When Link awakens from his seven-year slumber in the Sacred Realm, he encounters Zelda, disguised as a young man of about Link's age named Sheik, who claims to be a survivor of the Sheikah Tribe. Thereafter, Sheik gives Link clues to the locations of the various temples, and teaches him special songs enabling him to warp to specific points near these temples.
The Final Fantasy series and several specific games within it have been credited for introducing and popularizing many concepts that are today widely used in console RPGs. The original game is often cited as one of the most influential early console RPGs, and played a major role in legitimizing and popularizing the genre. Many console RPGs featured one-on-one battles against monsters from a first-person perspective. Final Fantasy introduced a side view perspective with groups of monsters against a group of characters that has been frequently used. It also introduced an early evolving class change system, as well as different methods of transportation, including a ship, canoe, and flying airship. Final Fantasy II was the first sequel in the industry to omit characters and locations from the previous game. It also introduced an activity-based progression system, which has been used in later RPG series such as SaGa, Grandia, and The Elder Scrolls. Final Fantasy III introduced the job system, a character progression engine allowing the player to change character classes, as well as acquire new and advanced classes and combine class abilities, at any time during the game. Final Fantasy IV is considered a milestone for the genre, introducing a dramatic storyline with a strong emphasis on character development and personal relationships. Final Fantasy VII is credited as having the largest industry impact of the series, and with allowing console role-playing games to gain mass-market appeal.
Biggs and Wedge, inspired by two Star Wars characters of the same name, appear in numerous games as minor characters, sometimes as comic relief. The later games in the series feature several males with effeminate characteristics. Recurring creatures include Chocobos and Moogles. Chocobos are large, often flightless birds that appear in several installments as a means of long-distance travel for characters. Moogles, on the other hand, are white, stout creatures resembling teddy bears with wings and a single antenna. They serve different capacities in games including mail delivery, weaponsmiths, party members, and saving the game. Chocobo and Moogle appearances are often accompanied by specific musical themes that have been arranged differently for separate games.
Nintendo 64 Mario Kart 64, launched in 1996/1997 for the Nintendo 64, was a vast improvement from the SNES original. It moved the series to polygon-based true 3D computer graphics for track design, allowing for track features that were not possible with Mode 7, such as bridges, walls, pits, and elevation changes; however, the characters and items remain 2D pre-rendered sprites. Other new additions include digital voice acting, 4-player support, the modern character weight classification system, Mirror mode, ghost data for Time Trial courses, and a new item called the Spiny Shell which targets and attacks the player in the lead. The game features 16 normal race courses, as well as four battle courses. Though there are still eight playable characters, two new characters are introduced: Wario (replacing Koopa Troopa) and Donkey Kong (replacing Donkey Kong Jr.), both of whom have reappeared throughout the series.
Three main installments, as well as one online game, were published for the PlayStation 2 (PS2). Final Fantasy X (2001) introduced full 3D areas and voice acting to the series, and was the first to spawn a direct video game sequel (Final Fantasy X-2, published in 2003). The first massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) in the series, Final Fantasy XI, was released on the PS2 and PC in 2002, and later on the Xbox 360. It introduced real-time battles instead of random encounters. Final Fantasy XII, published in 2006, also includes real-time battles in large, interconnected playfields. The game is also the first in the main series to utilize a world used in a previous game, namely the land of Ivalice, which had previously featured in Final Fantasy Tactics and Vagrant Story.