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Timeline: Final Fantasy VII

So who is this dark-haired hero, star of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII? Recognize him from the original Final Fantasy VII? Remember him from that shiny movie, Advent Children? No?

Well then, you’ve been missing out on Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VII Compilation, a series of games and movies that serve as a sort of official fanfiction for the beloved Final Fantasy VII.

The Final Fantasy VII Compilation was first conceived by Square Enix as a way to shift the company towards "polymorphic content." What that means is that Square wants to cash in on FFVII’s enormous popularity without having to 1) remake the game for the PS3 or 2) make an actual sequel (hey, we all saw what happened with FF X-2).

At first, the idea was to create a gorgeous CGI film and a prequel game that could only be played on Japanese cell phones. But somewhere around the twentieth plot twist, it occurred to Square that two spin-offs weren’t enough to cover the entire scope of Final Fantasy VII’s moody, techno-punk world - so they made more spin-offs and another animated feature.

In all, there are five games, two animated features and some random literary works that make up the compilation and round out the backstory of Final Fantasy VII. In case you’re not clear on how these sanctioned spin-offs fit into the FFVII world, we've came up with this handy timeline to help you out.

Above: Somehow he's more creepy when he's smiling