New EXPLOITS found in The Legend of ZELDA: Skyward Sword

New exploits have been found to save time in The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword!

These are all complex, yet excellently named glitches known to speedrunners of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword. These exploits, combined with countless other optimizations, have led to the world record time of the Any% category to be reduced by multiple hours in the past year. Despite all of this, Skyward Sword still remained one of the longest 3D Legend of Zelda speedruns (that crown is held by The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess).

Well, the run isn’t so long anymore!

In the past few months, even more developments of the route have taken place after a discovery made by speedrunner lepelog. The new techniques involve the Boss Rush mini-game that takes place near the end of the game. Lepelog discovered that this minigame provided the player with story progression flags even if the player did not attain those flags from the intended game sequence. This meant that if a player were somehow able to access the Boss Rush minigame early, they would be able to trigger said story flags without performing the original fight and skip entire sections of the game. As luck would have it, speedrunners of Skyward Sword were already familiar with a glitch which would make this very thing possible. 

Enter the glitch known as Back in Time, or rather, a contrary iteration of it known to the community as ReverseBiTMagic, or RBM for short. In order to get to the Boss Rush mini-game earlier than normal, a runner would perform the Back in Time glitch, which causes the game to send the player back to the title screen while simultaneously allowing the player to gain control of Link. This allows the player to move about Skyloft, a pivotal area from the game, and interface with the map while also selecting their save files. Performing certain actions such as interacting with trees, using bird statues, or talking to NPCs while having a save file selected can allow the player to set-up key story events on the title screen version of Skyloft, regardless of if the file has seen those events before or not. The act of setting up these events on the Back in Time map and then loading them into your save file in order to skip areas of the game is ReverseBiTMagic.

Runners are now able to set up a story progression flag using RBM that allows them to access the Boss Rush minigame after they gain access to the Lanayru region where the minigame is started. Runners also collect the Goddess’s Harp, which is one of two story dependencies required to open the Gate of Time and access the end game. The second dependency is defeating the second iteration of The Imprisoned, a recurring boss and the bestial form of Demise, the final boss of Skyward Sword. Now that runners can access the Boss Rush minigame early, they fight the required bossed which includes The Imprisoned, and obtain the story progression flag needed to progress towards the Gate of Time. The player is now able to completely bypass the Ancient Cistern and Fire Sanctuary areas, as well as skip obtaining items such as the slingshot, bombs, and the Beetle among others. All in all, this speedy technique saves about 35 minutes over the previous Any% route.

35 minutes!

The world record has now dropped to an unbelievable 1:24:18 at the time of writing, completed by Japanese speedrunner SVA. American speedrunner Gymnast86 is just seconds behind with a time of 1:24:33. Gymnast86 was just featured in Summer Games Done Quick Online 2020, where he performed an Any% run of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess HD. Zelda speedrunners: what will they find next?

Special thanks to Skyward Sword speedrunning community members Kitcot, Drsenseihugo, APerson13, Shoutplenty, Peppernicus, and Gymnast86 for their assistance in the creation of this article.

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