Square's first games were released for the Nintendo Famicom. Their early games were not very successful, and by 1987 the company was faced with the possibility of bankruptcy. That same year, Square employee Hironobu Sakaguchi was charged with the creation of a game that might well prove to be the company's last. The result was Final Fantasy, a computer role-playing game for the Famicom.
The term Final was picked because he was planning on retiring from the gaming industry and that Final Fantasy was going to be his last game. Final Fantasy did much better than Sakaguchi and Square had expected, and led to a North American distribution deal with Nintendo of America, who released the game in the United States in 1990. Due to its success, Hironobu Sakaguchi's plans for retirement ended and he stayed at SquareSoft to develop new Final Fantasy games. It may also be possible that the reason every new Final Fantasy game has a new story, with new characters is because the original game was created with the belief that a sequel would never be created.
Final Fantasy was followed by a sequel in 1988, marketed exclusively in Japan until Final Fantasy Origins. North American localization was originally planned for the Famicom version of the sequel, but given the age of the game at that point, and the imminent arrival of Nintendo's Super Famicom (Super Nintendo Entertainment System in America and Europe), it was abandoned in favor of the Super Famicom's Final Fantasy IV. Square released a healthy dose of Final Fantasy titles to the SNES as well as other original titles such as Secret of Mana and Chrono Trigger. Because of their deliverance of role-playing games on the console, the SNES is generally regarded as the best console on which to play RPGs.
In 1996 after developing Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars for the SNES, Square shockingly announced that they were going to halt all planned titles for Nintendo systems and develop games exclusively for the newly released PlayStation system due to its CD format. It urged others to do so, which resulted in a plethora of developers focusing almost exclusively on Sony's new platform. The new CD format allowed Square to implement FMV sequences in their games, notably Final Fantasy VII, which is often credited for introducing millions of American gamers to the genre (it went on to sell more copies in the US than in Japan).
In 2001 Square announced that it was going multiplatform and would join Nintendo once more with games such as Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles being announced for Nintendo's Game Boy Advance and GameCube systems, respectively. Square's president Nao Suzuki deeply regretted his plan to deliver games exclusively on one console, and in an interview expressed his feelings by explaining that "our true enemy...was our pride". After their announcement to go with Sony, Square bashed the Nintendo 64 continually, and noted later that this choice, along with convincing Enix to switch sides, was not a very smart move on their part.
In 2003 Square Co. and Enix shocked the gaming community once more with their announcement to merge together, thus creating Square Enix. Square was financially heading towards the gutter - their movie release of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within was a financial bust, and the development of Final Fantasy XI, and the costs of setting up an online service for the game, proved to be successful - though left a dent in their wallet. Enix, on the other hand, was doing very well, and welcomed Square with open arms. The president of Square remained in his position as president of the new company.