A Randomized Link to the Past - Episode I: Lasagna Kitten: The Fell Depth Oozed

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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...

So, uh, remember that thing I said about alternate character sprites? Well, how could I not pick Garfield with everything going on with Jeff recently? I also picked for him a suitably pasta-hued heart color to match.
So, uh, remember that thing I said about alternate character sprites? Well, how could I not pick Garfield with everything going on with Jeff recently? I also picked for him a suitably pasta-hued heart color to match.
And he we go with the first chest in the game. LTTP veterans know that this chest usually contains the lantern, a surprisingly handy tool that I'm going to really miss having in the many dark rooms to come. Instead? We get a pack of arrows we can't use.
And he we go with the first chest in the game. LTTP veterans know that this chest usually contains the lantern, a surprisingly handy tool that I'm going to really miss having in the many dark rooms to come. Instead? We get a pack of arrows we can't use.
Well, if it isn't the useless Jon Arb-uncle. Got yourself killed in a corridor with no enemies, huh Jon? This is why you should never send a cartoonist to do a cat's job.
Well, if it isn't the useless Jon Arb-uncle. Got yourself killed in a corridor with no enemies, huh Jon? This is why you should never send a cartoonist to do a cat's job.
And instead of a sword and shield, we get... the Staff of Byrna?
And instead of a sword and shield, we get... the Staff of Byrna?

Side-Note: 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.

It's green, but close enough. Hook!
It's green, but close enough. Hook!

As a weapon this early on in the game, the Staff of Byrna leaves a lot to be desired. It's not really meant for bashing minor enemies, as the magic that powers it runs out pretty quickly. As was the case in this screenshot, where I'm having to run past everything now that my magic meter's temporarily depleted.
As a weapon this early on in the game, the Staff of Byrna leaves a lot to be desired. It's not really meant for bashing minor enemies, as the magic that powers it runs out pretty quickly. As was the case in this screenshot, where I'm having to run past everything now that my magic meter's temporarily depleted.
However, it absolutely needs to be a weapon that you find on Jon Arb-uncle, because of this room. There is no way to get out of here without killing this one guard, and there's no pots or anything else to use instead. Always ensuring that you find a weapon, if not necessarily the sword, is one of those randomizer tweaks that was done for the sake of not making the game impossible to complete.
However, it absolutely needs to be a weapon that you find on Jon Arb-uncle, because of this room. There is no way to get out of here without killing this one guard, and there's no pots or anything else to use instead. Always ensuring that you find a weapon, if not necessarily the sword, is one of those randomizer tweaks that was done for the sake of not making the game impossible to complete.
Oh boy, I'm going to have to get into more detail here about why this chest screwed me up for almost an hour.
Oh boy, I'm going to have to get into more detail here about why this chest screwed me up for almost an hour.

Side-Note: 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.

I was a little apprehensive about fighting this guy without a reliable weapon, but...
I was a little apprehensive about fighting this guy without a reliable weapon, but...
...Turns out a pot can be pretty painful. Was this guy always such a huge wuss? By the way, I'm only guessing that the big key there always drops from him.
...Turns out a pot can be pretty painful. Was this guy always such a huge wuss? By the way, I'm only guessing that the big key there always drops from him.
Ah, sweet! My natural inclination to find all the heart pieces in any given Zelda game will be sorely tested by how they've been randomized with everything else. Knowing my luck, though, I'll probably find them all before finding the Master Sword. Or any sword.
Ah, sweet! My natural inclination to find all the heart pieces in any given Zelda game will be sorely tested by how they've been randomized with everything else. Knowing my luck, though, I'll probably find them all before finding the Master Sword. Or any sword.
I should point out here, as I make my escape with a disappointingly Zelda-looking Zelda (I was hoping for Arlene in Zelda's clothes), that the game doesn't have any
I should point out here, as I make my escape with a disappointingly Zelda-looking Zelda (I was hoping for Arlene in Zelda's clothes), that the game doesn't have any "cutscenes" or compulsory dialogue. This is due to the randomizer being primarily built for speedrunners and/or people who know this game back-to-front already. It does mean that it's slightly harder to figure your way around if you're coming to the game after an extended amount of time - recalling that the secret passage to the Castle Sewers is behind this ornamental fixture is an enduring memory, but there's a lot of stuff I won't remember quite as clearly.
Normally, you find your first bombs in Kakariko Village. We're fortunate to find some here, though, and I'll soon demonstrate why.
Normally, you find your first bombs in Kakariko Village. We're fortunate to find some here, though, and I'll soon demonstrate why.
So... remember that key in the chest I told you to keep in mind? Normally, it's in here. This chest just had rupees instead, though, which means that you can't leave through the north exit. It took me A LONG TIME to figure out where that errant key was, and I must've killed all the rats in here a dozen times in the process (if you recall, there is a room coming up in a little bit where a rat does indeed hold a key).
So... remember that key in the chest I told you to keep in mind? Normally, it's in here. This chest just had rupees instead, though, which means that you can't leave through the north exit. It took me A LONG TIME to figure out where that errant key was, and I must've killed all the rats in here a dozen times in the process (if you recall, there is a room coming up in a little bit where a rat does indeed hold a key).
Naturally, with only this useless and frequently-depowered blue stick to help me, I don't survive long against enemies down here. Moreover, I let myself die a lot whenever my magic ran out because there's no easy way to get more - pots respawn, but their contents don't, and I have no other means to fight enemies down here. I will say that I appreciate that Garflink appears to collapse onto a tray of lasagna upon passing.
Naturally, with only this useless and frequently-depowered blue stick to help me, I don't survive long against enemies down here. Moreover, I let myself die a lot whenever my magic ran out because there's no easy way to get more - pots respawn, but their contents don't, and I have no other means to fight enemies down here. I will say that I appreciate that Garflink appears to collapse onto a tray of lasagna upon passing.
Eventually, I figure out where that damn key was, and our journey through the sewers continues. The game does me a real solid here with these vision cones: normally, they only appear if you have the lantern, and - from my limited experience - I wouldn't expect the game to lend Garflink the same courtesy later on. But hey, aren't cats able to see in the dark anyway?
Eventually, I figure out where that damn key was, and our journey through the sewers continues. The game does me a real solid here with these vision cones: normally, they only appear if you have the lantern, and - from my limited experience - I wouldn't expect the game to lend Garflink the same courtesy later on. But hey, aren't cats able to see in the dark anyway?
So, those bombs I got earlier. They're needed for this big obvious cracked wall. Normally, you'd have to find the bombs in Kakariko and then find a power gauntlet to push a gravestone to get you back down here. I lucked out in finding some earlier.
So, those bombs I got earlier. They're needed for this big obvious cracked wall. Normally, you'd have to find the bombs in Kakariko and then find a power gauntlet to push a gravestone to get you back down here. I lucked out in finding some earlier.
Mostly because of this. Any room that has multiple chests like this is randomizer gold, because there's no telling what absolutely necessary items can be found here.
Mostly because of this. Any room that has multiple chests like this is randomizer gold, because there's no telling what absolutely necessary items can be found here.
Like the goddamn hookshot, for instance.
Like the goddamn hookshot, for instance.

Side-Note: 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.)

Surprising no-one, Garfield and Matt Kessler have a lot in common including a dislike of
Surprising no-one, Garfield and Matt Kessler have a lot in common including a dislike of "trap cookies".

Oh Sweet Jesus, if the hookshot is not immediately followed by the silver arrows.
Oh Sweet Jesus, if the hookshot is not immediately followed by the silver arrows.

Side-Note: 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.

The last chest could've contained a dead family member and I'd still have been extremely happy with the contents of this room. But sure, I'll take an entire heart container too. The chances of finding the regular one in the Sanctuary are fairly slim.
The last chest could've contained a dead family member and I'd still have been extremely happy with the contents of this room. But sure, I'll take an entire heart container too. The chances of finding the regular one in the Sanctuary are fairly slim.
My god, after getting killed by vermin for half an hour straight with nothing to fight back with, this hookshot is such a welcome sight. The stun will make getting past bigger enemies easier too. I'm starting to feel a lot better about this run after that unfortunate roadblock...
My god, after getting killed by vermin for half an hour straight with nothing to fight back with, this hookshot is such a welcome sight. The stun will make getting past bigger enemies easier too. I'm starting to feel a lot better about this run after that unfortunate roadblock...
The genial priest doesn't give me the whole backstory of the Triforce and Ganon. That's fine; I'm pretty familiar.
The genial priest doesn't give me the whole backstory of the Triforce and Ganon. That's fine; I'm pretty familiar.

Side-Note: 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.

Well, I already a full heart container, so I don't mind losing out on this one. Instead, we get a useful bomb bag upgrade - bombs are just as handy as anything else for eliminating enemies in lieu of a sword, so I could always use more.
Well, I already a full heart container, so I don't mind losing out on this one. Instead, we get a useful bomb bag upgrade - bombs are just as handy as anything else for eliminating enemies in lieu of a sword, so I could always use more.
And... we're out. Into the world. Lots of places to visit, especially with the hookshot, but where to go first? Where I would normally go, and where would make the most sense for a randomizer run? We'll find out in Episode II, coming very soon!
And... we're out. Into the world. Lots of places to visit, especially with the hookshot, but where to go first? Where I would normally go, and where would make the most sense for a randomizer run? We'll find out in Episode II, coming very soon!
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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.)

Next Time, on A Randomized Link to the Past: Didn't this game have dungeons in it?

Episode I: Lasagna Kitten: The Fell Depth Oozed <- You Are Here
Episode II: Pasta Fiend Tale: Hell-Zonked Ghetto
Episode III: Lazed Feline Goal: Pet the Dank Thots!
Episode IV: Odie the Dog: Last Theft? Kennel Plaza!
Episode V: Egad!, PhD: Little Fez Hat on a Skeleton
Episode VI: To Fat Knight Zone: Help Delete Salad
Episode VII: Please, God, No: The Zealand Kilt Theft
Episode VIII: TalkFleet: An Elephant-Sized Hotdog
Episode IX: The Fattened Ilk: A Gonzo Death Spell
Episode X: Old Hazing Poll: Taste the Naked Feet
Episode Ys: Fleshpot Glitz: Needed a Tenth Koala
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