A series of popular, story-wise unrelated RPG video games that started back in the 80's. The name "Final" Fantasy was chosen becuase while Squaresoft, the company behind the whole series, had made games before for NES (Famicom in Japan), none of them were a great success, so they decided to make one last game. However, Final Fantasy turned out to be so good that they continued making more of them. There are a total of 16 actual Final Fantasy games (though the actual number is disputed) and 1 movie.
Final Fantasies 1, 2, and 3 were all for Famicom. 1 was released in America on NES. 2-6 were released on Super Famicom, but when 4 and 6 were released in America on the SNES, they were renamed Final Fantasy 2 and 3 for some reason. 7-9 were for the Playstation, and were named appropriately. Final Fantasies 4-6 were re-released for Playstation in two compilations (Final Fantsasy Chronicles and Final Fantasy Anthology), and later, 1 and 2 were as well (Final Fantasy Origins). 1 and 2 were re-released again for GBA recently. Final Fantasy 3 has yet to be released in America. Around the same time as FF7, Square came out with FFTactics, a tactical RPG. Later they released FFTAdvanced for GBA. FF10 and FF10-2 (the first true sequel in the series) were realeased for PS2. FF11 was the series' first MMORPG, and was released for PS2 and Windows.
Not all Final Fantasies were successes. Once, Square USA tried making it's own Final Fantasy, called FF: Mystic Quest, and it failed horribly. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, the movie, flopped in theaters.
There are some old game boy cames, the Final Fantasy Legend series, but they are really part of the Mana series with changed names to attract American customers.
Several staples hold the series together, though the storyline of each one is totally separate from the others. Chocobos, black mages, moogles, cactuars, -ra and -ga level magic, and many other small but recognizable things are present in almost all of the games. The storyline in each later game in the series (mostly 6 and up) is deep and moving, usually involving struggles of love, friendship, good vs. evil, and self-discovery.
Now, Square Enix (as they are called after their merge with Enix, creator of Dragon Warrior) is working on their Compilation of Final Fantasy 7, which so far includes 1 prequel and 2 sequels (one of which is a movie, being released only on DVD and UMD this time around). FF12 is also in production, as well as Kingdom Hearts 2. FF13 will be released for the PS3.
Ryan: Final Fantasy 2 is the best in the series.
Jake: You mean 2 or 4?
Ryan: The one with Cecil and Kain.
Jake: 4. Gotcha.