The Missing Link
A faithful reader of ZeldaBlog clued me into a little titbit the other day of something that I had already found but had not mentioned on the blog. That little something was the first tool-assisted speedrun of Ocarina of Time. In case you’re not familiar with the term, a speedrun is essentially an attempt to complete a chosen videogame as fast as is humanly possible. In the case of tool-assisted speedruns (or TASs), the players use tools to make the runs… theoretically faster than that because they’re able to slow down the game to make complex actions occur faster than our human-limited reaction time would allow.
Now as much as I do love speedruns (I was hooked ever since I saw Super Mario Bros. 3 beaten in 11 minutes), I typically don’t mention speedruns here on the ‘Blog because, well, most speedruns of Zelda games fall into two categories. The first category involves speedruns that are boring because they exploit some glitch in the game that allows the player to defeat the game within the first five minutes, thus rendering the actual game rather pointless since it shows nothing of the actual game. The rest of them, as most RPG speedruns are, are boring because they’re long and tedious (four hours plus) and just show someone going through a game we already know… just at a much faster clip; there are a set number of things that have to be done to beat the game, and we all know those things that must be done, thus reducing an RPG speedrun to BTSTBT Syndrome (Been There Seen That Bought the T-Shirt Syndrome). Speedruns of action games like Mario are different because the player blatantly demonstrates sheer skill at every single point in the run to make it just that fast. And while I know RPG speedruns aren’t easy and require just as much skill to make, they just aren’t–how to say it?–flashy.
However, when I dared to spend two hours and 34 minutes (actually less due to me speeding up the video and skipping cutscenes) to watch the TAS of Ocarina of Time, I actually found my mouth agape with wonder as my eyes fixated on the spectacle. It wasn’t just the speed of the run that impressed me. (That’s BTSTBT Syndrome, of course.) No, for me it was a mixture of two things: (1) how impressively glitchy the Ocarina game engine is (I never realised that you could abuse it so), and (2) the fact that the dungeons were done well out of order. (I always allow myself the indulgence to personally do my hardest to force the game to let me into some dungeon out of the normal sequence on subsequent playthroughs of the game, just to see if I can get away with it.) This speedrun was like Ocarina on some hallucination-inducing substance; things that shouldn’t happen… happen, exposing just how fragile the actual computer code that comprises perhaps the most well-loved video game of all time is. (Perhaps this is just the software engineer in me getting my “fix,” but it’s good stuff.)
As such, I felt compelled by the goddesses themselves to relay to you some of the things I never expected could be done in Ocarina… and here’s the kicker, in the order they occurred in the speedrun:
2. Back to the Future — Link makes it past the gate on the other side of Gerudo Valley… and through the Haunted Wasteland (without the aid of either the Longshot nor the Lens of Truth!) to arrive at the Desert Colossus for the first time in the game. But that first visit to the Colossus should be made by adult Link! But the game doesn’t care; it’s the first time… so let’s introduce Sheik and teach Link the Requiem of Spirit! Awesom–hey wait a minute! Zelda’s still a princess back at Hyrule Castle (which we haven’t even been to yet…). Whoops!
3. “Officer, my license SAYS 17…” — While we’re doing things we shouldn’t be doing during the youthful half of the game, young Link decides to try his
4. Bombs? We don’t need no stinkin’ bombs! — So why did we go to the Spirit Temple that early, other than to get it out of the way? Bombchus. Link doesn’t have Bombs yet (since we haven’t been to Dodongo’s Cavern yet), but Link doesn’t have time to worry about those pesky inconveniences. So Bombchus will substitute nicely, especially since they will gladly blast you to hard-to-reach ledges (that you’re not supposed to be able to ordinarily jump to), thus bypassing sidequests, mini-bosses, and one half of the Dondongo’s Cavern itself.
5. The Laws of Cutscene Physics — I should note that Jabu-Jabu’s Belly was done prior to Dodongo’s Cavern (which is not theoretically possible, but at this point we might as well stop trying to keep hold of those inconvenient “facts”). So in this cutscene, do you notice anything… wrong? What about that bracelet on Link’s arm… that… oh, Darunia gives to Link? That Link hasn’t been to yet? But the game “knows” that he’s supposed to have gotten the Bracelet and Bombs in order to open up Zora’s River so that he can get here… (which we bypassed with the Golden Scale and swimming through the tunnel into the Domain), so… by the Cutscene Corollary, Link must have the Goron Bracelet! Exuberance!
6. There’s Something Fishy Here — See Switch. See Fish. Switch needs something to hold it down. Fish… er… kinda rhymes with Switch. Thus, Fish can hold down Switch. You all get that? Good, let’s move on…
7. A Ghost of a Chance — So with all the youth dungeons now, Link becomes an adult gets the Hookshot and Hylian Shield… and then sets off in completely the wrong direction. Instead of the Forest Temple, Link passes Go, collects his 200
8. Not between a Rock and a Hard Place — We don’t have Din’s Fire, but we needed the Big Key in this room. Problem? Not a chance! Link takes out his shield and braces up against the wall of spikes until the Redead in the room gets his attention… and once he does, Link freezes and cannot move… but the wall still continues to move. Thus, Link passes through it and is able to get the Big Key. Ironically, even though Link isn’t between the spikes anymore, once they crush together, Link still “dies” and re-enters the room with one less heart. A decent sacrifice, I guess.
9. He Gets No Respect — Ah, Mido. He thinks he’s big, bad, and all that. He thinks the Kokiri are the best in the land because they get to play 24/7 and don’t have to go to school. But what he doesn’t realise is that he’ll never grow tall enough so that Link cannot jump over him. (He also hasn’t figured out he won’t get any more birthday presents once he turns 10. Shhh!)
10. The Girls Think He’s So Hot — Literally. The chest with the Big Key is surrounded by fire, so you’re not supposed to be able to get it. But just before this, Link got hit with an enemy that set him on fire, so the fire around the chest can’t do anything until he recovers. And all Link needs to do is activate the cutscene in order to be safe. Tricksy little hero.
11. Bridge Capacity: Zero Tons — So let’s recap. We’ve only beaten the Shadow and Spirit Temples… yet… bwa? The Sages have made my bridge? Looks pretty see-through to me; I wouldn’t trust it without beating the other three temples, Link! Apparently, the game only checks to see if a player has beaten the Spirit and Shadow Temples to make this scene happen because, in theory, to get to the Shadow Temple you need the Nocturne of Shadow. But you cannot get that until Kakariko gets burnt, and that won’t happen until Forest, Fire, and Water are finished. So the two temples should be sufficient… unless your hobbies include wall clipping and sequence breaking!
12. Dungeon Design 101 for Dummies — This is pretty much the same thing as before with the Shadow Temple; Link found a way to clip through the wall, and so now he’s technically in the huge room that has the doors to all of the six seals of Ganon’s Tower. (The room you actually see is the first room in one of the six trials.) But the game engine believes he’s in that room over there (because that’s the last one it loaded), so it doesn’t draw anything but that room, meaning that the central chamber isn’t drawn. And if it doesn’t draw it, then it doesn’t render the evil barrier surrounding the central spire that leads to Ganondorf within that room. And if it doesn’t render that, well, it doesn’t exist, and so you can walk straight through it without rescuing any of the Six Sages. Ganondorf, you should be ashamed for not thinking of that!
13. Much Ado about Deku Nuts — Facing an extermination problem but you left all your good equipment back
That’s all for now. Next week we show you how to unlock the Hot