Final Fantasy is a media franchise created by Hironobu Sakaguchi, and is developed and owned by Square Enix (formerly Squaresoft). The franchise centers on a series of science-fantasy console role-playing games (RPGs), but includes motion pictures, anime, printed media, and other merchandise. The series began in 1987 as an eponymous video game developed to save Square from bankruptcy; the game was a success and spawned sequels. The video game series has since branched into other genres and platforms, such as tactical RPGs, portable games, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, and games for mobile phones.
Although most Final Fantasy installments are independent stories with various different settings and main characters, they feature common elements that define the franchise. Such recurring elements include plot themes, character names, and game mechanics. Plots center on a group of heroes battling a great evil while exploring the characters' internal struggles and relationships. Character names are often derived from the history, languages, and mythologies of cultures worldwide.
The series has been commercially and critically successful; it is Square Enix's best selling video game franchise, with more than 85 million units sold, and one of the best-selling video game franchises. Second to Final Fantasy among Square Enix franchises is Dragon Quest. It was awarded a star on the Walk of Game in 2006, and holds seven Guinness World Records in the Guinness World Records Gamer's Edition 2008. The series is well known for its innovation, visuals, and music, such as the inclusion of full motion videos, photo-realistic character models, and orchestrated music by Nobuo Uematsu. Final Fantasy has been a driving force in the video game industry. The video game series has affected Square's business practices and its relationships with other video game developers. It has also introduced many features now common in console RPGs and has been credited with helping to popularize RPGs in markets outside Japan.