Time Trial – The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (Part 1)

by – “Tiger” Oliver


From now until Spring Break, I will be doing speed runs of several different games (most of them classic games from Nintendo 64 and further back), leading up to something that’s been years in the making: an unofficial attempt to break the world record for the fastest unassisted speed run of Super Mario Bros. 3 for the NES.

But, before that, I decided – and when I mean I decided, I mean my friend Jesse Absher talked me into – having a little practice run-through of the Super Nintendo classic, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

Now, I’ve played this game since fourth grade (which, incidentally, was my introduction to the series), so I’ve been around the block a few times. But, I never got through getting all the items, all the heart pieces and without losing a single life. This was Jesse and I’s task.

The way it worked was Jesse took care of the overworld to get all the items and heart pieces while I tackled the dungeons. Of course, we knew certain things the other didn’t, but knew most of the game like the back of our hands. Somewhere along the line, the stopwatch we were using to time the entire run ended up malfunctioning, so we used relative time to gauge our performance.

We started off strong, blasting through the first castle run and the first two dungeons. After a two-hour intermission for dinner (a failed attempt at cooking and waiting for a Big Country to get done at Hideaway), we hit the game again.  In the third dungeon, the Tower of Hera, we lost our first life, but got redemption by annihilating the Moldorm.

After that, Jesse took over, quitting and restarting at the Sanctuary after getting the Master Sword to get our next “death”. He flew through the second Castle run, handing the controller to me as soon as we entered the Dark World and got to the maze before the Palace of Darkness, the first Dark World dungeon.

After paying off that greedy monkey to open the dungeon door (there’s monkeys in our parallel-evil dimension?), I got through the Palace with moderate difficulty. Jesse retook the reins and beat the Thieve’s Lair in the village, and I knocked out the forest dungeon.  We then hit the Swamp Palace, and Jesse took a break from dungeon crawling to get some necessary things done in terms of item collection, heart pieces and upgrades to sword and magic.

Afterwards, Jesse went to the fountain in the middle of Lake Hylia to upgrade our bomb and arrow capacity, then entered the Dark World so I could hit the Ice Palace. After that, we hit the dam just south of Link’s house and beat the dungeon there, Jesse doing most of the work.

With about 5.5 hours of gameplay down, we got more items and heart pieces and got to Turtle Rock.  After an entire hour there (it’s a convoluted and, really, who remembers EVERY nook and cranny about that place?!), we remembered “dude, where’s the last two heart pieces?!” Well, he forgot about the one above the cemetery and I found one in the digging game in the Dark World that Jesse didn’t even know about. After that, we hit Ganon’s Tower, which really didn’t take long whatsoever (especially fighting the Moldorm – God, I wish it was that easy the first go-round).

After I took Agahnim out with the bug-catching net (much to the disgust of Jesse and just for the lulz of taking out an all-powerful wizard with a butterfly net), I fell into Ganon’s pyramid on accident and had to quit and restart, causing our seventh and final death.

The last thing we did was fill up our bottles and make a couple final upgrades to the Silver Arrows and Golden Sword.

The fight with Ganon was… well… a hell of a lot easier than what I remember the last time I beat the game. We got the Triforce, watched the credits, ba-da-bing ba-da-boom, we beat the game.

Estimated time: 7.5 hours

Overall, not too bad of a time considering we overestimated it. Next time we do a run-through, we’ll make sure to take measure to ensure time accuracy. That and get pizza before we start playing as to have no interruptions.

What game should I do during this series of speed runs? Any specific challenges you want me to try to accomplish? Leave a comment and I’ll see what I can do.

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