Randomised “Zelda: Ocarina of Time” Revitalises a Well-worn Classic

The speed-running community has been playing OoT for over 2 decades now. (I’ll give a couple of minutes to get over the existential dread that has just been brought about in anyone over the age of 30)…

… We good? Cool.

Despite the challenges that came with old-school speed-running, such as the need to videotape your TV as proof, a community started to blossom. 20 years later and that community has grown to take up prime spots at events like Games Done Quick and Twitch streamers can play infront of a regular audience for hours on end playing nothing but the N64 Zeldas.

Watching a Glitched run (a run where the player can utilise glitches to speed up their playthrough) is something truly special. These can be odd sequences of jumping and slashing that let the player phase through a wall or they can be frame-perfect movement that magically warp the player to the final boss.

There are a number of categories for speedrunning but the most common you will see are:

  • Glitchless
  • Glitchless 100% (getting all the key-items)
  • Glitched
  • Glitched 100%

Each of these categories offers enough variety and competition to keep things entertaining enough for run after run. Paths used for a quick dash to the finish line will inevitably be different than those used to cover the key parts of the map for getting 100%.

But after 20 years of running games like Zelda Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, what’s next?

Enter the mods.

The modding community is a world of its own but there is naturally a huge cross-over between them and speed-runners. After all someone who has dedicated 1000s of hours to a single game will be interested to see how that game can be re-mixed and re-made.

The Ocarina of Time Randomiser is a perfect example of how a 20+ year old game can be given new life, especially to speed-runner who knows the tricks to manipulating the games world.

A basic version of the randomiser looks something like this: The game starts as normal, the characters are the same, except Link might be given a purple tunic instead of green. But the contents of every chest are completely mixed up. Suddenly an item from the starting dungeon has been teleported to a random grotto in Hyrule Field.

This simple mechanic completely changes how a player has to approach the game. Now it’s a treasure hunt for bomb-bags so you can finally make some head way in Dodongo’s Cavern, but at least you can play the Bolero of Fire hours early!

And it doesn’t stop there. The settings that can be changed are VAST. Skulltulas, cows and even entrances can be randomised. And those all important ocarina songs? They can been thrown in to the mix as well.

The entrance randomiser is especially trippy and confusing. But there is nothing more amusing than running through a shop door in Hyrule market only to end up in the dessert. Watching a speed-runner tackle a completely remixed map while opening chests that contain completely random items is baffling and oh so amusing.

Who needs to buy Loot boxes with actual money when you can have the thrill of watching someone scour all of Hyrule for hours looking for the hookshot? To see them approach a chest, make a little prayer that they get what they need, only for it to be a blue rupee.

Zelda isn’t the only game to get the randomiser treatment. Pokémon can be modded to give you completely new starters and let legendaries show up in the grass like any old Pidgey.

Doom, Mega-man, Metroid, Dark Souls, there is a long list of games with Randomisers (or randomizers).

Though speed-runners have naturally embraced the fun alternative way to play, these mods aren’t just for the competitve-types or people with an enclyopedic knowledge of glitches. These are for all fans and the cool thing about the Ocarina of Time mod is that you can set the Seed (the mod that will then go on to change the Rom) to work for Glitchless runs. In other words, even if you don’t know how to clip through a wall, you should be able to finish the game anyway. You can even save a “spoiler log” that will help you out if you get really stuck.

So if you’re in the mood for a bit of Retro fun with a twist, I highly recommend taking a look at this community for yourself.

Writer of the dystopian-fantasy novel The Darwin Solution, Social Media Exec, part-time streamer and LPer. #gaming #books #writing #tabletop

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