Square (video game company)

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Square Co., Ltd.
TypeKabushiki gaisha
IndustryVideo games
FoundedSeptember 1986; 35 years ago (1986-09)[a]
FounderMasafumi Miyamoto
DefunctApril 1, 2003; 19 years ago (2003-04-01)
FateMerged with Enix
SuccessorSquare Enix
HeadquartersMeguro, Tokyo, Japan
Key people
Tomoyuki Takechi, Chairman
Hironobu Sakaguchi, EVP (1991–2001)
Hisashi Suzuki, President and CEO (1995–2001)
Yoichi Wada, CFO (2000–2001), President (2001–2003)
ProductsSee complete products listing
Number of employees
888 (September 2002)
SubsidiariesSee subsidiaries and affiliates
Footnotes / references

Square Co., Ltd.[b] (also known under its American brand name SquareSoft) was a Japanese video game development studio and publisher. It was founded in 1986 by Masafumi Miyamoto, spinning off from part of his father's electronics company Den-Yu-Sha. Among its early employees were Hironobu Sakaguchi, Hiromichi Tanaka, Akitoshi Kawazu, Koichi Ishii, Kazuko Shibuya, Nasir Gebelli and Nobuo Uematsu. After several other projects, all of these people would work on Final Fantasy, a 1987 game for the Nintendo Entertainment System which would bring commercial and critical success and launch a franchise of the same name. Later notable staff included Yoshinori Kitase, Takashi Tokita, Tetsuya Nomura, Yoko Shimomura and Yasumi Matsuno.

Initially developing for PCs, then exclusively for Nintendo systems, Square broke with Nintendo in the 1990s to develop for Sony's in-development PlayStation. Their first PlayStation project Final Fantasy VII was a worldwide success, going on to sell ten million units, earning critical acclaim, and boosting the popularity of its genre and platform. Alongside the Final Fantasy series, the company developed or published several other notable series, including SaGa, Mana, Front Mission, Chrono, and Kingdom Hearts.

During the early 2000s, the company saw financial troubles due to the commercial failure of the feature film Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, which ultimately led Sakaguchi to withdraw from active game production and then leave in 2003. Prior to this a merger had been discussed with Enix, noted as publisher of the Dragon Quest series. Following a delay due to the failure of The Spirits Within, the merger went ahead on April 1, 2003, with the two companies taking on the name Square Enix.

Square as a developer and publisher has become famous in the gaming industry, with Final Fantasy ranking as one of the best-selling and best-known role-playing video game series of all time. Several of their games have also made commercial milestones in gaming for various platforms, and continue to be lauded as classics. Many of Square's staff who left the company at various points founded other studios including Monolith Soft (Xeno), Sacnoth (Shadow Hearts), Mistwalker (Terra Battle) and AlphaDream (Mario & Luigi).



Square was initially established in September 1983 as a software subsidiary of electric power conglomerate Den-Yu-Sha, a company led by Kuniichi Miyamoto.[1][3] His son Masafumi Miyamoto, then a part-time employee at the Science and Technology Department at Keio University, had little interest in following his father into the business.[3][4] After considering different career paths, Miyamoto eventually decided on computer software development at the Yokohama branch of Den-Yu-Sha in Hiyoshi, with a focus on the emerging video game market.[3][5] Their original offices were based in a former hairdresser's salon.[4] The company's name was a reference to a golfing term, with Square's name meaning the team would face oncoming challenges. It also referenced a town square, emphasizing that its production environment was based on cooperation.[6]

At the time, game development in Japan was usually conducted by only one programmer. Miyamoto recognized that it would be more efficient to have graphic designers, programmers, and professional story writers working together on common projects.[5] During these early years, the group was compared to a family business; one of the early hires Shinichiro Kajitani joined because he was a friend of Miyamoto, and later compared the company at that time to a "college club".[7] To recruit for this new organizational structure, Miyamoto opened an Internet café-like salon in Yokohama and offered jobs to those who demonstrated exceptional programming skills.[3] Among those hired through this method were Hisashi Suzuki, who would go on to become Square's CEO; and Hironobu Sakaguchi and Hiromichi Tanaka, who originally worked there part-time during their university studies.[3][4] Miyamoto's initial plan was to recruit from Keio University, but this never materialized.[4]

1985–1987: First games, Final Fantasy[edit]

A man speaking into a microphone
Hironobu Sakaguchi (pictured in 2015) was an early employee of Square and created its popular Final Fantasy franchise.

Square's first attempt at a game, and Sakaguchi's first project, was an adaptation of a television game show called Torin-ingen. As Miyamoto had not secured the license to adapt it, the show's producers forced Square to cancel the game, prompting its team to be reshuffled.[4] Square's first completed game was The Death Trap (1984) for NEC PC-8801, also the first title published under the Square brand.[8][9] Its sequel Will: The Death Trap II released the following year, and was a confirmed commercial success.[5] Many of Square's early titles were produced for PC devices, and focused on the action genre.[10][11] Two other successes from the period were Rad Racer and The 3-D Battles of WorldRunner.[12]

In 1985, they completed a licensing agreement with Nintendo to develop titles for the Famicom (Nintendo Entertainment System).[8] A noted reason for the shift to Famicom development was that it was a more stable hardware to develop games for than PCs, which were constantly undergoing changes to their components and requiring adjustments for different set-ups.[13] The company's first Famicom release was a port of Thexder (1985), and its first original game was King's Knight (1986).[5][10] During this period, the team also hired new developers Akitoshi Kawazu and Koichi Ishii, artist Kazuko Shibuya, American programmer Nasir Gebelli, and composer Nobuo Uematsu.[4][14][15][16] Yusuke Hirata joined that year as sales manager, then later shifted position to become publicity manager.[17][18]

In April 1986, the company moved into new offices based in Ginza, noted as one of the most expensive areas for companies to work in; Sakaguchi later speculated Miyamoto was hoping to attract business by appearing affluent.[1][4] Square was officially founded as an independent company in September of that year with capital of ¥10 million.[1] Sakaguchi was appointed as a Director of Planning and Development.[19] Another director was Hisashi Suzuki.[20] Due to the high cost of Ginza rents, the company were forced to move into smaller offices in Okachimachi, Taitō.[1][4] Square supported Nintendo's Famicom Disk System, though few of the games created for it were major successes and Square was soon struggling financially.[4][21] Miyamoto brought together the company's four directors and asked for game proposals the staff would later vote on. Sakaguchi wanted to develop a role-playing video game (RPG), a proposal that had been made feasible due to the production and success of Dragon Quest from Enix.[4]

While sceptical, Miyamoto allowed production of the game on the condition it had only a five-person staff. Sakaguchi led development, bringing in Gebelli, Kawazu, Ishii, and Uematsu.[4] Production of the game, eventually called Final Fantasy, proceeded in "fits and starts". Sakaguchi eventually received help from the other team at Square led by Tanaka, which included Shibuya and newcomer debugger Hiroyuki Ito.[16][22][23] Production on the game lasted roughly ten months. While shipments of 200,000 units were planned, Sakaguchi persuaded Square to double that number.[4][16] Released in 1987, the game was a commercial success, selling over 500,000 copies.[16]

1987–1995: Expansion and notable staff[edit]

The success of Final Fantasy prompted development of a sequel; five more Final Fantasy titles would appear on the Famicom and Super Nintendo Entertainment System (Super Famicom) between Final Fantasy II in 1988−which established many of the series recurring elements−and Final Fantasy VI in 1994. These and all their other projects were developed for Nintendo consoles, including the portable Game Boy.[4][7] In 1990, Square moved its offices to the Akasaka district, then to Ebisu, Shibuya in 1992.[8] In April 1991, Square merged with an identically-named dormant company in order to change its share prices. As a result of the merger, Square's foundation was backdated to the other company's in July 1966.[1]

At that time, Square drew some of its development funding from loans from Shikoku Bank. Due to the increasing costs of development, the bank sent Tomoyuki Takechi on secondment to be their office manager in 1990. Takechi's secondment lasted until 1994, by which time Square had annual sales worth ¥16 million per year, and he had become inspired by Sakaguchi's vision for the company.[24][25] In August of that year, Square registered with the Japan Securities Dealers Association, offering shares for public purchase.[6] Sakaguchi was by now a prominent figure within the company, and was promoted to Executive President in 1991.[26][19] His increasing corporate involvement lessened his creative input, prompting him to give greater influence to director Yoshinori Kitase.[27] Gebelli left Square in 1993, retiring on royalties from the Final Fantasy series.[4][12] Miyamoto stepped down as Square's President in 1991 and was replaced by Tetsuo Mizuno; Miyamoto remained a major shareholder.[28][29] In 1991, Suzuki became Vice President.[20]

Besides Final Fantasy, other projects were produced which spawned their own series.[26] Kawazu helmed an RPG project for the Game Boy. Released in 1989, Makai Toushi SaGa (The Final Fantasy Legend) started off the SaGa series, which Kawazu would continue to be involved over the years.[30][31] After the release of Final Fantasy III (1990), Ishii was offered the chance to create his own game, leading production of Seiken Densetsu: Final Fantasy Gaiden (Final Fantasy Adventure) for the Game Boy in 1991. Ishii went on to develop further Seiken Densetsu titles, released outside of Japan as the Mana series.[32][33] A lesser-known series was the Japan-exclusive real-time strategy series Hanjuku Hero, which began in 1988 and focused on parodying conventions of the RPG genre.[34][35] The company also developed several notable standalone titles including Chrono Trigger, born from a collaboration between Sakaguchi, Dragon Quest creator Yuji Horii, and Dragon Ball artist Akira Toriyama;[36] Super Mario RPG, produced in collaboration with Nintendo using characters from the Mario franchise;[37] and the Western-exclusive Secret of Evermore.[38] Speaking in 2001, Sakaguchi noted that while Final Fantasy was the company's most recognized property, it had cultivated a number of other series so it did not have to rely on Final Fantasy to be profitable.[39]

Further staff joined the company inspired by Square's successful Final Fantasy series by the 1990s; the most notable included Kitase,[40] Tetsuya Nomura,[41] Tetsuya Takahashi,[42] and Kaori Tanaka.[43] Their first work for Square was on Final Fantasy IV (1991),[44][45] which was also designer Takashi Tokita's first project as a full-time employee,[46][47] and Hiroyuki Ito's first as game designer.[23][48] Also joining the company was Chihiro Fujioka, who worked on several projects including co-directing Super Mario RPG;[49] Kenichi Nishi, who worked in minor roles on Chrono Trigger and Super Mario RPG;[50] artist Yusuke Naora, who first worked on Final Fantasy VI;[7][51] Kazushige Nojima, known for his work on the Glory of Heracles series;[52] and Motomu Toriyama, who at the time had no experience with game development and worked as a scenario writer.[53] The music staff of Square also expanded with four more composers hired between 1990 and 1993. They were Kenji Ito, who contributed to both the SaGa and Mana series;[54][55] Hiroki Kikuta, who worked on both the Mana series and standalone projects;[56] Yasunori Mitsuda, who would become famous for his work on the Chrono series;[57] and Yoko Shimomura, who had previously been a composer for Capcom.[58]

1995–2000: Move to PlayStation, The Spirits Within[edit]

The Sony PlayStation
Due to the limitations of the cartridge-based Nintendo 64, Square moved game production over to the PlayStation.

Following the release of Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger, Square staff began planning the next entry in the Final Fantasy series, and entered the emerging 3D gaming market. A combination of hardware limitations, Nintendo's decision to continue using cartridge games over CD format for the Nintendo 64, and rising cartridge prices prompted Square to move the in-production Final Fantasy VII and their other current projects onto Sony's PlayStation. This shift caused a long-standing rift between Square and Nintendo, with Nintendo saying Square should not return to them.[7][59] In 1995, the company moved its headquarters to the Shimomeguro district in Meguro.[8] Their final Super Famicom release was Sting Entertainment's Treasure Hunter G, and their first PlayStation release was Tobal No. 1 from DreamFactory, both in 1996.[8][60] A licensing agreement with Sony was concluded in 1996, which stated that Sony would publish Square's next six games.[8][7] That year, at Square's invitation, Takechi returned and took Mizuno's place as President.[25] Among the staff that worked on Final Fantasy VII were Kitase as director, Naora as art director, Nomura as a lead artist, and Nojima as scenario writer. Released worldwide in 1997, Final Fantasy VII was a massive commercial and critical success, and went on to sell ten million units worldwide and bring Square international fame.[7]

Four new hires during the period were Shinji Hashimoto, Yasumi Matsuno, Hitoshi Sakimoto, and Masashi Hamauzu.[61][62] Hashimoto joined in 1995 and his first job was as promotions producer for Final Fantasy VII.[61] Matsuno, along with a number of other developers, had left Quest Corporation following the release of Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, and worked with Sakaguchi on Final Fantasy Tactics (1997).[62][63] Sakimoto came on board with Matsuno, and worked on the music for his games.[64] Hamauzu joined in 1996, and worked on Final Fantasy spin-off titles and the SaGa series.[65] Sakaguchi, working on other projects, took on the role of executive producer for the series beginning with Final Fantasy VIII, and Hashimoto stepped in as producer.[7][27] Hirata, after holding an administrative position during the Nintendo years, changed to leading game production, focusing on introducing new genres into Square's library.[17]

Several new properties originated or saw renewed interest during this period.[7] These included Parasite Eve, based on a novel of the same name by Hideaki Sena;[66][67] Front Mission, which began on the Super Famicom but was transferred to the PlayStation beginning with its second entry Front Mission 2;[68] and the Final Fantasy spin-off series Chocobo, starring an incarnation of the titular mascot character.[69] During the mid 1990s, Square launched an initiative to give teams of younger staff members a chance to create experimental titles on smaller budgets; titles born from this period included Xenogears, Soukaigi, and Another Mind.[70] Also during the mid to late 1990s, several staff members departed Square due to creative differences or a wish to work on their own projects.[71] These included Takahashi and Tanaka,[71] Fujioka,[49] Nishi,[72] Kikuta,[56] Mitsuda,[73] and Mana artist Shinichi Kameoka.[74] In April 2000, Suzuki was appointed Square's new President, while Takechi changed roles to become a company chairman. Also at this time two outside directors were appointed, Kenichi Ohmae of Ohmae & Associates and Makoto Naruke of Microsoft. The corporate reshuffle was intended to strengthen Square's overseas connections and bring in technical and administrative support for future digital and online content.[20] Alongside this, Yoichi Wada joined the company as a company director and eventually COO.[75] In August 2000, Square was listed on Tokyo Stock Exchange's 1st section, indicating it as a "large company".[6][76]

While their relationship with Nintendo remained cool,[7] Square supported other platforms including the WonderSwan and Microsoft Windows.[6][77] The company also began work on PlayOnline, an online platform which would host the company's online store and web content as well as online services for their games.[78][79] Sakaguchi was mostly based in Hawaii by this point; in addition to leading production on Final Fantasy IX (2000), he also worked at the 1997-established Square Pictures studio on a feature film based on the Final Fantasy series.[7][80] Called Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, it was planned as the first in Sakaguchi's push towards cross-media storytelling, but also ran over budget and ended up costing Square and co-producer Columbia Pictures US$137 million.[26][81] During this period Sakaguchi also created the concept for Final Fantasy XI, the company's first MMORPG, developed by the Chrono team and led by Ishii.[77]

2001–2003: Final years, merger[edit]

On release in 2001, The Spirits Within met with mixed critical reactions, and grossed only $85 million. Labelled as a box office bomb, the film damaged Square's finances, and led to the closing of Square Pictures.[7] Following both the failure of The Spirits Within and a delay to Final Fantasy X (2001) for the PlayStation 2, Square's finances were in the red for the first time, and prompted Sakaguchi, Takechi, and director Masatsugu Hiramatsu to resign from their positions.[7][82] Sakaguchi was kept on as executive producer for Final Fantasy, while Takechi and Hiramatsu were retained as external consultants.[82] This period left Sakaguchi in a state of low morale.[83] In late 2001, Suzuki stepped down as President, and was replaced by Wada.[84] Yosuke Matsuda became Senior Vice President.[75] Ito also left during this period to work as a freelance composer.[54]

Following its financial losses, Square agreed to sell Sony a 19% share stake in the company. As their financial situation was still precarious, and the console rivalry between Sony and Nintendo had softened with the release of Microsoft's Xbox, Square successfully reached out to Nintendo to begin development for their hardware again.[85][86] Square began development on Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles for the GameCube in late 2001.[87] Under Wada, the company underwent restructuring, with the intent of streamlining production and resources, and cutting development costs to increase profits.[88] It also began production on a direct sequel to Final Fantasy X, titled Final Fantasy X-2 (2003);[88][89] this broke away from the common approach under Sakaguchi, who disliked direct sequels.[90] Final Fantasy X-2 was Sakaguchi's last credited project at Square, and he left the company in 2003.[91] Another project in development at the time was Kingdom Hearts (2002), a collaboration between Square and The Walt Disney Company, blending Disney characters with Final Fantasy elements in an original story from Square. The game was Nomura's directorial debut.[92][93] Kingdom Hearts was also Shimomura's last project as an in-house composer, as she left and went freelance in 2002.[94]

A merger with rival company Enix had been under discussion since 2000, but Square's financial losses prompted Enix to halt discussions.[95] The commercial success of Final Fantasy X and Kingdom Hearts restored Square's finances, and talks went ahead on the merger with Enix; Wada described it as a merger of two companies "at their height".[96] Despite this, some shareholders had doubts about the merger, notably Miyamoto, who would find himself holding significantly less and having a smaller controlling stake if the deal went ahead as initially planned.[29] Miyamoto's issue was eventually resolved, by altering the exchange ratio of one Square share for 0.81 Enix shares, thus greenlighting the merger.[97] Square Enix formed on April 1, 2003, with Enix as the surviving corporate entity and Square dissolving its departments and subsidiaries into the new company.[97][98] Around 80% of Square's staff transitioned into Square Enix.[99]


Development and publishing[edit]

The logo of Square Soft, Inc.

During Square's first years, there was no set development structure, with the ten-person staff moving between roles and projects with great freedom. After the first couple of years there were two loosely-defined production groups led respectively by Sakaguchi and Tanaka.[4] Following the release of Final Fantasy IV, Sakaguchi split the production team, assigning different staff members to the Final Fantasy, SaGa and Mana series.[41] A secondary studio was founded in Osaka in 1990, with Final Fantasy Legend III (1991) as their first project.[100]

By 1997, the company was divided into seven development divisions, expanded to eight that year with a further two in Osaka.[101] In 1998, the old development divisions were restructured into Production Departments.[102] The Osaka branch was closed down during the restructuring.[102] The system was reshuffled again in 2002 to promote "greater understanding", and allow for reassignment between divisions.[103] Among the heads of divisions at this time were Kitase, Kawazu, Tanaka, Matsuno and Hirata.[103] Following the merger with Enix, the eight divisions were incorporated into the new company, with two additional divisions brought in from Enix.[104]

Square's first Western branch, SquareSoft, was established in 1989 in Redmond, Washington for publishing and development support. A second Western R&D subsidiary called Square LA was founded in 1995 in Marina del Rey, California, and was renamed Square USA in 1996. A second branch of Square USA was opened in Honolulu, Hawaii in 1997 to focus on new interactive entertainment research. Square Europe was founded in 1998 in London, focusing on publishing in Europe.[1][8] Square also partnered with several different distribution partners in Europe, including Crave Entertainment, Infogrames (later Atari Europe), and Ubisoft.[105][106][107]

After opening their North American offices, Square began publishing selected titles under the "SquareSoft" brand.[1][108][109] Square's presence in the West during the 1980s and 1990s was small; RPGs were not popular in the North American market, and Square's presence in Europe was limited.[12][110] A notable third-party game localized and published by Square in North America was the original Breath of Fire, as developer Capcom had a busy schedule at the time.[110][111] Their first six PlayStation releases in the 1990s were published by Sony.[7] A notable collaborative venture was Square Electronic Arts, a group founded in 1998 by Square and Western publisher Electronic Arts after the end of Sony's publishing contract.[1][7] The publishing venture was wound down in 2003 during the Square Enix merger, and Electronic Arts purchased Square's shares. SquareSoft remained, rebranded under the Square Enix name.[112]

The original Final Fantasy was published in North America in 1990 by Nintendo of America near the end of the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) lifecycle, resulting in its two NES sequels being passed over for localization at that time.[113][114] Many other Square titles also remained exclusive to Japan, for reasons including complexities in design, low graphical quality, and technical difficulties.[110][115][116] Notable localization staff during the 1990s included Kaoru Moriyama,[117] Ted Woolsey,[110] Seth Luisi,[118] Michael Basket,[119] Richard Honeywood,[119] and Alexander O. Smith.[120]

Subsidiaries and affiliates[edit]

Between 1986 and 1988, Square led a collective of game developers dedicated to the production of games for the Famicom Disk System. The Square-owned label, called Disk Original Group (DOG), included Square, HummingBirdSoft, System Sacom, Microcabin, Carry Lab, Thinking Rabbit and Xtalsoft. The coalition was done to pool financial resources, as individual development for then-small companies would have been potentially crippling.[21][121][122] The Famicom Disk System was rendered defunct by 1988 due to increased storage capacity in standard ROM cartridges for the Famicom.[122] In 1996, Square established a new publishing brand called Aques. Standing for "Advanced QUality Entertainment and Sports", and also acting as an anagram of Square's name, the brand was intended for publishing non-RPG titles.[123]

In 1999, Square created a number of subsidiaries with dedicated roles: Square Visual Works to focus on producing CGI animation, Square Sounds for music and sound effects, Squartz for quality control and user support, and Square Next to support smaller game projects.[1][8] Following the success of Final Fantasy VII in 1997, Sakaguchi founded a dedicated CGI film studio called Square Pictures in Hawaii; his aim was to both develop The Spirits Within and help with further development of Square's CGI technology.[7][80] Square Pictures produced only one more feature following The Spirits Within; a CGI short called "Final Flight of the Osiris" that formed part of the 2003 anthology film The Animatrix.[124][125] By the end of 2001, Square Pictures was dissolved and merged into Visual Works.[112]

DigiCube was established in 1996.[1] Founded by Square as a distributor of products through convenience stores in Japan,[126] it expanded into book publishing, stocked games from other companies, and at one point published games under its own brand.[127][128][129] DigiCube survived the Square Enix merger, though it declared bankruptcy in 2004 after years of declining sales.[112][126] In 2002, Square Next was rebranded as The Game Designer Studio, a shell company for Square's Product Development Division 2 co-owned by Square and Kawazu. The aim was to allow for development of games for Nintendo consoles without impacting production on Sony platform games.[85][86][130] The Game Designers Studio was absorbed back into Square Enix after completing Crystal Chronicles, first renamed and eventually dissolved entirely in 2010.[131][132][133] All the other subsidiaries were folded into Square Enix during the merger, with Visual Works becoming its own dedicated department.[112]

The company had a close relationship with Bushido Blade developer Lightweight, which ended when Lightweight was bought out by Genki.[134][135] In 1995, Square helped establish DreamFactory as an affiliate studio, which developed fighting-based titles for the PlayStation and PS2. DreamFactory became an independent company in 2001 after Square transferred their shares.[136][137] A later subsidiary called Escape was established in March 1998 and featured staff from DreamFactory. It only produced Driving Emotion Type-S (2000) before being liquidated in 2003.[138][112]

In January 1994, Square acquired developer Cobra Team, turning it into subsidiary Solid and focusing their work on cooperating with external developers.[1][139] Developer G-Craft, developers of the Front Mission series, had a close relationship with Square due to their support of the property. Square bought out G-Craft and incorporated it in 1997 during production of Front Mission 2.[68] In 2002, Ogre Battle developer Quest Corporation withdrew from game development and was bought by Square. Absorbed and repurposed into a production division, their first project was Final Fantasy Tactics Advance (2003).[140][141][142]


In a 2006 interview on the history of Square Enix, César A. Berardini of TeamXbox noted that many considered Final Fantasy VI to be one of the best RPGs and games of the 2D gaming era.[113] In 1992, Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto noted the impact of Final Fantasy on Japanese role-playing games, stating Final Fantasy's "interactive cinematic approach" with an emphasis on "presentation and graphics" was gradually becoming "the most common style" of Japanese RPG at the time.[143] Makai Toushi SaGa was not only the first RPG developed for the Game Boy, but the first of Square's games to sell one million units.[31]

The Final Fantasy series and several specific games within it have been credited for introducing and popularizing many concepts that are today widely used in console RPGs, both in story and gameplay.[144][145][146] Final Fantasy VII for the PlayStation is attributed with boosting sales for the PlayStation console, and popularizing the RPG genre in general and for that platform after a prolonged lack of success outside Japan.[147][148] During a 2012 interview article with Sakaguchi, Eurogamer's Simon Parkin noted Square's legacy as being defined by the Final Fantasy series despite having developed multiple other notable series and games.[26] Several of its standalone releases including Parasite Eve and Vagrant Story have also remained popular and well-remembered since their release.[7][149]

Related studios[edit]

Several former Square staff members went on to found notable development studios and other ventures, sometimes working with Square Enix in later years.[71] Kikuta, frustrated at the set hierarchy of Square, left and founded Sacnoth in 1997, which would become known for the Shadow Hearts series;[71][56] he left Sacnoth in 1999 following the release of his project Koudelka and founded the music label Nostrilia.[56][150] Takahashi and Tanaka, along with other Xenogears developers who wanted to work outside the Final Fantasy series, founded Monolith Soft in 1999 and went on to develop multiple projects including further Xeno titles.[71][151]

Nishi and a few others he knew founded several studios over the years including Love-de-Lic (Moon: Remix RPG Adventure), Skip Ltd. (Chibi-Robo!), and Punchline (Rule of Rose).[50][72][152] Kameoka and other developers who worked on Legend of Mana (1999) founded Brownie Brown in 2000, ending up working with Square Enix on the Mana series with Sword of Mana.[74][153] Mizuno founded developer AlphaDream in 2000, with Fujioka joining soon after; the company is best known for its work on the Mario & Luigi series.[49][154] Staff members from Square Pictures, including The Spirits Within co-director Motonori Sakakibara, established Sprite Animation Studios in Hawaii in 2002.[155][156]

Sakaguchi, following a period of low morale after the failure of The Spirits Within, decided to enter game development again.[83] He founded Mistwalker in 2004, which has produced both series such as Blue Dragon and Terra Wars and standalone projects such as Lost Odyssey and The Last Story.[26][71][83] After his resignation from Square, Takechi founded music label Dreamusic with Kazunaga Nitta.[24] Both Mitsuda and Sakimoto formed independent music studios; Mitsuda formed Procyon so he could work while maintaining his health,[73] while Sakimoto founded Basiscape to give himself freedom to work on a wider variety of projects.[64]


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  1. ^ Official founding. Originally subsidiary of Den-Yu-Sha begun in September 1983. Backdated to 1966 following 1991 merger with another company.[1]
  2. ^ Japanese: 株式会社スクウェア, Hepburn: Kabushiki-gaisha Sukuwea

Further reading[edit]

Chun, Michelle (March 18, 2002). "SquareSoft: What's Behind the Hype? A Case History" (PDF). Stanford University. Retrieved September 2, 2011.

External links[edit]