Over the weekend, a Final Fantasy 7 player who goes by the handle CirclMastr got Cloud and Barret to level 99, which isn't particularly impressive. What's impressive is that he did it before the game's first boss battle.
It took roughly 500 hours, by CirclMastr's count, to pull off this ridiculous accomplishment. He's been plugging away at his quest for over two years, grinding experience by fighting thousands of low-level random encounters on the catwalks of Midgar's Sector 1 reactor. "Tedious" might not be a strong enough word, especially considering that he played the game on a PS1, without the benefit of frame-skipping or save states. He streamed some of the run on his Twitch channel, but most of it was solo.
CirclMastr started this journey in January of 2015 out of frustration, he says. He watched another user on a private forum (named Dick Tree — hence the characters' names) promise to hit level 99 in Final Fantasy 7's first reactor only to stop posting updates. So CirclMastr decided to pick up the slack. "I got fed up with waiting and, based on my track record of meaningless accomplishments, decided I could do the whole thing before he could bother to finish," CirclMastr told me in an email.
Here's the video from his final stream. If you don't want to watch an hour's worth of random encounters, you're safe to skip to 52:48 for the final battle.
So what's next for CirclMastr? When I asked, his response was unsurprising: "I'm probably going to start getting Terra to level 99 before Whelk in FF6 on Wednesday."