If you're looking to see the latest technological
wonder from Square, you won't find much to get excited about in Final
Fantasy Anthology. On the other hand, if you're looking to relive
"the good ol' days" of RPGs, where tiled maps were king and cars were
unheard of, you'll have a grand time with FFA.
Many "old school" RPG players malign the FMV-based Final Fantasy
titles of the present and long for the joy brought to them by older
games. Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy VI, the two RPGs included
in the anthology, represent Square's last two Final Fantasies on the
Super NES. Curious players who have never owned a system before the
PlayStation and have never experienced one or the other should enjoy
Final Fantasy Anthology, assuming a certain mindset is taken before
starting into the package.
Let's get one thing straight: the graphics, compared to those on the
PlayStation, suck. FF V and FF VI are old games: FF V was made in
1992, FF VI in 1994. Outside of a few obligatory FMV sequences, the
graphics have not been upgraded for their PSX
appearances. They were solid for the SNES, but nothing spectacular;
Square's focus in those days were to create games with intriguing
plotlines, interesting characters, vast worlds to explore, and unique
character-ability systems. Those aspects are not forgotten in recent
games; they are instead complimentary to the cinematic gaming
experience (or the other way around, depending on your perspective).
FF V and FF VI are not cinematic games. Players may, at times, feel like
they are in the midst of an interactive movie, but not as often as they
might during Final Fantasy VIII. The graphics are not drawbacks to the
games; rather, they simply don't add an extra dimension like they do in
the cinematic FF VII and FF VIII.
For those familiar with both titles, however, the anthology will be a huge
disappointment. Both games have an added introductory and ending movie;
they're pretty to look at once or twice but not worth the price of admission.
Not only that, Square did a slipshod job of porting the SNES titles to the
PlayStation. Load times are noticable both in and out of battle. Menus
load slowly, and battle animations can be a chore.
Including a partial soundtrack with the game was a good idea, but again
poorly executed. The tracks chosen are questionable at best, and
insulting at worst. The official Square U.S. home page had a poll to
choose the songs included on the soundtrack, but appeared to ignore the
Looking past the flaws of the port, however, the two games included
are both excellent. Final Fantasy V has the distinction of being one of
the most delayed games in gaming history. Back in 1993, it was scheduled
to become America's Final Fantasy III. As it neared completion, Final
Fantasy VI was released in Japan, and the decision was made to scrap Final
Fantasy V's translation and port Final Fantasy VI as the U.S. Final Fantasy
Disappointed fans revolted, and the announcement came that Final Fantasy V
was set to be ported under the title "Final Fantasy Extreme," as it was a
bit more difficult than other U.S. Final Fantasy titles. The character-skill
development system was also more complex and central to the game than in
any other Final Fantasy title the U.S. had seen, adding further justification
to the chosen name.
THE MAN in action
The project eventually faded into the background and was cancelled with little
fanfare. Years later, when Final Fantasy VII was released in the U.S., Square
announced that Eidos would be bringing a port to the PC of it. Not only that,
Eidos planned to bring Final Fantasy V and VI to the PC. Hooray! The U.S.
would finally see FF V in English!
Not. Square and Eidos parted ways, and the FF V and FF VI ports were forgotten
until Square realized there was money to be made in the re-releasing of older
classics. The Japanese version of the Anthology, titled Final Fantasy
Collection, also included Final Fantasy IV, but lacked a soundtrack disc. When
Square announced the Collection would come to America, they rejoiced, as
perhaps this was the time FF V would make it to the U.S.
FF V's plot and storyline is relatively weak compared to other Final Fantasies,
but is solid and enjoyable nonetheless. For the last time, crystals are the
focus of the story. All the action revolves around the weakening crystals, which
hold the world together. Unfortunately, FF V has a weak villain: X-Death comes
across as a hastily inserted, shallow character whose sole role to keep the plot
FF V's strongest point is the character ability system. Players familiar with
Final Fantasy Tactics will be quick to recognize FF V's system; it too revolves
around "jobs" that determine the skills a character can use. Besides the
usual knight, lancer, mage, and ninja, FF V includes some fun classes to
experiment with, such as dancer, bard, and hunter.
You sound like chapters from a self-help book!
Released as FF 3 in the U.S., FF VI was a great game on the SNES and is a great
game on the PlayStation. It represents a major leap forward for Square, as
the character development far surpasses that of any video game released to that
point. The cast of characters is lengthy, but each character in the list is
given a more than perfunctory exploration of motivations and personalities.
The plot is more predictable than in some of Square's other works, but is enjoyable
nonetheless. The second half of the game, the World of Ruin, contains very
little expository plot, but is rich with details on the characters' lives.
The World of Ruin is non-linear; depending on your style you'll find it a lovely
chance to explore not just territory but characters or you'll bore of it and
try to get to the end. Full enjoyment of the game requires spending some time
on the optional subquests.
Final Fantasy Anthology isn't the best collector's set ever released. It's
a shoddy job of transferring the magic of older Final Fantasies onto the
modern PlayStation. The mistakes in the port result in detractions from the
games' magic, but aren't enough to kill the two. Final Fantasy V and VI are strong
enough titles to thrive on any system in any era.
Review by Andrew Kaufmann, GIA.
|Final Fantasy Anthology
|Final Fantasy Anthology PS2 compatiblity issues
|31 FF VI CG characters and tests / 29 FF V CG shots and sketches
|14 FF VI intro storyboards / 15 FF VI ending storyboards