Most players take at least a few days to complete The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, especially if they’re collecting everything. Speedrunners do it in a few hours, using tricks and glitches to rush through the game. Every game has its limits, though: a peak of what’s possible for a human to perform. The current world-record holder has created a special kind of speedrun, showing what a perfect performance would look like.
ZFG1 is one of the most accomplished Ocarina of Time speedrunners in the game’s history, holding longtime records in the 100% subcategory. In that category, players complete the game while collecting every possible item. ZFG holds the current world record of 3 hours, 53 minutes, 33 seconds. ZFG and other runners have been pushing times lower bit by bit for the last few years, but no run is ever perfect...at least, not when a human does it. With the precision of, say, a computer, that time could be lowered even further.
To show what that looks like, ZFG made a “Human Theory TAS,” a speedrun where he performs segments in isolation on an emulator then links them into a super-run that shows what perfect gameplay would produce. Runners already use “splits” to mark the time it takes to reach certain milestones, and many programs allow players to see the sum of their best possible times. This run makes seeing those perfect splits a reality and then some.
The result is a speedrun—fully commentated—that’s nearly 15 minutes faster than ZFG’s current record, featuring a medley of tricks that aren’t always viable for a real-time run. That seems like a lot of time to save, but it also helps put ZFG’s own record into perspective. Even without computer-like perfection over the course of a nearly four-hour run, he’s not that far off. As Ocarina of Time speedrunners invariably find new tricks and setups for performing them, they’ll inch closer and closer to this theoretically perfect time.