Zelda Runners – Breaking Barriers

Welcome back to your bi-weekly digest of all things Zelda speedrunning. Having stopped crying from the result of The Best Zelda Ever 2018 results, and having calmed down from the arguments which ensued in the staff chat, I’m just about ready to return to normal service. Just let me 100% Triforce Heroes one more time…


Now Playing

A new type of speedrunning marathon is coming soon! Bingothon is a charity event, which will be hosted by speedrunslive and is raising money for the Doctors Without Borders. As the name might suggest, the event will play host to multiple different bingo runs, featuring solo and vs races, and a whole bucket-full of different types of bingo. The event is still accepting submissions from runners, but expect to see at least 2 Zelda titles feature – Skyward Sword and Breath of the Wild. The event takes place over the weekend of the 1st/2nd December, so defintely catch it if you can! You can find out more information about the event, as well as the schedule when it’s published, on the event’s speedrun.com page.


Well, I’ve spent the last few weeks looking forward to sharing the results of the Oracle of Seasons any% tournament, for which the finals were due to take place recently. Unfortunately, due to illness, they haven’t be played yet, so there’s no result to announce. The final is a second meeting of runners dragonc0 and Sagaz, who met previously in Round 3, where dragonc0 narrowly took the victory. Sagaz fought valiently through the Loser’s Bracket in order to claim their rematch. As soon as the match takes place, I’ll share the winner on my Twitter account, so keep your eyes peeled if you’re interested in that result! You can find the bracket for the whole tournament, as well as lots more info, here.


Also this week:

  • The A Link to the Past randomizer recieved a spooky Halloween update. During the night phase, Link transforms into a Werewolf, which brings with it its own set of pros and cons (or curses!). Various other aspects of the game have been modified, so make sure you have your wits about you if you’re trying it out! You can find out more about this modification here.
  • Both the Ocarina of Time and Ocarina of Time 3D communities are considering some small rule changes. Those in the Ocarina of Time are voting to decide on the naming scheme for the Glitchless and Glitchless Bug Limit categories, and Ocarina of Time 3D runners are voting on whether defeating Ganon should be a requirement in the All Dungeons category. Both results will be featured in the next Runners article, so keep your eyes peeled!


Glitch Exhibition

This week’s glitch exhibition centers around Hyrule. “Well of course it does”, I hear you shout, “It’s from a Zelda game”. Well, yes, in that sense it does. But the feature this week quite literally surrounds Hyrule. More specifically, Hyrule Castle.

In The Wind Waker HD, upon stumbling across Hyrule Castle, you’ll find a huge barrier surrounds you. This barrier seems to stretch for miles into the sky (it does), and completely encircles the castle (also true). Before you can dispell this barrier, the game sends you on quite the wild goose chase, collecting charts and Triforce Shards, fighting Darknuts and generally throwing every bit of filler it can find at you. Of course, as speedrunners it would be much more convenient to just… go through this barrier immediately. Unfortunately, for a long time, this just wasn’t possible. The barrier goes far too high for us to hover over in any fashion, and is actually double layered – so any attempt to break through only solves half of the problem.

The actual requirements for breaking the barrier normally are deceivingly simple – watch the cutscene in which Link recieves the fully powered Master Sword, and dispel the Electric Barriers in the third iteration of Hyrule Castle. Unfortunately, this second point has some requirements of its own – recieve the Master Sword, watch the cutscene in which Tetra becomes Zelda, watch the cutscene in the courtyard after defeating the Helmaroc King, and defeat the Mighty Darknuts in the Master Sword chamber (this last point requires the Full Triforce to even trigger). In short, we can’t go through it, and we can’t even skip through any of the requirements to break it naturally. From a speedrunning perspective, it isn’t looking great.

That is, until a runner named Girtana claimed to have acheived the unacheivable. By utilising a glitch known as Item Slidingthey had managed to clip through the barrier. The barrier isn’t quite circular – it’s more a collection of straight lines that don’t quite meet properly. One of these intersections happens to be right in front of the exit from the castle. Convenient, right?

Unfortunately, on this occasion Girtana had no video evidence of the clip. With nothing to copy, the community were left experimenting for almost a year, before the very same Girtana repeated the clip, this time with video input. Finally, the barrier had been cracked.


So, now we’ve discovered barrier skip, we can just whizz through the game in no time flat, right? Not quite. Girtana’s setup for the trick required the Iron Boots, an item that can only be obtained by beating the Helmaroc King, and obtaining the Fire and Ice Arrows. By this point in the game, the only way to reach the barrier is by… completing all of the requirements to break the barrier in the first place? In its current form, Barrier Skip is useless.

That is, until a runner known as Gymnast discovered a setup using only the Grapple Hook, required to item slide in the first place. With this setup, we can make our way to Dragon Roost Island, obtain the Hookshot, then immediately set out to Hyrule, through the barrier, through Puppet Ganon, and on to victory with absolutely no problems whatsoever.

Not quite. You see, Barrier Skip in this form cuts out a huge chunk of the game (over 2 and a half hours!), but it comes at a cost, and a big cost at that.

Upon defeating Puppet Ganon, the player is required to clamber up several platforms using the Grapple Hook (which we did aquire) to the top of Ganon’s Tower. Here, just below the exit, is a Hookshot target. This single hookshot target shatters the any% category into a million peices. We can’t use the Grapple Hook to target it, nor can we collect the Hookshot itself (doing so requires the Iron Boots, which we’ve already established are useless). Runners are left with 2 equally daunting options.

The first is Puppet Ganon Skip. This monster requires the runner to enter the Puppet Ganon fight, die, then perform a trick known a Zombie Hovering (performing a jump slash between dying and landing on the ground, this trick allows runners to “float” up into the air). Once at the top of the chamber, they pull a bomb, which will explode and kill a keese, which in turn will drop a heart, reviving Link, who can now land on the exit balcony and carry on to Ganon. Sounds easy? Not really. It’s not any easier in practice, only around 2 people have ever recorded having performed this trick successfully.

The second, and the lesser of two both horrible evils, is the Fairy Hover. Two pots on the top floor of the chamber contain fairies, which will revive Link if they touch him during a zombie hover. By breaking these pots underneath the balcony, then performing a hover onto the balcony itself, runners can hope that, as the fairies fly away, one will fly into Link and revive him. As you might imagine, this trick relies incredibly heavily on RNG – the path the fairies take is entirely random. In theory, the success rate is roughly 5%. In practice, it’s much lower.

It is, however, the preferred option of the two detailed methods, so that’s what runners used. The game’s any% lost the vast majority of its runners due to the 90 minute run concluding in a trick that would end 95% of runs. It was so dire, it led the community to create the Puppet Ganon RTA category, effectively an any% run that ended just before the Fairy Hover.

That was the case, until runner Gymanst revealed a much easier and reliable alternative – Morth Hover. Also situated atop the chamber are three Morths (affectionately named Steve, Bernard, and Joe by Gymnast). Upon death, Morths can drop hearts. The solution seems simple – use the Deku Leaf to blow a Morth onto the balcony, shoot an arrow at it to drop a heart, then hover onto this heart.

Unfortunately, the game throws yet another spanner in the works. Morths will only drop hearts if killed by a sword slash, not arrows. This isn’t a problem though, as Gym kills the Morth as it attatches itself to Link. This causes the Morth to survive the hit, but store the sword slash damage, meaning that, regardless of the cause of death, it will always drop a heart.

From here, we shake off the Morth, blow him up onto the balcony, kill him, then zombie hover onto the resulting heart drop. Any% is once again, a relatively safe category. Well, that is until you factor in the Manual Superswim and Trial Skip. But those are stories for another day…

As of now, Item Sliding is only possible in the HD remake. This means skipping the barrier isn’t quite possible yet in the original game.

This Glitch Exhibition is based off a peice I wrote when I applied to write at Zelda Dungeon, over 8 months ago. I hope you enjoyed it!



As you’ll see later in the article, the new Bullet Time Bounce glitch in Breath of the Wild is really starting to chip away at the game’s times. To celebrate this, we’re chatting to a Breath of the Wild any% runner, KaoPyro.

EC: Tell us a bit about yourself!

Kao: I’m Kao Pyro, a 29 year old Computer Scientist from Texas. Breath of the Wild is my first speed running game. There are so many amazing runners in the Any% category that I haven’t been able to snatch any records, but I’m working hard to be competitive with the time I have.

EC: You’ve run quite the variety of Breath of the Wild categories. What is it about this game that draws you to it over the other Zelda titles?

Kao: I think my favorite thing about Breath of the Wild is the movement. Using trees, rocks, and now enemies to fling yourself through the sky at crazy speeds feels so good to me. There’s also so much variety, such as Flying Machine. All the possibilities keep me coming back.

EC: Most of your runs are of “normal” categories, such as any% and All Dungeons, but you have run Fall off a Cliff in the past. Do these “meme” categories just provide some relief from the more serious stuff? Would you ever consider running any other meme categories?

Kao: Given my day job and my family, my time to practice and do actual runs tend to be very limited. I’ve tried to budget my time so that I can make progress towards my primary running goals. Unfortunately that makes it hard to run some of the meme categories that exist. That being said, “meme” categories are a great way to break from the grind and do something different. Generally, I’ll do a meme category if someone in my chat requests it. That’s what motivated me to do Fall Off A Cliff and Any% w/ Hylian Shield. I’d be more than happy to try out some of the other meme categories, but I’m also starting to take an interest in Breath of the Wild Bingo.

EC: You mentioned BotW Bingo. Tell us a bit about how that works, and what you find so interesting or enjoyable about it.

Kao: With Bingo you generate a 5 X 5 Bingo board filled with different objectives in the game, such as reading a character’s diary, or find X number of Koroks in Y area. The you try to finish the objectives in any row, column, or diagonal as fast as you can. I like it a lot because it lets me experience areas of the game that I normally miss doing Any% runs. Everything you do is improvised, from the movement strats, to the route you choose to hit the objective. It’s a great break from the grind of the same route with the same techniques. It’s also nice because there’s no stress of the leaderboard as each new bingo takes a different amount of time to complete.

EC: With such limited time, would you ever consider branching out into other Zelda speedruns?

Kao: I would love to expand to new Zelda games. I always keep my eyes open for which games I want to try next once I feel I’ve accomplished my Breath of the Wild goals. There’s a lot of exciting things happening with Ocarina of Time, such as randomizers, I think would be really fun. In my opinion, it’s the next most open Zelda game so it’d be great to have the freedom that I’m used to with Breath of the Wild.

EC: With all of the breakthroughs being made in Breath of the Wild recently, it must be quite exciting to be part of a community that’s constantly changing and evolving?

Kao: Absolutely. I think this community is really great, with everyone working a discussing to find the best way to do these new glitches and exploits. I have to give my shout outs to Swiffy. They’ve been invaluable to finding these new strats and I’m always excited to see what they have to offer each new day, whether it’s highlighting something someone else has found, or showing off interesting things they’ve stumbled upon. Checking their twitter is now a daily routine.

EC: If you could only run one category of one game for the rest of time, what would it be, and why?

Kao: I think the category I would run would be All Main Quests for Breath of the Wild. Any%, while fun, only includes a very limited section of the game. On the other end of the scale, I find the korok grind in 100% to be a bit dull. All Main Quests hits every high point that exists in the casual game without falling into a grind for rupees, items, or koroks. I think it’d be something that would stay interesting for a really long time.

You can find Kao Pyro on their Twitter, and on their Twitch Channel.


Round Up

Legend of Zelda

RDO, Swordless, First Quest. kingdahl – 43:17

First Quest, Switch SE. CaptainGreen7 – 27:58


Adventure of Link

Any%, No Door Fairying. Antii85 – 1:07:23


A Link to the Past

Low%, NMG. wqqqwrt – 1:24:52

Master Sword, No EG/DG/WW

Max% Light World. Chexhuman – 44:32


Link’s Awakening DX

Any% (No ST/WW). SeYsEy – 36:53


Ocarina of Time

MST. Marco – 1:54:41

100%. zfg – 3:54:52

Child Dungeons, Glitchless. realtimeattack64 – 1:04:05


Majora’s Mask

100%. EnNopp112 – 4:38:16

Bug Limit. bann_jpn – 2:38:51

Blast Mask. ProbablyButter – 5:49:030


Twilight Princess

All Dungeons. ChaoticAce – 3:47:06


Phantom Hourglass

Any%. benstephens56 – 3:13:33


A Link Between Worlds

100%. TheLegendofZaheer – 3:03:06


Breath of the Wild

Any%, amiibo. rasenurns – 31:06

Any%, No amiibo. Wolhaiksong – 32:25.100

Any%, No amiibo, Bug Limit. keikou_yellow – 42:53.800

All Dungeons, Original, No amiibo, Bug Limit. keikou_yellow – 2:18:33.010

All Main Quests, Original, No amiibo. Twik – 3:31:59

All Main Quests, Extended, No amiibo, Bug Limit. AceTenPlays – 9:34:48.500

All Shrines, Original, amiibo. Vark – 7:38:49.080

All Shrines, Original, No amiibo. otk2488 – 9:39:13.850.

Master Sword and Dungeons, Original, No amiibo, Bug Limit. Grega – 3:26:31.160

100%, Original, No amiibo. SpecsNStats – 25:46:36

Great Plateau, any%, No amiibo. Wolhaiksong – 16:54.200

Die, Fall off a Cliff, No amiibo. Wolhaiksong – 1:29:390

Die, Ice Water, No amiibo, Bug Limit. HowlingSnail – 2:53.320

Go Home and Die, No amiibo, Bug Limi. Nicolasreci – 3:35.980

Die, Guardian, No amiibo. harmjan387 – 3:50.750

Die, Guardian, amiibo. Nicolasreci – 4:57.565


The Final Split

Due to some disruption next week (we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of the “best” Zelda ever), Zelda Runners will be back 3 weeks from now, but don’t worry, there’s plenty to keep you entertained. And I mean plenty.


Questing for Glory – 8th ~ 19th November – An epic marathon event featuring plenty of RPG speedruns. As you might imagine, there’s no Zelda to be found here, but with a huge 12 day schedule, there’s sure to be something left that will catch your attention!


Dreamhack Atlanta 2018 – 16th ~ 18th November – A collection of the most popular speedruns, showcased over 3 days. Zelda features big time here, with a Legend of ZeldaLink’s AwakeningA Link Between Worlds triple whammy closing the marathon.


Strugglethon – 16th ~ 18th November – This is a German marathon featuring runs of retro games! The event features A Link to the Past randomizer, a The Minish Cap any% run, and finishes with a Link’s Awakening Any% (No SQ/WW/OOB) run.


Spyrothon – 17th ~ 19th November – A showcase of the most exciting speedruns the Spyro games have to offer. Having a limited selection of games hasn’t stopped these runners – this event features multiple different categories and formats across the series.


ESA Movember 2018 – 23rd ~ 26th November – An online marathon held in order to promote awareness of men’s health. No Zelda here, however runs such as Mega Man 2 and Super Mario 64 are featuring.


Majora’s Mask Glitchless Showdown – 24th November, 11PM UTC – Two top class runners, TrevPerson and TheWayFaringFox, face off against each other in the second ZSR SpeedGame Showdown. This time, it’s Majora’s Mask vs Majora’s Mask 3D, and the runners will be competing in the glitchless category. Who will come out victorious? Only time will tell…


DreamHack Winter 2018 – 30th November ~ 2nd December – The second DreamHack event to occur this fortnight, this one features even more Zelda, with an All Dungeons Wind Waker HD run, and an any% Ocarina of Time run.


ResortFest: Game On 2018 – 30th November ~ 3rd December – A Marathon held to raise money for the Extra Life Charity. No Zelda here either, but it does include the first appearance of Deltarune at a speedrunning marathon.


Rayman Marathon 2018 – 1st ~ 2nd December – In a similar fashion to the Spyro marathon, this event will showcase some of the best runs the Rayman series has to offer.


Really-Really-Long-a-thon 2 – 1st ~ 15th December – In case the name and the date weren’t clues enough, this is a really, really long marathon. Not only that, but it only features categories which are over 4 hours long. Plenty of runs for everyone here.


And with that, you’re all caught up! Ocarina of Time fans – keep your eyes peeled for a special Runners article next week. And for everyone else, I’ll be back in three weeks with a recap of everything you’ve missed!

Euan is the host of Zelda Dungeon’s Speedrunning series, Zelda Runners. He can be found on Twitter and Discord (Euan Crombie#9657), and will bribe as many writers as necessary to put Triforce Heroes at the top of Best Zelda Ever 2019.

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