The basic randomizer shuffles the locations of key items and mixes up which dungeons hold the crystals needed to reach the final boss. This means that not only will items be found in different locations and in a different sequence for every seed, but which items are even required to complete the game will also differ. To prevent the randomizer from generating a sequence of items that render the game unwinnable (such as placing a progression item in a location that can only be reached with the help of that same item), the code has a built-in logic containing various checks and failsafes that ensures all required items can always be obtained in one way or another.
In addition to the basic randomizer there are many optional settings that allow for the randomization of nearly every aspect of the game, including an enemy randomizernote and an entrance randomizernote , as well as various other game modes such as Swordless, Keysanitynote Inverted Modenote , and Triforce Hunt. The randomizer also contains many cosmetic options, most notably the ability to select a custom sprite for the player character and an option to change the color palette of the game.
The randomizer is often used to organize speedrunning tournaments where players are given the same game seed and then face off against each other in races. The races are entirely fair as far as RNG is concerned but since neither player knows in advance where all required progression items are located (or even which items are required), a large part of the race comes down to figuring out the most efficient route through the game based on what items the runners encounter along the way.
A separate randomizer that mashes up A Link to the Past and Super Metroid, found here, is based on code from both this randomizer and the Super Metroid item randomizer. Items from one game may appear in the other, and there are four gateways between the two games. Several of the options present in the Link to the Past randomizer (such as the entrance randomizer, the Enemizer, Keysanity, and Inverted mode) are unfortunately not yet implemented in the Super Metroid randomizer (and it is not yet clear when or if they will be), but many of the same tropes applicable to this randomizer still apply to that one.
Having a location/item tracker is virtually requisite for completing the randomizer efficiently, unless you have an eidetic memory — and even then, the randomizer may helpfully point out new progressions that otherwise may not have occurred to you. EmoTracker is a popular one for Windows that has packages for this and most other popular randomizers (in fact, it defaults to installing the Link to the Past package). A list of other trackers can be found here, and a more general list of resources can be found here. There is also a web-based tracker for the Super Metroid crossover randomizer here.
As the randomizer is based on The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, most tropes that apply to that game will naturally apply to the randomizer as well. To avoid redundancy, only tropes that differ in some way between the randomizer and the original game should be added here.
This game provides examples of:
- Abnormal Ammo: Retro Mode makes you use rupees as arrows, just like in the original The Legend of Zelda that the mode is based on.
- Anticlimax: In several game modes, players will be unable to complete some of the the easier dungeons in the game such as the Eastern Palace or the Palace of Darkness until they acquire the bow, which may not occur into relatively late in the game; this trope is virtually guaranteed in such cases. (The Enemizer may alter which dungeons, if any, will require the bow to complete.) Also, Inverted mode is practically created with the explicit intention of invoking this trope; the player starts in the much harder Dark World and will not gain access to the Light World until much later, meaning that the player will need to explore the harder areas of the game first.
- Already Undone for You: In Open Mode, princess Zelda starts the game having already been rescued from the Hyrule Castle dungeons and is hanging out in the Sanctuary. In spite of this, if you head down to the dungeons you'll find all the guards are still there, all the doors are still locked (including Zelda's cell door) and the keys to said doors are still being carried by the guards who are now patrolling outside an empty dungeon. The only indication that someone has made off with the princess at all (aside from her absence, obviously) is that the entrance to the sewers in the back is unblocked for you.
- Anti-Frustration Features: As ironic as it may seem, the randomizer actually does away with some of the RNG reliant features of the original game to save players from wasting time repeating the same mindless tasks over and over again due to bad luck: The Chest Opening Game will always give you its prize item in one of the first two chests you open and the Digging Game is guaranteed to yield its prize item within the first 30 digs. In the original game both of these mini-games were completely randomized.
- There are also various improvements to the user interface to make navigating the item screen more efficient, such as preventing the Bottle submenu from automatically opening.
- Since the randomizer is intended to be used to play through the game multiple times, it gets rid of most of the unskippable cutscenes and dialogue boxes from the original game to speed things up.
- Backtracking: Depending on the seed you may be required to return several times to the same dungeon or area in order to fully complete it, in the case that an item required to progress further in the dungeon is locked in a location that itself can only be accessed using an item found earlier in the dungeon. This is especially likely in Keysanity mode.
- Even in seeds where such double-dipping isn't technically necessary there's still a good chance that a player will nonetheless do a lot of backtracking simply because they didn't know which items they needed to bring the first time they entered the dungeon. So they end up having to leave to go find said items in different locations before coming back to finish the dungeon.
- Bad Santa: The 2018 Christmas Festive Mode features Ganon dressed as Santa Claus.
- Blackout Basement: Mechanically the dark rooms work the same as in the original game, but unlike the original game the randomizer may potentially allow the player to enter said dark rooms before finding the Lamp, which normally provides the player with a small cone of vision through the darkness. The logic is designed to never require the player to enter a dark room without the Lamp, but a common method of sequence breaking, dubbed "Dark Room Navigation", is to memorize the layout of these rooms so that a player can get through them despite being essentially blind. This can be made easier by some items that emit visual effects that are visible through the dark (most notably a charged sword attack) that the player can make use of to keep track of their own character's position if nothing else.
- Blatant Item Placement: Frequently happens by random chance as the randomizer has no concern for in-universe logic in how it places its items. The original game plays this trope straight quite a bit as well, but has some rhyme and reason to at least some of the items (such as finding the Book of Mudora in the library or receiving the Magic Powder from the witch after handing her the Mushroom she needs to make it). The randomizer on the other hand will gleefully place some couch cash in the ancient and legendary Master Sword pedestal or have a random sick kid hand you a powerful and destructive magic medallion if you show him a bottle.
- The Customizer lets you invoke this trope intentionally, if you're so inclined.
- Boring, but Practical: Finding rupees or bombs in chests certainly isn't as exciting as getting your hands on a flashy weapon or progression item, but especially in the early game these "junk" items can actually be incredibly useful since you'll have several item locations locked behind bombable walls and a few that require spending money, and you'll probably pass by many of them before you've had time to stack up on enemy drops or pot contents. This can apply to Heart Pieces and Heart Containers as well, since having a bit of extra health can go a long way in case you need to dip into some of the more difficult dark world dungeons early.
- Boss Banter: Both Blind and Ganon have a few randomized, usually nonsensical lines of dialogue at the start of their respective fights (most commonly Incredibly Lame Puns). Ganon also has a line just before his final phase where he helpfully reveals the location of the Silver Arrows to you in case you hadn't found them yet.
- Boss Dissonance: The Enemy Randomizer can inadvertedly cause this if it places one of the late-game Dark World bosses (that are typically tougher) in one of the Light World dungeons (that are typically easier), or vice versa. The randomization of the regular enemies can also contribute to this.
- Boss in Mook Clothing: Depending on the settings, the Enemy Randomizer may very well cause a type of enemy that's very weak in the base game to become many times tougher than even the toughest normal enemies.
- Carrying the Weakness: It's perfectly possible that a boss will drop a weapon that it's particularly weak to after being defeated, provided the player had access to some other weapon to damage the boss with before. If said weapon is the only way to damage the boss, on the other hand, the logic wouldn't allow them to be carrying it since that would make them unbeatable.
- Chaos Architecture: The most extreme settings of the Entrance Randomizer often results in this, since with the exception of non-dungeon single-entrance locations, the interior and exterior entrances to a cave or building may be completely decoupled. This means that if you enter through a door and then immediately turn back and exit through that same door, you may find yourself in an entirely different area of the world than the one you entered from. Each entrance and exit will always lead to the same location each time you pass through it from a given direction though, it's just that each doorway is treated as two separate entrances when entered from opposite sides rather than necessarily being connected to one another.
- Contractual Boss Immunity: Averted when utilizing the Silver Arrows against bosses that can be hit by them: With the exception of Ganon they all go down in just one or two hits. And unlike the original game, the randomizer may very well give you the Silver Arrows early enough in the game to be used against most or all of these bosses.
- Controllable Helplessness: The Bunny form that you turn into if you enter the Dark World (or Light Word in Inverted Mode) without the Moon Pearl. While it's mechanically identical to the original game it can show up in far more places in the randomizer since there's no guarantee you will find the Moon Pearl before you get general Dark World access. Note that there is one cave on the eastern part of Death Mountain in the Dark World, nicknamed "Superbunny Cave" for obvious reasons, where the player can progress and collect items from chests even without the Moon Pearl (you still won't be able to damage enemies, though).
- Convenient Questing: May be played straight depending on the seed, but probably won't be, as item locations are spread out all over the world and there's no guarantee that an item needed to access an area will be found anywhere near the area in question.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: With the butter sword and/or silver arrows, many bosses get killed with little to no effort. The only non-Ganon boss who isn't immune to them only and instantly die from a single silver arrow is Vitreous.
- Cutscene Power to the Max: The original game has an instance of this where Link uses the flute to call on the bird to fly him from Ganon's Tower to the Pyramid after beating Aghanim for the second time, even though this happens in the dark world and the bird normally only exists in the light world. The Randomizer may take this a step further: When Link uses the flute to call on the bird even if he never found either of them in the first place. Since the flute is only sometimes required to beat the game in the Randomizer this isn't all that unlikely to happen.
- Difficult, but Awesome: Although the Hammer is a rather awkward weapon, it actually deals as much damage as the Tempered Sword (i.e., level three). If you don't get a sword early on in the game, getting the Hammer is often just as good or better. The Hammer takes awhile between attacks, though, and its hitbox is strange, so players who haven't used it as a weapon before may take a while to get used to it. Learning to use it effectively can be a massive help in the randomizer.
- Disc-One Final Dungeon: An interesting variation of this can occur with the Entrance Randomizer: Since any interior area can potentially be accessed through any exterior entrance it's very possible to stumble upon and beat Ganon's Tower - which is normally the final dungeon - early on in the game. (Note that you will need several items such as the Cane of Somaria and the Hookshot to collect all the items, so just being able to access Ganon's Tower early in the game won't mean you can complete it yet.)
- Disc-One Nuke: There's nothing stopping the randomizer from placing multiple Sword upgrades or other powerful late game weapons right at the start of the game, allowing the player to plow through the weak early game enemies with ease. The Silver Arrows + Bow combination is another somewhat common Disc-One Nuke.
- Empty Room Until the Trap: The Enemy Randomizer may inadvertently result in this, where rooms that usually contain fully visible enemies have been replaced by enemies that are initially hidden and only show themselves when the player comes close. Of course, an experienced player will have memorized which rooms are supposed to contain enemies, so they are unlikely to be taken completely by surprise at hidden enemies suddenly popping up in a seemingly empty room.
- Fake Ultimate Mook: The Enemy Randomizer may inadvertedly cause this depending on the settings, if a huge, scary looking enemy happens to be given weak stats.
- Follow the Plotted Line: While the ultimate goal of defeating Ganon still makes sense (assuming you're not playing one of the alternate goal game modes), the path you have to take to get there is almost guaranteed to be very weird. Why would the blacksmiths have Magic Powder? Why is the legendary Master Sword lying on top of a random bookshelf in the library? Why did this merchant just agree to sell me 300 rupees for the price of 100? Who knows, but if you gotta do all those things then you better go do it!
- Heroes Prefer Swords: Subverted in Swordless mode, where all swords in the item pool have been replaced by stacks of 20 rupees. It's also possible to go most of the game without finding any swords even in modes where swords exist, simply due to random chance.
- Holiday Mode: The developers have released multiple special holiday modes for the randomizer, available for limited times during Christmas and Halloween. These modes tend to contain many cosmetic changes such as custom holiday-themed sprites, different color palettes and season-appropriate music, along with some gameplay alterations.
- Infallible Babble: The (non-joke) hint tiles added in v.30 always provide accurate information on the whereabouts of various items, even if they're sometimes a bit cryptic and/or unspecific.
- Instant-Win Condition: In Triforce Hunt your goal is to find a certain number of triforce pieces randomly scattered across the game world. Once you find the required number you are instantly (or after turning them in to Sahasrahla in later versions) transported to the Triforce room to claim your victory. This happens even if Ganon is still on the loose along with his army of mooks and bosses, since you're never required to beat him to find all the triforce pieces.
- Level Editor: Of sorts. The official randomizer website features the Customizer, which lets the user design their own handcrafted version of the game using the same variables as the randomizer itself.
- Mooks but No Bosses: A possible outcome in Triforce Hunt mode, if you manage to find all the triforce pieces you need without fighting any of the bosses.
- Musical Spoiler: Downplayed example: What background music plays in a dungeon depends on whether it contains a Crystal or a Pendant, so if for whatever reason you don't know which it is already the music can reveal that for you before you actually defeat the boss. But since the dungeon music is randomized in Keysanity mode and the other modes clearly show the Crystals and Pendants on the map this usually won't be of any help, unless you forgot to check the map before entering the dungeon, or you did check the map but forgot what it said.
- No Final Boss for You: If the game goal has been set to either Master Sword Pedestal or Triforce Pieces, you won't have to fight the final boss to complete the game.
- Non-Combatant Immunity: Potentially averted, as opposed to the original game. In Standard mode you're guaranteed to receive a weapon from your uncle before facing any enemies, but Open and Inverted modes make no such promises. As of v31, there's an option to place a sword on Link's starting equipment (assured setting).
- Now, Where Was I Going Again?: Can easily happen when you have over 100 unique item locations to check and dozens of unique items to find, many of which help you gain access to more locations. Keeping track of which locations you have and haven't checked and which items give you access to which new locations is very important to ensuring a good run. This is taken Up to Eleven in modes such as Keysanity and the Entrance Randomizer. Fortunately the third-party item trackers are a godsend to help combat this, including some which keep track of what locations you have access to with your current inventory.
- Plot Lock: The entrance to Ganon's Tower in Inverted Mode. It's seemingly just a regular door (and in non-Inverted mode that very same door really is just a regular door, once you cut through the magical barrier blocking it) but for some reason it requires a certain number of crystals to open. It's especially egregious considering that when you have the Crystals and attempt to open the door, it will swing wide open before the Crystal cutscene starts, but you still have to sit through the entire animation before you're allowed to progress. Averted when the number of crystals required to enter is 0.
- Pungeon Master: Blind. Almost every randomized line he gets is a pun. Ganon has quite a few of these as well, though not as consistently - sometimes he also has a Shout-Out (for instance, he may quote "In the Flesh?" from Pink Floyd's The Wall).
- Recurring Boss: Aside from the normal boss refights in Ganon's Tower, the Enemy Randomizer may depending on settings make you fight any one boss any number of times in multiple different dungeons. In theory you could end up fighting one single boss thirteen times in one game, as extremely unlikely as that would be.
- Reward from Nowhere: Happens even more often in the Randomizer than the original game since the somewhat logical context of some of the original game's item locations are often lost during randomization. For example: Finding an old book on a bookshelf makes sense but finding the legendary Master Sword there makes less so. Finding a lonely Mushroom on the forest floor is nothing strange but finding the Big Key to Ganon's Tower in the same spot can make you question how responsible the dark lord really is with his stuff.
- Rocket-Tag Gameplay: May occur when using certain options in the Enemy Randomizer, specifically those that randomize enemy health and/or damage. It's perfectly possible to face enemies that go down in one hit from any one of your weapons but simultaneously deal enough damage to one-shot the player from full health (at least before the player finds too many heart pieces/heart containers). If enough enemies happen to receive these properties the game as a whole can start to feel like this trope.
- Save the Princess: Despite being based on a Zelda game, this is actually subverted in most Open mode randomizer runs. In Open mode Princess Zelda starts the game having already been rescued from the Hyrule Castle dungeons and is hanging out in the Sanctuary safe and sound. If you climb the Hyrule Castle Tower and confront Aghanim the usual cutscene where he transports Zelda to the Dark World will play, implying you will have to go there and rescue her. But if you never confront Aghanim in that tower (which isn't required in most seeds) Zelda will remain safe in the Sanctuary the entire game.
- Sequence Breaking: Aside from the fact that the randomizer inherently breaks the sequence of the original game, it's actually possible to sequence break the randomizer itself by circumventing the built-in logic it operates by. This is usually accomplished by exploiting glitches to get to areas you normally aren't able to reach without a specific progression item. When you acquire an item in this way before the logic expects you to the item is said to be "not in logic", which can be used to predict the locations of other items: For example, if you used the glitch known as fake flippers (which allows you to swim in some waters without needing the real flippers) to get to the hammer, then you'll know that the flippers can't possibly be in a location that requires the hammer to reach, since according to the logic you would've had to find the flippers before the hammer.
- Skippable Boss: Out of the two types of Boss Prizes, Crystals and Pendants, only the Crystals are guaranteed required to finish the game under normal rules. As such it's often the case that one or more of the three Pendant bosses are skippable. The Green Pendant may be required if Sahasrahla holds a required item, and if the Pedestal should happen to contain a required item then all three Pendants will be required. However, even if the Pendants themselves aren't required there's always the possibility that one or more of the Pendant bosses will drop a required item along with their Pendant, thus making them non-skippable anyway.
- The first encounter with Aghanim is often skippable as well since he doesn't hold any Crystal or Pendant, but may be required if there's a required item in the Lumberjack Cave or if there's no other way to get Dark World access.
- The refight with Armos in the basement of Ganon's Tower can also be skipped if the Big Key doesn't happen to be locked behind it, making it the only one of the three boss refights that can potentially be skipped under normal rules (well, without Sequence Breaking - it's possible to use the hover glitch to skip the Moldorm refight if you have the Boots. This isn't considered a major glitch, so it's allowed in most tournaments if you can pull it off without a turbo controller. However, that's easier said than done).
- Sidetrack Bonus: Occasionally you will end up in a situation where you either already have all items needed to beat the game (commonly referred to as "Go-Mode") or at least know where all items you need are located, in which case checking any other remaining item location is unnecessary. But even then, sometimes, it can be worth it to go slightly out of your way for the off chance of finding an extra item that isn't strictly speaking required but would nonetheless be very helpful. This most commonly happens in search of the Silver Arrows, that greatly speed up several boss fights and especially the fight against Ganon, but can also be done to find the 3rd or 4th Sword upgrade, Half-Magic, or maybe even a defensive item like the Blue or Red Mail.
- Silliness Switch: Can be invoked through the use of various optional settings. The randomizer has a wide variety of custom character sprites to choose from, some sillier than others. The option to change the game's color palette often leads to ridiculous color combinations. Then there's the implications of the Entrance Randomizer, which throws the laws of three-dimensional space out the window resulting in such ridiculous scenarios as the door to a small house leading into Hyrule Castle, or two entrances to the same building leading to vastly different locations, and so on.
- Sorting Algorithm of Evil: May be played straight or averted depending on the seed: Sometimes you'll be tasked with defeating the bosses in roughly ascending order of threat level while receiving gradually stronger equipment as you go; other times you'll be stacked with the strongest gear and plentiful hearts before you fight even the first boss; other times you'll be forced to take on the toughest bosses at the start of the game and then work your way down the difficulty curve. Though it should be mentioned that the randomizer is naturally weighted toward playing this somewhat straight for the simple reason that the tougher bosses generally require more items to reach and thus are less likely to become available before the easy ones.
- Starter Equipment: Is usually the same as in the original game (which is to say, literally nothing but the clothes on your back), but the No Logic setting starts you off with the Pegasus Boots since it relies heavily on major glitches to be completeable and the Boots makes several of those glitches much easier to execute.
- The Customizer gives you the option of starting Link off with any equipment of your choosing.
- The Three Trials: Usually subverted. Although there are always three Pendants to collect that enables you to acquire the item contained in the Pedestal, that item usually isn't required to beat the game. In the event that it is, however, this trope is played somewhat straight. (Note that it's possible to set "Master Sword Pedestal" as a goal to complete the game, in which case this trope is always played straight; however, even if you don't set it as a condition, the game may sometimes place a required item on the pedestal, and in such cases it will still be played straight.) Very rarely will you need 3 crystals (as of v31) to either enter Ganon's Tower and/or defeat Ganon himself.
- Unwinnable by Mistake: Generally averted thanks to the built-in logic, but particularly in earlier versions of the randomizer you would occasionally encounter a seed where some unforeseen combination of circumstances rendered the game unwinnable, at least without the help of glitches. The developers are always hard at work to improve the logic with each new version to account for these circumstances but there's always the possibility that something slips through the cracks.
- The No Logic option, on the other hand, does what you would expect: The randomizer will place items entirely randomly with no regard for whether the game can actually be completed or not. If you try to play the seed as normal without relying on glitches and exploits it very likely won't be, but since the game is so absolutely riddled with Good Bad Bugs it's actually possible for an experienced player to get around almost any obstacle the seed throws at you, even if you'll spend an awful lot of time walking through walls and the like.
- Variable Player Goals: Sort of applies to the Multiworld Randomizer, in which two or more players link their games together through the internet and where items for one player may end up in another player's game, so when that other player picks up the item in their game it is sent over to the first player's game so that they can use it. The players must cooperate to find all the items each player needs to finish their respective game, but which items each player needs and how early they can get them will vary. This means that some players may acquire all items they need to finish their game much earlier than their compatriots. But since the game mode is almost always played cooperatively, players who have acquired all items they personally need may still need to stick around to look for other players' items until everyone has everything they need.
- Wallet of Holding: Taken Up to Eleven compared to the original game: The randomizer lets you carry up to 9999 rupees at once, instead of merely 999. This is a particularly useful change, especially for completionists, because purchasing all of the bomb and arrow upgrades alone will cost you 1,400 rupees, so it's nice to be able to take care of all of them in one visit; Zora will charge you 500 rupees for the item slot that was originally the flippers in the original game; it costs 110 rupees to get into the Palace of Darkness (or whatever the entrance randomizer replaces it with); the (originally) bottle merchant charges 100 rupees; and so on - this all adds up quickly. Players are liable to spend way more than 999 rupees (but way fewer than 9,999) to complete the game, and it's nice not to have to worry about 300 rupee chests just being wasted.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: If you have both the bowsnote and you're fighting Ganon, Ganon will say this on the final phase:Ganon: OH NO! SILVER! MY ONE TRUE WEAKNESS!
Tropes for the playable sprites
- Action Girl: Possible by selecting a female character sprite.
- Anti-Hero: You can play as one of several, these include characters like Batman, Rick Sanchez, or even Homer Simpson.
- Easter Egg: There are quite a few of these. Half the fun of selecting different character sprites is just finding out what their bunny form is. For instance, Esper Terra from Final Fantasy VI turns into her human form, while Ultros from the same game turns into Chupon. People familiar with the original material may frequently get a kick out of discovering these.
- Evil vs. Evil: With sprites like Bowser or Ganondorf, you can have them and Ganon fight each other. The latter being a Mirror Boss except without the same moves.
- Fake Crossover: While you can change Link's sprite, the thing is, they will always have Link's voice when taking damage, and they are restricted the same way Link is (so a Boo can't fly, an invisible man is still spotable by guards, and your hitbox is the same regardless if you're a floating character or even Minish Link). Playing as a villain such as Bowser or Ganondorf still treats you as the hero.
- HeelFace Turn: There are several sprites of enemies (either from the original game or other games) that you can play as and kill Ganon with.
- One Size Fits All: The blue and red mails (and the starter green mail as seen in your inventory) all have the same sprites as in the original game regardless of what character sprite you're using. In spite of this they all fit just fine on any one of the selectable player sprites, regardless of size, shape or number of limbs. Same goes for the Pegasus Boots, which apparently can be worn and used even by character sprites that lack feet.