Final Fantasy V is a landmark title for many, not originally released outside of Japan it came to us in the west later, after Final Fantasy VII had released to near-universal acclaim and displayed the potential of a versatile job and class system like no other game has before or since. Of course others have tried, the original Final Fantasy offered a choice of party from several class types, and Final Fantasy III allowed you to switch classes mid-play, as did several Dragon Quest titles, but FFV somehow did it in a way that’s been almost impossible to better. This is the crux of the Four Job Fiesta, which runs to raise money for charity every year.
The premise is simple. You replay the game on any one of its multiple ports from start to finish, but the catch is that you are given a randomly selected job for each of the four crystals (Wind, Water, Earth and Fire) and can only use that class. This has the dual effect of showing how balanced the game really is, and presenting a unique challenge to the player as they are forced to play up the strengths and hide the weaknesses of each class. Classes are dished out on Twitter, with ‘Gilgabot’ passing out each decision on request, and players are encouraged to Tweet and share their experiences as they play. All those taking part are tracked and recorded on the main website too, making it fairly obvious who made it to the end and who quit early. It is possible to change a decision, with a donation and an email you can be manually reassigned a new class, but you’re expected to do this before you start levelling and playing at each crystal rather than after to keep the experience fair.
The experience is 100% non-profit and supported by many established sites such as RPGamer and RPGFan, with the 2016 event money going directly toward ‘Child’s Play‘ a charity for children that is closely linked to the gaming industry. You can follow MBU’s attempts to conquer the game each year on our Twitter account @Cascade_Studios and share in our victories and woes.
#FF5FOURJOBFIESTA JULY 2016 [VERSION PLAYED: PLAYSTATION ONE PORT]
Selecting to play the game through on perhaps its worst port, but the first one to officially reach the United Kingdom (emulation and translation patches non-withstanding) as it was my first year gave me a few options of platform on which to play. The original hardware, through a PlayStation 2 or either digitally or disc on the PlayStation 3. In the interests of purity I chose to use the original PS1 disc but played it on the PS3 to save rigging up a specific console. Though there are loading times that you wouldn’t find on the original cart on the SNES, the game is as playable as ever and lends itself well to sessions in the morning and evening around work and other tasks.
The selection of jobs on my first outing was quite a challenge, being first denied access to healing or offensive magic whilst not being able to deal out as much damage as a pure warrior-based class. I had to put more effort into using items to help me get through battles unscathed, and the Thief’s natural ability to steal these did come in quite handy in saving cash. Their ability to see hidden paths, run faster and prevent back-attacks all came in very useful over the course of the games earlier segments, when my party were low levelled and gear wasn’t in plentiful supply.
Getting the Red Mage at the Water Crystal was a relief at first, adding some basic magic to my arsenal whilst not being a massive step down in terms of combat proficiency for my party from the Thief. As the game became harder however it began to become painfully apparent that the effectiveness of these low-level spells had a limited period of usefulness and soon using the dual-cast ability was the only way to heal a sufficient amount or deal any considerable elemental damage without falling back on items.
Receiving the Ranger job at the Fire Crystal was an interesting change of pace, flipping my armory to bows and calling upon a variety of animals to buff the party or attack the enemy based on the location of my party. Unlocking Rapid Fire was a game-changer, allowing my team to attack four times in a row and dishing out a considerable amount of damage once better equipment had been procured. Luckily, arrows aren’t expended in the same manner they were for Rosa in Final Fantasy IV and deal just as much damage from the more protected back-row position.
Finally, the Earth Crystal granted my party the powers of the Dancer. And my heart sank when the realization hit me that I’d missed out on Dragoon and Samurai in favor of a class rooted in flirting with the enemy and fighting with ribbons. Arguably the weakest melee job in the game, I adopted a mixture of the front-row ‘Sword Dance’ strategy (using the Rainbow Dress, Lamia Tiara and Red Shoes) and back-row boosting of elemental attacks such as Wind and Earth, splitting my party 2/2 for the first time. I’m informed that had I mastered this job on a more modern port I’d have unlocked an achievement – and though I don’t tend to go in for these often a little reward would be nice, this was an uphill struggle in the games final act but ultimately the game was completed and those end credits rolled.