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The Final Fantasy 7 mystery that remains unsolved today

Final Fantasy 7, though a popular game in a powerhouse franchise, has its quirks. One of those quirks spawned a mystery that remains unsolved to this day, despite the fact the title released in early 1997. Players have spent years speculating about an empty chest discovered in one of the levels, as well as its significance within the story. While some believe they've pinpointed the answer, it remains an odd little piece of Final Fantasy 7 legend that won't go away.

Basically, there's a hole in the ground in Corel Prison that leads to a creepy basement. Once your protagonist Cloud Strife enters, the area yields nothing but an empty chest. In fact, the chest seems to be part of the game's background visuals, as you can't interact with anything there. So, there's nothing for you to do except wonder who pillaged that chest before you had a chance to.

Okay, it's a tricky background. So what? It turns out there's more going on here than meets the eye.

The Red Man in the basement

Because gamers are resourceful, they've used some sneaky methods to discover something interesting about this mysterious scene. A individual playing around with an editing program discovered a separate background for the same basement — only this time, it didn't have a chest inside. It had what's come to be known as the Red Man — a polygonal doll-like item on the left-hand side of the screen, not far from where the empty chest is in the final game. 

Players have theorized a number of different things about the Red Man — that it's the "signature" of one of the developers, for example, which when found was masked with the empty chest. Maybe that's not right, though, since the Red Man and the chest don't seem to be in the same location.

The most convincing theory, however, has to do with an early Japanese version of the game.

Test Zero battle

Some gamers found something a bit different when they went through Final Fantasy 7. YouTuber Grimmy Games shared a video in 2014 in which they actually have a conversation with the Red Man, who claims he's training beasts to help him battle his way out. This activates a "Test Zero" battle. Grimmy Games claims they've gone to Corel Prison numerous times and only experienced this outcome once.

Another gamer, YouTuber GarlandTheGreat, was reportedly able to get their hands on an early Japanese version of Final Fantasy 7. They knew Versus Books' The Completely Unauthorized Final Fantasy VII Ultimate Guide from 1997 discussed the Red Man, so they went to find out for if he was really there. In the video description, they say it's a rare occurrence, but they were also able to activate the "Test Zero" battle.

While the developers have not confirmed why the Red Man and empty chest exist, signs indicate they were tied to an early test battle never removed from the original game.