This run aims to beat The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons in as little a time as possible. We achieved a final time of 1h 25m 57.217s (309433 frames). This run is the product of many years of work on the game. It's been attempted by various runners over the past 5 years, and the furthest anyone else got was the start of dungeon 3. This is completely understandable as TASing this game is extremely frustrating when it comes to enemy and item manipulation. This incarnation of the run was started in mid-late 2010, and was left alone for a long time at the end of that year due to lack of motivation. At that point, only Swordless Link was working on it. When he reached the end of dungeon 4, he decided to coauthor the rest with Tompa, who had significantly more motivation than him at that time. Tompa is pretty much the master of the Game Boy Zelda games, so his help in the run was crucial to making it as awesome as it turned out to be. Because of its tediousness and how smooth and optimal the final product looks, we are very proud of it.
Common Tricks and Glitches
- Pitwalking: Probably the most useful trick in the game, this lets us walk across pits provided that there's one on either side of Link. The reason it works is because the game will try to drag you towards the centre of one pit, but if you push the opposite direction, he'll move across into the other pit, and the game will try to drag you into the centre of that one instead. By constantly rotating between which pit we are in while moving in the direction that we're heading, we can clear any number of pits. There are some limitations - for example, you can't stop end a pitwalk if there is an object above or below the pit "seam" you are on, on the land that you're headed towards. An example of this is in dungeon 3, in the room before the miniboss. Pitwalking across that section is impossible because of the torches on the other side of the pit.
- Pegasus Seeds: These are obtained all over the place. They significantly speed up Link's movement and save several seconds on every screen they're used on. Because of this, they are manipulated wherever possible and used whenever it saves time to have them equipped (which is most of the time). Planning the ussage of them is not the easiest, as It depends a lot on if we can get them from enemy drops or not.
- Enemy manipulation: This is the worst part of the game by a long shot. Although the game looks very simple at first glance, the manipulation is a real nightmare. In most cases, the only thing that will change an enemy's manipulation (aside from wasting seconds of time) is slashing the sword, so generally, we have to find places to do this without costing time. These include while riding minecarts, while waiting for something to happen, and while jumping with the feather. Your actions from various screens past can significantly change the outcome of a screen various screens later. It's ridiculous. Other things that can affect manipulation are RNG, which changes every 2 frames when certain enemies (like bats) are on the screen. So in some instances, delaying 2, 4, 6, ... etc. frames on a screen with enemies can change the manipulation on future screens for the better. Needless to say, this was a real hassle to optimise, and it became even more tedious when we had to start keeping out pegasus seed count high.
Going to Dungeon 1
Not much to say here, it's very routine. Pitwalking is used in the Hero's Cave to speed up a few rooms.
Gnarled Route Dungeon
- The enemy manipulation in the first 2 rooms with stalfos in them was really good. It's extremely difficult to manipulate enemies when you don't have the feather and can't slash the sword while jumping, so these results are highly favourable.
- We can slash the sword a lot while on the minecart. This allows us to manipulate the upcoming enemies more effectively, as well as manipulate the rupees we will need later in the run (10).
- A bomb is thrown against the wall to blow it up. When throwing a bomb, if you press the other button to actually throw it, then the bomb button on the next frame, it gets rid of the long delay Link has when he normally throws items. We boost from the explosion damage too to save a few frames.
- It was faster to backtrack to the warp after getting the Seed Satchel. Doing a S&Q here would mean we'd have to kill some stalfos which we had already killed earlier.
- When using seeds, it's fastest to throw the seed then swing the sword on the next frame, while pointing in the direction we want to face. This allows Link to turn around instantly, instead of waiting for the seed-throwing animation to end. It lets us light torches which are next to each other much more quickly.
- A S&Q is done after getting the boss key to skip some backtracking which would involve killing stalfos again.
- Several sword attack patterns can be used on the boss. We found this one to be the fastest by a matter of frames.
- When grabbing the Essence, it's sometimes faster to wait a frame or two so that it's lower down when the cutscene starts. This means that it reaches Link sooner. This is taken into account in every dungeon and the Essence is always grabbed on the optimal frame.
Going to Dungeon 2
- An ember seed is thrown onto the plant before the guy notices Link. This saves a bit of time while waiting for the seed to burn the plant.
- When following Rosa, Link dances to the music.
- Getting the Rod of Seasons and Winter are standard. A bomb is used to hit the switch. Most people instinctively would use the boomerang here, but of course, we skip that because it's useless.
- The season is changed to winter so we can get over the water, and again so we can go down the chimney and get the shovel. The moblin here provides a nice damage boost up the stairs, which avoids the slow speed that Link normally walks on stairs at.
- The Mystery Seeds are taken here. They're needed later in the jewel quest.
- The ropes were a real pain to manipulate, but we made short work of them. A S&Q here is faster than backtracking.
- Some time is sacrificed to slash the sword more in the room with the turtles. This is to manipulate the moblins in the Power Bracelet room.
- Pitwalking is used to do the turnwheel section completely out of order and skip various trips through it, saving a lot of time.
- The boss here is the easiest one in the game to manipulate. There are a few times where he will charge and this cannot be avoided, so at those times, we had him as close to the wall as possible so his charge would be really short and the next hit could be delivered quickly afterwards.
Going to Dungeon 3
- This is where the run starts to really get fun. We visit the screen with the Ember Seed tree on it in the village so that later on when we have Gale Seeds, we can warp back there. We fight Blaino with the 10 rupees we collected in dungeon 1 to win Ricky's gloves back. We have to have an animal friend in the game, and although Dimitri actually moves the fastest out of the 3 choices, he takes forever to get, and Ricky is right on the path, making him the best choice.
- Ricky can jump over pits, and while doing this, he can punch in the air to destroy things in his path without costing any time. This is used to clear any plants or snow piles that are in the way. The first jewel is collected here, as it avoids backtracking to this area later on. A little known fact is that Ricky can destroy bombable walls with his punch.
- Pegasus Seeds are obtained for the first time here. They significantly speed up Link's movement and as such, are the most important item in the run. From this point on, most of the run will use pegasus seeds to move around quickly. Item switches were planned with this in mind.
- In Subrosia, there are 4 possible screens on which the Star Ore can be dug up. The fastest one is obviously the first one, so we manipulated it to appear there. It always appears on the same square of the screen.
- Getting Summer was routine. It allows us to enter dungeon 3.
Poison Moth's Lair
- The enemies in the first room can be flipped over with the shovel, making getting a shield unnecessary.
- Killing the moldroms here is not required, but it's done anyway for a pegasus seed drop.
- Pitwalking is used to do the next part of the dungeon out of order and reach the Roc's Feather early. A seed is also manipulated from one of the ghosts.
- Pitwalking is used even more to do even more of the dungeon out of order and much faster than the intended way.
- When pushing the trampoline, you can jump to any side of it while it's moving. This saves having to walk around all the blocks to start pushing it downwards.
- All 3 parts of the miniboss must be killed before the stairs appear, so all of them are pulled out ASAP and killed before they can return to the water.
- The boss can be quickly killed as you can slash it many times from the centre platform as it flies around it.
Going to Dungeon 4
- More seeds are taken from the tree. It's always important to have as many of these as possible.
- Ricky is used again here, for the parts where he's required (jumping up cliffs). After that, he's abandoned in favour of running with pegasus seeds and we never see him again in the run.
- The moblin's text outside of Sunken City can't be skipped.
- The Gale Seed text also can't be skipped, but by falling in the water as we pick up the seed, Link respawns as the text appears, which saves some time.
- Dimitri moves really fast in the water. Too bad we abandon him immediately after getting the Flippers.
- The Subrosians steal the feather, so we creatively dig the initials "SL" in the ground while chasing them around (at this point in the run, Tompa had not joined the project and it was only Swordless Link). This also lets us pick up a heart to get rid of that annoying bleeping.
- After getting the feather back, a S&Q is used to skip some backtracking and a rock which would otherwise later be in the way (when we come back to Subrosia later for Autumn) is removed. We then get Spring and head back to the warp.
- The season is changed to spring so that the flowers can be cut. We take the bananas from the tree to give to Moosh so he'll help us out.
- Moosh was almost skippable. The third and final set of pits before the dungeon key are just too long to clear without him, sadly. We came close with a precisely positioned and timed pegasus seed jump with a bomb exploding during it, but we concluded that it was not possible to do it without Moosh.
- The jump after landing on the ice is faster than waiting for Link's speed to increase normally, as that takes forever when you're on ice.
Dancing Dragon Dungeon
- Various strategies for the pot room were tested, and this arrangement was found to be the fastest.
- The underground section is cleared quickly with some flashy jumps.
- Pitwalking lets us skip the entire torch-lighting process and get to the key chest right away.
- The falling key can be grabbed in the air before it hits the water, which saves a lot of time and looks awesome.
- Damage boosting from the sparks in the spiky floor room allows us to navigate it in mostly a straight line. If we didn't do this, then every time we hit the floor, we'd be pushed backwards slightly.
- The miniboss is routine and killed quickly. We stock up on ember seeds before leaving this room.
- The Slingshot is obtained, and this lets us light torches and hit switches/enemies from a distance. It does not have much use outside of this dungeon, but it is required here.
- After lighting the torches on the minecart, a S&Q is performed as the key chest will appear on the frame the last torch is lit, and this is the fastest way to reach it.
- The boss key is underwater, so we dive down to get it then S&Q again to avoid a lot of backtracking.
- Pitwalking over the gap lets us avoid lighting the torches with the slingshot, and pitwalking over the next gap avoids having to wait for the moving platform to complete its course.
- The boss's claw is destroyed just by attacking it with the sword, and then he's killed by shooting seeds into his eye. Various useful item drops are obtained from the little gels he spits out.
Going to Dungeon 5
- The second jewel is obtained here. A S&Q is used to skip lots of slow swimming.
- A gale seed is used to get around the map really quickly.
- Nothing about the process of getting Autumn is particularly noteworthy, other than skipping lifting up a rock with a well timed pegasus seed jump. After it's obtained, we return to the surface.
- The season is changed to autumn so that the mushrooms before the dungeon can be lifted. Throwing the first one to the left causes it to go off screen, which means we don't have to wait for its "dying animation" after it lands before being able to pick up the next one.
- A lot of damage boosts were used. Too bad it wasn't possible to get enough heart drops from enemies to do even more. Pegasus Seeds is the #1 priority.
- You have to open the four chest in the same order that you killed the statues. Best outcome would be to get some hearts from them as well but obivously the manipulation isn't nice enough.
- Having no health makes Link a ninja when he avoids the fire, which is cool.
- The boss is tricky. You need to manipulate him to jump upwards at the start, so that the ball can hit him at once. Depending on where you kill the first phase, you can get the small digdoggers to be in a line to kill them off quickly. This required some tricky manipulation and execution. But doable, of course.
Going to Dungeon 6
- If we would have grabbed the seed refills at once, there wouldn't have been any seeds the next time we visit the tree and it saves one seed to grab them later.
- You can only get the jewel from the old man if you have completed the first five dungeons.
- Enemy manipulation for the beach was pretty horrible. Some time was wasted there for that reason as well as making the mystery seed an ember seed when you shoot the torch, which is also RNG dependent.
- The trading sequence only tells you the method to get the Noble Sword, if you already know the solution you can just grab it. It heavily speeds up the later boss fights, as well as normal enemies.
- There's a very simply way to skip a key in the beginning. By using a Save & Quit after grabbing the first key, it will reset the "merry-go-round" and you are able to take the right path at once.
- The upper path in the Boomerang room is slower, but it lets you activate the statues ealier as well as changing the manipulation. Which got a much setup and item drops on the way out.
- As we never opened up the keylock at the beginning of the dungeon, we have to fall down the hole instead of using a S&Q.
- Vire was expected to be a huge pain. Luckily, it turned out to be pretty easy. Just manipulate where he will appear and you can hit him as early as possible. Making him appear on the right side of the screen makess it faster to get out of the room.
- The intended to kill the Beetles is with the metal ball in the the corner of the room. You can also use Gale Seeds which is much quicker.
- There are three switches to the left you have to hit. Getting them all in one throw is very tricky as you can't see what you are doing. Lots of trial and error gets the job done however.
- If you make a perfect shot, you can make the boomerang go through the diagonal between two blocks.
- This was without a doubt the hardest fight in the game and took over a week to finish. When you enter the room, a timer starts for each head to open. This time can be either 90, 106, 154 or 170 frames. All heads were manipulated to open after 90 frames and closing after 120 frames which is the lowest possible time to kill all in one round. If you are standing too close the mouths or too far to the left/right, they won't open. These things in mind, plus the fact that we were low on health, made this an awful boss to TAS. The result was satisfying.
Going to Dungeon 7
- You need to talk to the captain to get access into the desert.
- The bell has a similar randomness as the Star Ore. It can only be in four specific holes, which one is random. By delaying the use of the pegasus seed it was possible to fix the manipulation in favor of the bottom hole, which is the quickest to reach.
- Leaves during fall can be a nice way of getting extra seeds. Required a few slashes to manipulate, but surely worth the time lost.
- Here comes the reason why the rock was lifted before getting Spring. It opens up a quicker route to the pirates' HQ after the bell has been polished.
- The original plan was to skip the Roc's Cape and we made it up to the boss when it was realized that it would actually be slower to skip it (Explained why further down). This made it neccesary to change the pegasus seed route and redo the stuff before the dungeon as well as the dungeon itself.
- Normally you have to battle one of the poe sisters to get access to the stairs. When all the torches go out you'll be taken back to the beginning of the dungeon. If done perfectly, it is possible to reach the stairs anyway. Saves a key and some time.
- The pushable statue can be any of the 8 statues, always the one to the left of the button in the TAS though.
- Despite being in midair, the moving platform before Roc's Cape will still move you to the left, annoying thing.
- As we saved a key earlier in the dungeon, it means we can skip one somewhere. Best choices were the magnet ball key or the one after the stairs maze. The stairs maze ended up being the best option to skip.
Going to Dungeon 8
- Here comes the main reason why skipping the Cape is slower. If there aren't two holes next to eachother, you aren't able to pitwalk. This means you wouldn't make the large gap of holes with just the Feather. The result would then be to it the intended way: Making it fall so that the holes are covered with leaves and then make it winter at the stump after the holes. That and a few other things made the Cape the best choice.
Sword and Shield Maze
- Final dungeon and Pegasus Seeds galore. The seeds were used pretty much everywhere, making this dungeon fast pased.
- Thanks to pitwalking you can make a huge shortcut early in the dungeon, skipping all but the last part.
- The moving statue has about 5 different paths it can take. The fastest one was obviously used.
- It's funny how the stalfos just felt like going down the hole and die for unknown reason. Didn't even know they could do that.
- The pitwalk shortcut also gave us an extra key to use. Skipping an ice block it is!
- The boss was very simple to do. Nothing to manipulate, nothing fancy, just kill it quickly.
- All enemies in each room have to be killed in order to in order to preceed. That's basically it for the first part.
- During Onox's first form he can only be damaged by spinattacks. For the second phase Din gets in the way. If you hit her you are able to get a double hit. There is not enough health to do this more than twice, that's why she has to be out of the way for the other hits. Not too hard to do.
- Last boss, final form! For the first hit, if you jump too early you won't be able to make it to the other hand, slight delay was needed to make it. Then just jump and slash until he's dead. Cake!
With thanks to...
- dezbeast: He was TASing this game back in 2006, and his progress was excellent. His WIPs were always really fun to watch and he offered crucial insight into how the game and its manipulation works.
- Soulrivers: He started TASing the game in 2007, after dezbeast had stopped. He found various improvements throughout the first section of the game (up til dungeon 2) which helped us optimise that section in our run.
- Brandon, for providing us with an excellent encode of the run once again.
- Any WIP-watchers. This basically applies to all of Swordless Link's viewers on YouTube, and also the #zelda IRC channel. GlitchesAndStuff in particular was extremely supportive of the run and always eager to see more progress, so we're grateful for that.
What about Oracle of Ages?
- Swordless Link has been TASing that game on and off since 2007, and major route changes that occurred in 2009 or so caused him to pretty much stop. Now that we've finished this run, we are going to TAS Oracle of Ages too, and will probably TAS the linked game from the password obtained at the end of this Oracle of Seasons TAS. This will let us TAS the true ending to the Oracles.