Whether a critic, or a fan, all can agree that Final Fantasy 7 and 8 have breathed new life into rpg's as a whole. And at the same time, they breathe life into their company. Last few years belong to Square, most definately. Why? Must someone ask this question if they played the games they churn out? Masterpieces is an understatement. They have proved that Rpg's can hang with the high selling action games that are so addictive on PSX. Critics claim Square has "sold out", by incorporating full motion video and crisp graphics in their titles. They are merely adapting, and expanding the wide spectrum of Rpg's. Yeah, they have flashy stuff on ff7 and 8, but what really caught my eye was that Square has always found a way on strengthening it's battle system. The Junction system is clever, to say the least. Totally customizable, it makes you the actual main player of the game, not Cloud or Squall. Square found a way to the lengthy animations of the GF's. They stressed the fact that the actual abilities of the GF's are much stronger than the actual attack. Junctioning a certain spell to strength will make you exceed the damage dealt by the lengthy, and drawn out animations. Square knows how to learn from mistakes, and by doing so, they keep the consumer happy. The minute I saw the new junction system, I was skeptical. "I like materia" was what I said when I first heard of the new combat set up. By the end of disc 1, I completely shunned materia, and whole heartidly welcomed the solid, new junctioning created by Square.
And that's what other companies lack. An ear for their buyers. Square knew the story line of Final Fantasy 7 was very popular. So what did they do? They made the plot so addictive in 8, that you actually related to the main character in the game. Squall was the very first character in the Final Fantasy series that I actually related to. His thoughts, his methods were very understandable. You understood why he was such a loner near the end of the game. You understood why he despised Seifer (although he was a nicely made villain). The plots actually make you think, rather than make you shun the story line like in other RPG titles. They hit hard on the important aspects of the game, and you can tell. They knew people didn't like the character designs in 7, so they made the FF8 characters look actually human. Evolving is vital in today's gaming industry, and Square has such a keen method of fixing things up, or tweaking, so to speak.
So, in a nutshell, what makes Square on top of RPGs? They know what to change in their titles. They "keep it real" for veteran RPGers, and they also incorporate things to help speed up the learning process for the newbies. It's this that makes them unmatched, at least for now, and the leader in RPGs.