Four weeks remain in the Four Job Fiesta, one of the neater retro gaming events where more casual players are expected to join in on the fun. The charity event (currently at $11,000 of its $20,000 goal) encourages players to take a streamlined approach to the classic 1992 release Final Fantasy V. Where Final Fantasy V was one of the earliest, most customizable JRPG experiences in regard to the job system, the Four Job Fiesta, as the title implies, forces players to use only four jobs throughout their whole playthrough.
What makes the Four Job Fiesta one of the more sublime gaming experiences and indeed, a quintessentially retro one, is that these restrictions for the player to really grapple with Final Fantasy V’s exact mechanics, searching for what may be as little as two or three working strategies in a game where theoretically dozens might be possible in normal gameplay. Take the first stretch of the game, from the Wind Shrine to Walse Tower, where all four of your characters are stuck with one of the six opening classes.
Though the task sounds intimidating, it really isn’t. Potions are more than enough for healing (as well as damaging the one undead boss), especially with a beefy class like Knight and Monk that can kill most enemies and bosses before that even becomes necessary. Defensively weaker wizards like the Blue Mage and Black Mage likewise thrive by actually using their spells, instead of fruitlessly saving them for an emergencies as players often do in regular play. Thieves and White Mages have it toughest, but just keep an eye out for their stronger weapons and they’re fine too.
By the time you meet Garula, the boss of Walse Tower who guards the next round of the classes, you’ve got a good grasp of your own class’s limitations. You’re also more likely to pay attention to the AI behavior instead of just powering through. Garula is noteworthy for having a strong physical counter attack in the latter part of the fight that can easily overwhelm a player attacking blindly. But careful use of a single strong attacker back up by scattered healing and aggressive use of the back row mechanic renders Garula quite beatable with at worst minimal grinding.
Physical classes are more likely to need grinding in the Four Job Fiesta, although appropriately enough, they’re also the easiest to grind. The rules of the Four Job Fiesta allow an easy fix for those hate grinding though- the Team 750 run, which guarantees you only roll the half of classes that can break rods. That mechanic, easily missed in casual play, allows rod-wielding characters access to Black Magic spells like Blizzara by going up on the item menu and using their equipped rods as items, a major boon for the otherwise offenseless Time Mage in the fight against Liquid Flame, or even in random encounters. You’re unlikely to have much trouble buying gear when everyone shares the same equipment, not that Final Fantasy V has a difficult economic system in general.
Like the White Mage, the Time Mage has strong long-term rewards for a tougher early game. This is a major aspect of the Four Job Fiesta that has people coming back to it again and again, doing multiple runs in the same year- every playthrough is quite different, and there are a lot of potential combinations. Six initial Wind Crystal jobs times five Water Crystal jobs times five Fire Crystal jobs times four Earth Crystal jobs equals six hundred potential playthroughs. But if that isn’t random enough for you, there’s the advanced options- most notably the Meteor Run, which allows any of the base game’s twenty-two jobs (Freelancer and Mime not being proper Crystal jobs) to be selected or repeated by any Crystal, for a grand total of 234,256 possible playthroughs. That’s a lot- although for players seeking a true challenge, they can take on Berserker Risk and struggle to win with a class that can’t be controlled.
Any abilities learned can apply to any individual party member as long as every party member is in one of the four assigned classes, so even the Berserker can be modified quite a bit. If you were wondering how you can use the non Wind Crystal classes for the first stretch, there’s a Four Job Fiesta mod for the Game Boy Advance version of the game that makes all of the classes available right away. While this mod humorously replaces the final boss with a giant Cactuar, RevenantKioku, who runs the Four Job Fiesta, still awards completion badges if the Cactuar and not Exdeath is who’s seen collapsing in your final screenshot.
Any version of Final Fantasy V, from SNES to PSX to GBA to the now unavailable Android version to the somewhat controversial Remaster for modern systems, are all considered valid ways to play. There are many online communities with veteran players happy to assist with the challenge, as well as help with arcane information like the exact mechanical differences between versions. If you’ve ever wanted to try Final Fantasy V, this is a great excuse to start- there won’t be another one for another year.