By Matthew Byrd

Final Fantasy is one of the biggest video game franchises in the world, but there was a time when the series was little more than a desperate attempt at a much-needed hit. This is its underdog story.

In the early '80s, developer Square was known for action games like The Death Trap and Thexder. They sold well but don't enjoy much of a legacy today.

Square decided to split from its parent company and form an independent studio. It was seen as a smart move at the time, but the company's next few games sold poorly.

It was then that designer Hironobu Sakaguchi convinced the company to make the RPG he had dreamed of. Desperate for a hit, Square decided to take a chance on the bold concept.

Internally, Sakaguchi was known as a difficult person to work with. His reputation forced him to assemble a ragtag team of internal and external contributors.

Sakaguchi believed in his bold vision, but the reality of the situation was undeniable. If this game was a failure, it could mean the end of Sakaguchi's career and possibly Square itself.

Motivated by their situation, Sakaguchi's team decided to give it all that they had. If this was going to be their last game, it would be one that featured everything they'd ever wanted to create.

When it came to the game's name, Sakaguchi knew he wanted something with the initials "FF." After losing the name "Fighting Fantasy," Sakaguchi settled on the appropriate Final Fantasy.

Initially, Square only planned to ship 200,000 copies of Final Fantasy. Sakaguchi begged for them to have faith and double that number to improve chances for a sequel.

The gamble paid off. Thanks to the quality of the game and an aggressive marketing campaign, Final Fantasy went on to sell over 500,000 copies in Japan alone.

From that point on, Square became known as a JRPG studio. They would eventually release all-time great RPGs like Chrono Trigger, Super Mario RPG, and Xenogears.

Chrono Trigger

However, Final Fantasy remained their flagship franchise. Sequels such as Final Fantasy 6, 7, and 10 regularly rank among the best and most innovative video games ever made.

Final Fantasy 7

Sakaguchi left Square in 2003, but the Final Fantasy series retains his underdog spirit. Currently, Final Fantasy 14 is positioned to topple World of Warcraft as the most popular MMO in the world.

Final Fantasy 14

We don't know much about the next major Final Fantasy game (Final Fantasy 16), but we do know to never underestimate this series' potential to innovate, amaze, and set the standard.

Final Fantasy 16