The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has always been a hotbed of speedrunning activity, shifting and warping with new glitches. Whenever it seems there’s no more time to save, another trick is found. The latest involved manipulating the game’s memory itself and has led to a substantial new record.
Yesterday, a new Any% record was set by North American runner Lozoots, clocking in at 13 minutes, 48 seconds, 234 milliseconds. Lozoots then improved this time to 12:59, dropping the record underneath 13 minutes. The previous world record, 16 minutes 58 second, 366 milliseconds, was held for six months by speedrunner Torje Amundsen. Amundsen’s run was the culmination of a four-year effort to finally get the record below 17 minutes. Lozoots’ new records blast past that thanks to a trick that allows players to warp directly into the game’s credits. Ocarina of Time’s speedrun has been drastically altered by this glitch. It bypasess two boss fights—one against the game’s first boss, and another against Ganon—and removes the escape sequence from Ganon’s crumbling castle, cutting out a significant amount of time.
The credits warp is possible thanks to something called SRM, or “Stale Reference Manipulation.” Stale Reference Manipulation allows players to overwrite Ocarina of Time’s code, particularly values involving “actors” within the game world. It was a trick originally used to change the contents of treasure chests until other uses were found, including a variation that allowed Majora’s Mask speedrunners to achieve their Holy Grail trick of warping directly to the end of game on the Moon. SRM is a kind of arbitrary code execution that involves the player acting in highly specific ways that actually alter the game’s memory values. The steps might seem weird and nonsensical to those unfamiliar with the technique, but each step is extremely deliberate.
The requirements for a credits warp were found on January 3, but it wasn’t clear if runners could perform the trick in a real-time run. It turns out that they can, provided they have the right console: a Nintendo 64.
Glitches in speedruns are often dependent on consoles, which often leads runners to flock to certain hardware. A trick called “Get Item Manipulation” significantly helped lower the world record in 2016 but was performed on Wii Virtual Console since it would actually crash the Nintendo 64 version when first discovered.
The steps to alter Ocarina of Time’s memory to achieve a credits warp on the Nintendo 64 are complex, to say the least. It requires an ocarina, which means leaving the Kokiri Forest early before returning to the Deku Tree to grab the slingshot. These two items are required in order to perform the specific movements necessary for the warp. If a runner performs these movements throughout Kokiri Village, as seen in the video above, the game memory is altered and they are taken right to the credits.
Substantial discoveries such as this credits warp lead to burst periods of new world records and optimisations. Cutting off three minutes is a significant timesave, and it’s likely we will see Ocarina of Time’s world record lower even further in the weeks to come.