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Sequence Breaking / The Legend of Zelda

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The The Legend of Zelda series is another frequent avenue of speedrunning due to the sheer frequency of Sequence Breaking exploits, given it being a mainstay in the 3D Action-Adventure genre (especially with The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, a game right up Super Mario 64's alley in terms of Good Bad Bugs — after all, it runs on the same base engine). The other games have many, many of their own sequence-destroying exploits, mind you. Don't expect an Updated Re-release to always quash all sequence breaks either.

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Examples:

  • The Legend of Zelda is not very linear at all. You can access levels 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 (1, 2, and 4 in the second quest) as soon as you begin the game. The other levels are easily accessed as long as you have a combination of the recorder, stepladder, bombs, or a candle depending on the level. And there's nothing stopping you from entering a level, getting its vital item, and leaving without completing it. The only level that actually forces you to have finished previous levels is level 9 — as the last level, it requires you to have all 8 Triforce pieces before you can go past the second room.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is incredibly glitchy, allowing canny players to do almost literally whatever they want. Don't like the Deku Tree? Skip it. Water Temple not your thing? Clip through the boss door and go straight to the boss. Don't like being a child? Clip through the Door of Time! Want to use your favorite items early? A memory-modifying glitch allows one to get most items without collecting them from their normal positions in the game. Don't have a lot of time to play? Perform a glitch that allows a warp from the Deku Tree to the defeat of Ganondorf, skipping almost the entire game and allowing one to finish the game as a child in around twenty minutes. As such, the game is a favorite of Speedrunners. You can also play the temples in several different orders even without backtracking or using gamebreaking glitches. For example, it is possible to access and complete the Spirit Temple without the Hover Boots from the Shadow Temple.
    • Concisely put, you can complete the Fire Temple before the Forest Temple, the Water Temple before the Fire Templenote  and complete the Shadow and Spirit Temples completely independent of each other. Skipping the Bottom of the Well is technically possible, but requires a virtually photographic memory. This isn't getting into certain side quests that can be done out of order, such as getting Biggoron's Sword before setting foot in any temple at all. note 
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    • In fact, with the mounds upon mounds of glitches OoT has, it is actually possible to do the dungeons in absolutely *any* order, including every combination of child and adult Link. It is also possible to obtain every medallion from each of the temples without completing a single one (the only dungeon required would be Dodongo's Cavern in order to warp to the credits). Quite an honor for arguably the most broken game of all-time!
    • In Master Quest the sequence was tightened to force the order, but it was done badly. In the Fire Temple, you get the Megaton Hammer soon after starting the temple. The temple also has puzzles that require lighting torches with lit arrows. From across rooms. Yay for completing the Water Temple first and gaining Fire Arrows.
    • Many of these glitches were kept in the 3DS remake, making it a lot of fun to exploit them on the go.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask:
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    • You can complete the first dungeon and challenge Odolwa as soon as you're able, resulting in a difficult fight against a fast, hard-hitting enemy with multiple attacks that restrict your movement and/or hit very wide areas and can't be blocked; tends to summon flocks of moths that are very, very hard to avoid taking damage from; and has a blatantly misleading arena which implies you should use the Deku Mask but actually doing so opens you up to instant death. Or, you can go far enough through the first dungeon to gain access to the bow, then reset the clock, head north from Clock Town and finish the second dungeon, grab the Razor Sword (or the Gilded Sword, if you're fast enough to finish its sidequest your first time through Snowhead or willing to do Snowhead twice/without a sword), head back to the first dungeon, and proceed to skip 90% of it with fire arrows and kill Odolwa in less than half a minute.
    • Similarly, you are normally supposed to challenge the Great Bay Temple before the Ikana Valley, as you need the Ice Arrows obtained from the former to cross the river leading to the latter. However it is possible to cross by standing as close as possible to the ledge and snagging a tree with the Hookshot. Ikana Valley is easier and gives a ton of spoils which make the Great Bay Temple (A water dungeon, thus it is That One Level) much less painful to finish.
  • The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess is no slouch either when it comes to sequence breaking. A number of huge glitches can be used. Some of the glitches include: being able to get the Master Sword as early as the first Tears of Light quest, skipping the Temple of Time and most of Snowpeak Ruins by clipping Link's wolf form through the statue you're normally supposed to move with the Dominion Rod (Zant's ice form still needs the ball and chain and Arbiter's Grounds needs to be completed to access the Twilight Realm); and using a glitch to cancel map loading so the trigger that forces you to track the reekfish scent at Snowpeak never loads (allowing you to skip the fishing rod).
  • In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, it's possible to get items out of the temples without actually defeating the bosses. This allows the player to visit locations that they shouldn't be able to and get better items or more heart pieces before finishing.
    • While the order of the Light World dungeons is mostly-enforced (without glitches, you cannot enter the Desert Palace without first clearing the Eastern Palace, and you can't enter the Tower of Hera without at least getting the Power Glove from the Desert Palace), the Dark World doesn't actually bother. Sure, it numbers its crystals on the map screen, but there's nothing whatsoever stopping you from entering Thieves' Town (crystal 4) without ever even stepping foot in the Swamp Palace (crystal 2) or Skull Woods (crystal 3), which in turn lets you get the Tempered Sword earlier. You don't even need to use glitches; all you have to do is ignore the crystals' numbers and waltz right on over to the western part of the Dark World once you have the Hammer. Or you can use the Cane of Somaria (found in Misery Mire, crystal 6) to trivialize a major puzzle in the Ice Palace (crystal 5).
    • It is quite possible to glitch oneself into the majority of the Dark World before the confrontation with Agahnim. By combining this with the more traditional "Get item, skip boss" format of Zelda sequence breaking, it can lead to such shenanigans as gaining the Tempered Sword before Zelda's kidnapping, obtaining the Golden Sword, using the Golden Sword to defeat third boss of the Light World, and then retrieving the original Master Sword (which you never received in the first place) and tempering it. Again.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, bringing up the map whilst crossing over screens warps you to the opposite side of the screen you're entering. In underground sections, this can put you on the "roof". Walking around can lead you across many areas of the island, and causes some dramatic glitches. You could skip all the way to the very final boss battle from near the start of the game this way. It generally made a mess of things, as can be seen in this video (or this LP, which uses the glitch to complete the dungeons in reverse order while hilariously pretending that it's a normal playthrough of the game). This bug got fixed in the DX remake, except it's still easy to glitch through the world merely by walking into the back of the doghouse, accessible from the very beginning of the game.
    • In a less game-breaking example, you can back out of the 7th dungeon after acquiring the Mirror Shield, complete the eighth dungeon, and use the Flame Rod for a much easier fight with the 7th Dungeon Boss.
    • By using a combination of the Pegasus Boots and the Magic Potion, you can dash through the flame trap and get to the 8th dungeon and complete that before you even get to the 7th.
  • Zelda II: The Adventure of Link has a pretty basic sequence-breaking method. You aren't required to defeat any of the bosses until the end of the game, so you can simply grab the item and leave the dungeon, then come back at the end for a easy boss run. This is a pretty effective strategy, since each boss automatically gives you an instant level-up; these are much more valuable if you wait until the end of the game to obtain them.
    • If you want, you can do a minimalist run too, as the Candle and Cross are optional (unlit caverns tend to be very difficult though, and blue Moas will be the same without the Cross), the Shield, Life, Fire, and Spell magics are also optional along with the up-slash, but all of them have their own useful merits, especially Shield and Life.
    • Zelda II has some glitches that allow tool-assisted speed runners to fight the final boss without ever fighting a single other enemy in the game. Witness the carnage here. A less glitched live speed run, which doesn't use the Left+Right glitch (and kills several enemies) but makes use of several other glitches, can be observed here. At this point the game has been broken so thoroughly that speed runners don't have to bother clearing any of the dungeons or fighting any of the bosses except Link's shadow, and the game can be completed collecting only one dungeon item, three magic containers, and two spells. See also the glitched 100% run, which visits dungeons and collects items in no recognisable order. None of these runs resemble normal gameplay in the slightest.
  • In Oracle of Seasons, after clearing the third dungeon, you're supposed to visit the Sunken City first, obtain the flippers, and then head north to Mt. Cucco. In fact, by using the "Pegasus Jump" technique (in which jumping while under the effect of speed-boosting Pegasus Seeds boosts the jump distance) it is possible to head into the Temple Remains from the west entrance. While the Temple Remains is a high-difficulty endgame area crawling with powerful enemies and most of it is still inaccessible at this point, it's possible to head through the southern portion of the region and use another "Pegasus Jump" to enter Mt. Cucco from the area's east entrance. This sequence break presents the opportunity to obtain a new season ability far earlier than should be possible and triggers a number of new events, minigames, and shops in Subrosia that should still be unavailable.
    • It's also possible to get the Flippers (or Dmitri's Flute) and then ignore the exhortation to head to Mt. Cucco. If you head back to the lake you started by, you can take a newly available portal to Subrosia and end up in Southern Subrosia, where you can get the Bomb Flower. This lets you break into the Tower of Autumn, and ignore the fourth dungeon entirely— at least until you need all 5 previous Essences to get one of the keys to the Tarm Ruins.
    • The entire Chain of Deals can be skipped simply because completing it doesn't yield an item, just directions to GET to the item. So if you remember it, say from previous playthroughs, or you look it up, you don't have to do any of it.
    • It is possible to skip the Subrosian Dance to get the Level 1 Boomerang by using a bomb to activate the switch in the Tower of Winter.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, one needs to fight two Moblins in order to obtain the Big Key for the second dungeon. However, the fight can be avoided by simply letting Link die during the battle. The game automatically spawns Link back at the very beginning of the dungeon, where the player can simply make his or her way to the boss room, which has likely already been visited and its Warp Jar unlocked, enabling the player to directly access the boss without fighting the Moblins that guard the key.
    • The Wind Waker is quickly becoming very broken. Glass bottles can be obtained whenever the person wants to (you can even replace other items with new glass bottles) or quickly open and close the deku leaf in a method called 'pumping' to gain altitude and avoid entire rooms or puzzles. When you die a certain way, by quickly pressing a button you can float slowly in the air to get onto crevices or doors that would take hours to get to otherwise. There are also plenty of doors kept on islands that can be clipped through. A trick called 'storage' essentially 'stores' your next move, whether it is igniting a stick on fire, filling a bottle or reading a sign, and the next move you do will activate that move again. The uses for this are endless, but it's usually used to bypass puzzles (or make NPCs say ridiculous things that other NPCs said). Infamously, despite the massive number of exploitable glitches, there's a wall in Hyrule that still can't be glitched around, forcing speedrunners to spend most of their playtime acquiring and powering up the Master Sword to get past it normally.
      • Unfortunately, Nintendo took the more traditional approach this time and fixed many of the more exploitable things in the Wii U re-release, like storage (it simply no longer works), super swimming (without storage it's not viable), sail pumping (you slow down when trying it, obligating getting the new Speed Sail), and a few others. It's imperfect, but much slower to speedrun. At least, before the discovery of "item-sliding", a technique introduced from Wind Waker HD's ability to move while holding an item like the Grappling Hook. As soon as the first dungeon, you can zip across large distances, super swim, skip the Helmaroc King with ease, and, with careful application, bypass the massive barrier that blocks Hyrule Castle from The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
      • An elaboration on the glitch above, known as "barrier skip": the WW speedrunning community actually put out a monetary reward for anyone who can manage to glitch past the barrier around Hyrule Castle, until the solution was found in 2017. With this glitch, one could hypothetically skip the Earth and Wind temples and go straight to the final boss during their first visit to Hyrule. Unfortunately, said Very Definitely Final Dungeon requires the Hookshot to get to the final boss, which you would not get if you didn't go through the Wind Temple. While there is a way to do it without the Hookshot, it involves killing Link, executing a glitch known as zombie jumping, breaking a pot that contains a fairy, and praying that the fairy ends up floating to the doorway to the final boss. Due to the sheer RNG involved, nobody barring the criminally insane would attempt a full Speed Run: a "perfect" any% speedrun would require running through the game, doing the sequence break, getting the fairy on their first try, and would have to reset the run should they get poor RNG on the fairy. Here's a couple videos on the subject. Eventually, an RNG-free method (known as the Morth Hover) was found in January 2018 involving substituting the movement of a non-moving heart onto the balcony leading the final boss for the fairy.
      • A Gamecube version of the Barrier Skip was found in summer 2019, with a completely unrelated mechanism of execution - this version gets you past the barrier by causing the game to run out of memory, causing the barrier to outright cease to exist.
  • In response to criticism of Skyward Sword's linearity, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is a Wide Open Sandbox that allows you to ignore everything and go straight from the Noob Cave to the Final Boss if you want (but don't expect any meaningful story resolution if you try this).
    • There are certain individual quests that mostly expect you to do things in a particular order, but you can still do things out of order and get unique dialogue from the characters involved. For example, the initial journey to Zora's Domain intends for you to meet Prince Sidon at Inogo Bridge, where he will explain the plight of the Zora and then give you encouragement as you travel up the path to the Domain. But if you manage to skip this meeting with Sidon and go straight to Zora's Domain (tougher than the intended sequence due to the constant rain making it impossible to climb vertical surfaces), you'll instead have a cutscene where Sidon is about to escort you out of the meeting in the throne room before seeing you're a Hylian. Also, the two Sheikah Tech Labs involve the directors of each eventually tasking you with reactivating their Ancient Ovens with a special blue flame, but if you light the Ovens without speaking to the directors beforehand, they'll skip most of their fancy introductory spiels and introduce themselves more directly.
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