Crystal Vision is a short series about one inept player’s annual humiliation in a fun but difficult fundraiser: Four Job Fiesta.
In 2018, every person likes at least one obscure thing. But isn’t obscurity just a function of scale? The whole world is easily connected now, which means any two folks can find each other and start a club for their love of some out-of-print medieval Chinese epic. They now share an obscure interest.
Four Job Fiesta, an annual fundraiser for Child’s Play, seems to be obscure. I don’t remember how I first learned about it four or five years ago. The bot that administers the games each year has just over 5,000 Twitter followers, and presumably some of those are dead accounts. Of the 200 folks I follow, just two others are doing FJF this year.
And for the fundraiser, you play a randomized run of 1992’s Japan-only SNES game Final Fantasy V. The game was later translated and ported to handheld systems, but I play a fan-translated ROM where the main character Bartz is named Butz. If this is even further obscurity, sign me up.
FFV is a beautiful oddity. Its claim to fame is its incredibly loose job system, where any character can learn to be any class and infinite combinations thereof. In a spin on the usual “n number of world-saving crystals” plot, the four elemental crystals of FFV all unlock new jobs.
The first batch of jobs, from the Wind Crystal, includes the RPG standards: knight, monk, thief, black mage, white mage, and blue mage. Then, beginning with the Water Crystal, things get weirder: red mage, time mage, summoner, berserker, mystic knight, and mime. From the Fire Crystal: beastmaster, geomancer, ninja, ranger, and bard. And from the Earth Crystal: dragoon, dancer, samurai, and chemist.
Some of these jobs sound dumb or overly specific, because they are. But you’re able to pick and choose which skills you want characters in your party to have, which means someone might be a beastmaster or bard for just long enough to learn an advanced tactic. Soon, your party resembles the egalitarian hyphenated names at a Montessori preschool, with geomantic white-red-blue mages or summoning ranger mimes.
The Four Job Fiesta
In a non-FJF run, you can let everyone stay freelancers, meaning they have no specific job class. But for FJF, you are assigned one job per crystal, and everyone in your party must be one of the jobs assigned to you. That means a party of all freelancers until you get the Wind Crystal, then all knights or monks or thieves until you make it to the Water Crystal.
Because the jobs get more obscure, it’s hard to get a Wind or Water Crystal job assignment that’s impossible to work with. Later, you might have to have a dancer, or multiple dancers, in your party. Regardless, the fundraiser structure lets you trade a bad job for a different one if you’re willing to pay.
There are more difficult formats you can choose as challenge runs, and I am bad at games, and I will never volunteer to be more challenged. Except this year I did, which was probably stupid! There’s a kind of run called Upgrade, where your entire party all becomes a new job after you unlock it. So instead of having all knights with one red mage, for example, I have to have all red mages. But I get to choose when to switch everyone to the next job. I think I thought I could accumulate enough skill to master the first job and carry over the skillset. Is that true? We’ll find out together.
The Next Step
It’s not too late to sign up for this year’s FJF. Final Fantasy V is on Steam sale for $8, available as a mobile app for Android and iPhone, or of course a potential eBay buy. Whether or not you want to try FJF, please do find and play FFV at some point, because the radical freedom and limitless potential are sugar-sweet and intoxicating.
Next week, I’ll share the beginning of my run and how it’s going. If you decide to take on FJF yourself, I’d love to hear from you!