Final Fantasy V
Final Fantasy V includes many standard role-playing elements as well as renovated features introduced in earlier Final Fantasy games. Characters grow in strength by gaining experience points from random encounters with monsters on the overworld or in a dungeon. Experience culminates in a “level up” in which party members’ attributes, such as hit points or magic power, increase. A menu-based management system allows the player to equip, heal, and change each character’s selected job outside of battle as well as to save the game’s progress. The player can traverse the overworld by foot, Chocobo, hydra-guided ship, wind drake, or airship depending on the situation. Most towns scattered across the world contain inns for resting, shops for purchasing equipment, and people from whom the player can gain information. The player may also embark on several side quests that become available as the story progresses.
Final Fantasy V is the second Final Fantasy game to use the Active Time Battle (ATB) system, in which time flows continuously for both the player and enemies during combat. This system was first established in Final Fantasy IV by battle planners Hiroyuki Itō and Akihiko Matsui, but in that game, there was no way to visibly anticipate which character’s turn would come up next. In Final Fantasy V, the player can see which playable character’s turn is next in battle, in the form of a time gauge—or “ATB Bar”—which fills according to a character’s speed. When the selected character’s turn arrives, the player can execute one of several commands, such as attacking the enemy with an equipped weapon, using a special ability or item, or changing the character’s row position. The ATB mechanic with a gauge, as seen in Final Fantasy V, has been used in nearly every following title in the series.
The main feature of the gameplay of Final Fantasy V is the Job System designed by Hiroyuki Itō. Players can choose jobs for their character to learn. This system allows each character to gain special abilities and potentially master up to 22 unique jobs (26 in the Game Boy Advance version). Each character begins with a default “Freelancer” class, and as the player acquires crystal shards, new jobs become available.
A separate form of experience—Ability Points (ABP)—is used to improve characters’ job levels, while they continue to earn regular experience points. As job levels increase, new skills become available for that character to use in a new form of customization: characters learn job-specific abilities that may be carried over to a new job. For example, a character with the job of Knight who has also earned job levels as a Black Mage may set Black Magic as a secondary command; allowing the use of both Black Mage and Knight abilities in battle. The nature of these abilities varies; while some may allow for selectable commands in battle, others may be innate to the class or automatically activated when conditions are met, such as the Thief’s “Caution” skill, which prevents rear attacks from enemies. This system allows for deeper customization of characters. While many of the jobs have appeared previously in the series, Final Fantasy V introduces a number of new classes including the Blue Mage, Time Mage, and Mime, adding new elements to combat.
The backstory of Final Fantasy V is revealed during the course of the game. One millennium before the events of the main story, a powerful mage named Enuo emperiled the world using the power of an evil entity known as the “Void”. The people of the world retaliated, using twelve legendary weapons to vanquish Enuo. Because the Void could not be destroyed, the people split the world’s four elemental Crystals into two sets, which sequentially caused the world itself to split. The Void then became sealed in a dimensional cleft between the two worlds.
Nearly 1,000 years passed without incident and both worlds prospered due to the powers of their Crystals of Wind, Water, Fire, and Earth. Several kingdoms and towns developed, and travel by ship acted as a prominent means of commerce and communication. Evil spirits had been sealed inside a tree in the Great Forest of Moore, and the tree soon transformed. The being emerged as Exdeath, the game’s primary antagonist. As he attempted to claim the world for himself, a group of heroes called the “Four Warriors of Dawn” (named Galuf, Xezat, Dorgann, and Kelger) defeated and sealed him within the parallel world using its Crystals, and peace returned for another 30 years.
Final Fantasy V features five player characters, only four of which are playable at a given time. Bartz Klauser is a traveling adventurer who becomes involved in the game’s events when he investigates the site of a meteorite strike. Reina Charlotte Tycoon is a princess of Tycoon who follows her father to investigate the Wind Shrine. She is knocked unconscious and saved from a group of goblins by Bartz. Galuf Doe is a mysterious old man discovered unconscious near the meteorite who suffers from amnesia. Faris Scherwiz is a pirate captain who captures Bartz, Reina, and Galuf when they try to steal her ship, and is later revealed to be Sarisa Scherwill Tycoon. Krile Mayer Baldesion is the granddaughter of Galuf who journeys with him to the planet and receives all of her grandfather’s abilities after his death.
Most of the main characters in the game were involved with or related to people who defeated Exdeath 30 years prior, such as Bartz’s father Dorgann Klauser, Kelger Vlondett, and Xezat Matias Surgate—three of the original Four Warriors of Dawn. In addition, the game contains several supporting characters including the engineer Cid Previa, his grandson Mid Previa, and the turtle sage Ghido. One of Exdeath’s henchmen, Gilgamesh, appears as a recurring mini-boss in the game. Gilgamesh has additional appeared in other titles in the series, such as Final Fantasy VIII and Final Fantasy XII.
Final Fantasy V begins on a day when the world’s wind currents begin to slow down. Concerned, the King of Tycoon travels to the Wind Shrine, which holds the Crystal of Wind, only to see it shatter into pieces upon his arrival. Meanwhile, a meteorite plunges to the planet’s surface in the lands near Tycoon Castle. Resting in the woods, Bartz investigates the meteor, and comes across a young woman, Reina, under attack. After rescuing her, they discover an old man in the wreckage with partial amnesia named Galuf. Reina explains that she is on her way to the Wind Shrine after her father—causing Galuf to suddenly recall that he needs to go there as well—and accompanies her. Bartz continues on his way but returns and rescues them from more enemies. The three travel together, but the path by land is blocked by the meteor. With the help of the pirate captain Faris, the group makes its way to the Wind Shrine to discover the shattered Wind Crystal and no sign of Tycoon. The shards react to their presence, and an image of Tycoon appears, explaining to them that they must protect the Crystals.
They learn the crystals are a seal binding the warlock Exdeath, and that each crystal is being exploited for its powers, which will eventually cause them to shatter and make the world itself uninhabitable. The party attempts to save the crystals of Water, Fire, and Earth; but they ultimately fail, and Exdeath is freed. Galuf’s granddaughter Krile arrives, and helps restore Galuf’s memory completely, and he recalls he is actually from a distant world and departs with his granddaughter. With help, Bartz and the others resolve to travel to Galuf’s world, where Exdeath is already wreaking havoc in pursuit of that world’s crystals. The trio is captured, but Galuf rescues them and defeats Exdeath’s lieutenant, Gilgamesh, in the process. They are blown to a distant continent when a barrier is activated during their escape, but make their way to Bal Castle, Galuf’s kingdom.
The party meets Kelger, one of Galuf’s companions and one of the Four Warriors of Dawn, and learn that Bartz’s father was part of their group. Joining forces with another Warrior of Dawn, they deactivate the barrier around Exdeath’s castle, but at the cost of his life. They then learn of Exdeath’s origins as the mage Enuo, and travel to the Guardian Tree to dispel the seals within, only to be trapped by Exdeath and immobolized. Krile arrives to help, but is trapped in a ring of fire. Galuf frees himself, saves his granddaughter, and fights Exdeath until the warlock collapses and retreats. After dying of his wounds, despite the party’s efforts to save him, Galuf’s spirit imparts upon Krile all of his abilities. The party pursues Exdeath and defeats him, but the remaining crystals shatter and the worlds are reunited, in the process granting Exdeath the Void, a power sealed in the dimensional interval called the Rift by dividing the worlds. With it, he removes entire towns and kingdoms from existence. Gathering weapons and magic that had been used against Enuo, the party enters the Rift, where Exdeath reveals his true form, a massive tree. With help of their fallen allies, the party survives his use of the Void and attack, weakening him until the Void devours him. He then transforms into Neo Exdeath, intent on destroying all reality and then himself. They defeat him, and, using the power of the Crystal shards, seal the Void once more and restore the crystals in full. The game’s ending varies based on how many people are still alive at Neo Exdeath’s defeat, detailing the events after his defeat. At the end, the remaining group visits the Guardian Tree, and find that the fallen party members have returned to life.