Submission #1575: Phil & Baxter's NES The Legend of Zelda in 24:04.05

Nintendo Entertainment System
FCEU 0.98.12
Legend of Zelda, The (U) (PRG0).nes
Submitted by Baxter on 5/21/2007 4:42:31 PM
Submission Comments
This is a new run of the first quest of The Legend of Zelda. It is 1 minute and 24,55 seconds faster than the currently published movie (5073 frames). The improvements came from a completely new route, better strategies and luck manipulation, glitches and some new techniques. We started working on this movie 18 months ago (yes, that's back in 2005). Before we started, we studied lots of possibilities and came up with a completely new route. Optimizing rooms, and getting good randomness is extremely difficult. Trying to get some rooms as fast as possible literally took months (although some of this time obviously just went in being demotivated by not getting the results we wanted). Eventually, we got it like we wanted. We made this run by constantly competing with each other. If one of us complete a room, the other tried to beat him. This progress continued untill we were both convinced we couldn't improve the room anymore. This is also why actual amount of rerecords spent on this run is much higher than the number it shows, since we picked only the fastest version in the end. Genisto also contributed, up till getting the first triforce (so only the very, very beginning). We didn't tell we were working on this run because we wanted to make is a surprise. If we had told we were working on this, some people would have to have waited for 18 months for it to be finished. There was recently a topic about keeping secrets at the forum, but no one showed interest in improving the previous first quest zelda run. The only one who did was Morrison. We told him we were already working on it for a long time, and told him some of our plans. He wanted to make a Zelda run because he thought the previous version could be improved, so he was actually glad to hear it was already being worked on, and decided not to work on it himself. If you want to get some surprises, then watch the run first, before reading the rest of this text.
  • FCEU 0.98.16
  • Aims for fastest time
  • Takes damage to save time
  • Uses a game restart sequence
  • Abuses programming errors
  • Manipulates luck
  • No predefined saves
  • Genre: Action
  • Genre: Adventure

The new route

Note that this section only lists the new route and its advantages and disadvantages, all the stuff that saved time which isn't related to the route is discussed in the next section.
We didn't like the idea of collecting the white sword, so we studied what possibilities this presented. After a lot of timing and testing, we came up with a completely new route:
Route in previous TAS:New route:
Get wooden swordGet wooden sword
Enter level 3Enter level 3
Get raftGet level 3 triforce
ResetEnter level 3
Get level 3 triforceGet raft
Get candleGet candle
Enter level 4Enter level 4
Get ladderGet ladder
Get level 4 triforceGet level 4 triforce
Enter level 1Enter level 8
Get bowGet level 8 triforce
ResetGet meat
Get level 1 triforeEnter level 2
Get white swordGet level 2 triforce
Enter level 5Enter level 5
Get WhistleGet whistle
Get level 5 triforceGet level 5 triforce
ResetWhistle to level 3
Enter level 8Enter level 7
Get level 8 triforceGet level 7 triforce
Get meatReset
Enter level 2Enter level 1
Get level 2 triforceGet bow
Whistle to level 1Reset
Get ArrowGet level 1 triforce
Enter level 6Get arrow
Get level 6 triforceEnter level 6
Whistle to level 3Get level 6 triforce
Enter level 7Whistle to level 1
Get level 7 triforceEnter level 9
Whistle to level 1Get silver arrow
Enter level 9Save Zelda
Get silver arrow
Save Zelda
In short:
  • Old: 341582679
  • New: 348257169
Note the small difference in how level 3 is played. The triforce is obtained first, then the level is re-entered to get the raft. The reset that follows saves the game, so link will appear at the start of the game again (a normal continue would get him at the start of the level). This way, resetting is used once less in this level, which saves time. Link re-entering the level however costs time, and saving is also longer than normally continuing, since the game file needs to be selected again. At the end, this way of playing level 3 is a few frames faster only. When playing the level like this, the enemies appear at different places than with the old route, which was favourable too. There is another advantage. Besides the sequence being a few frames faster alone, you will also re-enter the level with 4 full hearts. These hearts can be used for boosts. You might argue that you will also get 3 hearts at the old route, when resetting after the raft, but there aren't as many good places to take boosts when going to the triforce. Walking up to the raft has more possibilities to take damage in a useful way, and this time you have four hearts to do so, instead of just the amount you have left after walking up to level 3.
Now for the real route changes. The main difference is that fact that this run does not collect the white sword. Collecting the white sword involves walking up a long stairway, walking all, a room transition, walking all the way to the other end of the room to enter a cave, listening to the message that you need to master the sword first, and walking all the way back. You can imagine that you will save quite some time by just not doing all of this. There is obviously a downside to not having the white sword; everything needs to be done with the wooden sword, which is only half as powerful. For the normal rooms, with a lot of luck manipulation and good strategies, nearly no time needs to be lost (and because we spend a lot of time on luck manipulation, we saved a large amount of seconds on these room). It made the TASing harder, but it paid off at the end. The bosses however, more specifically, the level 8 boss, the miniboss at level 9, and ganon do take quite a bit longer. At the end, not picking up the white sword is still the best option, since it's the fastest, and also the most interesting.
Not taking the white sword has other advantages. There is no particular reason to wait with doing level 8, since it has to be cleared with the wooden sword eventually anyway. This makes it possible to do level 8, then level 2 and level 5. The main difference with the old run here is walking to level 5 from level 2, instead of level 1. The path from level 2 to level 5 is faster than from level 1 to level 5. Going from level 2 to level 5 is never even an option if you want to take the white sword, since it would require passing level 5 to obtain the white sword, so it would take even more time than previously discribed.
But there is more. Since we walk somewhere from level 2 this time, we aren't just stuck there. The previous run had to use the whistle to warp from level 2 to level 1 (to go to level 6). This means we have to use the whistle once less than in the previous run. Using the whistle takes quite some time, since it had to be blown twice, then it has to travel all the way over the screen, and there is a room transition, so it's quite good to avoid going through all this once (this run uses whistle to warp twice, the previous run three times).
Then after level 5 (so up to here, we did 3,4,8,2,5) we whistle to level 3, to reach level 7. This also saves time, since we just beat level 5, and we needed the whistle anyway to fight the boss. The previous run did a reset after level 5, so it had to warp three times, it had to go to the start menu to select the whistle three times. In this run, we use whistle twice, and only have to go to the start menu once. So we save two trips to the start menu.
After level 7, we use a reset, in order to walk to level 1. The previous run used the whistle to warp after level 7. Only problem there was that using the whistle would Erase the water in the lake, instead of producing a warp. In order to warp anyway, link had to walk all around the lake, and have a room transition, in order to warp in the room below. So by using a reset after level 7, this walking around the lake and room transition were also avoided.
As said before, we walk up to level 6 after level 1, and along the way we buy the arrow. This means we completed levels 3,4,8,2,5,7,1 before having to buy the arrows. The previous run hadn't completed level 7 at this point, so we also had level 7 to collect the rupees that were needed to buy the arrow. Level 7 had a good spot to pick up two blue rupees without losing much time, so this also saved time (since the previous run had to collect them at a spot not as good). Basically we had more time to collect them, so we could be more picky about where we lost less time, and we had the extra option of collecting rupees in level 7, which turned out to be good. After level 6, we warped back to level 1 to go to level 9. This part of the route up to the end was obviously the same as the previous run. The actual execution of this new route however wasn't the same as the previous TAS. More in-depth stuff can be read in the next section.


Note that the levels are bolded if for if you are looking for something specific in that level.
You might notice that we didn't use the first save file. Creating a file at the second or third is one frame faster, since you can press select to switch the file, and A to create a file at the same time, which is why we created a file at slot 3 instead of slot 1. After entering the cave, link immediately faces right. This is not particularly faster, and can also be done in a normal run obviously. Collecting the sword from the bottom is however one frame faster than collecting it from the right. You might wonder why this is. The answer is simple, yet strange. The reason why picking up the sword from the bottom is one frame faster is because link has made one more turn ("up, right, up" instead of "up, right"). This means that zigzagging is the fastest way to move, since you make as many turns as possible, and each turn will save one frame. But then of course you wonder why link didn't zigzag when walking up to the cave. Strange enough, zigzagging will only save a frame at each turn if link moves to the upper right, or the lower left. This means that zigzagging to the cave with the sword (which is upper left) will be just as fast as taking a path that has fewer corners. So basically, in this run we will always make a zigzagging motion when walking to the upper right, and lower left, and we tried to make relatively few corners when walking to the upper left and lower right (to avoid constant zigzagging).
After getting the sword there is obviously the reset, since it's faster than leaving the cave normally. We walk up to level 3, and because there are some damage boost at the first room which features water, it might be good to say something about randomness and damage boosts here. Enemy movement can be influenced by the frame the room is entered. So waiting a frame, or a few frames, before entering the room, might make the enemies move in a certain way which will save you a lot more frames than you spend manipulating (at least, that's the idea). Enemy movement is also influenced by links position (especially if enemies are on the same horizontal or verical line as link (just think for instance of the snakes, which will move very rapidly towards you when you are in the same line as you, other enemies are also influenced by links position)). Then there is another (maybe the most important) option to manipulate enemy movement, the select button. You can pause the game any time you like, and it will instantly freeze by pressing select. Pressing select again will unfreeze the game, and hopefully, you won't need to wait very long with the game paused untill you have the randomness you want. Having lots of options to manipulate like this is good, but it's still hard to get what you want in the end. And even if you do get what you want, maybe there is a faster way. Or maybe there is a slower way, which required less frames to manipulate it. Even though movement is mostly manipulatable, the places where the enemies appear is not. They didn't always appear in the same spots in this run as in the previous run, since we took a different route. Sometimes we were lucky, sometimes unlucky with the enemy placement. We were able to use enemy placement to our advantage in level 3, since there were two different routes that were about the same length. All of this made the game extremely hard to TAS. (On a side note, we tried to hide the frames we needed to manipulate stuff as good as possible, but this was not always possible. Most noticable is probably using select, since it also makes the music stop.)
A damage boost roughly saves 13 frames. You can't just say, "link has health, lets take some damage boosts". The enemy randomness might not be good to take them. If you have to wait like six frames to manipulate the randomness in a way that you can take a boost, you can wonder if it is really worth it. There might be another place where the boost can be done better. It's obviously also better to take a boost from an enemy which damages you 1/2 heart, instead of a full (2/2) heart, or even 4/2 hearts. Sometimes, it's also good to have all hearts, since link will have flying swords (although this is not as good in this run, since we only have wooden sword). It is even more important to get to the triforce with full health. If you don't have full health, the triforce will refill your health, which is a lot slower than any kind of damage boost.
So after the reset we go left, up and left. We took two damage boosts in the room with the river, to enter the room where we get our first bombs. A nifty strategy was though off here by Genisto, which damage boosted both link and the enemy in the right direction. After killing the enemy, there is a short wait to collect the bomb, in which link is able to kill the red enemy for extra health... which brings up item drops from enemies. As you probably know, not all enemies can drop all items. It is no coincidence that a blue enemy was killed in this room for bombs, and not a red (not implying that all blue enemies give bombs, but for these enemies particularly, the blue ones are able to give you bombs, and the red ones not). Then you can influes what item you get by killing the enemy at different frames. Killing other enemies first will also influence the items that are dropped (we will see this later on). Lastly, it is not always possible to get any item you want. For instance, at the room where we got our first bomb, it would be impossible to get another bomb from the other blue enemy in this room (not that we would want that, but still). This also gives certain limitations.
Then we walk into level 3, where we need to collect ten rupees to be able to gamble. In the third room, we place a bomb at a spot so that we can walk a little in the right direction while waiting to be able to pick up the bomb. Picking it up with the sword also saved a little time. Instead of going to the left to get the raft, we go to the right to get the triforce right away (more on this at the 'route' section). Also note that each time we zigzag, we save a few frames. We obtain the fairy from the boss when talking out of the door. When you walk out a door (and also when using the ladder), you are able to swing your sword and keep walking at the same time. So this is a really nice way to pick something up and only lose very little time. We re-enter and have 4 hearts this time to take more damage boosts. This time, we kill all slimes in the third room, to get the key and five extra rupees. We pick up the rupees while walking out the door again, just like the fairy after the bossfight. Then our first darknut room. It would be possible to kill all of them with one bomb, but for that, they need to walk untill they are all close to one another... and it was faster to just walk up to them and use two bombs. When picking up the bomb the thing with leaving the door is used again, but there is something special happening this time. Link didn't have to turn around to swing his sword at the item. Basically, if you swing your sword anywhere near the right or the bottom of an item link will pick is up, even when he is a too far away to pick it up regularly with his sword. As for the room where we picked up the raft... you might argue there is still 1/2 a heart left that could be used to take a damage boost. This means that taking another boost in this room, or anywhere else, it was not faster to manipulate the boost, and take the boost, or taking the boost somewhere might have seriously messed up the randomness somewhere (this also goes for other places where you think, we have too much health left... if it was faster to take a boost somewhere, we would have taken it).
After saving and selecting the saveslot again (resetting and pressing continue would make link appear at the start of level 3, this makes him appear at the start of the game), link goes gambling. The 50-rupee obviously appears twice in the middle, and we can buy a candle. Then we enter level 4 to pick up the ladder. When getting it, we press left+right+B to show a nice graphical effect. In the next few rooms up to the boss, you'll notice that link is also able to swing his sword and lay bombs without losing any time if he uses his ladder. You might wonder why we used that bomb in the room we just walk through. It was two reasons. The first one is the fact that we need to have candle selected, when we complete the level, and depleting all our bombs at the end of the level will avoid having to go to the start menu. The second reason is that killing this enemy allows us to get a fairy from the level 4 boss (yes, it's as strange as it might sound). At the room before the boss, all bombs are gone, and candle is automatically selected (we did get eight new bombs right away, since level 8 is up ahead). At the bossfight, we use the candle to take damage, which allowed us to move closer to the door at the end of the battle we get the fairy when walking out of the door again. The good thing about taking damage with the candle here is that if only give 1/2 heart damage, which leaves us with one full heart. A fairy only gives three hearts, so if we had less than one heart health, the fairy wouldn't fully replenish our health.
You will notice that we take another path to level 8 than the previous run because it's faster. This isn't listed at 'route' section, since the old run also could have taking this path to level 8 (or rather, to the place where you get 100 rupees). You will notice that we drop two bombs at the start of level 8 where they have no function. We dropped them because of a automatic weapon change later on, and it didn't cost and time to drop them here. Then the first blue darknut room. These are extremely hard. The enemies walk really fast, there are lots of them, there is lag, you have to hit them with two bombs instead of one, and so on. Every individual enemy needs to walk in the exact right way to make it work. Rooms like these took a LOT of time. Something which also makes it hard for darknuts particularly is the fact that they can't be hit from one side. This is also true for bombs. If they walk in the opposite direction as you placed the bomb, they will look damaged, but they won't lose any health. After this room, there was another blue darknut room. This time not with five darknuts, but six. We killed a bat manipulate the boss to drop a fairy. At the bunny room, we used our last bomb, to make the automatic switch (this switch wasn't made in the previous run) to candle. The boss battle is about twice as long as the battle in the previous run though, since we had to fight it with the wooden sword, instead of the white sword.
For level 2, we actually have full health some of the time, since having flying swords pays off here. The snakes can be killed with one hit from the wooden sword. We did take damage sometimes, which is filled up with hearts later on. The strategy of one of the rooms actually includes killing an enemy fast to get a heart, and use a flying sword in the very same room. Together with the candle these rooms can be cleared really fast. We also collected a few rupees in this level. Bombs in this level were obtained in a similar way as the first bombs; damage boosting both the enemy and link in the right direction. The red dots in the desert room were a bit slower than the published run, since we didn't have white sword, but the right manipulation and the use of candle limited this to a minimum (they don't move together like that normally :). At the room before the boss we pick up some more bombs, when walking out the door.
Walking from level 2 to level 5 is faster than walking from level 1 to level 5. Since after getting the flute in level 5 there is a reset, there was a nice opportunity to take a lot of damage boost when walking to the level. Also note the backwards walking when entering level 5 ;). You might notice that the mummy with the bomb is located at a slightly worse place than in the previous run, but like we mentioned before, enemy placement is not manipulatable, so we were also lucky with enemy placement sometimes. The in the first darknut room, we use a newly discovered glitch.
This glitch was discovered by Baxter on the day we wanted to submit our run. We were almost done with the run when Link got himself stuck halfway in a wall. The trick works as follows: Walk parallel, with a distance of half a tile, to the block you want to enter. Walk to the direction of the tile, and place a bomb towards it. Press up+left (when you want to enter the tile from above) or down+right (when you want to enter the tile from below) when Link is laying the bomb, doing this 1 frame is enough. Then you can just walk towards the tile, and you will be able to walk into the block half a tile. This glitch is useful for rooms like the first darknut room in level 5. There is no need to push the block anymore, so the enemies don't need to be killed. There are six rooms like these in this TAS (one at level 5, one at level 1, and 4 at level 9). Being able to skip the first miniboss in level 9 only makes our route choice, of not picking up the white sword, better, since bosses like these have the biggest problems with not having the white sword. Too bad this glitch was found when we were already basically done with the TAS, since we had to redo half of the TAS (everything after entering level 5) (it can also be argued that we were lucky, that the glitch wasn't useful anywhere before level 5).
So the first darknutroom, with five blue darknuts is basically skipped. Too bad we still had to do the second darknut room, with six darknuts, but it was still better than redoing both. We killed a bat to manipulate bombs in the mummy room that was ahead. We obtained a heart where we got the key, which meant that we didn't need a fairy from the boss. It would have taken a lot longer at this boss to collect the fairy, since it doesn't appear near the door. The boss battle might have been a little slower because we had to hit him four times with the wooden sword, instead of twice with the white sword. If you however hit an enemy (or boss) at the same frame with the sword as the bomb explodes, then both hits will count. This is why Link is making his sword movement when the whistle is blown (the A button and B button can be pressed at the same frame, and both weapons will be used). We also keep the whistle, so we can use it right after the level finishes.
After warping to level 3, we moved on to level 7. We were able to take some nice damage boosts, but unlike level 5, there is no reset within the level, so we have to make sure we end up with full health at the triforce. Luckily, we were able to manipulate a fairy along the way. When entering level 7, we also used the glitch, to be half a tile closer to the entrance that appears. We also placed some bombs randomly at some doors, to have the right amount of bombs to make an automatic weapon switch to meat (this also wasn't done in the previous run). The enemy that gave us new bombs was positioned in a slightly worse place than in the previous TAS, so we lost a few frames there (but like mentioned before, enemy placement can only be manipulated by taking a different route). You can use an item and your sword at the same time (this was also done with bombs a few times, and at the level 5 boss), which allowed us to shoot a flying sword at the monster while we give him his meat. This made the fire shoot, and gave us another damage boost. The miniboss is killed with two bombs (wasn't done at the level 5 boss, since we still needed whistle afterwards). The hands are perfect to get more rupees, without losing much time. This also saved time on the previous run, since they had to be gotten elsewhere then (level 7 was played there after the arrow was bought). We made sure we had all health at the boss, since getting a fairy from this boss would take longer, since you can't walk out the door when you collect the fairy (the fairy will always fly upwards when it appears).
After level 7, we use a reset to get back to the start (which is better than using the whistle like in the previous run, since you have to move to the next room to use it). Then we walk to level 1. We picked up the last blue rupee needed to buy the arrow, which costs 80. We were able to use the glitch here once again. Didn't save as much time as at the other spots we use it (since no enemies had to be killed here), but it was still a lot faster. We kill some bats to be able to get a fairy from the boss. After getting the bow, we reset and kill the level 1 boss. We got a fairy from it, and here you can see why taking a fairy from this type of boss isn't as pretty as taking it from the other bosses, like level 3, 4 or 8. Even though it is slower than at those bosses, it is still a lot faster than letting the game refill health manually. The previous run didn't obtain a fairy here, so it had to let the made refill it with the triforce (which is slower).
With more life than ever we can take lots of damage boosts. The damage boost up the stairs saved particularly many frames, since walking up the stairs is pretty slow, and the enemy will be in the way. When we reach level 6, it means we need to get a lot of health somewhere though. Those boosts also meant that we had to do that room filled with bats without flying swords, but it turned out pretty good in the end. The darknuts in level 5 were the last darknuts in the game we had to kill, but in this level are wizzrobes, which aren't very fun either. For some reason, you can't even walk through them if they are damaged. The first room did provide us with a fairy though. The boss wouldn't give us a fairy, not even when killing some bats, so we obtained some hearts here and there. The second wizzrobe room was a really hard one. This is the room where you will notice the pausing of the game by pressing select the most. It was very hard to get both health and bombs from this room, but in the end, with enough luck manipulation, it worked out. Luckily, the boss battle (besides him not wanting to give a fairy, which wasn't cool) is the easiest of them all :)
After using the whistle again, we walk from level 1 to level 9. Level 9 is horribly long, but basically shortened by four hard rooms because of the glitch. Too bad we had already TASed three of these rooms before finding the glitch :P. Being able to skip the first miniboss was just perfect. It made the wooden sword route even better, since it are bosses like these that take a long time with the wooden sword. The second miniboss and ganon did take a lot longer with the wooden sword, but as explained, the new route was still a lot faster.


We'd like to thank:
  • AngerFist He knew about this run from the beginning, and was a great motivator, and keeping it a surprise.
  • Genisto For his contributions very early on in the run.
  • Morrison For keeping this run a surprise, even though he knew it was being made.
We hope you enjoy this run, Phil and Baxter

Bisqwit: Congratulations on keeping this successfully a secret :) It looks good, too. (No, really, it does. I'm not a Zelda fan but I see it.) Accepting and encoding :)

NesVideoAgent: Hi! I am a robot. I took a few screenshots of this movie and placed them here. Here goes!

Last Edited by adelikat on 1/17/2022 3:17 PM
Page History Latest diff List referrers