“The key is to find as many normalizations as possible,” explains speedrunner CrystalSaver, whose blindfolded runs include The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. “That means finding a set of inputs that produce the same result every time… Once I find a path that will always work, it’s time to move on to the next, and the next, and the next.”
In the case of Breath of the Wild, CrystalSaver found reliable inputs in the strangest of places.
“The answer was bunny hops,” CrystalSaver reveals. “If you perform a hop in any direction, the distance Link moves is ‘usually’ the same… Another useful method is swapping between aiming the bow and pulling up the Sheikah slate scope. Alternating between the two adjusts Link’s aim upwards at a specific angle every time. That was a crucial factor in beating Dark Beast Ganon!”
No amount of practice can account for things going wrong, though. In runs where so much needs to be perfect, the slightest misstep can destroy the best-laid plans. However, it’s during those moments when blindfolded runners often demonstrate the full extent of their knowledge and abilities.
“If you know how Super Mario 64’s camera behaves, you can actually play with it and listen for a surface you are confident you can determine your position from, like a door entrance or corner that makes a specific sound,” Bubzia explains. “In those scenarios, it’s all about endurance, not giving up, and just trying over and over again until you get a perfect run.”
That’s the strange thing about blindfolded runs. The results are magical, but the process can be painful and monotonous. Even the simplest runs require you to spend dozens of hours studying a game’s layout and finding perfect movement patterns. But as clinical as the journey may sound, it’s often inspired by the love of a game rather than a desire to break it.