Last year, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker speedrunners found a way to get to the end of the game early, but reaching Ganon for the final fight involved a risky trick that was entirely dependent on luck to complete. A new trick discovered this weekend removes the random chance and makes the game faster than ever.
"Barrier Skip" was once the Holy Grail of tricks in The Wind Waker. Near the middle of the game, Link descends into the flooded land of Hyrule and is blocked from entering Ganon's Castle by a massive magical barrier. For years, players searched for a means to break the barrier and managed to find a consistent method last year. This massive trick changed the way The Wind Waker was speedrun, allowing runners of the HD remake to get within one room of the final battle. But there was a problem: Getting to Ganon was basically a dice roll.
In order to reach the final battle, runners needed to do a "zombie hover", a trick that allowed Link to fly upwards after dying if runners mashed the correct button. In order to complete a zombie hover, Link needs to regain health before touching the ground. Zombie hovering in the Gamecube version used the Game Boy Advance "Tingle Tuner", which allowed players to purchase and use potions on the fly. The HD version doesn't have the Tuner, which meant runners had to break a pot and pray they hovered into a flying fairy that could zip off in any direction. It turned the Any% route, which seeks to beat the game as fast as possible, into a risky category reliant on pure luck. The difficulty lead to a decrease in Any% runs in favour of All Dungeons runs, which did not require the hover.
This weekend, speedrunner gymnast86 revealed a new trick known as a "morth hover" that could complete the zombie hover to Ganon without using a fairy. It involves attacking one of the cute, clingy morth enemies and using the heart they drop to restore Link's health. Morths only drop hearts when attacked by Link's sword, but by attacking the morth on the same frame it clings to Link. It prevents the morth from dying but tricks the game into thinking it was still killed from a sword stab. This allows runners to use the Korok Leaf to blow the still-living morth to the ledge they need to hover to. Killing it with an arrow will drop a heart that Link can use to restore life and complete the hover.
The trick removes roughly 10 minutes from Any% speedruns and cuts out a frustrating bit of randomness. Gymnast86 snuck in his own run with the new hover before the full reveal to briefly claim world record. The current record belongs to Linkus7 as of writing. The combination of Barrier Skip and reliable hovering has cut hours off the game's runtime and brings the game closer and closer to being completed in under one hour.