A new exploit takes out a random element that was shutting down 95% of speedruns. We talk to the player that discovered the new trick and has taken the leaderboards by storm.
The Legend of Zelda series has always made for a popular speedrun and there have been some truly clever categories over the years. One of the more recent remakes, Wind Waker HD on the Wii U, has seen an uptick in those running the Any% category, which is simply getting to the end of the game by any means available, due to a new trick.
This new technique is called the “Morth Hover” and it removes a run-killing bit of RNG (a term used to describe random elements of games) that makes the game more friendly for runners. The randomness needed to reach a world record pace could only be achieved about 5% of the time previously, meaning this new exploit cuts out a lot of heartache for those looking to go for gold.
We talked to the player that discovered this trick, gymnast86, to learn how it works and what makes it so exciting.
“Well, the Morth Hover is fairly complex,” he began. “In the room right before the final boss, the game usually wants us to use the hookshot item to reach the final platform and enter the map for the Ganondorf fight. However, since the discovery of Barrier Skip in 2017, getting the hookshot would waste nearly an hour in the Any% speedrun.”
“We realized fairly quickly that we could get to the final platform without the hookshot using an old glitch known as Zombie Hovering, which allows us to hover upwards and forwards while Link is dead. Using the two fairies that are in this room, we could heal ourselves once we hovered up high enough onto the final platform.”
“The problem was that getting healed required one of the fairies to fly into Link by chance, and the player had no control over this. So for nearly the past nine months, runs of the Any% category were dictated by whether or not players would get healed by the fairies (which statistically happened less than 5% of the time), so unfortunately many good attempts were lost to this.”
“Thanks to the Morth Hover though, this luck has since been wiped out of the Any% run.”
He then further explained the nitty gritty details of pulling off this fairly advanced trick.
“The final room contains three morth enemies (the little black spikey eyeballs that attempt to cling to Link and weigh him down). These enemies can be blown up to the final platform with the deku leaf and then killed with an arrow or a bomb. However, when a morth dies, it will only leave behind a heart drop if it gets specifically killed by Link’s sword, so initially we could not use morths as an alternative healing method out of the Zombie Hover glitch.”
"However, I recently discovered, that it is possible to slash a morth with Link’s sword and have it cling onto him at the same time, cancelling the morth’s usual death animation. Since Link’s sword hit the morth though, the flag that determines if the morth was killed by Link’s sword is set, and makes it is possible to shake off the morth, blow it up to the platform, and kill it with an arrow to have it leave behind a heart drop.”
While this makes the Fairy Hover mostly unusable, he admitted that there is a faster way that’s near impossible to use. “There are setups that would make the Fairy Hover faster, but the statistical chances of those setups actually working are pretty close to zero.”
Here’s a video tutorial of how to perform the Morth Hover technique.
He also shared a clip with us on how it can be used in a run.
We then asked him what it was like to find a technique that other speedrunners will now be using to attain records. “Well, as someone who's been running Wind Waker HD for 4 years, I'm just glad the luck dependant part is finally out.” Putting it all together, gymnast86 has a run that's beaten records across several categories.
From here on out the category will certainly have some back and forth between gymnast86 and other notable runners.
Find gymnast86 running for gold on his Twitch channel. He has steadily taken over most of the leaderboards on Wind Waker HD.
Leave it to speedrunners to come up with new ways to take things further, just when it was thought a game was optimized.