Sequels and spin-offs
Final Fantasy has spawned numerous spin-offs and metaseries. Three Square games were released in North America with their titles changed to include "Final Fantasy": The Final Fantasy Legend and its two sequels. The games, however, are part of Square's Saga series and feature few similarities to Final Fantasy. Final Fantasy Adventure is a spin-off that spawned the Mana series. Final Fantasy Mystic Quest was developed for a United States audience, and Final Fantasy Tactics is a tactical RPG that features many references and themes found in the series. The spin-off Chocobo series, Crystal Chronicles series, and Kingdom Hearts series also include multiple Final Fantasy elements. In 2003, the video game series' first direct sequel, Final Fantasy X-2, was released. Dissidia: Final Fantasy was released in 2009, and is a fighting game that features heroes and villains from the first ten games from the main series. Other spin-offs have taken the form of compilations—Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, Ivalice Alliance, and Fabula Nova Crystallis Final Fantasy XIII.
Square Enix has expanded the Final Fantasy series into various media. Multiple anime and computer-generated imagery (CGI) films have been produced that are based either on individual Final Fantasy games or on the series as a whole. The first was an original video animation (OVA) titled Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals, a sequel to Final Fantasy V. The story was set on the same world as the game though 200 years in the future. It was released as four 30-minute episodes first in Japan in 1994 and later released in the United States by Urban Vision in 1998. In 2001, Square Pictures released its first feature film, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within. The film is set on a future-Earth invaded by alien life forms. The Spirits Within was the first animated feature to seriously attempt to portray photorealistic CGI humans, but was considered a box office bomb. 2001 also saw the release of Final Fantasy: Unlimited, a 25 episode anime series 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. In 2005, Final Fantasy VII Advent Children and Last Order: Final Fantasy VII were released as part of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII.
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. Two 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. Two titles, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Final Fantasy: Unlimited, have been adapted into radio dramas.
Although most Final Fantasy installments are independent, many themes and elements of gameplay recur throughout the series. Most titles feature recycled names often inspired from various cultures' history and languages including Japanese, Hebrew, and Latin. Examples include weapon names like Excalibur and Masamune—derived from Arthurian legend and the Japanese swordsmith Masamune respectively—as well as the spell names Holy, Meteor, and Ultima. Beginning with Final Fantasy IV, the main series adopted its current logo style that features the same typeface and an emblem designed by manga artist Yoshitaka Amano. The emblem relates to a title's respective plot and typically portrays a character or object in the story. Subsequent remakes of the first three games have replaced the previous logos with ones similar to the rest of the series.
Plot and themes
The central conflict in many Final Fantasy games focuses on a group of characters battling an evil, and sometimes ancient, antagonist that dominates the game's world. Stories frequently involve a sovereign state in rebellion, with the protagonists taking part in the rebellion. The heroes are often destined to defeat the evil, and occasionally gather as a direct result of the antagonist's malicious actions. Another staple of the series is the existence of two villains; the main villain is not always who it appears to be, as the primary antagonist may actually be subservient to another character or entity. The main antagonist introduced at the beginning of the game is not always the final enemy, and the characters must continue their quest beyond what appears to be the final fight.
Stories in the series frequently emphasize the internal struggles, passions, and tragedies of the characters, and the main plot often recedes into the background as the focus shifts to their personal lives. Games also explore relationships between characters, ranging from love to rivalry. Other recurring situations that drive the plot include amnesia, a hero corrupted by an evil force, mistaken identity, and altruistic suicide. Magical orbs and crystals are recurring in-game items that are frequently connected to the themes of the games' plots. Crystals often play a central role in the creation of the world, and a majority of the Final Fantasy games link crystals and orbs to the planet's life force. As such, control over these crystals drives the main conflict. The classical elements are a recurring theme in the series related to the heroes, villains, and items. Other common plot and setting themes include the Gaia hypothesis, an apocalypse, and conflicts between advanced technology and nature.