Since the company was founded in 1983, Squaresoft has had a reputation of making good-quality video games. Since its first title to hit the North American market (Rad Racer back in 1987 for the NES) and through today the ratio of high-quality to low-quality games has greatly skewed toward the former. The company is now known as Square-Enix thanks to a merger with animé, manga, and video game company Enix.
Here's a list of the top fifteen North American Square-Enix games, dating all the way back to the companies' inception (according to The Game Guys):
15. The Last Remnant (PC, Xbox 360, PS3/2009) - A graphically stunning game (especially on the PC), this RPG brings an innovative way to do battles along with great voice acting and an excellent soundtrack.
14. Final Fantasy IV/II (SNES/1991) - The first Final Fantasy game to hit the Super Nintendo in the U.S., FFVI brings a deep storyline, a wealth of playable characters, and wonderful music.
13. Secret of Mana (SNES/1993) - A two-player action RPG, Secret of Mana brought to the table a number of innovations including switchable character control and a seemingly 3-D world (when flying overhead). Electronic Gaming Monthly marked this game as the 1993 RPG of the year.
12. Rad Racer (NES/1987) - Originally criticized as being a clone of Sega's Out Run, Rad Racer soon proved to be more as new players even today are discovering and falling in love with this high-speed NES racing game. The game originally game with red-and-blue 3-D glasses.
11. Final Fantasy IX (PSX/2000) - Achieving an average score of 94% on Metacritic, Final Fantasy IX has solidified its place as one of the better RPGs on the market. While the soundtrack isn't as strong as other Final Fantasy titles, the game makes up for it with impressive CG sequences and quirky characters.
10. Final Fantasy XII (PS2/2006) - Bringing with it a funky licensing system to allow your characters to wield swords, cast spells, and (sigh) wear hats, Final Fantasy XII also introduced the "gambit system" and (like Secret of Mana) allowed the player to hot-switch between characters. And speaking of characters, let's not forget the Viera.
9. Xenogears (PSX/1998) - Selling more than one million copies worldwide, Xenogears is one of Square's more successful titles. The game utilized an extensive amount of cut-scenes (especially later in the game) and was widely criticized for it but the science-fiction storyline was deep. Xenogears, however, isn't perfect as it has a what Edge magazine calls a "flawed script and muddied translation." A sequel was rumored, though none ever actually materialized.
8. Final Fantasy Tactics (PSX/1997) - Different than any other game ever released with the Final Fantasy label attached, Square's first attempt at a strategy RPG was a huge success and instantly became a video game classic.
7. Kingdom Hearts (PS2/2002) - While many hardcore gamers were initially dismissive of the Disney-backed Square-Enix action RPG, any serious player of the game quickly finds out that Kingdom Hearts is anything but a kiddie Disney video game. An extremely good storyline with the combination of classic Disney characters and new Square ones has proven to be a winning combination for a successful franchise start.
6. Final Fantasy X (PS2/2001) - The first Final Fantasy game to feature actual voice acting, FFX was extremely well-received from day one. Featuring excellent graphics, intuitive character control and a twist-and-turn storyline, this title has proven to be a favorite for many gamers worldwide.
5. Dragon Quest VIII (PS2/2005) - Selling more than 430,000 copies in North America alone, the eighth installment in the Dragon Quest franchise was an instant success. Characters from the game have been so popular, they've shown up in other games, including in the Itadaki Street franchise and Dragon Quest Yangus.
4. Kingdom Hearts 2 (PS2/2005) - Building on the success of 2002's Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts 2 introduces players not to Sora, but to Roxas...who is Sora...sort-of. But Sora makes his proper appearance (albeit a couple years older) and everything that made the original great is even better from there. The game re-visits a number of the locations from the first such as Halloween Town and Hallow Bastion, but also adds new ones like Port Royal (from the "Pirates" movies) and a world based on the movie Tron. Plus Sora looks very cute in his new Halloween Town outfit.
3. Final Fantasy VII (PSX, PC/1997) - Considered by many as the best video game RPG of all time, FFVII has spun off a number of sequels, prequels, and even a full-length motion picture. The game features one of the most well-known heroes (Cloud Strife) and villains (Sepheroth) and broke new ground not only for the Final Fantasy franchise but pretty much for video game RPGs from that point forward.
2. Final Fantasy VI/III (SNES/1994) - Earning a combination of perfect and near-perfect scores by a number of media outlets including magazines Electronic Gaming Monthly and GamePro, FFVI (FFIII in North America) is among the best loved RPGs overall on the Super Nintendo as well as in then SquareSoft's video game library. The game has also been re-released on the Sony Playstation and Nintendo's Game Boy Advance. FFVI also features one of the most evil antagonists in the Final Fantasy franchise (Kefka). The absolute wealth of playable characters and seemingly infinite customizability with the vast selection of weapons, armor, magicite and spells, as well as equippable relics really push this title almost to the top. Almost.
1. Chrono Trigger (SNES/1995) - The third-best selling video game in 1995, Chrono Trigger is easily the crown jewel for Square-Enix. A tremendous cast of characters, both playable and not, is only one of many high points in this excellently-made RPG. The game features some of the highest-quality graphics ever seen on the Super Nintendo and has one of the absolutely best soundtracks of its era. It's been heralded by magazine Nintendo Power as being Square's "biggest game ever". In 2008, video game website IGN rated the game as the second-best video game of all time. Not to be outdone, in 2009 Guiness World Records has listed it as the 32nd most influential video game in history. Not too shabby.
Did a Square-Enix game you love not make the list? Leave a comment and tell us why we should've included it!