Last year, a speedrunner managed to break through an infamous Wind Waker HD roadblock that players believed was impossible to skip. No one could figure out how it was done until now, and the discovery is shaking up how runners play the game.

The trick in question is called “Barrier Skip.” Mid-way through The Wind Waker, players descend underwater into Hyrule Castle, where a magical barrier blocks access to the final dungeon. Skipping this barrier would send players right to the final stretch of the game. The skip was considered a pipe dream until speedrunners Girtana1 and LinkOscuro broke through the barrier last August. Despite pulling it off, no one understood how it worked.

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Yesterday, Girtana1 managed to record a barrier skip while running The Wind Waker HD with Homebrew software that tracked controller inputs. The program provided the hard data runners needed to develop a working barrier skip. After some testing, runners discovered that there was a semi-consistent method of performing the trick. It involves lining up with a nearby wall and then sliding into the barrier at high speed:

Barrier Skip has some drastic repercussions for The Wind Waker HD. Previously, speedrunning WWHD required a lengthy process to gather Triforce shards that included a significant amount of Rupee farming, travel time, and a trip through the multi-floored combat heavy Savage Labyrinth. Runners can now leap towards Ganondorf without hassle.

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The trick was first accomplished in a run last night by Linkus7, a dedicated runner who previously held records in all of The Wind Waker HD’s categories. His Any% run, which tries to complete the game as fast as possible through whatever means, came to an end as he attempted a luck dependent glitch to reach Ganondorf.

Instead, the first completed run with a Barrier Skip was completed by gymnast86's All Dungeons speedrun. Using the glitch was nearly 3o seconds faster than the previous Any% record. Because the All Dungeons route is currently faster than old Any% routes, successful runs will hold records in both categories. At least for now. The current record as of publication appears to be a 3:00:25 by RasenUrns, which still needs to be verified by peers.

Speedrunning is a process and it remains to be seen how much Barrier Skip will change the run, though obviously cutting out dungeons and removing lengthy sidequests will alter routes and lower times all around. Being able to recreate the mythical barrier skip is an exciting discovery and I can’t wait to see where Wind Waker HD goes from here.