Final Fantasy installments are generally stand-alone stories, each with different settings, plots and main characters, but the franchise is linked by several recurring elements, including game mechanics and recurring character names. Each plot centers on a particular group of heroes who are battling a great evil, but also explores the characters' internal struggles and relationships. Character names are frequently derived from the history, languages, pop culture, and mythologies of cultures worldwide. The mechanics of each game involve similar battle systems and maps.
The Final Fantasy video game series has been both critically and commercially successful, selling more than 144 million games worldwide, making it one of the best-selling video game franchises of all time. The series is well known for its innovation, visuals, and music, such as the inclusion of full-motion videos (FMVs), photorealistic character models, and music by Nobuo Uematsu. It has been a driving force in the video game industry, and the series has affected Square Enix's business practices and its relationships with other video game developers. It has popularized many features now common in role-playing games, also popularizing the genre as a whole in markets outside Japan.
Three Final Fantasy installments were released on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Final Fantasy was released in Japan in 1987 and in North America in 1990. It introduced many concepts to the console RPG genre, and has since been remade on several platforms.Final Fantasy II, released in 1988 in Japan, has been bundled with Final Fantasy in several re-releases. The last of the NES installments, Final Fantasy III, was released in Japan in 1990; however, it was not released elsewhere until a Nintendo DSremake in 2006.
In 2005, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, a theatrical CGI film, and Last Order: Final Fantasy VII, a non-canon OVA, were released as part of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. Advent Children was animated by Visual Works, which helped the company create CG sequences for the games. The film, unlike The Spirits Within, gained mixed to positive reviews from critics and has become a commercial success.Last Order, on the other hand, was released in Japan in a special DVD bundle package with Advent Children. Last Order sold out quickly and was positively received by Western critics, though fan reaction was mixed over changes to established story scenes.
A 25-episode anime television series, Final Fantasy: Unlimited, was released in 2001 based on the common elements of the Final Fantasy series. It was broadcast in Japan by TV Tokyo and released in North America by ADV Films.
Two animated tie-ins for Final Fantasy XV were announced at the Uncovered Final Fantasy XV fan and press event, forming part of a larger multimedia project dubbed the Final Fantasy XV Universe. Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV is a series of five 10-to-20-minute-long episodes developed by A-1 Pictures and Square Enix detailing the backstories of the main cast. Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV, a CGI movie set for release prior to the game in Summer 2016, is set during the game's opening and follows new and secondary characters.
In February 26, 2019 Square Enix released a Short Anime called Final Fantasy XV: EPISODE ARDYN - PROLOGUE on their YouTube channel which acts as the background story for the final piece of Dlc for Final Fantasy 15 giving insight into Ardyn's past.
Square Enix also released Final Fantasy XIV: Dad of Light, an 8-episode Japanese soap opera. It features a mix of live-action scenes and Final Fantasy XIV gameplay footage. It premiered in Japan on April 16, 2017 and became available worldwide via Netflix in September of the same year.
It was announced in June 2019 that Sony Pictures Television is working on a first ever live-action adaptation of the series with Hivemind and Square Enix. Jason F. Brown, Sean Daniel and Dinesh Shamdasani for Hivemind will be the producers while Ben Lustig and Jake Thornton will write for the series and will serve as executive producers.
Several video games have either been adapted into or have had spin-offs in the form of manga and novels. The first was the novelization of Final Fantasy II in 1989, and was followed by a manga adaptation of Final Fantasy III in 1992. The past decade has seen an increase in the number of non-video game adaptations and spin-offs. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within has been adapted into a novel, the spin-off game Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles has been adapted into a manga, and Final Fantasy XI has had a novel and manga set in its continuity. Seven novellas based on the Final Fantasy VII universe have also been released. The Final Fantasy: Unlimited story was partially continued in novels and a manga after the anime series ended. The Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XIII series have also had novellas and audio dramas released. Two games, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Final Fantasy: Unlimited, have been adapted into radio dramas.