Square is a company that has a rich history and it's been responsible for so many excellent games since its redemption in 1987 with Final Fantasy on the NES.
Sometimes it difficult to look past the typical games when it comes to making one of these lists. After all, Final Fantasy has had such a strong impact on video games. However, Square, and by default Square Enix, has actually brought a lot more to the table.
So without further ado, here are the Top Ten Square and Square Enix games that stand out above the rest. Please note that these are in no particular order.
Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen
Alright, so this was originally an Enix game. However, it was released on the Nintendo DS under the Square Enix banner in 2008. And in a franchise that doesn't stray too far from its roots, Dragon Quest IV does enough to stand out.
Each chapter focusses on a separate protagonist, which allows Dragon Quest IV to tell the tale of the chosen ones as they find their destiny and overcome unique, but connected struggles. In the final chapter, the heroes meet for the first time and head off to take down main antagonist, Psaro the Manslayer.
Aside from the story, Dragon Quest IV offered a simple battle system, but its gameplay was fun and fair without ever getting old. With witty banter, memorable characters, learnable battle system, and the excellent music of Koichi Sugiyama, Dragon Quest IV is an adventure that should be experienced by all.
While some don't understand the appeal of Nier, many consider it to be a diamond in the rough. A pseudo-sequel to Drakenguard 2, it featured visuals that were heavily criticised and some gameplay that also had similar appeal.
However, what set Nier apart was its incredible story and awe-inspiring music. Starting out as a quest to save Nier's daughter, Yonah, the game quickly grows into a tale of identity and individuality. With a diverse cast of characters, such as the innocent but deadly Emil, the vulgar, but troubled Kaine, and floating book named Grimoire Weiss, Nier is an original experience. Even today, the music of Nier is a cut above the rest. With talented vocals full of passion and emotion, Emi Evans still creates a sense of awe and wonder.
While Nier was not a critical success among industry, its strengths are up there with the best this industry has to offer. For that reason, it's another example of the wonderful story telling and superb music that Square Enix has become synonymous with.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Deus Ex was a huge game when it first arrived on PCs back in the year 2000. Such was its success, that there was genuine fear when Square Enix announced they were working on a follow-up, dubbed Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
When it released, that fear quickly dissipated as the game was true to the series and brought so much more. Gamers were enthralled as Adam Jensen travelled the world, using all of his skills to tackle global espionage. Eidos Montreal showed that they were more than capable of creating fantastic adventures and that the Deus Ex franchise was safe with Square Enix.
Secret of Mana
Secret of Mana, aka Seiken Densetsu 2, was the second game in the Seiken Densetsu. This series started off as a GameBoy spin-off of Final Fantasy, but it quickly gained enough clout to survive on its own.
Highly regarded as the greatest of the Mana series, Secret of Mana told the tale of a boy who must revitalize the Sword of Mana all the while evading the evil empire who wishes to bring back the dreaded Mana Fortress. As with all of the Mana games, Secret of Mana retained many themes such as the Mana Tree, but, similarly to Final Fantasy, none of the games are true sequels of one another.
Koichi Ishii, the game's creator, describes each game as an abstract successor instead of actual sequels. Regardless of continuity, Secret of Mana continues to have a strong following for its gameplay, visuals, music, and story.
Final Fantasy XI
Final Fantasy XI's importance to Square and Square Enix can't be understated. Not only was it their first MMO, but it's also become the most profitable game in the company's history. It is so profitable that Square Enix recently released a new expansion titled Seekers of Adoulin, even after the game has been out for over a decade.
Many fans expressed their frustrations about the game for different reasons, such as its lack of connection with Final Fantasy in general, the fact it's online only and difficulties in party organization. However, people who stuck with Final Fantasy XI and didn't just write it off encountered an epic experience.
Vagrant Story is, without a doubt, one of the best RPGs to appear on the original PlayStation. Conceived by the mine of Yasumi Matsuno (who also directed Final Fantasy XII), Vagrant Story followed the story of Ashley Riot.
One of Vagrant Story's unique elements was how the battle system worked. Players were able to pause battles, which allowed them to attack individual body parts of enemies. In other words, you could specifically attack an enemy's weak point for massive damage. Ho hum. There was also some insane weapon creation and development which helps to set Vagrant Story apart.
Vagrant Story has since been re-released on the PlayStation Network under the Square Enix banner, so that gamers around the world can re-experience this classic RPG.
Imagine if Final Fantasy and Dragon Ball Z had a child, and said child became the next incarnation of The Doctor. This is accurate in almost every aspect of Chrono Trigger from its art, story, and music.
With art drawn by Akira Toriyama, creator of Dragon Ball Z, fans will immediately recognize enemies' resemblances to Cell and Piccolo as well as the dinosaurs that often populated the anime. The time travel aspect is well executed too. As you travel to different time periods and see your decisions of the past influence the future, you may find yourself saying "Wibbly wobbly timey whimey" to yourself.
With a battle system that allows team members combine their abilities, half of the game's enjoyment came from experimenting with your team's combat abilities. Chrono Trigger also featured multiple endings depending on what you did or did not do throughout the game. With beautiful sprites, good doses of humor, and music that still fills you with courage and happiness, Chrono Trigger is a masterpiece that still deserves your attention after nearly twenty years.
Final Fantasy VII
Some might consider Final Fantasy VII's inclusion in this list a bit of a kop out, but its influence on the video games industry shouldn't be snubbed. While North America had received Final Fantasy titles in the past, Final Fantasy VII was the first to appear in Europe and it opened many gamers' eyes to the realm of Japanese RPGs.
For its time, Final Fantasy VII also featured astounding graphics, stunning music and a story that has stood the test of the time. The developers also took quite a few risks. The game included numerous swearing scenes, cross-dressing and even the death of a main character.
Since its release in 1997, Final Fantasy VII has gone on to spawn numerous spin-offs in its own right, and characters from the game have appeared in a plethora of titles.
Kingdom Hearts 2
Both numerically and spiritually, Kingdom Hearts II is a true successor to Kingdom Hearts. Coming chronologically after Chain of Memories, Kingdom Hearts II boasted an enhanced battle system, improved camera, and a jaw-dropping story. Let's not forget that the Gummy Ship levels became a great treat instead of a necessary evil for the game.
Kingdom Hearts II was also the beginning of the convoluted mythos that makes the story so famous. It revealed Organization XIII to be a team of Nobodies, emotionless shells of their former selves who desire Kingdom Hearts to gain back their hearts. The most memorable of the Nobodies were those of Sora and Kairi's: Roxas and Namine, as well as the returning Axel. These Nobodies, as well as the returning cast, helped cultivate a deep meaningful story full of twists, turns, and tearful reunions.
Much like Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts II could have been the end of the series leaving just enough unanswered questions to keep fans theorizing, but not unsatisfied with the series conclusion. Just as with Square's other titles such as Chrono Trigger and Secret of Mana, Kingdom Hearts II raised a standard that still stands the test of time.
You may have heard by now, but in 1987 Square was heading towards bankruptcy after multiple failures on the Famicom. To that end, Hironobu Sakaguchi decided that he would make one final attempt at a successful title in the industry before calling it quits. That final attempt was appropriately called Final Fantasy. The rest of the story you know. Creating a game that pushed the RPG genre, Square was redeemed from destruction. Ironically, Final Fantasy became the first of many that ruled the RPG world and continued to raise a new standard in gaming in general. Final Fantasy didn't just save a company by throwing in a few new ideas along with some Uematsu magic. It created a legacy that still continues on after twenty-five years. Were it not for Final Fantasy, not only would we have been unable to enjoy the any of the titles in this list, but the gaming industry itself would be a little less fun.
So how do you feel about our Top Ten list? Is it fair, biased, or perhaps unexpected? Let us know your opinion or even your own Top Ten in the comments below.