By Mento 2 Comments
Hello, happy Hyrulians, to a new Tuesday feature: a The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Randomizer LP! Ever since watching the dramatic LTTP randomizer race at this year's Awesome Games Done Quick event, I've been fascinated by the idea of jumping into one without that scary level of complete memorization that speedrunners possess for their chosen games. How would someone fare if they had, say, a passing knowledge of where to go and where stuff was in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past because they hadn't completed it in over a decade? Would that half-remembered knowledge even be useful in a playthrough where everything's been shuffled around, necessitating various detours for out-the-way hidden chests and changing the order of dungeons to better correspond with the items you'd found so far? I was intrigued, if slightly intimidated, so instead of waiting around for Dan Ryckert and Giant Bomb East to create a randomizer video feature to test how much Dan really knows his favorite game, I took it upon myself to jump into this strange, new, mixed-up Hyrule.
If you're not clear what a game randomizer is, or the LTTP randomizer in particular, it's a modified version of the game that simply takes all the chests and redistributes their contents. Dungeon items like the bow and the boomerang can now be found instead in random treasure chests across the overworld or in other dungeons. Certain items found outside of chests, like items you buy from or are given by NPCs, are randomized also. In fact, within dungeons, all the specific dungeon items - keys, the map, the compass - have been reassigned as well.
This randomization process is cleverly done in such a way to avoid any situation where an item becomes inaccessible - for instance, needing a key to access the chest that said key has been moved to - but that doesn't mean that the game doesn't become magnitudes more difficult and perplexing depending on your luck. For instance, most (if not all?) dungeons become impossible to complete until the item tied to that dungeon has been found (e.g. the bow in the Eastern Palace), so you're pressed to find alternate progression paths if the traditional dungeon order has been stymied in some way.
At any rate, I feel like I have a strong enough grasp of the game that I'm taking the "medium" difficulty route, which also adds the sword and shield Link normally gets from his dying uncle to the big randomization pool. That means there's a very strong chance of having no sword for a considerable portion of the game and being forced to rely on other, less conventional weaponry until one has been found.
The randomizer also lets you begin with a selection of alternative character sprites, which in retrospect was probably a bad idea... well, you'll see.
Without further ado...
: The Staff of Byrna is a magical staff that creates an aura of invincibility around Garflink, allowing him to pass over spiky floors and damage any enemies that come into contact. It's an advanced weapon that's one of the game's few "optional" items, not found in any dungeon but instead in an area on Death Mountain that's fairly difficult (and painful) to reach. It drains magic for as long as it's active, and drains it fast. Fans of Soulcalibur might recognize it as the big blue stick that Link uses as an alternative to the Master Sword in his Soulcalibur II cameo appearance. The Staff of Byrna is truly a Once in a Lifetime treasure.
: So, in this room I opened a chest for a key that opened the locked southern door. However, that's not what is normally in that chest. I believe that chest contains the map for the Hyrule Castle mini-dungeon that we're currently in (which, of course, is now elsewhere). The real way to get out of this room is to kill the blue guard, who drops a key. Keep this in mind for later.
: A common tool in Link's arsenal, the hookshot has appeared in almost every The Legend of Zelda game and provides two benefits: it's a long-distance weapon, useful for killing smaller enemies like keese and ropes though it only stun larger foes like the knights, and it's also used to cross gaps provided it has something to hook onto. This'll make reaching other chests a lot easier, and also means I can access the boss of the game's second Dark World dungeon, the Swamp Palace! (Not that I can reach it quite yet, of course.)
: The Silver Arrows are an upgraded form of the regular arrows and are only found towards the end of A Link to the Past. They're considered the only weapons powerful enough to defeat Ganon for good. You have to do some convoluted business to earn them, first by carrying a large and very volatile bomb halfway across Hyrule to the base of the Ganon's pyramid in the Dark World, and then toss your regular Fairy Bow into a fountain for the improved arrows.
Outside of the Ganon fight, they're still the strongest weapons in the game, able to kill most monsters (and a few bosses) in a single hit. It's just our luck that we have no bow with which to fire them. Still! This is an incredibly fortunate find.
: I neglected to mention something about the randomizer ROM: It's based on the 1.0 version of Kamigami no Triforce, the Super Famicom version of the game. From what I understand about speedrunning, you always want the earliest and least stable version of a game for its potential for glitch exploitation.
Instead, the new translation is full of dumb speedrunner community in-jokes and sarcastic directions, since no-one playing this ROM will need anything the NPCs have to say. However, there are a few cases where the creators of the randomizer localization hand out useful tips to new runners, like the item you need to finish the current dungeon in case you forgot.
Before we end for today, though, a quick recap of everything we've found so far. The Staff of Byrna is a weapon I'll appreciate more in boss fights, but was fairly useless for the riff-raff around the Castle. The hookshot is an A-tier item, though, and one that opens a lot of figurative doors. We did well getting a full heart container upgrade this early on also. The Silver Arrows? Well, we really need a bow before they become useful, so I've not included them in the image here.
(By the by: this particular item tracker is called the PUGHUD Tracker, from Twitch streamer "deathFouton", and is an overlay application normally intended for livestreams. As well as tracking all the items you've found, it also keeps tabs on the dungeons you've completed.)
: Didn't this game have dungeons in it?