After getting 19:35 on the iQue (2nd fastest any% time) I see some people are discussing the age-old issue of version differences. I see so much misinformation being thrown around and I kind of laugh as I see arguments about it from people who don’t play OoT on various websites like YouTube (comments), reddit (/r/speedrun), and 4chan (/srg/). For some reason people who don’t play OoT seem to get the most heavily invested in winning these arguments, despite having no idea what they’re talking about. This post is to explain how version differences work with regards to Ocarina of Time running.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was released on 4 platforms.
It was originally released on the Nintendo 64 in 1998. The N64 has many different version of OoT. There’s NTSC-J 1.0, 1.1, 1.2. There’s also NTSC-U 1.0, 1.1, and 1.2. Finally, there is also the PAL release, which is 1.2. (edit: apparently there are 2 PAL N64 versions. Not super relevant though because PAL is 5/6th speed so it’s not a very useful version).
NTSC-J runs the game in Japanese. The Japanese text saves significant time over the English text. As this was realized, more and more people switched over to the Japanese version, as it was faster during cutscenes and various bits of text in the run.
NTSC-U runs the game in English, which as stated before, is slower than Japanese.
The PAL release has English, German, and French. I believe it was found out that English is the fastest among those, although the PAL version runs at 5/6th speed. This gives PAL a huge disadvantage. PAL also has the oddity of shortened roll invincibility, which ruins megaflipping and supersliding in many instances. Overall, PAL is heavily disadvantaged.
The 1.0 and 1.1 versions have some glitches that were not fixed until 1.2. For speedrunning this is relevant because you can not do the “Eyeball Frog early” glitch on 1.2. This gives N64 an advantage for speedrunning 100%, as it is the only platform with 1.0.
In 2002/2003, the GameCube version was officially released across these 3 regions as well.
The GameCube version is 1.2. Depending on which version you got, it also could come with Master Quest! The MQ version is only available for GameCube and OoT3D.
The GameCube version features a difference in lag/loading. It also saves the game differently. It saves to the memory card (which btw can vary in timing depending on what type of memory card it is). When you reset the game, it goes back to the game selection screen, and slowly loads the entire game off the disc. This means savewarping is very slow on the GameCube version. It can be faster in some cases to save, continue, kill yourself with bombchus, die, do not save, do not continue, and reload your file that way to achieve a savewarp, instead of hitting reset.
On the GameCube PAL version, the game runs at full framerate instead of 5/6th speed! This was nice for European players who wanted to play on console and didn’t want to import.
Due do the extremely slow savewarping, nobody runs the GameCube version very seriously. However, the GameCube version does feature a unique glitch regarding Out-of-Bounds bombchus.
Normally, when a bombchu is released in midair, it explodes. If it is released above a void, the game crashes. On the GameCube version, instead of crashing, it creates a massive explosion that can be shielded during Kokiri Boots backflip hovers. This means the GameCube version can achieve some OoB tricks that are not viable on any other version, such as hovering from the truth spinner room to the boss room of the Shadow Temple using 50 bombchus. These tricks are at best gimmicks though and the GameCube doesn’t gain strong advantages with it.
In addition to not crashing for OoB chus, it also does not crash when you use a Deku Stick as adult Link. This means you can do things like light torches and get ISG using Deku Stick on B as adult. This opens a couple fun routing possibilities, but again these are more gimmicks and not too useful for main categories.
The GameCube version has a higher resolution. The shoulder buttons do not have to be pressed all the way down to be triggered. It supports rumble. The control stick sensitivity is a bit different from N64, which makes the ESS glitch harder. This also affects movement somewhat. The C-Stick for Ocarina songs is unforgiving and considered more difficult than C-buttons.
Also in 2003, Ocarina of Time was officially released for the iQue Player. This version has some unique features as well.
The iQue is version 1.2, however it is fully translated into Chinese. The Chinese text is even faster than Japanese! It is not as big as the different between Japanese and English, but it does provide a small advantage.
The iQue version has a very slow savewarp as well. It is faster than the GameCube version, but slower than all other versions. This is because the iQue goes back to the game-selection screen (the games are stored on a flash cart which plugs into the iQue).
The iQue version has less gameplay lag than every other version. This is most relevant during the first room of the tower collapse, and the collapse cutscene.
For some reason (perhaps having all of the Chinese characters loaded at once), the rare “Hyrule Field” glitch is more pervasive, which can get in the way of collecting the Big Poes. It can also happen in the Spirit Temple.
The iQue looks identical to N64, down to the resolution, particle effects, etc. The iQue crashes in the same places as N64 (no Stick-B or OoB chus). The control stick sensitivity is similar to N64.
Some misconceptions regarding iQue:
Some think that iQue is faster for all categories. As any% only has one savewarp, it is probably best used for any%. It is worthless for 100% due to being version 1.2. The Hyrule Field glitch would probably get in the way as well. For other categories it would be questionable. Due to the huge unpause lag, pause buffering is made a lot more difficult. There are more savewarps in other categories, which means big time losses every time this happens. The left/right are difficult to hit accurately, which maybe could be overcome but is still a factor in playing well (so much so, that Runnerguy gave up trying to play on the iQue for any%).
Some think the iQue is pirated Chinese romhack. It was actually officially released by Nintendo. The reason it has a special name and controller is because China had a console-ban, so it had to be a plug-n-play device. This is why the iQue’s hardware is built into the controller.
Finally, a third argument is that it is difficult to obtain, and should therefore be banned. Compare this to other versions. The run on the Wii-VC NTSC-J version, you need to either import a Wii from Japan, or buy an NTSC-U Wii, an SD card, load homebrew software on it, and then get a wad-manager and install a WAD, region free the WAD, or region-change the hardware. Obtaining the N64 NTSC-J 1.0 version may be harder than finding an iQue, but it necessary for 100% WR attempts. Either way accessibility is a poor argument.
In 2007, Ocarina of Time was officially available for download on the Wii Virtual Console. Wii VC had 3 releases, NTSC-J, NTSC-U, and PAL.
Unlike the GameCube release, the PAL version is 5/6th speed again, so the Wii VC PAL version is heavily disadvantaged.
Wii VC is version 1.2. There are graphical differences from the N64 version, including a couple glitched textures. The particle effects are different. It has double the resolution.
The VC version has the fastest load time, a pretty fast savewarp (slightly slower than N64 due to the Classic Controller message). It has reduced lag. It can use Deku Sticks as adult. It doesn’t crash from OoB chu explosions, but they are normal-sized and not huge like GameCube. The shoulder buttons have to be fully pressed, and there is no rumble. The control stick deadzone/max input range are large, so the sensitivity is high. As such, precise aiming is difficult and the ESS glitch is much harder.
In 2011, Ocarina of Time 3D was released in several regions.
Due to the bugfixes, altered scenes, redone animations, new textures, new framerate, new game modes, added tutorials, etc. This is considered a different game than Ocarina of Time and speedruns are not to be compared.
During all this time, different unofficial N64 emulators were in development.
Progress was slow. For a long time there were many issues such as extreme pause delay. Finally, the emulation got decent enough with Project 64 1.6 that some people started running on it. This was mainly convenient for Europeans, whose choices were to play the GameCube version and deal with the slow resets, or hack their Wii to play a non-PAL version. The iQue was not well-known back then so people did not consider it.
PJ64 1.6 runs OoT fairly well, although there are some problems. PJ64 1.6 has less lag than the N64 version. Most people didn’t care about this because of things like Wii-VC being faster, which is a valid point. However, as version 1.0 is only available on N64, this means that if you are doing an OoT speedrun using tactics only available on ver1.0, you must use an actual N64 because there’s no emulator that has been proven equal/slower to actual N64. This is mostly relevant for 100% speedruns, where Eyeball Frog early is an important glitch.
Additional problems with PJ64 1.6 is that the Forest Trial could randomly crash, destroying MST runs. Some people running on PJ64 1.6 would enable a cheat code in the emulator right before they entered the Forest Trial, and disable it when they dispelled the Forest barrier. This was pretty ridiculous solution, and would probably be banned nowadays as it is modifying the game.
Entering the Kakariko Bazaar often crashed the game on emulator. Stick-B could crash the game depending on which plugins were used. Using the Sun’s Song in Kakariko could crash the game.
Project 64 1.7 is slightly better about some of these issues. At this point, the people running OoT seriously on emulator use 1.7 with the Japanese version (for faster text).
A ROM of the Chinese version has not yet been ripped. Even if it was, it would be disallowed on emulator because the emulator would not have the iQue menu for savewarps.
Project 64 2.0 and 2.1 were released. Both of these versions have the same fundamental flaws for speedrunning.
PJ64 2.x on default settings runs the game at an unstable framerate. This framerate tends to make OoT run at approx 21fps during gameplay (normal OoT framerate during gameplay is 20fps). Over time, PJ64 2.x saves loads of time due to this. During pauses, the framerate shoots through the roof, to open the pause menu much faster. This is another issue as no official version of the game does this. PJ64 2.x has no gameplay lag.
One flawed argument some people make is that PJ64 2.x is simply running the game more efficiently. The truth is that it’s simply running the game faster than the base framerate. It is the same as running the emulator at 200% speed. The only difference is that the framerate boost isn’t so obvious to the average person.
You cannot allow an unofficial emulator to run the game faster than the base framerate on a leaderboard of times. Why? Because the long-term result of this is all the runs being done at 2000% speed, played awfully but much faster because of the framerate increase.
OoT on all of these emulators also runs different depending on the plugins used, and the settings, such as the VI refresh rate, counter factor, sync to audio, frame limit, etc. These settings can all be edited freely and will change the speed of the game.
There are other N64 emulators, which are generally agreed to be of lower accuracy than PJ64 1.6/1.7, and haven’t been proven as fair. There are also GameCube/Wii emulators that do not seem to run OoT all that well. There is no iQue emulator.
As the Wii has been hacked, you can inject a ROM into a WAD and run it on the Wii. This means it is possible to run ver1.0 on the Wii VC. It is also possible to run Master Quest on VC. These WADs are banned for being unofficial emulation that is faster than official hardware.
I hope this was educational and clears up some misunderstanding!
In summary, Ocarina of Time is available officially as:
- N64, NTSC-J 1.0
- N64, NTSC-J 1.1
- N64, NTSC-J 1.2
- N64, NTSC-U 1.0
- N64, NTSC-U 1.1
- N64, NTSC-U 1.2
- N64, PAL
- GCN, NTSC-J Collector’s Edition
- GCN, NTSC-J MQ disc
- GCN, NTSC-U Collector’s Edition
- GCN, NTSC-U MQ disc
- GCN, PAL Collector’s Edition
- GCN, PAL MQ disc
- iQue Player
- Wii VC, NTSC-J
- Wii VC, NTSC-U
- Wii VC, PAL
These are all considered valid, official platforms to run Ocarina of Time on for speedruns.
Ocarina of Time is also allowed on ZSR using some unofficial emulation:
- Project 64 1.6, NTSC-J 1.2 (default settings)
- Project 64 1.6, NTSC-U 1.2 (default settings)
- Project 64 1.6, PAL (default settings)
- Project 64 1.7, NTSC-J 1.2 (default settings)
- Project 64 1.7, NTSC-U 1.2 (default settings)
- Project 64 1.7, PAL (default settings)
While not preferable, these are still allowed as they have been proven to not carry significant advantage over the official releases.
The following are explicitly banned for Ocarina of Time speedruns:
- Project 64 2.0
- Project 64 2.1
- Using ver1.0 or ver1.1 on non-N64 for time-gain
These are unfair to use when comparing with actual hardware.
The following are considered entirely separate games:
- Ocarina of Time: Master Quest
- Ocarina of Time 3D
These are tracked entirely separately from vanilla Ocarina of Time.