News Item

Player discovers a new Final Fantasy IX side quest, 13 years later, after bothering to read the strategy guide

By John Teti • May 28, 2013

Thirteen years after the role-playing game Final Fantasy IX was released on the PlayStation, an astute fan has discovered a side quest that appears to have gone unnoticed by players outside Japan. The quest revolves around an unusual family whose members keep getting lost when they go looking for the other members of the family who have gone missing. I realize that’s an ugly sentence, but I can’t make it much clearer than that.

The reason the quest was hidden for so long is that it’s tedious, obscure, and very easy to miss. You initiate the quest by speaking to the Nero brothers, Zenero and Benero, in a town called Lindblum (although speaking to these guys gives no indication that a side quest has begun). Then you leave the town, complete a major event in the game’s main story, and return to the Neros’ place. When you return, another Nero brother named Genero runs off in search of Zenero and Benero. The next time, it’s Denero who goes looking for Zenero and Benero and Genero. You get the idea, I hope, because I’m not going to do the whole “Twelve Days Of Christmas” routine here. In all, it takes nine visits to the Nero household to complete the quest, and you’re rewarded with a mundane treasure. You can see all the excitement play out in the video above.

This is being hailed by many fans as a “discovery,” which it is and it isn’t. News of the quest originally popped up on a GameFAQs message board post by a user named The_Kusabi_ (apparently to prevent confusion with other, impostor Kusabis). In that post, The_Kusabi_ references the Ultimania strategy guide for Final Fantasy IX. Ultimania is a famously detailed and obsessive guide published in conjunction with the makers of Final Fantasy, so it figures the details would be in there. The_Kusabi_ specifically references page 557, which I happen to have right here:

FF9 Ultimania

The Zenero/Benero/Genero quest is listing No. 3 in the upper-left corner. So was this GameFAQs person the first one to play this side quest? Nope. It was in the quasi-official guide and everything. But The_Kusabi_ was willing to sift through a staggeringly dense Japanese-language tome—I’ll reiterate that the secret is listed on PAGE FIVE HUNDRED FIFTY-SEVEN—and therefore I think calling it a “discovery” is in order. Hats off to you, good sir or madam.

If you’re wondering what that entry in the strategy guide says, here’s a partial translation:

Disc 4, Lindblum: When you go to map point 67-14, you will meet two brothers named Zenero and Benero. Speak to them, and—okay, it’s safe to assume that everyone has stopped reading by now. We have to get this off our chest. We know we’re the writers of the strategy guide for Final Fantasy IX and all, but we can’t get excited about it. We don’t want to start an argument or anything, but we LIKED the Junction system in Final Fantasy VIII, and anybody who didn’t like it was just too stupid to understand it. As long as we’re off on a rant here, can we just say that Final Fantasy XII, which doesn’t even exist yet, belongs up there on a pedestal with Final Fantasy VI. If you disagree, you’re just wrong. All right, we’d better get back to it. And finally, speak to the last member of the Nero family, and a Protect Ring will be yours!

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69 Responses to “Player discovers a new Final Fantasy IX side quest, 13 years later, after bothering to read the strategy guide”

  1. ItsTheShadsy says:

    As someone currently trying to replay a few JRPGs, I’m amazed that
    people have the patience to find and complete even the less-hidden side
    quests, let alone this. Good lord.

    • Simon Jones says:

      This is explained thusly:

      In the 90’s a couple of the companies, most notably Square, also owned companies that published guidebooks for their games.

      Unsuprisingly, some shit just happened to get really confusing and obscure around that time.

      • duwease says:

        It worked so well for Sierra and their hint lines..

        • NakedSnake says:

          I can only wonder how many marriages were undermined by mysterious 900 number charges that neither adult could explain.

        • Sleverin says:

           @baneofpigs:disqus  That is a hilarious thought.  Thank you for lighting up my evening a bit!

  2. Steve McCoy says:

    It’s true, the junction system rules. I wish something like it would show up in other games. People hated that casting magic would reduce your stats, but the amounts are so minuscule for a few castings that it’s really not a problem. Even the best spell for functioning, ultima, only gives one stat point per spell unit.
    My only complaint is that they limit drawing to 9 units at a time. At least make it 10 if you want a cap, people.

  3. duwease says:

    Amen to Final Fantasy XII, imaginary strategy guide writers.  Great story, great graphics, and a great combat system (although I guess as a programmer I enjoy tweaking action scripts more than most did).  Shame about that Zodiac Spear though.

    • CrabNaga says:

      Final Fantasy XII was the first RPG to ever make me feel like I was smart. Spending the time to nail down the perfect gambit set for each character such that they all execute perfectly for practically every scenario was way more fun than it had any right to be.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      People say they love FFXII and I always assume they’re just never been part of a good MMO party, since it’s what the game attempts to simulate.

      • duwease says:

        In my case, you’d be quite prescient ;)  Never been much of a cooperative player, massively or no.

        • DrFlimFlam says:

          Which is fine, of course. It’s just something that stuck out to me when I played it. There is an obvious attempt to match the well-oiled machine of FFXI. Seriously, that game had an impressive combat system. A good party in that game was ascendance.

      • Anthony J. Rand says:

        I’m reasonably certain it had a lot of the same Dev team as XI, though I could be wrong.

  4. beema says:

    This is technically the last JRPG I played to completion. Such an excellent game. I highly recommend it to everyone! 

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      This is one of the few RPG’s I actually beat, instead of just quitting at the end. And it was an epic boss battle, with the whole party dead except a Tranced Zidane who knocked out the final boss with two rounds of crazy face slashing.

      • Anthony J. Rand says:

        I’m playing it right now, for the first time.  Finally made it to Disk 2 last night.  Jesus Christ, this game is harder than any other FF game I’ve played.  All the enemies do ridiculous amounts of damage and I keep running out of Pheonix Downs.  Looks like this will be the first game in the series I’ve played where I actively have to grind.

  5. Citric says:

    I don’t know about that Strategy Guide team, FFIX is easily in my top five FFs, and FFVIII is not.

    • PaganPoet says:

      Like this, bro. You taking notes?

    • caspiancomic says:

       Go Team FFIX! I’m surprised to see it’s got so many naysayers, it’s my favourite main branch Final Fantasy by a huge margin (distant second: probably VI, maybe VII.) I go back and forth on whether I prefer IX or Tactics, though, if Tactics counts.

      • OhHaiMark says:

         FFIX is my favorite in the series. I think it’s a bit harder for some people to appreciate, because it’s one of the slowest-burning games in the series, in my opinion. It starts slow, but it builds so perfectly.

        • DrFlimFlam says:

          I like that it’s not afraid to be a fairy tale. It’s not trying to be serious or BIG, though of course it involves saving the world. It’s just a fairy tale, and it’s comfortable in that.

      • Sleverin says:

         Yeah, I’ve seen some hardcore hate for it lately and I don’t get it.  I think it stems from the SE hate in general because everyones’ all bitter and pissy about SE not just cranking out stuff that suits their fancy. 

        Tactics is easily my fav FF game.  The battle system is fun, the Job system is a blast, and the storyline is amazing.  It’s so incredibly dark and evil, I mean…

        “How are you, my lord?”
        “It seems I have a splitting headache, but I will pull through…”
        *slight pause*”I’m sorry to hear that…” *stab*

        Just one of many scenes that totally rocked my brain when I was a young lad.  Makes me want to read about the War of the Roses which is what the game is based off of.

      • Anthony J. Rand says:

        VI is my favorite.  I’m playing IX for the first time now.  I like the simple skill learning system, similar to Tactics Advance (my all-time favorite “bored in the backseat of the car” game).  But the music and settings are just so beautiful and evocative, I’ve been totally sucked in.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      A game that pays such attention to pickle detail cannot be bad.

      That’s not a euphemism. I mean pickles. Pickled cucumbers. Smelly ones.

    • dickwhitmansampler says:

      @Citric:disqus @caspiancomic:disqus FFIX was the Square’s last homage to the 8- and 16-bit FFs before they turned their back on them completely. I really wish they hadn’t.

  6. PaganPoet says:

    I quite enjoyed FFXII while I was playing it, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t forget what it was about two minutes after it ended.

    I also downloaded FFIX from the PSN last year and got a decent chunk into it before I stopped. If I tried to pick it up now, it would be weird because I’d have no idea what I was supposed to be doing and what happened in the story.

    • Matt Kodner says:

      I ran into the same problem on the original playstation when my cousin loaned me his HEAVILY scratched four disk copy of FFIX. I got past the first disc and the second wouldn’t load. 
      I have not, and will not, return to that game out of spite. 

      • Citric says:

        The second disc is extremely sensitive to scratches. Mine fell out of the holder and got a tiny little scratch on an otherwise impeccable disc, and it suddenly broke the opening of the disc.

        I fixed it, it’s all better now.

    • WorldCivilizations says:

      I have attempted FFIX three times, and never completed it. I really can’t put my finger on why; I do recall that the story was just not engaging to me at all, though I did like the aesthetic. I guess I played it in the twilight of my FF-style JRPG days – I haven’t played one since FFX. I think the genre is generally too easy, and the anime-esque histrionics are too much for me now. 

      RE: FFVIII, the junction system was fine for me, if a bit grindy, because there was really no need to actually use magic. Besides, most of the game was, for me, just a mini-game that supported the central mechanic: triple triad.

      • PaganPoet says:

        I have night terrors of trying to win the rare card on the space station which had ALL of the rules in effect.

        • WorldCivilizations says:

          Ugh. The random rule was like a virus – as soon as you came into contact with it, it spread throughout the world if you weren’t careful.

        • Heh. I was lucky enough to run across a guide on GameFAQs which explained how to spread and how to *remove* rules. I spent a good amount of time eradicating Random from the entire world.

    • caspiancomic says:

       This is where I’m at right now with FFT:A2 for the DS. I played it for like three days straight a couple of weeks ago, and haven’t played it since. I want to jump back in, but I now that by now I’ve forgotten what’s happening in the story, who the characters are, why I should care, what strategic arcs I had in mind for all my units, etc. If you put more than a couple of days between major sessions in these JRPGs you lose track of everything.

      • neodocT says:

         It helps that the plot in FFT:A2 is so inconsequential as to not factor into my enjoyment of the game at all.

        I am also in between gaming sessions of this game, but hoping I can pick it back up durwing a trip this weekend.

        • Anthony J. Rand says:

          A2 is the only game in the series where I skip right past the story to get back to the gameplay.

      • ItsTheShadsy says:

        That’s an obstacle I hit too. I took a few days off FFVIII, and I completely forgot how I had junctioned/specialized my party.

    •  It was all about Fran, her fine backside, and her boytoy posse, of course! Vaan and the kids were just hangers-on. ;-)

    • Sleverin says:

       It’s too bad 12 has so much potential to be really awesome, but some of the story falls flat and the character design is goddamn fucking retarded.  I mean seriously, why are the main characters the only ones who look like they should be in the Shibuya district bboying while every npc looks setting standard?  Exempting Balthier though, his whole character is goddamn fantastic and his outfit is perfect for the steampunkish feel the game has, and his whole sky pirate angle. 

      Maybe try 9 over or just read up on the story?  Every time I play 9 I forget how amazingly addicting that game is to play and then I end up 60 hours in all of a sudden with the most ridiculous party ever.  Oh, and Freya.  Best character, just saying that now.

      Also, I love that the auto correct thinks Shibuya is a wrong word but bboying is okay.

      • Necrogem says:

         I have to second the Freya love.  I went through a phase where I was convinced that if I ever had a daughter, I would have to name her Freya, despite her namesake being a rat-person and not the Norse goddess.  I really believe she is one of the most badass female characters in video games.  And her story is just so sad, too!  When she finally finds Sir Fratley and he doesn’t remember her at all, when she’d been looking for him for so long… not gonna lie, I cried.

        • Sleverin says:

           Yeah, I love Freya.  Cool job, cool backstory…though I feel it never got fully realized.  As much as I love the character I feel like she got sort of sidelined even though she’s part of the story the whole time.

  7. ItsTheShadsy says:

    I’m so glad this post is making the FFVIII fans come out of the woodwork. I shouldn’t be ashamed of my feelings! Our love is not taboo, it is beautiful!

    (And FFIX was boring…)

    • neodocT says:

       And FFIX was boring…

      Whoa there, Hitler.

      To be fair, I haven’t played FFIX since I was a teenager, but I remember finding it fantastic, and much superior to FFsVII and VIII.

      • ItsTheShadsy says:

        My preference in Final Fantasy always bent towards sci-fi, which I think is why I preferred 7 and 8. I enjoyed FFIX a lot when I played it (like you, over a decade ago) but I honestly just can’t remember anything about it in retrospect. That sort of captures my thoughts about it best; my residual feelings range from ambivalent to milquetoast, but not negative.

        • neodocT says:

           I actually love sci-fi, and FFVIII was my first FF because of this. I eventually played nearly every game in the series (curse you Japanese FFIII!), but FFIX struck a chord with me. Something about its tone, characters and soundtrack, I guess.

          I have no idea if I would have the patience to play it again nowadays (though I still have the original PS1 release at hand), but it’s a nice gaming memory.

    • I recently chronicled my replay of FFVIII in the WAYPTW threads, and I was surprised how well it holds up.

      (And FFIX was not boring.)

    •  FF9 wasn’t boring, but it was a return to the pre-7 days, story and mechanic-wise…which is a rather different audience than the fans of 7 and 8, mostly. I know people who didn’t like 7 and 8 *because* they were so different from 1-6. :-)

  8. trilobiter says:

    All that tedious work, just for a protect ring?

    I must play this game through again.

  9. I would just like to say the English official guide for Final Fantasy IX was one of the most useless strategy guides ever released. It didn’t even provide treasure locations or abillity lists. Instead, it provided keywords for a website that contained this information. (Which is long gone, of course.) Remember, at the time, most people didn’t own laptops.

    Whenever you entered a new location, you had to walk over to the desktop computer (assuming your brother wasn’t using it) and go online. Then, you had to spend ten minutes navigating poorly-designed menus with stupid flash animation, because of course you didn’t yet have broadband in your neighborhood. Then, you typed in the stupid code, and the tip came up. You could print the tip and screenshots, using roughly $1 worth of ink per printer-unfriendly page, or you could just scrawl the gist of it on looseleaf and get back to your game. Of course, by that time, your mother has assumed that you were done playing, and turned off your game.

    • DrFlimFlam says:

      I played Chrono Cross and FFIC in that order, and after the wonderful experience that the guide lended Chrono Cross (which I adore but benefits greatly from a strategy guide), FFIX was super terrible, little more than an advertisement for that site.

  10. neodocT says:

    I’m guessing this wasn’t found earlier because the Americna FFIX strategy guide (which I totally borrowed from a friend who as a strategy guide collector) was very likely the worst strategy guide ever made.

    It gave general hints on the main plot line, but any time a sidequest came up there was a bubble saying: “If you want more information on how to [find all the items in long sidequest/beat insanely hard boss/locate cool Easter egg] type in [random code] in our PlayOnline website!”.

    Thing is, this was a pre-tablet-only-recently-out-of-dial-up era. If I wanted more information, I had to completely abandon the video game system, go to the one and only family computer, look up whatever I wanted, write it down and then go back to the game. It really blew.

    • @neodocT:disqus , meet @twitter-493417375:disqus .  This is what it’s like when doves cry.

    • Mark Titunik says:

       But it wasn’t a guide, it was an experience!

      Yeah, that was how they sold the keyword system in the back of the guide.

      It wasn’t the worst guide I’ve ever seen though.  That honor goes to the Grandia strategy guide.  The entire guide was just a straightforward long grid of screenshots with minimally informative captions.  No maps, no lists, little in the way of strategy, and as if that weren’t bad enough, there was a printing error that caused the captions to go out of sync with the screenshots towards the end and because of this, the captions about the final boss weren’t printed.

  11. OhHaiMark says:

    Things like this make me super excited to revisit games. Things still not known by most, even minor things like this, are enough to draw me back into worlds I really love.

    FFIX is probably the most underrated game in the series, at least amongst the people I know. But I like it the best. It blended everything that made the previous games so much fun, and turned it into a slow, thoughtful quest. The game escalates really quickly after disc 2, but I know most people don’t have to patience to get there. I recommend you do so, if you haven’t. The end of the game is excellent, the characters and the worlds they inhabit are vivid, and demand exploration.

    • One of the difficult things to adjust to in the first disc of FFIX was the constantly shifting party roster. It feels like you’re playing a bunch of little scenes rather than a single epic quest.

      And “Chocobo Hot and Cold” is one of my all-time favourite sidequests in Final Fantasy.

      • OhHaiMark says:

         It’s true. I’m playing the game with my roommate who hasn’t ever finished the game now, and he’s mentioned that the party shifts in and out a fair amount more, at least to start. Once the game settles into a rhythm though, I think they’re some of the best characters in an FF game plain and simple. We’ve just gotten to Lindblum, he and I, and he’s already starting to love the world of the game a lot.

        Chocobo Hot and Cold is so guilty for stealing hours of time from me.

      • DrFlimFlam says:

        My only real problem with the game was the way the battle system experienced some kind of input lag. I’d tell my guy what to do and wait a few seconds before it happened. Where have you gone, instantaneous action in an RPG?

      • Nudeviking says:

        The beginning of FF9 reminded me a lot of the beginning of Dragon Warrior IV, constantly switching the focus before finally bringing all the characters together.

  12. Mercenary_Security_number_4 says:

    The most amazing part of this story is the notion that someone on a GameFAQS messageboard said something coherent.

  13. Charlie says:

    I love FFVIII and FFIX – there has to be others out there like me, right? Right?!

  14. William Burr says:

    My favorite part was furrowing my brow and thinking “Ugh, this is an ugly sentence,” and then bam, your next line is “I realize that’s an ugly sentence.”

  15. Smilner says:

    Admittedly, I never played VIII through XI, but I agree with XII being the best of the series.  The simple tweak of eliminating the battle screen made all the difference in the world.  Such a disappointing step back with XIII.  I’m bulldozing through XIII-2 right now, and it’s better, but still not what I want.  XIII-2 is improved by just accepting that the story makes zero sense, and it’s best to just plow on and enjoy the pretty ride.  I’m pretty lost on the complexity of stat-maxing through strategic levelling, and it’s just seat of my pants with customizing monsters, but I’ll take it.

  16. thesnappysneezer says:

    It has been a while since I played it but I am fairly certain I completed the quest mentioned here. I never beat XII Smilner, never could finish it, the horrible battle system made me lose interest in the entire series. 

  17. robthom says:

    I’ve attempted to play IX a few times, always put it down by disk 2.

    I still play 7 and 8 and PE1 every few years.
    And I’ve tried FF’s after IX.
    But IX was when me and squeenix generally parted ways.