Square Enix is the result of a 2003 merger between two video game companies (Squaresoft and Enix, naturally). They are primarily known for their work on RPGs, and several of their franchises have gone on to sell millions upon millions across the world. Their merger was a huge event at the time. Squaresoft and Enix had been major rivals for years; both were known for their RPGs, with Square being behind the world-dominating Final Fantasy franchise, and Enix responsible for the sales-record-smashing Dragon Quest games. By combining forces, they created a game-industry juggernaut which is a force to be reckoned with, especially in the Japanese market.
Enix was the older of the two merging companies, and it found success earlier. Founded in 1975 as the Eidansha Boshu Service Center, it changed its name to Enix in 1982, just before it entered the video game market. In 1982, Enix held the Game Hobby Program Contest, whose ten winning entries became Enix's first published games; the winning game authors included Koichi Nakamura and Yuji Horii. Enix would remain exclusively a video game publisher and depend on the cooperation of independent developers, primarily Chunsoft (the company founded by Koichi Nakamura and Yuji Horii, now Spike Chunsoft), Heart Beat (a spinoff of Chunsoft and forerunner of Genius Sonority exclusively devoted to developing Dragon Quest sequels and remakes), Quintet, Almanic (later known as Givro), Produce and tri-Ace. Enix's early games (which included some eroge) were released principally on the Japanese NEC PC-8801 and Fujitsu FM-7 computers. Though games such as The PORTOPIA Serial Murder Case were quite popular in Japan, Dragon Quest was Enix's first game to be released internationally, under the Market-Based Title Dragon Warrior.
Square's early years were leaner; they began as a division of the software company Denyusha. In 1984 they released their first game, The Death Trap, whose modest success led them to create a few more original games, as well as technically unimpressive ports of Dragon Slayer for the MSX and Thexder for the NES. After Square Co., Ltd. became independent in 1986, they formed the Disk Operating Group (DOG) with six other computer game companies (Micro Cabin, Thinking Rabbit, Carry Lab, System Sacom, Xtalsoft, Hummingbird Soft) and published a variety of forgettable games for the Famicom Disk System, and were not doing too well when, a year and a half after Dragon Quest, they released an RPG called Final Fantasy...
After the merger, fans were divided on how to refer to the company, as "Square Enix" was too unwieldy. Although some tried "Squarenix", it's now almost universally referred to as "Squeenix". Square Enix has even gotten in on this with their line "Squex Toys" in Japan, and their katakana Portmanteau Couple Name スクエニ (SukuEni) has appeared in Japanese promotional screenshots as a stand in for a player name.
In 2005, Square Enix acquired Taito Corporation. Taito has mostly remained independent, retaining its games' copyright and self-publishing its games in Japan, though its parent company began to publish its games (such as Space Invaders Extreme and Arkanoid DS) elsewhere (with the label "Taito - A Square Enix Company" on the cover). See the Taito page for a list of its games.
In 2009, Square Enix took over Eidos Interactive (best known for Tomb Raider, and also published the PC versions of Square's Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII as well as the first of Enix's Dragon Quest Monsters games for the Game Boy Color in North America). Eidos was then renamed to "Square Enix Europe". Seems like a rather boring name until you look at the word they were getting at.
Shortly before the start of The New '10s, Square Enix started publishing and even developing gritty, out-of-character shooters such as Kane and Lynch, Just Cause 2 and MindJack, and they have been publishing the Japanese localizations of Activision's games. It seems that their strategy for entering the Western market is to publish promising Western-developed titles— which causes existing fans of those series some trepidation and provides a convenient scapegoat for perceived flaws in the final releases.
Square Enix is also a manga publisher, continued from its Enix days. Its published works include Fullmetal Alchemist and 666 Satan, and a variety of manga based on its video game properties. Their monthly magazines are the Gangan titles.
They're also known for having a very unpleasable fanbase. The article even had its own example displaying the unpleasability of their fanbase, as well as the arrant hatedom that resulted. Similar to Nintendo, they're also criticized for spinoffs and sequels of existing franchises and not coming up with new ones. This is despite all of the new IPs they develop or publish, most of which (think Infinite Undiscovery) were ignored, and they are then called out for not working on the next Final Fantasy. There are some exceptions, such as The World Ends with You, which actually wasn't glossed over.
Around the late 1990s and first half of the 2000s, quite a few of Square's key members left. Writer Masato Kato went freelance, as did Yasunori Mitsuda and Nobuo Uematsu; Testuya Takahasi and a large portion of the Xenogears and Chrono Cross team formed Monolith Soft, which initally was owned by Namco until they were sold to Nintendo around 2007; Kameoka Shinichi and Kouji Tsuda of the Mana series founded Brownie Brown, another first party subsidiary of Nintendo. As for Hironobu Sakaguchi, he founded Mistwalker.
Square Enix is also known for having one of the textbook examples of "Quarterback Syndrome", in which the quarterback is Tetsuya Nomura. Partly reinforced by how he had managed to misblame himself from various interviews, but it was still played straight when the Internet Backdraft of Final Fantasy XIII somehow treated him like he was the sole person involved in the game design (for the record, he only designed some of the characters and he wasn't even the art director).
Games originally published/developed by Square:
- The 3-D Battles of WorldRunner (published by Acclaim in the U.S. as 3-D Worldrunner)
- Bahamut Lagoon
- The Bouncer
- Brave Fencer Musashi
- Bushido Blade
- Chrono Trigger
- Final Fantasy series
- Front Mission
- Hanjuku Hero
- Kingdom Hearts series
- King's Knight
- Live A Live
- The Mana series (Seiken Densetsu in Japan)
- Parasite Eve
- Rad Racer
- The SaGa series
- Secret of Evermore (published and developed entirely by Squaresoft USA)
- Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars (developed by Square, published by Nintendo)
- Threads of Fate
- Tobal series
- Treasure Hunter G
- Treasure of the Rudra
- Vagrant Story
- Xenogears (Developed by a team that would later become Monolith Soft)
Games originally published/developed by Enix:
- The 7th Saga
- Brain Lord
- Bust a Groove (called Bust-A-Move in Japan, but that title was given to Puzzle Bobble in some other countries)
- Dragon Quest series (Called Dragon Warrior in North America until the rights to that name were procured in 2005)
- E.V.O.: Search for Eden
- Grandia Xtreme
- Illusion of Gaia
- Itadaki Street series
- Mischief Makers
- Paladin's Quest
- The Portopia Serial Murder Case
- Rakugaki Showtime
- R.A.D: Robot Alchemic Drive
- Star Ocean
- Valkyrie Profile
- Wonder Project J
- Bravely Default (co-developed with Silicon Studio)
- Bravely Second (co-developed with Silicon Studio)
- Chaos Rings series (iPhone and Android)
- Children Of Zodiarcs (developed by Cardboard Utopia, released under the Square Enix Collective program)
- Chousoku Henkei Gyrozetter
- Drakengard, Drakengard 2 and Drakengard 3 (Developed by Cavia and Access)
- Dungeon Siege III (developed by Obsidian Entertainment, franchise bought from Gas Powered Games)
- Grandia III
- Gyromancer (collaboration with PopCap Games)
- I Am Setsuna (developed by Tokyo RPG Factory)
- Infinite Undiscovery (the trademark and part of the copyright are held by Microsoft)
- Knights Of The Crystal
- The Last Remnant
- Left Alive
- Lord of Arcana
- Mario Hoops 3-on-3 (developer; published by Nintendo)
- Mario Sports Mix (same as above)
- Murdered: Soul Suspect (developed by Airtight Games)
- Musashi Samurai Legend
- Nanashi no Game
- NieR (developed by Cavia)
- Octopath Traveler
- Order Of War
- Pop Up Story
- Project Sylpheed
- Radiata Stories
- Schoolgirl Strikers
- Sigma Harmonics
- Song Summoner (iPod)
- Spelunker World (PlayStation 4; developed by Tozai Games)
- Spelunker Party (PC, Nintendo Switch; same developer)
- Supreme Commander II (in collaboration with Gas Powered Games)
- Thexter Neo
- Tokyo Dark (developed by Cherrymochi, released under the Square Enix Collective program)
- Valkyrie Profile 2 Silmeria
- The World Ends with You
Online games provided by Square Enix:
Games published by Eidos and its subsidiary labels:
- Batman: Arkham Asylum (Released only for all countries except Japan)
- Conflict (published by former parent company SCi)
- Deus Ex
- Fear Effect
- Just Cause
- Kane and Lynch (For all countries except Japan, with Part 1 published by Spike)
- Legacy of Kain
- Life Is Strange: (Although Dontnod Entertainment mostly worked on the game)
- Mini Ninjas
- Project: Snowblind
- Shellshock 2
- Sleeping Dogs
- Thief (2014)
- Tomb Raider:
- Total Overdose
- Urban Chaos
- Urban Chaos: Riot Response
- Warzone 2100 (now open-source)
Western-developed games published by Square Enix in Japan:
- Batman: Arkham Asylum (Only for Japan)
- Call of Duty (post-Call of Duty 3)
- Kane and Lynch (For Kane and Lynch 2: Dead Men, only for Japan)
Eastern-developed games published by Square Enix in Europe:
Manga published by Square Enix's Gangan Comics imprint:
- Akame ga Kill!
- Bamboo Blade
- Bitter Virgin
- Black Butler
- A Certain Magical Index
- Cahe Detective Club
- The Case Study of Vanitas
- Chronicles of the Going Home Club
- The Comic Artist and His Assistants
- Corpse Princess
- Daily Lives of High School Boys
- Dusk Maiden of Amnesia
- Fullmetal Alchemist
- He Is My Master
- Hero Tales
- Hinowa ga Crush!
- Im Great Priest Imhotep
- Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?
- Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun
- The Morose Mononokean
- My Bride is a Mermaid
- Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok
- Nabari no Ou
- Nagasarete Airantou
- Natsuiro Kiseki
- Nightmare Inspector
- No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys' Fault I'm Not Popular!
- One Week Friends
- Pandora Hearts
- Pani Poni Dash!
- Saki Achiga-hen
- 666 Satan
- Soul Eater
- Sumomomo Momomo
- Tentai Senshi Sunred
- The Record of a Fallen Vampire
- Violinist of Hameln
- Until Death Do Us Part
- Zombie Loan
Tropes associated with Square Enix:
- Anime Hair: Several heroes and villains have this. In fact, many of SE's games give their characters an anime-like look overall.
- Impossibly Cool Clothes: Many games, especially the Final Fantasy'' series, feature amazing outfits that would give a cosplayer a run for his money.
- Japanese RPG: The company's main genre. Whichever division of JRPG they use varies from series to series.
- One-Winged Angel: The Trope Namer coming from Final Fantasy VII. It's almost a requirement for every game to have a One Winged Angel. Square Enix even has its own folder on the trope page.
- Orchestral Version: Plenty of the games' soundtracks are mixed into orchestral versions and albums, and the advent of more sophisticated sound technology has lead to several game soundtracks that are orchestral in nature.
- Rivals Team Up: The merger between Square and Enix.
- Tech Demo Game: The company has stated recently that all of their major titles were done just to show off. And it doesn't even stop there, as some of their niche titles get similar treatment.
- Too Many Belts: Common when Tetsuya Nomura is the character designer of a game.
- Updated Re-release: The reason their No Export for You cases are some of the most well-known.
- Zipperiffic: Once again, when Tetsuya Nomura is the character designer. The quote of this trope's page (which comes from The World Ends with You) lampshades this.
You weren't thinking of something naughty, were you? That's right! It's SQUARE ENIX!