"I'm thinking of a word. The first letter is 'S'. The last letter is 'X'."
Square Enix is the result of a 2003 merger between two video game companies (Square and Enix, natch). 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.
"The 'E' in the middle is but one of two."
Their merger was a huge event at the time. Square 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. 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 I was Enix's first game to be released internationally, albeit under the Market-Based Title Dragon Warrior (though they had a good reason for this; a very similar trademark already existed).
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 started putting out 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 I...
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, known for its work on Space Invaders. Taito has mostly remained independent, retaining its games' copyright and self-publishing its games in Japan, though its parent company has recently begun to publish its games (such as Space Invaders Extreme and Arkanoid DS) elsewhere (with the label "Taito - A Square Enix Company" on the cover).
In 2009, Square Enix took over Eidos (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). They renamed them "Square Enix Europe". Seems like a rather boring name until you look at the word they were getting at.
Lately, they've been responsible for publishing and even developing gritty, out-of-character shooters such as Kane and Lynch, Just Cause 2 and Mind Jack, and has collaborated with Activision by publishing the Japanese versions of their 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.
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" Intellectual properties they develop or publish, most of which (Think Infinite Undiscovery) are 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.
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 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 characters in Final Fantasy XIII. He wasn't even the art director!)
Games originally published/developed by Square:
- 3-D Worldrunner (the first of Square's games to be released in the U.S., where it was published by Acclaim)
- Bahamut Lagoon
- Brave Fencer Musashi
- Bushido Blade
- Chrono Trigger
- Final Fantasy series
- Front Mission
- Hanjuku Hero
- Kingdom Hearts series
- Kings 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)
- The Bouncer
- Threads of Fate
- Treasure Hunter G
- Treasure of the Rudra
- Vagrant Story
Games originally published/developed by Enix:
- Act Raiser
- 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 US until the rights to that name were procured in 2005)
- E.V.O.: The Search for Eden
- Itadaki Street series
- Mischief Makers
- Rakugaki Showtime
- R.A.D: Robot Alchemic Drive
- The Soul Blazer series (Soulblazer, Illusion of Gaia, and Terranigma)
- Star Ocean
- Valkyrie Profile
Post-Merger Square Enix Games:
- Chaos Rings series (iPhone)
- Dungeon Siege III (developed by Obsidian Entertainment, franchise bought from Gas Powered Games)
- Fantasy Earth Zero
- Gyromancer (collaboration with Pop Cap Games)
- Infinite Undiscovery
- Knights of the Crystal
- The Last Remnant
- Lord of Arcana
- Mario Hoops 3-on-3 (developer; published by Nintendo)
- Mario Sports Mix (same as above)
- Mind Jack
- Musashi: Samurai Legend
- Nie R
- Order of War
- Project Sylpheed
- Radiata Stories
- Song Summoner (an iPod-based RPG)
- Supreme Commander II (in collaboration with Gas Powered Games)
- Thexder Neo
- The World Ends With You
Child Company Games:
Games published by Taito:
- Bubble Bobble series
- Puzzle Bobble series
- Cadash (an arcade Action RPG with platformer elements)
- Cooking Mama (Japanese publisher)
- Dungeon Magic
- Dungeon Magic: Sword of the Elements (not related to the above; developed by Natsume)
- Elevator Action
- The Fairyland Story
- Gun Frontier (tweaked to Gun & Frontier outside of Japan to avoid confusion with the anime of the same name; notable for being the Spiritual Predecessor to Battle Garegga)
- KiKi KaiKai
- The Legend of Kage
- Metal Black
- Night Striker
- The New Zealand Story
- The Ninja Warriors
- Operation Wolf
- Operation Thunderbolt
- Power Blade
- Psychic Force
- Youmais (aka Yuu Maze)
- Space Invaders
- Violence Fight
Games published by Eidos and its subsidiary labels:
- Batman: Arkham Asylum
- Conflict (published by former parent company SCi)
- Deus Ex
- Just Cause
- Kane and Lynch
- Legacy of Kain
- Mini Ninjas
- Project Snowblind
- Sleeping Dogs
- Time Splitters
- Tomb Raider
- Total Overdose
- Urban Chaos: Riot Response
- Warzone 2100 (now open-source)
Other Western-developed games ported by Square-Enix:
Manga published by Square Enix's Gangan Comics imprint:
- Bamboo Blade
- Bitter Virgin
- Black Butler
- Fullmetal Alchemist
- He Is My Master
- Hero Tales
- Haré+ Guu
- Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok
- Nabari no Ou
- Nagasarete Airantou
- Natsuiro Kiseki
- Nightmare Inspector
- Pandora Hearts
- Pani Poni Dash!
- Seto no Hanayome
- Shikabane Hime
- Six Six Six Satan
- Soul Eater
- Sumomomo Momomo
- Tentai Senshi Sunred
- The Record of a Fallen Vampire
- To Aru Majutsu no Index
- 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.
- Cash Cow Franchise: Three of them: Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Kingdom Hearts.
- Gallows Humor: Square was saved from bankruptcy when Hironobu Sakaguchi released the original Final Fantasy. He thought it would be the last game before Square collapsed. It wasn't.
- 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 to for every game to have a One Winged Angel. Square Enix even has its own folder on the trope page.
- No Export for You: An infamous case.
- Rivals Team Up: The merger.
- Too Many Belts: Common when Tetsuya Nomura is the character designer of a game.
- Updated Rerelease: The reason their No Export for You cases are some of the most well-known.
- Zipperiffic: Once again, when Nomura is the character designer. The quote of this trope's page from The World Ends With You lampshades this.