What Even is a Video Game Speed Run (Ocarina of Time)?

Posted by Matt Birchler
— 2 min read

I’ve never been that into video game speed runs, but I have had an obsession with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time speed runs for years now. In 2013, a speed runner called Cosmo did a run through Ocarina of Time in 22 minutes and explained both what he was doing and what the history was around the glitches he was using to achieve that 22 minute time. If you havbn’t watched it before, it’s absolutely worth a watch.

Since then, the best time has dropped time and again to just under 10 minutes. Considering the game proper takes 20+ hours to beat normally, this was really insane.

The below video explores the changes in the Ocarina of Time speed run methods and whether or not speed running this game has shifted into something that’s sucked all the fun out of Ocarina of Time runs.

It’s a complicated question, and I’m personally conflicted. On the one hand, the method shown off in 2013 and the one that was used to get down to 17 minutes in 2019 used glitches too, so I don’t think that using glitches in the game to skip to the end of the game is fundamentally wrong.

But on the other hand, the 17 minute runs were way more fun to watch. They took you outside of the opening area of the game, they involved a couple boss fights, they partially relied on getting lucky with some randomly falling debris at one point, and maybe most of all, it was easy to understand what they were trying to do to get the glitch moments to happen. This new 10 minute method lacks all of this, and basically amounts to watching someone seemingly walk randomly around a small area until they’re warped into the end credits.

All I can say for sure is that for me, this new method for beating Ocarina of Time in next to no time is of zero interest to me as a casual viewer. The drama of the old style of speed run is what kept me coming back whenever a new record time was posted. Would they pull off the jumping combo on the first try? Would they beat the boss in an optimum time? Would they just get hit with a random bolder when running up the castle? With all of this gone and the run being reduced to a bunch of random side-stepping and looking around at nothing, the thrill just isn’t there for me.