After nearly 27 years, players have finally found SNES action-RPG classic Illusion of Gaia’s first speedrunning skip, and it revolves around using spiders to overload the game’s memory.
Shared on Twitter late yesterday by speedrunner BOWIEtheHERO, the newly discovered trick has been dubbed the the Aura Barrier skip, and if executed properly will transport players from the game’s Mountain Temple directly to the final boss fight against Dark Gaia, saving upward of half an hour in the process. The glitch was first discovered by retro gamer Hiro_sofT over the weekend and then confirmed to work on the game’s original cartridge by BOWIEtheHERO.
You can see the time skip in action below:
According to BOWIEtheHERO, the trick is to get three spiders from the Mountain Temple stacked on top of one another and then have them all shoot out their web at the same time. This fills up the game’s memory, as you can see from how the framerate starts to crash. Then you unleash Aura Barrier, a special ability you get halfway through the Mountain Temple which spawns a series of shields that spin around you. Trying to spawn the shields pushes the game’s memory to the breaking point, triggering a warp directly to the final boss fight against Dark Gaia.
Normally, that trek would take 30-40 minutes longer in a speedrun, or a few extra hours in a normal playthrough. “This is huge for Illusion of Gaia!” BOWIEtheHERO wrote on Twitter. “Excited to see what we can do now. My first goal is 1:23 or 1:24.” Illusion of Gaia’s current world record in the Any% speedrunning category is 1:57:06.
What makes the discovery more fascinating is just how long it took. Lots of games people speedrun have major time skips. Some like The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker have several. Decades later one of the best action-RPGs on the SNES now has one as well, and as BOWIEtheHERO points out the Aura Barrier skip is the first shortcut to be discovered in a Quintet-developed game (the Japanese studio also made ActRaiser and a number of other classic action-RPGs and JRPGs published by Enix in the ‘90s). Hopefully it’s not the last.