The Nintendo Switch may be receiving mixed, though still mostly positive, reviews, its launch title, the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, has mostly been earning accolades all around. Praised for its vast, open world, BotW allows gamers to solve a problem in the style they see fit. Sometimes preferring not to solve the problem at all, just speeding through the game from start to finish as fast as possible. Yes, it’s speedrun time and speedrunners are now boasting of being able to finish the game in little less than an hour.
The first sub-hour speed run has been credited to YouTuber Gymnast86, who noted his accomplishment as taking just 58:01 minutes. That’s really cutting it close, especially when you consider that other speedrunners have since then tried, and succeeded, to break that record. Some, like for example Venick409, finished the game in 54 minutes 5 seconds.
Not all the feats were welcome with admiration and the situation actually brought up a rather curious debate among members of the speedrunning community. Is it still speedrunning when you’re actually speedriding? Unlike gymnast86, some speedrunners had the advantage of having an Amiibo ready, which gave them the in-game Epona horse. And, of course, that meant not having to literally run all over the place.
To some viewers and even some newer speedrunners, the use of a mount felt almost like cheating. Veteran speedrunners, however, claimed that the benefits of those mounts were quite overstated. Venick409, for example, said that riding would have really only saved him less than a minute.
Barefoot or horseback, it’s still interesting how the developers have crafted a world so open that it would allow for such a playthrough without using hacks or cheats. Of course, the expansive world of Breath of the Wild is almost begging to be played leisurely, pausing once in a while atop mountain peaks to take in the views. Or taking a minute or two to figure out another way to solve the same problem. Then again, that’s what re-plays are for.