“Final Fantasy V” by Chris Kohler (Boss Fight Books)

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This is the fifth in a series of evaluations covering theBoss Fight Books Humble Bundle. If you missed the bundle, worry not! They’re all accessible on bossfightbooks.com/, from $four.95 every single. 

 
 
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 “The following is a contributor post by the Bookwarm Mage.”
Out of all the entries in Square’s extended-operating series, Final Fantasy V could look like a bizarre decision to function in a book-length remedy. Released out of order in the US, only porting right after its two iconic successors, FFVI and FFVII on the SNES and Playstation, respectively, FFV remains largely overlooked right here, even by fans in Japan, on the other hand, this was the game which helped make FF a reputable contender with the massively preferred Dragon Quest franchise, setting the stage for these extremely sequels so dear to us in the west. Recounting this lost chapter, and bringing an elusive masterpiece to a wider audience, Chris Kohler’s Final Fantasy V does readers a tremendous service. It is a delight to study, regardless of whether we’re discovering or re-discovering the game. 
Kohler initially requires us back to the halcyon 80’s and 90’s, to his introduction (and the West’s) to the globe of Japanese video game culture through mall storefronts, with all their smells, by way of magazines official and unofficial, and, increasingly, more than the world-wide-web. The author’s personal developing fascination with Japanese media and language culminates in his arrival in Japan to pursue his dream of writing about games for a living. It is a linking up of distinctive worlds which he skillfully maps onto the setting of Final Fantasy V, delivering the book with an critical and engaging throughline. 
An additional essential character, although, emerges in Kohler’s telling, who is at when vibrantly genuine and thematically resonant: Hironobu Sakaguchi, FF’s lead director and producer. We hear how, early on, he hated college, discovering pleasure and profit in the pachinko dives and pulp fantasy stacks, and coming to blend these disparate sources in D&ampD-like offerings for the new marketplace of dwelling video games (which have due to the fact supplied solace, or at least distraction, for numerous kindred spirits despairing of performing their homework). It is in the course of this thread of the story, about the slow rise of Square, that we hear about its dominant competitor Enix’s brilliant contests to provide inventive new content material, and the different approaches in which Final Fantasy sought to distinguish itself in the struggle: the flair of Yoshitaka Amano’s art more than against Akira Toriyama’s cartoony character style, the dramatic pulse of Nobuo Uematsu’s musical scores, and Yoshinori Kitase and the rest of the team’s endless tinkering with atmosphere, pacing, and customization–all of which would develop into hallmarks of the series.  
So if you dream of reporting on or creating games, or if you are curious about the history and culture of which they’re an ever-much more critical element, Kohler’s FFV delivers a wealth of encouragement and insight. If you largely just adore to play games and are searching for a very good RPG, although, I hope you are nonetheless reading: the bulk of Kohler’s book is genuinely about FFV, as it really should be. He knows it like handful of other individuals, possessing collaborated on the earliest fansites, possessing discovered his Japanese in the course of playing an original cartridge, and possessing written the ur-text of the walkthrough (later pirated by BradyGames!). You will get an inside appear at the game’s programming, and at player’s subsequent unpacking of it for emulators, fan translations, and speedruns see the initially look of beloved creatures, such as moogles and tonberries, from the stock monsters of numerous a tabletop bestiary and delve into challenges from optional bosses and arbitrary “fiesta” limitations, to Sakaguchi’s penchant for killing off beloved characters in service to the story… not to give also numerous spoilers.  
9/10FF partisans, proud otakus, and casual RPG fans alike will uncover substantially to reward their time with this great retrospective. I only want there have been much more!
 


 
Wesley Schantz (the Bookwarm Mage) coordinates Signum Academy, writes about books and video games, and teaches in Spokane, WA. FFVII Myth &amp Commentary comes out of his podcast series with Alexander Schmid and Vincent Reese.
 

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