The quickest and easiest way to get 10000 kills without save editing or botting/automation. Use of in-game HiSpeed Booster (F1) optional.
Other FF VIII Guides:
- Achievement Guide (Disc One).
- Achievement Guide (Disc Two).
- Achievement Guide (Disc Three & Four).
- How to Get Squall's Ultimate Weapon (Lionheart) on Disc #1.
- Use Your Old Save Slot on The Remaster Version.
- Missable Items and Events List.
- Widescreen (Black Bars) Fix.
What to Expect
"It doesn't think. It doesn't feel. It doesn't laugh or cry. All it does from dusk till dawn, is make the monsters die."
There is a lot of frustration surrounding this achievement, and I think that it's infamy is mostly warranted. Many consider it an unreasonable request of the player and see fit to complete it through save-editing or other external cheats. I understand this and however you choose to spend your leisure time is your business, but I am making this guide for two reasons:
- 1) To inform players of how best to tackle this achievement using the means available WITHIN the game.
- 2) To inform players so that they can make their own decision about whether or not to use an external cheating method.
There is a lot of hyperbole and exaggeration about how long this achievement takes. 30 hours, 60 hours, 80 hours, 100 hours. I will say this: assuming you are using the game's built-in Turbo or HiSpeed function on F1, this should take no longer than 16 hours if you use my methods, assuming you start at 0 kills. If you consider the use of HiSpeed to be "illegitimate", expect to spend about three times as much time completing this.
When to Start
You will need access to Cactuar Island and to have defeated the Jumbo Cactuar, so you need access to the Ragnarok on Disc 3. It can be completed as late as Disc 4 after retrieving the Ragnarok in the time-compressed world. If you are gunning for the Contrived Finish achievement, I strongly recommend completing that first, and then using a save before you confronted Ultimecia to complete this achievement afterwards. Squall cannot be removed from the party on Cactuar Island and will earn Experience during this process. As little exp as Cactuars give, thousands tend to add up.
Why Cactuar Island?
As far as I am aware, the sandy areas of Cactuar Island are the most densely populated area for random encounters in the entire game. You will encounter two and three Cactuars at a roughly equal rate, and more rarely four Cactuars in a single battle. This is about an average of 2.65 enemies a random encounter. The only area that seems to rival this is the Galbadian Garden ice rink in Disc 2, which cannot be as efficiently farmed at that point in the game. If you are aware of any other location with more or comparable enemy density, feel free to let me know.
The observant reader will note that I specified the sandy areas. This is important. The rocky areas of Cactuar Island actually have a worse distribution of random encounters, one to three Cactuars instead of two to four. So these areas should be avoided.
Some of you may object that Cactuars don't seem like an ideal target. And this seems reasonable at first. Cactuars have high speed! Which could potentially waste your time with their turns or worse, RUNNING AWAY! They're also highly evasive to physical attacks, and have an absurd magical defence with 100 Evasion and 254 Spirit at all levels.
Despite this, their maximum HP and Vitality stats are very modest. With proper party setup they can be hit 100% of the time, killed reasonably in one physical attack without extensive stat maxing efforts, and be killed before they get the opportunity to have a turn. Well, MOSTLY killed before they get a turn. Sometimes, during a four-Cactuar encounter, the final Cactuar MAY get an oppurtunity depending on the whim of the randomized ATB. You could eat a weak physical attack, 1000 needles, or he could run.
This also means you do not need to think or manipulate the command menu. This is especially important if you use F1. Simply holding down the X/Confirm button will continually physically attack and finish every encounter. Feel free to watch movies or Youtube and not pay too much attention.
This section is long but I like to be very thorough. Chances are that if you're going for all of the achievements, you've probably done 95% of what needs to be done already.
Squall is mandatory but I recommend the party members Selphie, and Irvine. Squall and Selphie both have access to 255% hit weapons, rendering the Cactuars Evasion moot without needing a Hit Junction. Irvine will need a Hit Junction, but his standard attack animation appears to be the quickest as far as I can tell. Conveniently, his weapons have some of the most Hit%, excluding Squall and Selphie. This is a rather marginal difference all things considered, you can use Zell or Quistis if you really want to. I would recommend against Rinoa though, her attack animation is considerably longer than everyone else. I recommend you get their best weapons for the extra physical damage and especially the hit for Selphie.
Irvine will need Diabolos, Cerberus, or Eden junctioned to him for Hit-J, and he will need at least 60 or so Triple spells junctioned to it to reach the threshold of 200% he needs to guarantee a hit on Cactuars. Triples can be drawn from the Odin encounter if hes available, but the best way on Disc 4 is to earn the Squall card from the CC group on the Ragnarok, refine it for 3 Three Stars and refine those for 100 Triples each using Time Magic RF. If you didn't do the CC group quest, have fun drawing Double from Grendels, killing Grendels for Dragon Fins, refining those into Doubles with Time Magic RF, and then refining Doubles into Triples with High Magic RF. Very inefficient but doable.
All three characters also need a good Strength Junction to take out the Cactuars in one hit. Str-J is native to the Shiva, Ifrit, Brothers, Pandemona, and Cerberus GF's. The best spell for this is of course: Ultima, granting 100 Strength at 100 stock. 300 Ultima's can be a tall order, but it's worth doing. If you have NOT killed Ultima Weapon, you can farm the fixed encounters with Tri Faces for 100 Curse Spikes, convert that into Dark Matter with Tool RF, and convert that into 100 Ultima with Forbid Mag RF. It's best to one-shot them with Quistis Degenerator Limit. You can also draw them directly from the Weapon, and he will drop 100 more Ultima Stones to refine on death. However, once the weapon is defeated, the Tri Face encounters cease completely. The next best option is the fixed encounter with an Elnoyle in Esthar you get by speaking to an NPC. It will drop Energy Crystals to refine for 3 Ultima each. But you lose access to this in Disc 4 because Esthar is Time Compressed. If this is your situation, the next best option is farming Marlboros and Tri Faces for Curse Spikes on the Island Closest to Heaven. You could also draw them from Omega Weapon if he's alive and you have enormous balls I suppose.
Cactuars happen to be weak to Water. Refining 300 Waters at 50 a pop from Water Crystals dropped by Chimera's should be a cinch. Junction those to Elem-Atk for all three party members. Half the GF's in the game have Elem Atk-J, so this should be no problem.
All three characters will need the Initiative ability. You will need Pandemona, Cactuar, and Tonberry GF's junctioned to the three characters respectively. They're no other sources of this ability. It's importance should be pretty self evident to end battles fast and prevent Cactuars getting turns.
We've got three "free" Initiative turns, and potentially four Cactuars to kill. We will need at least one character that is as fast as possible to quickly get a second turn and take it out. I nominate Selphie. Her speed is a little lower than Irvine's at base, but she still has the optimal Triple available to junction to her Speed stat and Irvine needs it for his Hit. Spd-J can be gotten from Pandemona, Cerberus, and Eden. If you really don't want to use 100 more Triples, you may as well use Irvine with Haste junctioned to speed. But to really put the pedal to the metal, we need Auto-Haste for this character. Cerberus has this, or you can refine his card or Kiros for Accelerators to teach it.
You also need to equip the Alert skill, so you never get ambushed by Cactuars. Cerberus is the only source of this. This character may be becoming starved for Ability slots unless you taught Auto-Haste to something else. You can also Junction Bahamut with his Abilityx4 to alleviate this somewhat.
That pretty much covers it. You may also use Spd 20/40% to go even faster, or similar Strength abilities if you need it to guarantee the Cactuar kills. You may also want to level to 100 with Str bonus by going to the Island Closest to Hell and spamming Degenerator. If you leveled to max without the Str Bonus ability you may need to refine Eden cards into Monk's Codes, into Str Ups to guarantee the one-shot on the Cactuars. But this is probably not the case. Ultima, base stats, and the Water junction should be sufficient.
Okay, here's where it all comes together. Park the Ragnarok at the southern-most tip of the Island, and run back and forth inside the sandy area towards the northern-most tip of the island. Turn on Turbo mode (F1) if you wish to use it and start encountering. As the encounter begins just firmly hold that X/Confirm button and your party should attack as fast as possible. When the battle is over, rapidly press the X/Confirm button to progress through the end-of-battle items and level ups. Rinse and repeat.
You may wish to refine the Cactus Thorns you get into Hundred Needles to refine those into Spd Ups, but its optional. It will make your "fast" character even faster if you want. This will of course slow the process down but it might make you feel like you're doing something more productive. Whatever.
After many many encounters, the rare cheap lick you take from that fourth Cactuar might knock you into critical HP. This is slower, because your character wastes time standing up and down to attack. Just pop a Tent in the menu, or try to cheese a Selphie Full Cure from her limit for funsies.
But yeah, that is really all there is to it. Most of what we needed to do was in the preparation, this is the easy (and boring) part.
How Long's This Gonna Take Man?
As I said in the intro, no longer than 16 hours. But how did I arrive at that? Let's break it down. Everything I'm about to say assumes you are using Turbo (F1).
The average time it takes me to start a random encounter on the overworld is around 3 seconds of movement. The encounter itself, all the way from screen tear to returning to the overworld averages about 12 seconds. So an encounter "cycle" takes roughly 15 seconds. The average number of Cactuars I encounter in that one 15 second cycle is about 2.65. So I'm killing around 10.6 Cactuars a minute, or 636 an hour. To get all the way to 10000, you're looking at about 15 hours and 40-45 or so minutes.
If you AREN'T using Turbo, encountering a Cactuar takes somewhere between three to four times as long on the overworld. The screen tear and exp/items spoils screen progresses at the same speed, but the actual battle from the panning intro shots, to the fight, to the victory poses is much slower. The encounter usually averages 30 seconds now. So now it's somewhere between 40-45 seconds a "cycle". So it's going to take you roughly three times as long, as a conservative estimate.