A Simple Guide to the Final Fantasy Games and Franchise

Tifa from Final Fantasy VII Remake

What Is Final Fantasy?

Final Fantasy is the name given to a collection (an anthology) of Japanese science fantasy games that are mostley geared towards the JRPG genre. It was created by Hironobu Sakaguchi, and developed and owned by SQUARE ENIX (formerly Square).

Final Fantasy, the first game in the series, was released back in 1987. The Final Fantasy franchise has 15 main-numbered entries, with Final Fantasy XVI announced in 2020.

Are the Final Fantasy Games Connected?

It depends on the games. Final Fantasy games, especially those in the mainline series, are usually separate stories. Each game has its own setting, plot, and characters, but they are linked out-of-universe by similar mechanics, character names, and those familiar yellow birds you may know as Chobocos. That said, there are a few mainline entries that had sequels (X, XIII) that are also considered mainline games.

Why Are the Games Called Final Fantasy?

In what could have been a series of disastrous measures by SQUARE ENIX (then Square), a last-ditch chance and belief that a product would work is what led Final Fantasy to not only commercial success but critical acclaim. 

The naming for the game was because it could have been the last game for the company and Hironobu Sakaguchi, the father of Final Fantasy, as things were not looking good. Especially if you looked at the track record of previous games that they created together. 

Initially intended to be called Fighting Fantasy, because of trademark woes and the impending financial doom, the name was changed to Final Fantasy. To be honest, I am glad that they changed the name because if it stuck as Fighting Fantasy, it likely would have really been the end. That is a really, really stupid name for a game. Like, really.

The Fifteen Mainline Games of the Final Fantasy Series

Since the incarnation of the series, there have been fifteen mainline numbered titles and a multitude of spin-offs. Just for the sake of reference, let’s take a look at just how many Final Fantasy games there are in the world of Final Fantasy, chronologically:

  • Final Fantasy (1987)
  • Final Fantasy II (1988)
  • Final Fantasy III (1990)
  • Final Fantasy IV (1991)
  • Final Fantasy V (1992)
  • Final Fantasy VI (1994)
  • Final Fantasy VII (1997)
  • Final Fantasy VIII (1999)
  • Final Fantasy IX (Released 2000)
  • Final Fantasy X (Released 2001)
  • Final Fantasy XI (2002, First fully online MMO Final Fantasy title)
  • Final Fantasy X-2 (2003)
  • Final Fantasy XII (2006)
  • Final Fantasy XII Revenant Wings (2007)
  • Final Fantasy IV: The After Years (2008)
  • Final Fantasy XIII (2009)
  • Final Fantasy XIV (2010)
  • Final Fantasy Type-0 (2011)
  • Final Fantasy XIII-2 (2011)
  • Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII (2013)
  • Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (2013)
  • Final Fantasy Agito (2014)
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward (2015)
  • Final Fantasy XV (2016)
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood (2017)
  • Final Fantasy XIV: Shadow Bringers (2019)
  • Final Fantasy VII Remake (2020)

And these are just the mainline games. There are equally if not more spin-offs for the franchise. When you look at just how many titles are in the universe, it’s not hard to see why there have been over 150 million copies across all the games sold worldwide.

Many of the mainline games have been re-published in bundles:

  • Final Fantasy I•II (1994, NES)
  • Final Fantasy Collection (1999, IV, V, and VI for the Playstation Japan Only)
  • Final Fantasy Anthology (1999, same as above for US and EU)
  • Final Fantasy Chronicles (2001, Final Fantasy IV and Chrono Trigger)
  • Final Fantasy I & II: Dawn of Souls (2004)
  • Final Fantasy X/X-2 Ultimate Box (2005)
  • Final Fantasy IV: The Complete Collection (2011)
  • Final Fantasy XIII/XIII-2 Dual Pack (2012)
  • Final Fantasy 25th Anniversary Ultimate Box (2012)
  • Final Fantasy XIII Ultimate Collection (2013)

Aerith from Final Fantasy VII Remake

Extending the Final Fantasy Franchise

The Final Fantasy franchise has had numerous spin-offs and branching paths for the series. The game has gone from being a traditional turn-based RPG to being an adventure game, a rhythm game, a shoot-em-up, an MMO, and even a racing game. 

My personal favorite is Dissidia Final Fantasy NT, a fighting game with Final Fantasy Characters. The versatility of the franchise is truly something magical that not many franchises can replicate. 

Not to mention that they have also made their foray to the silver screen as well as there have been 3 full-length movies released for the series. Two of them, Final Fantasy VII Advent Children and Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, were amazing and are recommended. 

One of them, The Spirits Within, was less than appealing. Aside from movies, they have also made an animated short series leading up to the release of Final Fantasy XV titled Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV which was actually really good. I wish they would have made it into a full series.

Here is a full list of all media.

List of Final Fantasy Games Spin-offs and More

Main Series Related Games

  • Final Fantasy VII Snowboarding (2005)
  • Final Fantasy VII G-Bike (2014)
  • Final Fantasy Grandmasters (2015)

Final Fantasy Tactics

  • Final Fantasy Tactics (1997)
  • Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (2003)
  • Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift (2007)
  • Final Fantasy Tactics S (2013)

Compilation of Final Fantasy VII

  • Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII (2004)
  • Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII (2006)
  • Dirge of Cerberus Lost Episode: Final Fantasy VII (2006)
  • Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (2007)
  • Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier (2021)
  • Final Fantasy VII: Ever Crisis (2022)

Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy

  • Final Fantasy Type-0 (2011)
  • Final Fantasy Agito (2014)
  • Final Fantasy Awakening (2016)

Final Fantasy XV Universe

  • Platinum Demo – Final Fantasy XV (2016)
  • Justice Monsters Five (2016)
  • A King’s Tale: Final Fantasy XV (2016)
  • Final Fantasy XV: A New Empire (2017)
  • King’s Knight: Wrath of the Dark Dragon (2017)
  • Monster of the Deep: Final Fantasy XV (2017)
  • Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition (2018)

Final Fantasy Spin-offs

  • Chocobo series
  • Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles series
  • Crystal Defenders series
  • Dissidia Final Fantasy series
  • Final Fantasy: Unlimited with U (2002)
  • Final Fantasy: Unlimited on PC – Meikyū ~ Kuroki Yume no Kioku ~ (2003)
  • Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light (2009)
  • Final Fantasy Dimensions (2010)
  • Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade (2012)
  • Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (2012)
  • Final Fantasy Artniks (2012)
  • Final Fantasy All the Bravest (2013)
  • Pictlogica Final Fantasy (2013)
  • Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call (2014)
  • Final Fantasy: World Wide Words (2014)
  • Final Fantasy Record Keeper (2014)
  • Final Fantasy Artniks Dive (2014)
  • Heavenstrike Rivals (2014)
  • Final Fantasy Explorers (2014)
  • Final Fantasy Portal App (2015)
  • Final Fantasy Dimensions II (2015)
  • Mobius Final Fantasy (2015)
  • Final Fantasy Brave Exvius (2015)
  • World of Final Fantasy (2016)
  • War of the Visions: Final Fantasy Brave Exvius (2019)

Not So Final After All

The Final Fantasy franchise was supposed to be the last hurrah for Square. The release of the game turned out to pay in dividends and launched the company to a level of success that they could have only dreamed of at the time. The game has defined a generation of games for generations of gamers for years to come. 

Who’s to say which Final Fantasy is really going to be THE Final Fantasy. I don’t think that is even a question that SQUARE ENIX knows the answer to. As it stands, they’re likely currently working diligently at preparing the release of the next mainline Final Fantasy game to once again make player’s jaws hit the ground. Regardless of what they’re working on, you can be sure that it’s going to be a huge title with an even more robust story.

(c) SQUARE ENIX
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