions unclear at first, but he’s soon weaponizing his inability to remember to skirt responsibility for his hare-brained schemes going wrong. The foretold Warriors of Prophecy? You’re not the only ones – the Warriors of Dawn already sealed away the great evil decades ago, only to see their victory fall apart around them.

Where else will you recruit a vital team-member by trying to steal their ship? What other FINAL FANTASY title will give you protagonists who are so dramatic about their heroism that even their ringleader Bartz is compelled to call them out on it? What other games will give you a villain that is as liable to make you laugh as he is to destroy the entire world?

It’s a story that’s equal parts far-fetched, funny, and compelling. Like FINAL FANTASY IV before it, FINAL FANTASY V still has moments that will make you want to cry, but sometimes it’s with laughter as much as sorrow.

FINAL FANTASY V pixel remaster screenshot

Brilliant Villains

“Exdeath! No way we’ll let you get away with this!”

“Have you even the slightest idea what I plan to get away with?”

Exdeath is one of FINAL FANTASY’s most powerful villains. He’s intimidating, immensely strong, and capable of incredible magic. Exdeath is such a threat to the world that the Warriors of Dawn had no choice but to seal him away forever, and he still managed to escape.

He’s such a force to be reckoned with that even on first appearances, Bartz knows he needs to be put away again, even if he has no idea what Exdeath’s plans are, something the enemy is all-too ready to call him out on.

Throughout your encounters with him, Exdeath is immensely threatening, yet unafraid to mock your heroes, pull tricks on them, and even change form just to undermine the Warriors of Light’s attempts to stop him.

If that’s not enough, FINAL FANTASY V also gave us the first appearance of Gilgamesh, a man on the search for the greatest sword known to man: Excalibur. He also happens to be one of Exdeath’s lackeys, meaning that your paths will cross several times on your adventure. Gilgamesh is also utterly brilliant.

Gilgamesh is unashamedly and unapologetically a bad guy. He’s such a card-carrying villain that if you looked at the deck, every card would say “villain” on it. Are you winning a fight? He’ll probably run away rather than let you have the satisfaction of defeating him. Is he wounded, or just lulling you into a false sense of security? Is that really the ultimate sword in his holster, or is he just happy to battle you?

Every encounter with him feels unique and were it not for Exdeath, Gilgamesh could have potentially stolen the whole show. Some may tell you “he’s just a recurring boss fight”, but to us, he’s family.

FINAL FANTASY V pixel remaster screenshot

The Ultimate Job Centre

The wonders of FINAL FANTASY V aren’t just restricted to its storytelling. In fact, where the most fun lies is within its job system, which takes the established formula from FINAL FANTASY III and expands it even further, giving players more roles to try out, and more variety and specialisation than ever before.

Not only do classic jobs like the Red, White, and Black Mages make a return, but FINAL FANTASY V also sees the debut of nine new jobs, including the Time Mage, Mystic Knight, Berserker, Samurai, Dancer, Beastmaster, Chemist, the Blue Mage, and the ever-dreaded Mime.

With these new roles come even more strategic options. You can let your opponents hit you and learn to use their own moves against them as a Blue Mage or concoct foul mixtures as a Chemist that will give your foes all manner of nasty status effects. You can put all your focus into physical attacks in the Berserker job, mess with the fabric of time and space as a Time Mage, or… be a Mime.

There was an even bigger incentive to mix and match job roles to your heart’s content as well, as you could transfer select abilities from mastered jobs to other roles, allowing you to build a roster of highly customisable heroes, well-suited for anything that Exdeath throws at them.

With 22 different job roles to find, unlock, and choose from, it can feel like there’s no end to the depth present in FINAL FANTASY V’s battle system: it’s wildly fun and deeply strategic.

Everything Else

There’s so much to love about FINAL FANTASY V that it’s hard to stop extolling its virtues. To pluck five random examples out of thin air, there’s:

  • The ingenious ways you can fight bosses, with foes like Gogo the Mime or Azulmagia having methods of defeating them that had never been attempted before in the series.

  • Super bosses Shinyru and Omega who posed massive challenges that left us using every ability in our arsenal to emerge victorious.

  • The wild and wacky inhabitants of the world, from the man who laments the meteors won’t land on his mother-in-law to the tired receptionist guarding the secrets of the Beginner’s House.

  • We mentioned Gilgamesh before and he got his own section, but honestly, just Gilgamesh.

FINAL FANTASY V isn’t just a fantastic FINAL FANTASY game, it was a loving tribute to everything that made the series what it was at that point in its lifetime. It provided an immensely fun and fast-paced battle system that had incredible levels of depth through the wide range of jobs and abilities it bestowed on your heroes. It had a plot that wasn’t afraid to parody storytelling tropes while being compelling and tense. It had Gilgamesh.

If you’ve never played FINAL FANTASY V, you owe it to yourself to do so now. If you’ve played it before, then the FINAL FANTASY V pixel remaster is a welcome opportunity to experience it all again.

FINAL FANTASY V pixel Remaster artwork

All six games in the FINAL FANTASY pixel remaster series are now available to buy digitally on PS4 and Nintendo Switch. Each title can be bought individually or as a complete series in the FINAL FANTASY I - VI BUNDLE.

Purchase the game on Switch before May 25, 2023 to receive two themed Wallpapers for each individual game. Buy the complete series in the FINAL FANTASY I-VI BUNDLE to get all 12 themed Wallpapers.

Buy the games digitally on PlayStation 4 before May 25, 2023 to get a Theme and Avatar for each title purchased. Players who purchase the complete series in the FINAL FANTASY I-VI BUNDLE will receive every Theme and Avatar included with the individual games - a total of six Themes and six Avatars.

The FINAL FANTASY Pixel Remaster series is also available on PC via Steam, as well as iOS and Android:

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