Crossover events have become a big business, and it seems like every major franchise across all mediums of entertainment features some kind of crossover event. In the movies, Marvel has built an incredibly vast cinematic universe that has lead to team-ups of major comic book characters on screen that at one time fans never thought possible. Since then we’ve seen the emergence of the DC Universe, and even Universal Pictures are trying to muscle in on the act with their own monster movie universe.
Of course, video game developers have been savvy to how much gamers love the level of fan service that cross-promotional events can provide. The Marvel vs. Capcom franchise was a dream come true for fans, and there’s even a suggestion that the Injustice series had some influence on Zack Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. No developer is more aware of crossover appeal more than Square Enix, however. Whether they used a character’s huge popularity to help boost a new IP’s sales figures, started an entirely new franchise based on a seemingly unlikely collaboration with Disney or were featured purely out of fan service, Square Enix has been doing this with their Final Fantasy characters for years. Here are 15 times that Final Fantasy characters have shown up in multiple games in one form or another.
15 Kingdom Hearts
This is likely one of the most memorable crossovers for long time fans of the Kingdom Hearts series. Newcomers to the series attracted to the Disney themes alone may be surprised to find regulars from the Final Fantasy series making themselves known too.
The first Kingdom Hearts was born of a collaboration between Squaresoft (before the merger with Enix) and Disney, and it followed the main character Sora as he teamed up with Goofy and Donald in an effort to prevent the Heartless spreading darkness across various Disney worlds and find their ruler King Mickey. In their travels, they bump into characters like Cloud, Aerith, Cid, Squall, Tidus, Yuffie, Wakka, Selphie, and Sephiroth. The crossover with Disney doesn't stop there because in Disney's Wreck-It Ralph the message "Aerith Lives" can be seen written in graffiti seen at Game Central Station.
14 Dragon Quest X - Shantotto And Kuplo Kopo
There was a time when the Dragon Quest series and Final Fantasy series and the companies they represented them (Square and Enix) were the biggest of rivals. The rivalry ended in 2003 when the two companies merged to form Square Enix. Since then both games have been released under the same banner, and Dragon Quest VIII was even bundled with a Final Fantasy XII demo.
It wasn’t until 2014 that a true crossover was in play for both series for a limited time in Dragon Quest X. The first crossover event began with Final Fantasy XI’s Shantotto making an appearance tasking the player with helping her obtain items for Chocobo. The second was Kuplo Kopo from Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn who found herself lost in the Dragon Quest world, again tasking the player with gathering special items to complete her quest.
13 Mario Hoops 3 On 3
Released on the Nintendo DS, Mario Hoops 3 on 3, which was also as Mario Slam Basketball in Europe is a Square-Enix developed basketball game that featured a series of three versus three tournaments, using DS touch screen to control dribbling, passes and stealing.
Despite being a game that’s focused on Nintendo characters and mascots, Square Enix couldn’t resist sneaking a few of their own in there too via unlockable playable characters. The Job Classes, Ninja, and Black Mage, as well as other Final Fantasy regulars such as the Moogle and Cactuar. There’s even a Bomb wandering around at the Bowser Castle Court.
12 Super Smash Bros. – Cloud
Final Fantasy VII had a big year in 2015, not only was the long awaited/rumored remake of Final Fantasy VII announced, but its main character Cloud was also revealed to be making a guest appearance in Nintendo’s hugely popular Super Smash Bros. on the Wii U and the 3DS as a downloadable character.
Not only was it a positive sign that all was forgiven between Square Enix and Nintendo, but Super Smash Bros. finally gave fans a chance to have dream battles pitting Cloud against the Legend of Zelda’s Link. What also made his inclusion all the more worthwhile is that he’s brilliant character to play as, with a current tier ranking of 3 out of the 58 selectable characters, making him an S ranked fighter from the get-go. If you own Super Smash Bros. on the Wii U or 3DS and are a fan of Final Fantasy VII, you’ll definitely fall in love with Cloud all over again here.
11 Xenogears – Tifa
Xenogears is still highly regarded as one of the greatest Japanese RPGs of its generation. It told a far more dark and complex tale than you’d usually find in the genre at the time. Xenogears began life as a failed story pitch for Final Fantasy VII, with Squaresoft feeling that storyline was too deep and dark for a Final Fantasy entry. However, not wanting to waste a good story, Square gave the go-ahead for its own game and thus, Xenogears was born.
We’ve already mentioned the Xenogears reference that was in Final Fantasy VII, but did you know that Tifa made a little appearance in Xenogears too? In the Class 2 Citizen Sector of Solaris, look out for the room with a Minigear flying in a circle. Above the beds, in that room, you’ll see a poster of Tifa. In addition to this, Lucca from Chrono Trigger makes an appearance early in the game and teaches you about Save points too.
10 The World Ends With You - Summons
The World Ends With You is an action role-playing game developed by Square Enix. Instead of incorporating the usual high or science fantasy that’s usually associated with the Square-Enix in Japan, The World Ends With You used a more modern day urban fantasy. The departure proved to be a successful one because the game was well received by fans and critics alike, in particular, the game's story was highly praised as its strong point.
The World Ends With You features decorative “Psych pins.” Each pin possesses powers for use in combat and holds trade value. Several “Psych pins” in the game are named after Final Fantasy Summons like Tin Pin Shiva, Tin Pin Ifrit, Tin Pin Golem and Tin Pin Bahamut. Even with the huge departure in a game’s setting Square-Enix couldn’t but squeeze a few FF nods in there.
9 Parasite Eve - Cloud & Aerith
Parasite Eve was a hybrid action RPG with horror themes that was released in 1998 on the first PlayStation, as an unofficial sequel to the horror novel of the same name. Visually, the game was compared favorably to the Resident Evil series but still maintained a deep turn based combat system with multiple ways to upgrade your characters weapons. For many gamers, the first two Parasite Eve games broke many gaming Japanese role-playing game conventions, and its use of horror themes helped introduce many horror game fans to the RPG genre.
Gamers who were observant enough to explore everything the game had to offer found a reference to Cloud and Aerith via a piece of artwork entitled “Tranquility” by Yoshitaka Amano. That artwork can be seen above, the piece was also used as cover art for the original Final Fantasy VII soundtrack. In addition, there’s also a Chocobo skeleton inside the game's American Museum of Natural History.
8 Little Big Planet 2
Little Big Planet 2 was a puzzle platforming game that was most notable for its user-generated content. In 2011 a downloadable pack featuring Final Fantasy VII characters such as Cloud, Aerith, Tifa, Vincent, and Sephiroth was released for fans to play around with.
The release of the costume pack prompted a fan known as TheJamster1992 to create quite possibly one of the most vast and popular pieces of user created content. Using Little Big Planets tools he spent six months recreating the entire Final Fantasy VII storyline fitting it into 31 playable levels, featuring Limit Breaks, Materia types and even remade the full soundtrack.
7 Ehrgeiz - Final Fantasy VII characters
Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring is a fully 3D fighting game that was originally released as an arcade game in 1998 and was later ported to the PlayStation in 1999. The game featured mostly original characters with its own storyline separate from the Final Fantasy universe. Although the game received a mixed reaction from critics, it was the first time fans were able to do battle playing as some of their favorite Final Fantasy characters long before the Dissidia series.
Ehrgeiz still featured a lot of characters and gameplay that tied it to Final Fantasy VII by featuring characters such Cloud, Tifa, Sephiroth, Yuffie, and Vincent. The game’s boss character Django even resembles Red XIII with a move set that referenced Summons such Titan, Bahamut ZERO, and Knights of The Round. According to the game's storyline, the titular sword Ehrgeiz was said to contain Materia as well.
6 Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1
The Hyperdimension Neptunia series takes place in the world of Gameindustri, and its world is divided into four regions controlled by CPU’s known as Planeptune, Lastation, Lowee, and Leanbox each representing a specific video game console. Lastation represents the PlayStation, Leanbox the Xbox, Lowee the Wii, and Planeptune represented the canceled SEGA Neptune.
The series also featured many characters that referenced other RPG franchises and even their developers such as Gust, Nisa (NIS America), IF (Idea Factory). For fans of Final Fantasy, the most memorable reference came in the form of the Warrior of Light appearing as minor NPC in Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1, even using a design reminiscent of Yoshitaka Amano’s artwork for the original Final Fantasy.
5 Tobal 2 - The Chocobo
Back in the late 90s and early 2000s Squaresoft weren't afraid of dipping their toes to into the fighter market. In a collaboration with developers Dream Factory, they had standout titles like Ehrgeiz, Bushido Blade, and the Tobal series.
The Tobal series is considered something of a cult hit with fans, but with Tobal No. 1 not selling very well in the west the game's sequel Tobal 2 was never released outside of Japan, forcing western fans to import the game. Tobal 2 still holds the record for the biggest roster of characters featured in a fighting game with a grand total of 200. The Black and Yellow Chocobo's of Final Fantasy fame managed to find themselves in amongst the huge roster too.
4 Lunar Eternal Blue
Lunar Silver Star Story and Lunar Eternal Blue are among the most influential Japanese RPGs of all time. Both were localized by Working Designs, both games featured a ton of pop culture references, but one of the most interesting referenced not one, but two popular Japanese franchises.
The most obvious reference came when Ruby nearly called the large blue bird a Chocobo before correcting herself. The second is the color of the blue bird, which is a reference to the large blue birds in the anime Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind known as the Horseclaws. In turn, the Horseclaws were the major influence on the overall design of the Chocobos.
3 Secret Of Evermore – Cecil
The Secret of Evermore is an action role-playing and was released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1995. It was unique for its time because it was a Square RPG developed in the US, and was never released in Japan.
The game featured several appearances from Final Fantasy characters, with Terra, Locke, Mog, Relm, and Umaro from Final Fantasy VI being among the crowd at the Coliseum of Antiqua. The most notable appearance came in the form of Cecil from Final Fantasy IV. He appears an NPC that runs the Ebon Keep’s Inn and armor shop and makes several references to events that took place during Final Fantasy IV.
2 Soul Calibur IV And V
Many characters from the Final Fantasy series have unofficially made an appearance in Soul Calibur IV and Soul Calibur V. You COULD chalk this one up to a creative community, but it seems to be more than a pure coincidence that some gamers are able to recreate their favorite Final Fantasy characters so accurately. Namco obviously included matching hairstyles and specific items for a handful of Final Fantasy characters.
Fans such as Jarmonkeyman on Youtube has recreated excellent replicas of very unique looking characters like Rydia, Kain Highwind, Cecil, and Kefka. In addition, fans have been recreating characters from the FF universe in Namco’s other fighting franchise Tekken too.
1 Final Fantasy Tactics - Cloud
Final Fantasy Tactics: War Of The Lions was originally released in 1998 on the PlayStation, and was also the subject of a remaster for the PlayStation Portable in 2007 which featured new characters, cut-scenes and a better translation. Even though the game deviated a lot from the usual Final Fantasy formula, it is still highly regarded as one of the best FF titles to date.
Final Fantasy Tactics: War Of The Lions setting was far more medieval-inspired, rather than the sci-fi or steampunk based settings being seen in the mainline series prior to Final Fantasy XII. Despite this, the game featured a surprise appearance from Cloud, the protagonist of Final Fantasy VII. To recruit Cloud, the player go through a specific set of events leading to Ramza needing to intervene in a fight between Cloud and a group of thugs trying to attack a flower girl.