As of six days ago, speedrunners have found a way to complete The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask in under an hour. The moody Ocarina of Time sequel is best known for its lengthy sidequests and countless collectables. A glitch allowing players to access a hidden debug menu has cut out much of the necessary scurrying. The result is a run that involves playing the ocarina a tonne of times until the runner can snag items from the developer’s menu and then rush off to beat the game.
The “Any%” category of routes in speedrunning refers to completing games as fast as possible through whatever means are available, including glitches. Majora’s Mask runs of this type feature a collection of skips and tricks that have reduced the lengthy game’s completion time considerably. Prior to this latest series of runs that use the ocarina glitch, the Any% record was 1 hour 15 minutes and 52 seconds, achieved by Swedish runner Dennis 'ennopp112' Haugen. In the last week, runners have reduced that time significantly, earning back and forth records using the newly emerged method. As of the time of publication, Haugen holds a new record time of 49 minutes and 42 seconds.
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To use this new method, the runner must start by using something called Index Warping. In Majora’s Mask, it is possible to warp around the world using a song called the Song of Soaring. It allows Link to travel to any Owl statue in the game world, as long as those statues have been awakened. (This is done by finding the statue and hitting it with his sword). There is also a 'hidden' Owl Statue located out of bounds on one map. Runners can reach this statue through various means. If they’ve activated no other Owl Statues, they can use this statue to warp to numerous locations around the world based upon where their cursor is placed on the pause menu map. For instance, having the cursor select Clock Town will actually result in runners warping to a different area, Milk Road. This trick can be used to travel around the world in different ways than the game ordinarily allows.
It turns out that this trick also forms the backbone of a new discovery. Playing the Song of Soaring in the proper way allows runners to overflow the memory contents of a text box that appears after the song is played. Using this, runners can access memory values in-game that allow them to reach a hidden debug menu. Hilariously, accessing the debug menu requires playing the Song of Soaring 63 times, a process that takes a little over ten minutes.
If that sounds complicated and strange, that’s because it is. Full breakdowns are available on YouTube and Pastebin. The short of it is, though, that runners can play the Song of Soaring in a highly specific way that will then unlock the debug menu. From there, they can grab the remains of the four dungeon bosses as well as the Fierce Deity’s Mask – normally obtained by collecting all masks in the game – and proceed to the final dungeon. Even though speedrunners have to play the Song of Soaring 63 times to achieve this, the method still saves time in the long run.
While accessing a debug menu might sound odd to casual players, many games have Any% speedrunning categories or other unique categories that allow runners to access hidden areas or content, provided they’re not using an external device. Some games, like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, have 'ACE' categories. ACE stands for arbitrary code execution, and in that game’s case, it is a category where runners manipulate items in menus in order to change the game’s memory and warp directly into the credits. For the moment, this debug menu trick is allowed for Majora’s Mask, since the menu can be opened using only in-game prompts. It’s ushered in a miniature sprint of fast times and exciting records.