“Have you ever played a game so much that you feel like you’ve run out of replay value? Some people choose to come up with additional challenges such as beating a game as fast as possible, scoring as many points as possible, or pushing a multiplayer game to its competitive limit.” -Narcissa Wright (formerly known as Cosmo Wright)
On June 27, 2017, speedrunner LackAttack24 completed Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda in 27 minutes and 57 seconds. Some people may argue that his accomplishment is invalidated by the use of glitches, however, there are multiple categories for each speedgame, the one which LackAttack24 ran being “any%,” which demands that the player completes the game in the shortest amount of time possible. No outside equipment may be used, such as hacks or cheat codes, but glitches are fair game.
LackAttack’s run is currently the only speedrun of The Legend of Zelda in under 28 minutes and was achieved only 45 minutes after he set a new personal best time of 28:01.
One of the first things you might notice in watching his run is that LackAttack doesn’t do the dungeons in order. Typically, the game’s 9 levels are completed sequentially, with items found in each dungeon often being useful or even necessary for the next dungeon. In this case, however, LackAttack prioritizes getting bombs first, then the raft, which is found in Level 3, and then the stepladder in Level 4, before finally going to Level 1.
Routing is a crucial part of speedruns, and the fact that people spend several hours, days, or even weeks to route a single category adds another layer to the speedrunning community. Not only are there runners, but routers, glitch-hunters, code-diggers, and supporters. The only way speedruns of the quality they are today could exist is through the grueling efforts of an entire network of people connected by a single video game.
LackAttack24’s run involves multiple glitches and manipulations, the most notable being screen-scrolling and block clipping, however, there is also the constant murmuring of numbers, noting whether they are good or bad, and getting annoyed when he gets hit. This is due to another important part of the run: forcing item drops. Essentially, the game counts how many enemies Link kills in a row without getting hit. At a certain number and under certain conditions, a runner can “force” an enemy to drop certain items, the most common force being bombs.
Some people disagree with the use of glitches, as that is considered playing the game in an unintended way. If that defines you, dear reader, know this: firstly, the majority of speedruns out there contain glitches and are widely considered more entertaining to watch, as glitchless speedruns often contain large portions of downtime (such as slowly traveling to the next area).
Secondly, it is not clear-cut what the “intended way” to play a game is. For example, was it intended for, in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, crouch stabs to use the damage value of the last used attack? Because that way, you can attack with the speed and lower lag of a crouch stab, and deal the damage of a jump attack, but at the same time, it is a basic attack of Link’s. Was this intended? How can players be sure?
Thirdly, since there is no Glitchless category on SpeedRunsLive, the fastest off-the-records glitchless speedrun that was easily accessible was just over 38 minutes.
Speedruns are beautiful things both to watch and to try out. Runners such as LackAttack24 can be easily found on Twitch or other streaming websites. SGDQ, or Summer Games Done Quick, is a speedrunning charity event that was streamed from July 2nd until July 9th, and it is a fantastic way to learn about speedruns.