It's always wonderful to find a hidden outpost or town that you didn't really have to go to. FF6 offered a lot of this
I don't remember any of this at all, except for uh, Gau's dad's house and triangle island. And I guess the second world was nothing BUT this but everyone complains about it because of this so that doesn't count.
Also more importantly you can STILL FIND HIDDEN OPTIONAL THINGS IN GAMES WITHOUT WORLD MAPS ZOMG!!! of course this hinges on the developers PUTTING hidden things in their worlds, which is independant of the game having a world map or not.
Ultima 7 didn't have a worldmap and it had tons of hidden things for instance. old bean.
DQ8 did it (though the lack of varied transportation was a problem)
I still don't think you ever explained how FFVIII had varied transportation, or at least in any meaningful sense because cars and chocobos were useless as hell and annoying to get, which left the uh, Ragnarok and White SeeD ship. DQ8 had a boat, something for flight, and a giant cat, which is only one less form transportation than FFVIII, and they're even if you count Zoom as a form of transportation.
Seriously, though, I also play RPGs for the sake of exploration, and very very very few JRPGs put any emphasis on exploration.
because they don't let me experience that interval in between the major events.
* Towns are small and you might spend five minutes in any given town, tops.
* The entire game's only 20 hours long.
* It only takes a few second to move from one location to another.
* There aren't any sidequests till the very end.
* There isn't any intervally-stuff until the very end, except for the hunting range, I guess, and going back and opening stuff with the pendants, which is basically at the very end.