In 1995, Square showed an interactive SGI technical demonstration of Final Fantasy VI for the then next generation of consoles. The demonstration used Silicon Graphics's prototype Nintendo 64 workstations to create 3D graphics.[115][116] Fans believed the demo was of a new Final Fantasy game for the Nintendo 64 console; however, 1997 saw the release of Final Fantasy VII for the Sony PlayStation.[116][117] The switch was due to a dispute with Nintendo over its use of faster but more expensive cartridges, as opposed to the slower and cheaper, but much higher capacity Compact Discs used on rival systems.[118][119] Final Fantasy VII introduced 3D graphics with fully pre-rendered backgrounds.[118][120] It was because of this switch to 3D that a CD-ROM format was chosen over a cartridge format.[118][121] The switch also led to increased production costs and a greater subdivision of the creative staff for Final Fantasy VII and subsequent 3D games in the series.[72]
Several video games have either been adapted into or have had spin-offs in the form of manga and novels. The first was the novelization of Final Fantasy II in 1989, and was followed by a manga adaptation of Final Fantasy III in 1992.[62][63] The past decade has seen an increase in the number of non-video game adaptations and spin-offs. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within has been adapted into a novel, the spin-off game Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles has been adapted into a manga, and Final Fantasy XI has had a novel and manga set in its continuity.[64][65][66][67] Seven novellas based on the Final Fantasy VII universe have also been released. The Final Fantasy: Unlimited story was partially continued in novels and a manga after the anime series ended.[68] The Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XIII series have also had novellas and audio dramas released. Two games, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and Final Fantasy: Unlimited, have been adapted into radio dramas.
Like most RPGs, the Final Fantasy installments use an experience level system for character advancement, in which experience points are accumulated by killing enemies.[89][90][91][92] Character classes, specific jobs that enable unique abilities for characters, are another recurring theme. Introduced in the first game, character classes have been used differently in each game. Some restrict a character to a single job to integrate it into the story, while other games feature dynamic job systems that allow the player to choose from multiple classes and switch throughout the game. Though used heavily in many games, such systems have become less prevalent in favor of characters that are more versatile; characters still match an archetype, but are able to learn skills outside their class.[23][73][74]
Magic is another common RPG element in the series. The method by which characters gain magic varies between installments, but is generally divided into classes organized by color: "White magic", which focuses on spells that assist teammates; "Black magic", which focuses on harming enemies; "Red magic", which is a combination of white and black magic, "Blue magic", which mimics enemy attacks; and "Green magic" which focuses on applying status effects to either allies or enemies.[3][73][83] Other types of magic frequently appear such as "Time magic", focusing on the themes of time, space, and gravity; and "Summoning magic", which evokes legendary creatures to aid in battle and is a feature that has persisted since Final Fantasy III. Summoned creatures are often referred to by names like "Espers" or "Eidolons" and have been inspired by mythologies from Arabic, Hindu, Norse, and Greek cultures.[73][74]

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