Zelda Runners – Brief Encounter

Welcome back to the latest edition of Zelda Runners! This week, we’re talking Games Done Quick, even more Breath of the Wild (when will we stop breaking this poor game?) and, in Glitch Exhibition, we’re taking a look at the enemy mechanics in the beloved Zelda II: Adventure of Link. Of course, there’s more to the article than I can fit in the introduction (otherwise it wouldn’t be an introduction), so without further ado, let’s take a look at the latest speedrunning news and breakthroughs!

 

Now Playing

This week saw the release of the Awesome Games Done Quick 2019 schedule. This is a week long charity marathon, held twice a year (a sister event, Summer Games Done Quick is held in, well, the summer) which raises money for various charities. The January schedule features 4 Zelda titles, including Majora’s Mask Any%, Twilight Princess All Dungeons, and Wind Waker HD 100%. Also announced recently was a brand new GDQ event – GDQ Express. Held at TwitchCon at the end of the month, this mini-marathon event also features numerous Zelda games, including a Super Metroid/A Link to the Past Combo Randomizer. Make sure to tune in if you want to know what a Combo Randomizer looks like (I know I do). The schedule for both events can be found on the Games Done Quick Website.

Breath of the Wild runners continue to find new and inventive ways of completely breaking the game. The latest glitch is Switch exclusive, and involves pushing a desert Lizalfos away from its resting place on a specific pillar. Effects of this include Link vibrating, tilting oddly, and moving incredibly slowly. Runners have been experimenting with transporting the glitch around the overworld, with varying success. No one is quite sure why this occurs, or what the applications of it could be in an actual run scenario, but one thing is for sure – this game edges closer and closer to being totally broken each day. You can find out more about this glitch (and multiple other unsolved problems) on the Breath of the Wild Discord, or by clicking the links in the above paragraph.

 

Also this week…

  • The Wind Waker Randomizer Tournament has started! Brackets were announced on Sunday, and races will be taking place all throughout the week! With over 20 participants, this promises to be an exciting tournament, be sure to tune in if you’re interested! You can find out more information on the tournament’s Challonge page.
  • The European Speedrunner Assembly (ESA) are holding a charity marathon at the end of November to raise awareness and funds for The Movember Foundation. This group works to promote awareness of men’s health, both physical and mental. The event is looking for both runners and volunteers to help out, so make sure to check out their information page if you’d like to sign up. As always, when the schedule is announced, I’ll have it right here for you to check out too!

 

Glitch Exhibition

Hands up if you’ve played Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. This week’s Glitch Exhibition is for you! Yes, all three of you. Ever been traversing the overworld and walked straight into an enemy encounter as soon as it spawned? Wished you could avoid these? Want to know the secret to avoiding enemy spawns altogether? Well, unfortunately, I’m here to say there’s no way to do this. There are, however, ways to minimize your chance of these encounters.

First of all, understanding how and when these enemies spawn is key. In the overworld, there are two mechanics which spawn enemies. A Time Counter and a Step Counter.

Upon entering the overworld map, the time counter has a value of 8 “ticks” . Each tick (apart from the first) lasts 21 frames, so 8 ticks lasts roughly 2.8 seconds. Once this value hits 0, monsters will spawn if you are on a tile which allows them to do so (any tile other than a path), and the timer will reset to another value. This value depends on the terrain on which you are currently travelling.

  • Grass/Swamp – 32 Ticks (11.2 seconds)
  • Desert/Forest – 24 Ticks (8.4 seconds)
  • Graveyard – 9 Ticks (3.15 seconds)
  • Lava – 3 Ticks (1.05 seconds)

Every  time the counter reaches 0, new enemies will spawn. If the player is standing on a path when this counter hits 0, it will remain at 0 until you step off the path, when monsters will immediately spawn, and the counter reset to a new value.

The step counter works alongside the time counter, and begins as soon as you step onto the Overworld. Starting at 1, it increases by 16 for every step you take. When the counter hits 255 (16 steps later), monsters spawn and the counter is reset to 1. However, unlike the time based counter, if the player is standing on a path when the counter hits 255, no enemies will spawn, and the counter simply resets to 1. This is why runners usually stick to paths when possible during their runs. Additionally, this counter isn’t applied in some areas, notably in Northwest Hyrule, around the North Palace, and around Palace 1 (however the Time Based counted still increments).

The next step in minimizing encounters is understanding how spawned monsters move around the map. 25% of the time, all enemies will move in a random direction. The rest of the time, they’ll follow the patter shown in this diagram. In general, they’ll attempt to home in on Link.

So, with what we now know, how do the best of the best go about avoiding encounters? First of all, knowing when enemies will spawn helps prepare you. The first set will spawn after approximately 2.8 seconds, or when you step off a path. Keeping a rough count of your steps is also useful. Once monsters do spawn, don’t be afraid to pause in order to give yourself enough time to react to their positions. Finally, there are some cases when you can bait monsters into homing into you, then dodging out of the way at the last second. Together, these should allow you to skip out on most encounters.

No one is perfect though, so would should you do if you do find yourself facing off against a monster? Obviously in an encounter situation the fastest option is to leave, but there are some general combat tips that work throughout the game.

The most useful of these is known as The Jackhammer. While the game limits the number of sword stabs that are possible in a short space of time, there is no such limit on down stabs. As such, getting above an enemy and mashing the B button is a very effective and quick way of dealing damage. Additionally, it’s possible to jump “into” an enemy when doing this, allowing the player to deal lots of damage without receiving any themselves.

Another technique is known as The Whirlwind (or, if you prefer, The Panicked Dolphin). This technique is much harder, and is usually only used in TASes. It can also only be used to damage one enemy – the Thunderbird. Similar in technique to the Jackhammer, this uses sword stabs alternating between left and right, which bypasses the limit on sword stabs per second.

And, once it’s all over, what does the enemy drop? Thankfully there’s a method to predicting this too. While not

100% accurate, it can help knowing in advance what the possibilities are.

Like its predecessor, enemy drops are determined by internal counters. All enemies are split into 3 groups (seen in this picture) – No Drop, Small Drop, and Large Drop. As you might imagine, this gives an insight into what each enemy can drop. Each of the “Drop” groups has a counter, which counts from 0 to 6 each time you defeat an enemy. The 6th monster to be defeated will yield a drop, and the counter will reset.

Enemies from the Small Drop group have a 7/8 chance to drop a Blue Jar, and a 1/8 chance to drop a 50 Point Bag.

Enemies from the Large Drop group have a 1/2 chance to drop a Red Jar, and a 1/2 chance to drop a 200 Point Bag.

 

Spotlight

This week’s spotlight is a Breath of the Wild specialist. With the game now being broken like never before, I asked him about his experience within the speedrunning community.

EC: Tell us a bit about yourself!

Wolhaiksong: I mainly run Breath of the Wild and have been doing so almost since the game release. I have also run other games but mainly as a one time thing, I really enjoy the process of learning a speedrun. I currently hold the Any%, no amiibo and Great Plateau Any% world records. I plan to keep improving my  times in both categories but in the future I would love to focus in other categories I’ve previously ran like All Main Quests and Master Sword RTA. I got into speedrunning through Games Done Quick. One day I was really bored browsing Youtube when I found an Ocarina of Time speedrun recorded at Awesome Games Done Quick 2014, and I immediately fell in love with speedrunning. Obviously the fact that beating a game you played in your childhood  in less than 5 hours is just mind blowing, but the main thing that caught my attention was the fact that these people managed to pull off tricks that looked insanely hard one after the other.

EC: You’ve got quite a bit of experience in Breath of the Wild. What is it about this game in particular that draws you to it over other Zelda speedruns?

Wolhaiksong: One of the big things that stopped me from speedrunning is that most games that I was interested in running were old Zeldas like Ocarina of Time or Majora’s Mask which look really hard overall and have plenty of runners who have been playing for years, so it was a bit discouraging. I’m extremely competitive when it comes to games so that was definitely a big turn off for me. I’ve played almost every Zelda ever, so when Breath of the Wild came out I bought it as soon as I could (late March 2017) and started playing it. I just loved that the game gave a different feel from every other Zelda. I started watching speedruns of the game even before buying it and, obviously as the game was relatively new, runs were fairly simple. Added to the fact that I loved the game it was a no-brainer, it was the perfect opportunity to start speedrunning. Now that I’ve been running for a bit more than a year I can say that it’s all about practice and that there was no reason to feel discouraged at all.

EC: What would you say to someone who wants to start speedrunning, but hasn’t quite made the leap yet?

Wolhaiksong: I’d tell them that speedrunning is not as scary as it looks. It’s really all about practicing. I feel that most people think that running is all about getting good times and World Records, when you can just speedrun for fun. Anyone can speedrun as long as they have enough patience to learn a run. I would personally recommend it since you never stop learning things and you can always get better, it really never gets boring.

EC: What’s it like being part of the newest Zelda Speedrunning community? Is it exciting having new tricks and routes discovered almost weekly?

Wolhaiksong: I’ve been part of other gaming communities but this is my first speedrun community and it has been an amazing experience so far. It’s just so different from every other community I’ve been in. It feels like everyone is working together towards the same goal, which is just trying to find the fastest possible way to beat the game with the given restrictions of each category. This Zelda community has a lot of people who started speedrunning with this game as well so it feels like we are all growing together as runners. It’s exciting and very tiring at the same time – you’re constantly forced to adapt to different routes and learn new tricks all the time, but it just makes running this game much more interesting. Shield Clips, for example, were discovered last week and we have been working non stop towards making them more consistent. first it was just possible to clip into shrine by ramming Link with a box against a wall, now we can completely skip the Great Plateau Tower, and we’re looking into skipping cutscenes in the Shrine of Resurrection. It just never stops.

EC: How does the community react when a new trick is discovered? It must be quite exciting to have everyone working on the same thing at the same time.

Wolhaiksong: We get a lot of different reactions, most runners get really excited since this game is new and doesn’t have many tricks, so new discoveries are always welcomed. Obviously there are runners who don’t like learning new tricks but I’d say they are in the minority. The cool thing about having a lot of people looking into the new tricks is that each of us can focus on the use of that specific trick for the categories that we run

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

I think I could choose Majora’s Mask Any%, it looks like an incredibly hard speedrun that requires a lot of skill to master that has also tons of fun tricks. It really feels like I could practice my entire life and it’d still not be enough to get an optimized run. Majora’s Mask Any% is always a category I’ve wanted to run (which I am currently practicing) so even if I haven’t run it I think I’d have fun doing it.

Wolhaiksong can be found on Twitter, and streams his attempts on his Twitch Channel.

 

Round Up

Legend of Zelda

First Quest, Any%. Eunos – 29:53

First Quest, Max Keys. rooslugs – 46:43

 

A Link to the Past

100% Item Completion. Xelna – 2:00:51

 

Majora’s Mask

Low%. Tinper – 5:02:09

6 Masks. ProbablyButter – 7:20.320

Deku Mask. RiceHapling – 29:59.020

Upgrade (Razor Sword). ProbablyButter – 10:47:790

 

Twilight Princess

Goron Mines RTA. Taka – 1:05:26

Void Warp x100. ChaoticAce – 21:56

 

Ocarina of Time 3D

Any%. Gymnast86 – 37:42

MST. Gymnast86 – 2:08:41

 

Wind Waker HD

Din’s Pearl. Ian_Miles – 24:02

 

A Link Between Worlds

Any%. TheLegendofZaheer – 1:21:10

 

Majora’s Mask 3D

No Wrong Warp. Iwabi74 – 1:44:04

All Masks. TheLegendofZaheer – 2:28:57

 

Twilight Princess HD

Any%. Demon – 3:28:34

 

Breath of the Wild

Any%, amiibo. rasenurns – 34:06

Any%, No amiibo. Wolhaiksong – 33:59.440

Master Sword, No amiibo. Sketodara01417 – 1:59:06

 

The Final Split

In an ideal world, you’d just be able to listen to my voice in your ear, 24/7, feeding the latest speedrunning news straight to your brain all the time. Of course, we don’t live in an ideal world (we live in one where Ocarina of Time is considered an above average game), so here’s some events to keep you ticking over til we meet again.

GDQ Express – 26th ~ 28th October – As mentioned above, this shorter marathon takes place at TwitchCon over a single weekend. All the best parts of a Games Done Quick Event rolled into one concise fun time! Also features some seriously crazy Zelda categories!

 

And, with that, I’m done for another fortnight! As usual, any questions about anything brought up in the article, fire them in my direction and I’ll be sure to help. Until then…

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