On February 26, 2020 MrCheeze bet Savestate that the Ocarina of Time speedrun would never go under 7 minutes. On July 22, 2021, Savestate won this bet, getting their name in the history books and completing The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time in 6:59.767
A Rich History
OOT might be the speedgame with the most documentation and mainstream attention surrounding its world record history. Narcissa Wright’s 18:10, Torje’s 16:58, and now the biggest barrier broken since the discovery of Stale Reference Manipulation (aka SRM, we’ll get more into that in a bit) — Savestate’s 6:59. It’s safe to say there was a lot that led up to what might be the last minute-barrier to ever be broken in OOT, but if I was to cover everything from the beginning we’d be here forever. Instead, let's take a brief overview of what the route looks like today.
Once Savestate is out of the 3-minute introduction, they do a backflip off of Link’s house and side jump to grab two rupees. The start of this run is all about grabbing some items and rupees to buy more items needed later in the run.
Savestate then continues on to grab the sword from a chest, grabbing more rupees along the way.
Next, it’s time for some rupee farming. Savestate grabs every permanent rupee in Kokiri Forest (the first area in the game) plus two random ones for a total of 55.
It’s possible to farm some more of the random rupees and save an additional 5 seconds, but Savestate intentionally opts not to for this run since it only has about a 14% chance of success. With the 55 rupees, Savestate buys a Deku Shield, which is needed to get Mido out of the way for a setup later in the run, as well as a Deku Nut, which is used for a glitch later on.
This is where things get wild and VERY technical.
Ocarina of Time is quite a long game casually, but a short speedrun while running under the Any% ruleset. This is because runners are now able to warp to the final credits from within the first area through an INCREDIBLY complicated process.
The tech behind this process is complex enough that after a few hours of research, I still feel as though I’ve only scratched the surface of it. I want to thank Savestate, MrCheeze, dannyb, and the Ocarina of Time Speedrunning Discord for assisting me with this information, and I’m going to do my very best to boil it down as best I can. I’ve also listed some documents and videos explaining everything with greater detail at the end of this article.
After leaving the shop, Savestate manipulates the actor heap at the transition between Kokiri Forest and the Great Deku Tree in order to set up the game’s memory appropriately, performs a glitch called Return A and then heads back up to the crawlspace where they grabbed the sword.
On the sign by the crawlspace, they use a glitch called Walking While Talking which, when combined with Return A, is able to create a Stale Reference from a rock, and then load a fairy in its place, modifying its data.
Normally when fairies are unloaded, they run a function in the unloading process. This function modifies memory in two places, and runners use SRM to modify memory based on the first and second halves of the player's filename.
Players use the first half of the filename to set all the grass polygons to a specific exit within Kokiri Forest, and the second half to set the current cutscene value to 7, which when combined with the exit mentioned previously, wrong warps the runner to the credits. Running back over to the Great Deku Tree unloads the fairy and activates the effects of the SRM.
When Stale Reference Manipulation was discovered, there were sub-categories created that banned its use due to how powerful it was, even spawning a new category representative of the route before SRM's discovery. The majority of the community and even the runners of Any% don't seem to enjoy the new Any% category in the traditional sense. However, there is certainly something to be said for the amount of effort, knowledge, and talent that exists behind this run.
So many people spent a combined hundreds of hours into the routing of this run. Even beyond that, the execution required to match up angles precise enough to allow for this glitch is astounding.
What lies ahead?
Well, as I was in the middle of writing this very article, prolific speedrunner DannyB who has also held many world records in the past was able to achieve a sub-7 time of his own — lowering the Ocarina of Time world record by a further 2 seconds with a 6:57.400.
Danny was even a contender to be the first person for a sub-7-minute time, but unfortunately due to a caching error (no fault of his own) he had two sub 7 pace runs die right at the end. He finally managed to get it on July 23, just one day later than Savestate. At the end of this run, Danny mentioned that Any% can be lowered by a further 5 seconds but that it won’t be him that does it.
So what’s to come? No one really knows. Will someone come along and lower the record right after this article gets published? Maybe. One thing is for sure, it seems the last minute barrier for Ocarina of Time has finally been broken.
No one’s ever claimed that before — right?
An overview of SRM, ACE and more
Stale Reference Manipulation Explained at GDQ
By ZFG, Savestate, & dannyb
Reach the Credits from Kokiri Forest using ACE (Ocarina of Time Glitch Explained)
Link — shows older route, but still great information
Ocarina of Time Speedrun World Record History Spreadsheet
By Ocarina of Time Speedrunning Community
OoT Speedunning Discord Server
By Ocarina of Time Speedrunning Community