- The Final Fantasy franchise has been around for over 35 years and has released over 100 games.
- The main plot element in most Final Fantasy games involves a group of characters fighting against an evil villain for world domination.
- Recurring elements in the franchise include rebellion, a second more powerful villain, and the presence of magical orbs and crystals.
- Cid, Biggs and Wedge, and Gilgamesh are some of the recurring characters in the series.
- There are 16 main entries in the Final Fantasy series.
- Numerous spinoff games and series have been released, including sequels, prequels, and alternate universe stories.
The lore surrounding the Final Fantasy franchise is one of the most complex and layered in all of video game history. Originating in 1987 and still going strong more than 35 years later, Final Fantasy has exceeded over 100 games throughout its prolific run. How could a person possibly keep them all straight? With the help of this comprehensive game guide, you should be much better equipped to tackle the entire franchise head-on. This is the complete history of Final Fantasy, stretching from the first game to the upcoming FF releases slated for 2024.
History of Final Fantasy: An Overview
Since the groundbreaking first entry in the series was released on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in 1987, the Final Fantasy series has been telling the story of a group of characters fighting off an evil villain fighting for world domination. That’s a little vague, but even the most casual FF players know there’s no better way to put it. It’s the one basic plot element that links the bulk of the franchise. The Final Fantasy franchise uses this basic setup to explore the various internal struggles, personal tragedies, and inner passions of its main characters.
Many games throughout the history of Final Fantasy feature a nation’s population in a state of rebellion. The game’s protagonists almost always fight on the side of the rebellion against the forces of evil seeking total control. Often, there’s also a big reveal of a second (much more powerful) villain in FF games. You can usually put money down on the main villain not being who they make themselves out to be. There’s typically another villain or force who’s actually been pulling the strings all along. Other minor recurring elements include amnesia, possession, identity, and sacrifice.
We’d also be remiss not to mention the magical orbs and crystals that usually show up in your average Final Fantasy game. Since the very beginning, crystals and orbs have been positioned as the central life force of the game’s world. For this reason, the main conflict of each main game usually involves a fight for control of these crystals or orbs. Fighting styles throughout the series have progressed from turn-based combat to Active Time Battles to Open Combat Systems (with many games featuring a mix of the three).
Before we dive into the 100+ games in the history of Final Fantasy, it’s important to reiterate that the numbers in FF games are used in reference to volumes, not sequels. Most Final Fantasy games feature stories unrelated to the ones from the games that came before. While they all take place under the broad umbrella that is the Final Fantasy universe, there are countless characters, storylines, and game elements that vary from game to game.
With that being said, some characters show up more often than others. Most notably, there’s Cid: a human character who has appeared in almost every main title since Final Fantasy II in 1988. He was originally intended to be a wise, intelligent figure not unlike Yoda from the Star Wars universe. Over the years, this basic principle has allowed him to show up in a dizzying number of forms and roles.
Biggs and Wedge are two other recurring characters who, like Cid, can credit their creation to Star Wars. Their names are pulled straight from George Lucas’s franchise, and their role is that of comic relief — sort of like droids R2-D2 and C-3PO. They first appeared in Final Fantasy VI in 1994. Gilgamesh deserves a mention, too. He first showed up in Final Fantasy V in 1992 and has made many different cameos since. Now, let’s run through the 16 main titles in the FF series.
These 16 FF games (plus one alternate version) serve as the main volumes in the history of Final Fantasy. Whether it be the game’s inaugural entry in 1987, its first journey online in 2002, its differing versions of FF14 in 2011 and 2013, or its latest volume in 2023, each of these volumes is set in a new place within a different fictional universe under the FF banner.
|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||2000|
|Final Fantasy X||2001|
|Final Fantasy XI: Online||2002|
|Final Fantasy XII||2006|
|Final Fantasy XIII||2009|
|Final Fantasy XIV: Online||2010|
|Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn||2013|
|Final Fantasy XV||2016|
|Final Fantasy XVI||2023|
While there are many offshoots and one-offs in the history of Final Fantasy, it took until 2002 for the very first FF sequel to be released. Since then, there have been a few other spinoffs released for consoles and mobile platforms alike. The most recent of the bunch, Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin, came out in 2022. It’s a prequel to the first game set in an alternate universe.
|Final Fantasy X-2||2003|
|Final Fantasy X-2: Last Mission||2004|
|Final Fantasy IV: The After Years||2008|
|Final Fantasy Grandmasters||2015|
|Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin||2022|
Ivalice Alliance Series
The Ivalice Alliance series is one of the earliest spinoff series in the history of Final Fantasy. Launching in 1997 with Final Fantasy Tactics, the series last saw an entry in 2013 with Final Fantasy Tactics S. (As is often the case in the FF franchise, this was merely a short-lived mobile game and not a console title.)
|Final Fantasy Tactics||1997|
|Final Fantasy Tactics Advance||2003|
|Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions||2007|
|Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift||2007|
|Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings||2007|
|Final Fantasy Tactics S||2013|
Fabula Nova Crystallis Series
You already know that crystals play a key role in the history of Final Fantasy. But did you know there’s a deeper mythos than what meets the eye? The Fabula Nova Crystallis series of spinoffs explores these crystals more in-depth than any other titles in the FF franchise. It began in 2011 and wrapped in 2016.
Interestingly, throughout this sub-series, FF creator and developer Square Enix gives full creative freedom over the mythos to each new development team. This allows them to create new lore surrounding the crystals however they see it. Also worth mentioning? They’re all loosely linked to Final Fantasy XIII.
|Final Fantasy Type-0||2011|
|Final Fantasy XIII-2||2011|
|Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII||2013|
|Final Fantasy Agito||2014|
|Final Fantasy Awakening||2016|
Final Fantasy VII Spinoffs
As the first in the history of Final Fantasy games to embrace 3D graphics over the traditional 2D graphics used by the previous games in the series, 1997’s Final Fantasy VII was quite a big deal (to say the least). This importance was further underlined by the number of spinoffs to come out of the game over the years. This includes a remake in 2020 and an upcoming sequel to the remake slated for 2024.
|Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII||2004|
|Final Fantasy VII Snowboarding||2005|
|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 (Remake)||2020|
|Final Fantasy VII: The First Soldier||2021|
|Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Reunion||2022|
|Final Fantasy VII: Ever Crisis||2023|
|Final Fantasy VII Rebirth||2024|
Final Fantasy XV Spinoffs
Like Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy XV is another massively important entry in the ongoing series. From companion films and series to other expanded universe media, this fifteenth volume was the biggest and most prominent FF release until Final Fantasy XVI dropped in 2023. Its open world, action-based battles, and other remarkable elements all broke new ground for the franchise.
Its size and success spurred the establishment of the Final Fantasy XV Universe. Naturally, this included many spinoff games. New FF15 games continue to be released today, with the most recent dropping for mobile devices in 2022. As of this writing, there are nine games in the Final Fantasy XV Universe in all (including the flagship game.)
|Platinum Demo – Final Fantasy XV||2016|
|Justice Monsters Five||2016|
|A King’s Tale: Final Fantasty 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 XV: War for Eos||2022|
Final Fantasy One-Offs
Apart from all these spinoffs and offshoots in the history of Final Fantasy, there has also been a slew of FF one-offs over the years. Starting way back in 1991 with Final Fantasy Adventure and spanning all the way to 2019’s Final Fantasy Digital Card Game, these supplemental releases deepen the FF lore in their own unique ways.
|Final Fantasy Adventure||1991|
|Final Fantasy Mythic Quest||1992|
|Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light||2009|
|Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade||2012|
|Final Fantasy All the Bravest||2013|
|Pictlogica Final Fantasy||2013|
|Final Fantasy: World Wide Words||2014|
|Final Fantasy Record Keeper||2014|
|Final Fantasy Portal App||2015|
|Mobius Final Fantasy||2015|
|Final Fantasy Digital Card Game||2019|
Final Fantasy Subseries
Lastly, let’s round up the numerous subseries throughout the history of Final Fantasy. If you weren’t confused before, just wait until you see how many different games fall under this category. (And don’t even get us started on the Chocobo lore. That requires an explainer all to itself.) The connections between FF games are loose by design, but the connection between these subseries is hanging onto the history of Final Fantasy by mere threads. Nevertheless, these are all the FF subseries entries from over the years.
- Final Fantasy Artniks (2012)
- Final Fantasy Artniks Dive (2014)
- Final Fantasy Brave Exvius (2015)
- Final Fantasy Brave Exvius Tap! (2017)
- War of the Visions: Final Fantasy Brave Exvius (2019)
- Chocobo’s Mysterious Dungeon (1997)
- Chocobo’s Dungeon 2 (1998)
- Chocobo Racing (1999)
- Chocobo on the Job (2000)
- Chocobo Anywhere (2002)
- Chocobo Land: A Game of Dice (2002)
- Chocobo Anywhere 2: Escape! Ghost Ship (2003)
- Choco-Mate (2003)
- Chocobo Anywhere 2.5: Infiltrate! Ancient Ruins (2004)
- Chocobo Anywhere 3: Defeat! The Great Rainbow-Colored Demon (2004)
- Chocobo de Mobile (2006)
- Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo Tales (2006)
- Final Fantasy Fables: Chocobo’s Dungeon (2007)
- Cid and Chocobo’s Mysterious Dungeon: The Labyrinth of Forgotten Time (2008)
- Chocobo and the Magic Picture Book: The Witch, the Girl, and the Five Heroes (2008)
- Chocobo Panic (2010)
- Chocobo’s Crystal Tower (2010)
- Chocobo’s Chocotto Farm (2012)
- Chocobo’s Mystery Dungeon: Every Buddy! (2019)
- Chocobo GP (2022)
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles (2003)
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates (2007)
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King (2008)
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Echoes of Time (2009)
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a Darklord (2009)
- Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: The Crystal Bearers (2009)
- Crystal Guardians (2008)
- Crystal Defenders: Vanguard Storm (2009)
- Final Fantasy Dimensions (2010)
- Final Fantasy Dimensions II (2015)
- Dissidia Final Fantasy (2008)
- Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy (2011)
- Dissidia Final Fantasy NT (2015)
- Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia (2018)
- Final Fantasy Explorers (2015)
- Final Fantasy Explorers-Force (2018)
- The Final Fantasy Legend (1989)
- Final Fantasy Legend II (1990)
- Final Fantasy Legend III (1991)
- Romancing SaGa (1992)
- Romancing SaGa 2 (1993)
- Romancing SaGa 3 (1995)
- SaGa Frontier (1997)
- SaGa Frontier 2 (1999)
- Unlimited Saga (2002)
- Emperors SaGa (2012)
- Imperial SaGa (2015)
- SaGa: Scarlet Grace (2016)
- Romancing SaGa Re;univerSe (2018)
- Imperial SaGa Eclipse (2019)
- SaGa: Emerald Beyond (2024)
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy (2012)
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call (2014)
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy All-Star Carnival (2016)
- Theatrhythm Final Bar Line (2023)
Final Fantasy: Unlimited
- Final Fantasy: Unlimited with U (2002)
- Final Fantasy: Unlimited on PC – Meikyū ~ Kuroki Yume no Kioku ~ (2003)
World of Final Fantasy
- World of Final Fantasy (2016)
- World of Final Fantasy: Meli-Melo (2017)
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