Final Fantasy V Advance GameBoy Advance Review
That Final Fantasy V is a good game isn't new information. Originally from the SNES era, it was responsible for quite a bit of the innovation that has turned the Final Fantasy series into a force to be reckoned with. It has taken its sweet time getting to the United States in portable form, but the wait was more than worth it. Final Fantasy V Advance is polished, fun, deep, and completely worth the money if you have ever been remotely interested in RPGs.
The tale begins simply, with a young warrior and his trusty chocobo, but you are soon tasked with leading four adventurers across multiple worlds, fighting monsters and saving the universe from doom at the hands of the bad guy. There's no evil corporation, no great love story, and no time-traveling, world destroying alien being, yet the combination of well-crafted characters and an epic setting really grabs you. It is a journey filled with humorous moments, families reunited and torn apart, and the loss of some close friends. I was amazed how attached I became at points, in spite of the basic graphics and sometimes goofy dialogue.
Everything the story lacks in complexity, the job system makes up for ten times over. You may have experienced variations in Final Fantasy Tactics or FFIII for DS, but the system in FFV is the most addictive thing since the creation of Pokemon. Battling enemies earns you the customary gil and exp, but also nets you job points which level up your current class, gaining new moves and often the right to use your job as an ability by itself.
Example: my main fighter starts out as a monk, skilled in hand-to-hand combat and taking lots of punishment. Unfortunately, I encounter a boss who is mostly resistant to physical damage, and my sole black mage just can't kill it fast enough for my tastes. By taking a little bit of time to level up both my monk and my black mage, I create a pair of monks who can do black magic, and now I'm a happy camper.
If this sounds like fun, just imagine what happens when you are 20 hours in and have about that number of jobs at your disposal. I actually found myself feeling guilty at a few points because I took time to level up when I should have been rescuing a friend.
This GBA port is not without its flaws, the most noticeable being some slowdown during battles. Switching jobs can also be a bit of a pain, because the optimize option simply equips the most powerful items you have. This can lead to some frustration when you want to use a healing staff but you have a knife with higher attack power that always auto-equips.
Fortunately, these are minor complaints against what is otherwise a wonderfully open-ended RPG experience. The new additions aren't anything mind-boggling, but the new jobs and the bonus dungeon certainly add some extra playtime, and the result is a lovingly ported game that can really pass the time.
What's Hot: Best. Job system. Ever.
What's Not: Some slowdown. Some wonky equipment menu issues.