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Final Fantasy: 20 Hidden Quests Only Experts Found

It's a joke that was already well-worn back in the '90s, but it's still worth pointing out the irony of a game called Final Fantasy going on to spawn dozens of sequels and spinoffs and that is closing in on the 30th anniversary of its North American debut. What was initially something of a Hail Mary for a then-fledgling Japanese game company may have seen some struggles in recent years, but Final Fantasy still remains one of the most beloved and best-selling franchises in video game history.

Despite various Final Fantasy-related games veering off into genres like fighting, racing, rhythm, and more, the core series has largely remained in the realm of role-playing-- even if recent installments have been more of the action-RPG flavor. While it's getting tougher and tougher to pin down exactly what the term "RPG" means in defining a video game, there is one thing that seems to unite pretty much every game that is tagged with that label: optional content.

You'd think that having a main quest that already takes dozens upon dozens of hours would be enough for gamers, but that's not how RPG player roll. If there isn't also copious amounts of hidden side content in an RPG that takes combing every inch of the game to find, then an RPG practically isn't worth playing. The Final Fantasy series has always been more than happy to scratch that particular itch for fans of its games and the RPG genre in general.

Here are 20 Hidden Final Fantasy Quests That Only Experts Found.

20 Return to Midgar - Final Fantasy VII

The Midgar area of Final Fantasy VII, the centerpiece of the hype cycle for the game and what seemed to most clearly announce that a new generation of the franchise was upon us, has since become a bit divisive among fans of the classic game. Some still see it as one of their favorite parts of FFVII, while others dread what they see as a slog through the introductory Midgar sections that are holding them back from getting to where the game truly opens up.

It depends on which camp you're in whether or not you'd actually want to go back to Midgar on your own, but that option does exist.

After Cloud is rescued from Mideel, you can travel to the Bone Village and dig for the key that opens Midgar's front gate, allowing you to re-renter the area.

19 Ultimate Lair - Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

Final Fantasy X-2 and Final Fantasy XIII-2 are both silly titles, and thankfully, Square-Enix knew better than to call the third installment in the FFXIII sub-series Final Fantasy XIII-3, instead opting for the less awkward-- but still clunky-- Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.

While none of the FFXIII games received universal praise from fans, it can be argued that Lightning Returns was the best-liked of the three-- though you kind of need to play the other two to appreciate it, which is a pretty tough barrier of entry.

Those who stuck things out for all three games, however, are likely invested enough to have dug into the optional Ultimate Lair, something of a boss rush that culminates in a battle with the difficult Ereshkigal superboss.

18 Deep Sea Research Center - Final Fantasy VIII

Poor Final Fantasy VIII, having the unenviable task of being the follow-up to the game-changing FFVII. Even if it had been a perfect game, it was destined to be considered a disappointment by many fans. Luckily, there has since been something of a reversal to the FFVIII backlash, with a lot of people coming around and realizing that it's actually an excellent entry that even surpasses FFVII in a lot of ways.

While FFVIII was a pretty big part of the series' trend of getting progressively more linear, that isn't to say there wasn't a lot of exploring to do and secrets to find.

Once players unlocked the airship Ragnarok, they could venture out and locate the Deep Sea Research Center.

It's a hidden area full of tough enemies where they could obtain the Bahamut and Eden Guardian Forces.

17 ??? Dungeon - Final Fantasy III (remakes only)

Square had initially kept some FF games from Western audiences, and we had to wait for later ports and remakes to get them all. The one that took the longest to reach us was Final Fantasy III, first released for the Famicom in 1990 and taking a whopping 16 years before it got its first-ever localization via the DS version in 2006 (and later, PSP and mobile).

Westerners, of course, wouldn't be aware of what was or wasn't new to the FFIII remakes, since it was all new to us, but there was a lot of added content.

The remake contains an new optional dungeon, officially unnamed but commonly referred to as "???"

It can be accessed after you've received all the letters from Atlas and the Four Old Men.

16 Penance Battle - Final Fantasy X HD

The debut of the PlayStation was when we first saw a lot of classic game franchises make the jump to 3D, albeit in very simplistic, rudimentary fashion. It wasn't until the PS2 era that we finally saw 3D visuals truly come into their own, and graphics first take steps into being truly "movie-like." Final Fantasy X, the first FF for PS2, was a perfect example of this, blowing people away with its gorgeous, bar-raising visuals.

Although FFX's story is still considered one of the best in the franchise, it was also dinged for how linear it was, a trend the series has followed ever since.

There was hidden stuff to find, like the battle with optional boss Penance.

It could only be found in the Japan-only "International" version of the game and, later, the HD remasters.

15 Ancient Forest - Final Fantasy VII

There is obviously no way to officially qualify this statement, but it's pretty easy to posit that people have logged more total cumulative hours in Final Fantasy VII than any other single FF entry (except for maybe the online-only FFXI). People played it over and over and over again just on the PS1 alone, and then happily bought it again every time it was made available on additional platforms and played it a few more times-- saying nothing of how much it has been played via less-than-legal means.

Because of this, FFVII's Ancient Forest might be the most well-known secret area on this list, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't take an expert to find it.

Reaching the area, which yields powerful items and Materia, requires either a green, black, or golden Chocobo, or beating the Ultimate Weapon.

14 Dreamscape - Final Fantasy VI

Among the 16-bit FF diehards, there is much debate over whether Final Fantasy IV or Final Fantasy VI is the superior game. In FFVI's favor is a heart-wrenching story that sees the literal destruction of the world, an amazing (for its time) musical sequence, and one of the darkest and least sympathetic antagonists in gaming history, FF or otherwise.

FFVI also has one of the larger amounts of secret areas and hidden content of any FF game, much of it as twisted and unsettling as the main quest. A great example of this is the optional Dreamscape sequence.

Sleeping at Doma Castle while Cyan is in your party results in a demon possessing his mind.

This forces you into a trippy dream world where you have to defeat said demon, earning two powerful items.

13 July the Streetear - Final Fantasy XII

Final Fantasy X was the last installment in the franchise that still stuck pretty close to traditional series trappings before subsequent installments would shake things up in significant ways. Final Fantasy XI went full-on MMO, and Final Fantasy XII had a fully real-time battle system for the first time in the history of the mainline series.

Whether you play the PS2 original or the recent HD remaster, FFXII is definitely a great title that is worth the time of anyone willing to look past the ways it strayed from the FF formula. It also has a wealth of hidden, permanently-missable content, such as the July the Streetear side quest.

Players must help a character named July, who won't reward you for your efforts until later on in the game.

12 Via Infinito - Final Fantasy X-2

While follow-ups to Final Fantasy games are fairly common now, they were unheard of when Square surprised the world with the announcement of Final Fantasy X-2. Taking advantage of the then-untread territory of a FF sequel, FFX-2 was a very unconventional entry in the series that played like a platformer at times and had a level0up system that functioned like playing dress-up.

A lot of people are willing to go to bat for FFX-2, and that's fair, as there is a compelling game underneath the wonky jumping sections and sometimes cringeworthy girl group trappings.

Should you take the journey, be sure you seek out an optional area called Via Infinito.

It's a massive 100-floor dungeon with a number of enemies exclusive to the area.

11 Zell's Love Quest - Final Fantasy VIII

The perfect embodiment of what a lot of people don't like about Testuya Nomura's character designs, Final Fantasy VIII's Zell is all oddly-placed tattoos and zippers with a ridiculous haircut. He's also always ready to wildly punch the air for no apparent reason.

There is a lot going on in FFVIII's story and the last thing anybody is going to want to bother with is a tedious optional side quest that involves Zell flirting with some girl in a library. Should you feel sorry enough for the big lug that you want to see him take a swing at love, just visit the library in Balamb Garden at various points and keep talking to the pigtailed girl.

Just know that it will take 50+ such visits to see the side quest to completion.

10 The Belly of the Zone Eater - Final Fantasy VI

While exploring Triangle Island, you encounter an enemy known as a Zone Eater-- though it should be called a People Eater, because that's exactly what it does. In fact, you have to allow it do just that if you want to explore the dungeon that rests inside of its belly, which you can only visit if he gobbles up your entire party.

Is a dungeon that literally takes place inside of a monster bizarre enough for you?

Should you successfully beat the trapped-filled "dungeon," you will be rewarded not only with a lot of rare items but also meet optional party member Gogo.

9 Learning Al Bhed - Final Fantasy X

One interesting aspect of Final Fantasy X's world is that it contains a fictional language called Al Bhed, and you'll encounter characters who only speak that language and will be unable to communicate with you.

An ongoing side quest throughout the game involves finding books that help you learn the language, literally one letter at a time.

As you find each of the 26 books, one of the letters of the Al Bhed language reveals its English counterpart. The tricky part is that a lot of the books are permanently missable, meaning that you only have a small window to get them before you lose your chance for the rest of that playthrough. Luckily, you can make out what most characters are saying as long as you get a good chunk of the books.

8 The Sunken Gelnika - Final Fantasy VII

There is a lot of content to find in Final Fantasy VII, so much so that you could easily play the game a half dozen times and still not even stumble across 75% of all of the game's locations. As you earn each new vehicle in the game, you basically need to scour the world all over again to see what new areas you can now reach that you couldn't previously get to.

Once you get the Shinra Sub, return to the sea south of Costa del Sol and you can find the remnants of a crashed Gelnika plane that you can enter and explore. Inside the sunken Gelnika are a number of very tough enemies, but getting through the area will net you one of Cloud's best swords as well as other awesome items.

7 Collecting cactuars - Final Fantasy XV

To say that Final Fantasy XV's development was troubled would be an understatement-- the game was initially announced as a Final Fantasy XIII spin-off game back before that game was even released. It took so long to make that Square-Enix just decided to make it the 15th installment in the franchise.

While a lot of FF fans were disappointed in FFXV, if there is one thing that nobody can accuse the game of its that it is lacking in stuff to do.

Of the game's many optional side quests, one of the more interesting is going collecting cactuar figurines for a character named Talcott Hester. 

If seeing a cactuar doesn't still make you smile every time, then you are clearly over this franchise.

6 The Lost Nero Family - Final Fantasy IX

It's not often that a game makes headlines over a decade after its release, but that is exactly what happened in 2013 when a YouTuber discovered a new side quest for the then-13-year-old Final Fantasy IX that nobody had seemingly found yet.

It takes a number of very specific and obtuse actions to trigger the Lost Nero Family quest, which is part of why it took so long to be discovered.

What also didn't help is that the official strategy guide for FFIX infamously withheld a lot of information about the game, constantly directing players to Square's website to find solutions. It's all a relic of a bygone era before every game is solved, explained, and turned inside-out on YouTube within a week of its release.

5 Fighting Geryon - Final Fantasy IV (3D version)

Despite the passionate pleas of FF's most hardcore fans, there still isn't a clear-cut "best" game in the series, with no one entry having a large enough fanbase to be able to definitively declare any of them the true, unrivaled fan favorite.Final Fantasy IV is certainly one of the entries that is held in very high regard and is among those that come the closest to that distinction.

Not everyone loved the art style of the DS remake-- which has since been ported to mobile devices-- but there's no denying that seeing FFIV's world in 3D was a treat.

That version also added a lot of extra content, including an optional new boss battle against a creature called Geryon, which only becomes available in New Game+ mode.

4 Phoenix Tower - Final Fantasy V

While we get pretty much every Final Fantasy game in the West sooner or later, there was a time when that wasn't the case. One of the early FF games that North American fans didn't get until years later was Final Fantasy V, an entry which has the weakest story of the three 16-bit entries but has some of the deepest, most acclaimed gameplay systems of the entire series.

There are technically three different "worlds" in FFV, the third being a merged version of the first two.

Within the merge world, ambitious players can seek out the optional Phoenix Tower.

It's a thirty-floor dungeon which can not only net skilled gamers a ton of Gil but also earn them the Phoenix summon if they can reach the top.

3 Obtaining Excalibur - Final Fantasy I

The original Final Fantasy is a little tough to go back to, and hasn't aged as well as some of the other RPGs of the era. The story is almost non-existent and the protagonists are more archetypes than actual characters.

That isn't to say that FFI doesn't still deserve respect, and that some of the subsequent remakes haven't made it a little easier to revisit at least from a visual standpoint.

That said, FFI was still a very of-its-time RPG in that there was plenty of secrets to uncover and hidden quests to find, many of which yielded powerful items. One such side quest involved finding a dwarven Smyth and giving him Adamantite in order to have him craft you Excalibur, one of the strongest swords in the game.

2 Unlocking Balthier - Final Fantasy Tactics: War of the Lions

When Final Fantasy XII was released, a lot of people saw similarities between that game, Vagrant Story, and Final Fantasy Tactics. Some of it was the three games sharing a lot of key staff, but the games themselves also had some overlapping characters and locations.

In an effort to further solidify this link, in the remake of FFT for PSP and other platforms called War of the LionsFFXII's Balthier was added as a secret unlockable character.

He becomes available during Chapter 4 after players defeat Meliadoul and Dorter as well as fulfill other requirements.

He is one of the most powerful characters in the game, and with the right combination of items can do over 2000 points of damage in a single move.

1 Gil Turtle Area - Final Fantasy V

It stands to reason that an area called Gil Cave would be a great place to get a bunch of cash. Finding an enemy in said cave with "Gil" in its name will likely earn you an especially impressive payday, which is the case with defeating Gil Turtle in Gil Cave in Final Fantasy V.

All of that is easier said than done, though. First off, Gil Cave can only be accessed in Galuf's world. Even once you get to the cave, you have to find a hidden path within the area that leads you to the turtle in question. It's all worth the effort, though, as beating the shelled creature will earn you an whopping 5,000 Gil on top of whatever else you accumulated in the rest of the cave.

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Are there any other hidden quests in Final Fantasy? Share your knowledge in the comments!

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