The last month has seen some dramatic changes to The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time speedrunning, especially in the completionist category. A handful of newly-discovered glitches and shortcuts have blown open the doors on what was previously thought possible. One of the scene’s most accomplished players has managed to combine them to achieve some incredible new world records.
In June, Ocarina of Time speedrunner ZFG broke a five month lull with a new world record of 4:10:17, nearly half a minute better than his previous best. But that was just the beginning: In the days that followed he dropped the time by over another minute down to 4:08:57, and then again, and again, and again.
In the last two months ZFG broke the world record for completionist (100%) Ocarina of Time runs nine different times, the most recent of which was on Monday of this week with a sub-four hour time of 3:57:38.
That’s a stunning amount of progress in a short period of time, but it was made possible thanks to two exploits discovered at the outset of winter.
“The last month was pretty crazy since in July some new tricks were found that saved 5 minutes off of the run,” ZFG told Kotaku in an email. “This game is no stranger to new glitches, stuff gets found all the time, but it never cuts off so much time all at once.”
The first discovery is a new variation on an existing glitch found by a player called Seedborn that streamlines the game’s Big Poes sidequest. In this quest, Link needs to give someone 10 Big Poes caught in bottles. It isn’t hard to find and collect them, but because Link only has so many bottles, getting 10 of them requires a number of back and forth trips that eat up time.
Previously, players had gotten around this by using an item duplication glitch that would duplicate Poes by turning other items into bottles with Poes inside. Seedborn’s method utilises a glitch where equipping fire arrows causes items in one equipment slot to get copied to another without overriding them in the inventory.
This glitch makes a lot of tedious chores and detours associated with the previous form of item duplication unnecessary, and as a result saves about minute on the average run. While that might not sound like a lot, it’s a lot for one particular quest and dwarfs a lot of the incremental progress speedrunners had been making previously.
The second trick revolves around finding a way to clip through Ganon’s castle at the very end of the game while trying to escape after the final battle. Around the same time as Seedborn’s discovery, players also found a way to use the game’s existing clipping exploit to fall through the castle without using cheats. This not only saved time on the way down but could also be manipulated to skip the cutscene that normally plays afterwards showing the castle falling apart.
Like the new way of duplicating items, these changes don’t just save time in their own right; they also make the rest of the runs cleaner by reducing the overall amount of backtracking and extra steps.
“These tricks also indirectly allow for another glitch to be used which allows you to get the biggoron’s sword faster by skipping some of the trading quest, something that was technically possible before but wasn’t practical due to the way the route worked out,” ZFG said.
While both breakthroughs, which ZFG goes into more detail explaining in a recent YouTube video, affect a lot of other moving parts in a 100% Ocarina of Time speedrun, the big takeaway is that there’s still a lot about the game and how it operates that, even all this time later and after thousands of speedruns, people still don’t fully understand.
“Before [these shortcuts], getting a run under 4 hours seemed like the dream but was just barely out of reach, and breaking that 4 hour barrier was going to be a big deal, then these new tricks come around and make it doable and we’re finally under 4 hours after years of slowly pushing the time down,” ZFG said.
“Even though it seems like we’ve found so much stuff in this game, there always seems to be even more to find, so I’m sure it’ll continue to go down even more.”
It’s an exciting time for the game and there’s so much still left to be discovered and improved upon.
“What I think is the best part of Ocarina of Time 100% is just how the huge amount of glitches in the game allow for such a variety of content,” ZFG said.
“There’s so much you have to collect, and with so many glitches you have so many different ways of doing everything, and so many ways you can order everything because of that. There’s so many different cool tricks used and we’re constantly changing the order that we do things just because there’s so many possibilities, which makes it change all the time.”