Final Fantasy is one of the most recognizable franchises in video game history. Ever since the first — and at the time thought to be the only — entry in the series, a plethora of Final Fantasy games have mystified players around the world for several decades. Perhaps one of the entries with the most compelling history is Final Fantasy V.
Chris Kohler, Features Editor at Kotaku, has written extensively on the subject — and in his new book on the game, he closely examines the development and localization of Final Fantasy V, and the legacy it has created.
How FFV Brought New Features to the Table
Final Fantasy V was the first game in the series to have a more cinematic introduction, so the credits felt similar to watching a movie and instilled the player with the sense that they were about to go on an incredible journey. In his book, Kohler goes into even more detail about how the director and writers had to work with the programmers to make sure important scenes came alive in the best way possible so they were more impactful. Through the use of various interviews with the developers, Kohler craftily explores the way the story of the game was conceived.
Kohler also discusses how some of the gameplay of Final Fantasy V was heavily influenced by both Final Fantasy III and Dragon Quest III. Both of these games allowed players to switch character classes whenever they wanted, and Final Fantasy V built upon this element. It took this mechanic a step further by allowing abilities to be carried over when switching characters from one class to another, putting more freedom and more interesting combinations at the player’s disposal. The additional information Kohler provides about the best class combinations and most useful skills offers helpful insight for any intrigued player.
Final Fantasy V Becomes a Best Seller in Japan
Although a more brief section in the book, Kohler talks about how Final Fantasy V became a top seller and the best-selling game in the series at the time shortly after its release in Japan. Kohler then continues to talk about the competition between Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy and how one series always seems to have an edge over the other depending on the region. Despite its brevity, this section helps illustrate how different the significance and popularity of a game can be throughout separate parts of the world.
Dedicated Fans Can Make All the Difference
Kohler himself was heavily involved in the story of how Final Fantasy V first reached North American fans. He takes us through how the original Super Nintendo version of Final Fantasy V never had an official release outside of Japan, how he and plenty of other Final Fantasy players modified their systems to play the Japanese version of the game — despite lacking of basic understanding of the language — how it led to the creation of an (international) online guide, and even an unofficial fan translation of the game still considered by many to be the best version. The story is an inspiring read for anyone seeking a career in video games, showing how admirable achievements can be accomplished through enough dedication and effort.
A Monumental Legacy
Through plenty of later Final Fantasy games, to crossover games such as World of Final Fantasy and Dissiddia NT, the impact Final Fantasy V had on the series itself is clear. But the game’s impact goes far beyond just the Final Fantasy series.
While previous games helped future JRPG creators get their start, Final Fantasy V was the first game people like Tetsuya Takahashi (the creator of Xenoblade) and Tetsuya Nomura (creator of the Kingdom Hearts video game series and The World Ends With You) really had a hand in creating. The impact of Final Fantasy V goes even further than leading to the creation of later JRPGs, as many of the people who imported and/or helped create the fan translation of Final Fantasy V (including the author) now work with video games in some way.
But the legacy of Final Fantasy V doesn’t stop there. An annual charity event has also been created around Final Fantasy V known as the Final Fantasy V Four Job Fiesta, where four jobs are randomly selected for a player who then must complete the game using only those jobs. Kohler goes into detail about the event’s creation, the different four job combinations, useful skills, and the benefits and drawbacks of having four characters with the same job, further encouraging curious players to try it out for themselves.
Final Fantasy V may not be as beloved in other countries as it is in Japan, but the development of the game and the overall impact it has had on video games is fascinating. Whether you’re a fan of Final Fantasy, are seeking a career in video games , or just like reading about video game development in general, then this book is highly recommended.
A digital eBook copy was provided by Boss Fight Books.