SDA logo

Released in November 2011, Skyward Sword follows Link as he flies through the skies and to Hyrule in order to save Zelda. Traversing through three different sections of Hyrule while collecting familiar items, players get to enjoy the Wii MotionPlus and swing Link's sword with exact precision and get a feel for aiming a bow and using the slingshot. Much to his frustration, Link himself finds out that puzzle-solving has expanded to the overworld.


Best Single-segment time With resets: 5:39 by 'Paraxade' on 2012-04-28.

Get Flash to see this player.

Author's comments:

First things first. The YouTube upload of this run is available here. I would appreciate your not uploading it to your own channel for several reasons, not the least of which being that I don't like the idea of having my work on someone else's channel. Thank you!




I'm going to start by addressing something I'm sure a lot of viewers are gonna be curious about. This run was done on the Japanese version. I am not, in fact, Japanese, nor do I speak or read the language. The reason I use the Japanese version is because the text scrolls much much much much much faster. The Wing Ceremony cutscene, which is (normally) unskippable, is an entire minute faster on Japanese (3 minutes in English/2 minutes in Japanese). Plus it speeds up the pace of the game. Frankly, the text in the English version scrolls so slow that it bores the hell out of me. I would not have wanted to speedrun it if I didn't have the Japanese version. As far as I know there are no version differences aside from the text; I've been playing on Japanese for a month or two and haven't noticed anything. I don't know how much time is saved through the faster text; my initial estimates were something massive like 40 minutes but I'm not seeing the time difference in my runs, so I think it's actually something much smaller; 10-15 minutes maybe. I'm definitely not running through the English version to find out.

Kay so. Skyward Sword had been out for 5 months when I finished this run. In that time, it's proven to be largely unbreakable (so far, anyway). There's a couple neat tricks here and there, but there's only one big technique, the Back in Time glitch (I'll get to this in a bit). I got it the day it came out and it took me iirc 5 days to finish my first playthrough. My first attempt at speedrunning this was a segmented test run I started on December 9, and finished on January 19. That run was on the English version and it didn't use BiT because it hadn't been found until I was halfway through the run; by that point I decided to just go through the rest without using it. I ended up finishing in 6:23 using 77 segments. That test run is still online here if you want to watch it.

After that... I made the stupid stupid decision of trying to do a single-segment run. Don't ask me why. The first SS I did of this was in a race with TheOnly and a few other people where IIRC I got an ~8 hour time and we finished a few seconds apart (I was only halfway through my test run so I didn't know the last half of the game). Pretty ridiculous, really. When I started doing more of them after my test run was done, it took me a couple tries to sub 7, then a few crappy runs later and I managed to beat my test run in a single segment with 6:21. Then I got it down to 6:16... then early Thunderhead was found, and it went down to 5:56, then 5:45, then 5:39.

This run was really awesome. It's not without its fair share of dumb mistakes, but come on... it's a freaking 6-hour single segment run. There will be mistakes. It's really tough to do a run this long; not just because it's hard to play well for so long (it is), but also because it's really hard just to find time to do the run in the first place. You need a block at least 6 hours long where you're sure you won't be interrupted or get too hungry or tired or anything. Very limiting. I admit I started to get really fed up with the run, 'specially because I had a stretch for like 5 days where I couldn't get any runs up to Skyview Temple, which was pretty frustrating.


Skyward Sword is, for the most part, unbroken. There is just one big glitch: the Back in Time glitch (BiT). To execute it, kill yourself, then on the Game Over screen, select "Continue" and immediately reset the game. If you've done it right, you'll spawn on the title screen. If you watched my segmented Twilight Princess run, you'll remember this from segment 1; it's the same glitch. What makes it different in Skyward Sword, though, are A) the fact that you save with bird statues instead of the pause screen and B) the fact that the file select screen is also on the title screen rather than being its own screen like it is in TP. What this means is you can use this glitch to screw with the way the game saves and loads files, allowing for some pretty nifty sequence breaks. The game acts pretty strangely when you're on the title screen, and can have a number of weird effects, but here is the important stuff that I make use of:

First off, when you're on the title screen, you're in a special state of Skyloft that I call Title Skyloft. Title Skyloft has a few differences from normal Skyloft; namely, the lighting is weird and there are no NPCs. Most of the objects are still there, including bird statues. If you save at a bird statue, then load the file, then you'll spawn on title Skyloft in your file (without the title screen being up). There is one main use for loading on title Skyloft: the Statue of the Goddess is always open. This is very useful early in the game because it lets you enter the statue early. Doing that lets you get the Goddess Sword early, which in turn allows you to skip the Practice Sword. Aside from that, saving and loading on title Skyloft can be useful if you want to quickly warp back to Skyloft instead of manually flying there (which is actually never useful on its own, but meh).

The main use for BiT is called BiTWarp: essentially, a glitch that lets you warp around to specific locations in almost every map in the game. Basically, the way it works is you go to a bird statue while on the title screen and select one of your files. Then you want to highlight both "Save" and "Load" at the same time, and activate both at the same time, with the same A-button press. What happens now is that you'll spawn on the map you were previously saved at, but at the XYZ coordinates of where you were when you saved on the title screen. This can make the game load you in some interesting spots, and can be used for sequence breaks surprisingly often. Due to how the glitch works, each bird statue in Skyloft will warp you to a different spot. There are four: Lower Academy, Upper Academy, Bazaar, and Waterfall Cave. Upper Academy is by far the most commonly used one, as it usually spawns you inbounds. Bazaar is occasionally useful, while Lower Academy has no uses and Waterfall Cave is both useless and very hard to actually get to. This trick allows for things like skipping half of Skyview Temple, skipping the beginning of Eldin up til the Digging Mitts cave, and getting the Fire Sanctuary boss key early, among other things.

The third useful thing is probably the most confusing one, but it's a big one. When you're on the title screen, the game tends to load data from whatever file you have selected. When you interact with any object, the game will update your inventory to your inventory from the file you've selected. If you save, watch a cutscene, or go through a loading zone, you'll unlock the B button, which allows you to use your items. The strange part about this is that when you interact with certain objects (roll into a tree, push a box), the game will actually play certain cutscenes from your file - either the trapdoor in the graveyard opening, the Tower of Light rising, or the thunderhead opening. Typically this'll just do something on the title screen, and then the effect will be gone when you load a file, but it turns out if you manage to make a cutscene play after you've started loading a file, as the screen is fading out, then the effects of the cutscene will carry over into your file. This means using a completed file, you can trigger those cutscenes early on a new file. You can also use the same trick to load stone tablets into your inventory from a different flle, place them, and then have the columns open early on a different file. Or alternately, the biggest one: you can update your inventory to give you the Stone of Trials, place it in the statue, and then have Sky Keep open early on a new file. None of this is useful for speedruns, because the rules are that you can't make use of a premade file...

...however, there is one way to make use of it. As it turns out (and I have no idea why this works, but it does), if you save at a bird statue in Deep Woods after opening the entrance to Skyview Temple, then do BiT, then when you select your file, the game will immediately play the cutscene of the thunderhead opening. Even if you haven't unlocked the thunderhead on any of your files. You don't even have to interact with anything like you usually do to play cutscenes during BiT. This lets you open up the thunderhead early, and since you don't need any premade files to do it, that makes it speedrun-legal. Doing this skips all the stuff you normally have to do between learning the Ballad of the Goddess and opening the thunderhead, including the first Imprisoned fight - about 20 minutes of filler.

The weirdness doesn't stop there - BiT has a lot of other little quirks, but it's not really worth detailing here as none of it is relevant. Hopefully though it turns out there's still a few new ways to make use of it that no one's found yet, as it certainly doesn't seem outside the realm of possibility. If you're interested in learning more, it's worth stopping by ZSR's Skyward Sword section or the forums.


Now, about this run specifically. This run is an RTA (Single Segment w/ Resets) in 5:39, by both SDA timing and RTA timing. I spent a decently long time doing attempts for this, and I think it turned out to be a pretty good run. There are no real major mistakes (costing a minute or more). Tallying up all the noticeable mistakes, I lost less than a minute in the first half of the run, and less than 5 minutes across the entire run. Of course, if you take into account smaller mistakes and little optimizations, I lost more time than that, but you gotta draw the line somewhere. The single worst mistake in the run, both costing the most amount of time as well as being the stupidest, is when I jumped into the lava in the first room of Fire Sanctuary for no reason and lost almost 40 seconds. Fire Sanctuary as a whole was not great, and I lost almost two minutes there alone. I also got screwed on Levias pretty badly and got hit by a guardian in the Skyloft silent realm; Sky Keep overall was also pretty meh. However, most everything else was fantastic. Less than a minute of noticeable mistakes in the first half of the run (up to the end of the Shipyard), both Imprisoned fights went flawlessly, Song of the Hero had almost no mistakes, and I got almost the best ending I could have possibly asked for.

Mistakes in a run of this length are inevitable, especially when you near the end of a run, as you've been playing for so long and nerves start to kick in. Just look at Ghirahim 2 for proof of that... major nerves going on there and made me play like an idiot. I regret that Fire Sanctuary went as badly as it did, and Levias also bugs me, luck-based as it is, mostly because screwing up Levias means I have less arrows for later. However, given how solid the run was overall, and how incredible the ending was (which would be very hard to replicate in another run), I'm pretty happy with the end result.



I don't know what's next for me but I will tell you right now that I AM NEVER DOING A SINGLE SEGMENT RUN THIS LONG EVER AGAIN SDLKJSLGJSLkgjaelkgjaejrhg

Check out my channel on YouTube and subscribe to it for some cool stuff (mostly Sonic-related).

Enjoy the run!

Return to the Game List, the FAQ, or the Home Page.