Stuff you do NOT need to collect in order to beat the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

OoT has an awful lot of items and collectables and many of them are optional. If you want to beat the game 100% you can get them all, but it's actually surprising what you can do without if you want to beat the game with the bare minimum of items...

Obvious stuff:

  • Money. That is, other than the 40 rupees initially necessary to first buy your Deku Shield. These are obtained early in the game, long before any other items are available, let alone necessary. You also need 10 rupees to enter the Diving Game to win the Silver Scale, but that' it.
  • Any of the optional quiver, bomb bag, wallet or Deku Seed pouch expansions, for obvious reasons.
  • Mask Of Truth. All this is used for is getting useless information from Gossip Stones.
  • Deku Nuts. You will probably pick these up by chance at some point in the quest, and if you do, using them to stun particularly large opponents such as Stalfoses can be a good idea, but there are no quest-critical objectives requiring them.
  • Heart Pieces. Heart Containers obtained after beating bosses should sustain you adequately.
  • Gold Scale. This is only useful for diving for rupees and getting one particular Heart Piece - see above.
  • Stone Of Agony. This is only useful if you have a Rumble Pak in any case - it'll vibrate when you're near a secret.
  • Gold Skulltulas. Kill these to get a reward from the cursed Skulltula family - two wallet upgrades, a Heart Piece, the Stone of Agony, some free cash, and Bombchus, depending on how many you've found. All of these are inessential except Bombchus, which can be easily obtained elsewhere when needed. Completely unnecessary.
  • Magic Beans. These - available only to young Link - can be used in two places to provide shortcuts and several others to lead to secret Skulltulas or Heart Pieces. See above.
  • Three of the four available Bottles. While useful, you can make do with the single bottle which is necessary to the quest: the one with Princess Ruto's letter in it, found in Lake Hylia.
  • Four of the six available Great Fairy gifts. These are: Magic meter extension, strengthened defence, Nayru's Love (temporary invulnerability spell), Farore's Wind (allows warping within dungeons).
  • Sun's Song. This will freeze the undead in their tracks: useful... unless just running past them is a viable option, which it always is. Can also switch rapidly from night to day and vice versa - well, just be patient.
  • Ice Arrows. It's unclear exactly how much use these are in any case, and they're a hassle to get hold of (you have to finish the tedious Gerudo Training Ground).

Non-obvious stuff:

  • Dungeon Maps or Compasses in any of the dungeons. Although it's probably advisable to get these the first time through, a good memory will see you through even the more complex dungeons without getting lost or confused.
  • Come to that, any Heart Containers, obtained after beating major bosses. Okay, I'll give you that this is foolhardy in the extreme - this will leave you on three hearts for the entire course of the game, while an Iron Knuckle can take off six with a single swipe of its gigantic axe. But if you're l33t enough, you can do without them.
  • Biggoron's Sword. This huge weapon is the product of a lengthy side quest as adult Link, but the Master Sword (or, towards the end of the game, the Megaton Hammer) will do the job perfectly well.
  • Epona or Epona's Song. While she's a quick way of getting around places, she's only really necessary for getting Biggoron's Sword: see above. There are ladders to get over the fences to Lake Hylia, and the bridge in Gerudo Valley can be crossed via Longshot.
  • Fire Arrows. This is trickier. There are a handful of occasions when it's necessary to summon flame to complete something important to the quest. Torches need lighting, wood or webbing needs burning, that sort of thing. However, if you look carefully through your inventory there is invariably an alternative to using the Fire Arrows. Using the magic spell Din's Fire is one method; shooting an arrow through an existing flame towards the target is another; finally, in Ganon's Castle, there's a place where you need to light several distant torches in order to activate some hidden platforms and cross a deep chasm. Instead, you can use your Longshot to drag yourself to one of the torches halfway across, and then on a Like Like (enemy) to drag yourself to the far side.
  • Zora Tunic. Okay, now you may be starting to think I'm crazy. The main use of the Zora Tunic is that it allows you to breathe underwater indefinitely. Without it, Link can only hold his breath for a short amount of time. This is the amount of time equal to the number of hearts you have when you jump into the water, multiplied by eight, in seconds. So if you jump in with, say, eight full hearts, which is pretty standard once you get to the Water Temple, then that's 8*4 = 64 seconds, just over a minute. Which is plenty. The longest you ever have to spend underwater in the game is in the very bottom central room of the water temple, where you have to beat about half a dozen easy enemies underwater before you can surface. This can be done in the allotted time with at least ten seconds to spare, no worries. The Zora Tunic is hence unnecessary.
  • Hylian Shield. This is also insane. Technically young Link needs it to ascend Death Mountain for the first time, because of the regular showers of molten rock that occur on the route up to the top, but if you keep rolling (which will make you momentarily invulnerable to the falling rock) you can get along the deadly pass without taking more than about one and a half hearts of damage. Easy. For the remainder of the game spent as adult Link, it DOES get dicey not having a shield: even fighting only the bare minimum of enemies, surving those nasty Stalfoses without dying is hazardous unless you're really careful. Once you reach the Spirit Temple you get the Mirror Shield (which is necessary to complete the game), so things become a little easier from then on.
  • Song of Storms. This is only required to get the...
  • Lens of Truth.

Beating OoT without the Lens of Truth

This is a seriously psycho item to skip. You need this the first time through. The Shadow Temple alone is a nightmare: invisible Hookshot targets, invisible holes in the floor and invisible platforms across chasms, invisible enemies and walls... even the boss is invisible. How do you get past all that stuff without the Lens of Truth?

Memory! Play the game through several times and you'll find it's not too hard to simply memorize the location of the invisible (or fake) things you need - platforms, blocks and chests (only a few of which are necessary). The only real skull in the room with the turning bird is always in the same place. Navi will target invisible enemies for you and even tell you what kind of enemy they are, so you know how to fight them. Invisible walls can be found through trial and error and navigated by simply following the left or right-hand side. Chasms are relatively forgiving if you have the Hover Boots, which you will need to reach the main part of the Temple. The final room before the boss has a complicated, almost totally invisible layout, but if you have the Hover Boots and a little faith, there's a simple route almost straight across which you should be able to work out the first time you see it, and navigate successfully when you return without the Lens. And for Bongo Bongo: after stunning both his hands, he will clench his fists and race across the drum towards you. Just target the point exactly between the two fists and fire an arrow, and he will turn visible.

Outside of the Shadow Temple, there are only a few more tricky sections; an invisible enemy or two in the Spirit Temple, and the invisible paths in Ganon's Castle, which can simply be circumvented with skilful use of the Hover Boots and the Longshot. As for the trip across the Haunted Wasteland: well, I won't disagree with you, it's the hardest part, but it can be done. On your first time through, memorize the ghost's movements and try to match them up with the very few physical features in the area - and as soon as you see the two flags that mark the end, forget the ghost's (needlessly complicated) route and run straight towards them. Good luck.

But why would you want to skip all that stuff?!

Speed completion of videogames - either legitimately, or using an emulator and save states to optimize every possible frame - has become the big thing in videogaming these days. While Super Mario Brothers is the current favourite - with the world record for completing the game legitimately being of the order of five minutes and fifteen seconds, and the emulated ("time attack") record only a few seconds faster - old Nintendo Zelda games have also become popular.

The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is no exception. Each Zelda game is longer than the previous one - OoT will provide the average gamer with at least 20 hours of play in the main quest, plus many more for the numerous side quests. However, for the experienced player, it can be beaten in under six hours. This involves a huge amount of optimization and also requires skipping the vast majority of the items on the list above, in the name of saving time.

The Lens of Truth requires a ten-minute detour from what would otherwise be a direct warp to the Shadow Temple, making it worth the trouble involved in skipping it. The Zora Tunic would require unfreezing King Zora, which would cost about a minute. Many other items are simply be done without to save minutes or seconds.

Some optional items are collected for the sake of saving time. Heart Containers would be foolish to pass up, since Twin Galaxies' record-keeping policy demands that a speed run be completed without dying, which in any case wastes time. The extra time needed to visit Lon Lon Ranch and get a second bottle more than pays for itself in the Ice Cavern where being able to hold two bottles of blue fire instead of one saves a lot of traipsing back and forth. A Magic Bean planted at Zora's River provides a handy shortcut for adult Link. Farore's Wind is perhaps the most important: it allows warping within dungeons, which can be exploited to great effect in the Water Temple in particular.

Collecting the Hylian Shield as young Link requires a detour into the Graveyard while you head through Kakariko Village towards Death Mountain - only about two minutes, but still precious time. In any case, young Link generally only faces less dangerous enemies. As an adult, you can collect the Hylian Shield in the same place, this time losing only about 20-40 seconds since you have to visit the Graveyard anyway in order to get the Hookshot before you enter the Forest Temple.

For the same reason you can skip the Zora Tunic, it's ALMOST possible to skip the Goron Tunic too. Death Mountain Crater and a number of rooms inside the Fire Temple are sweltering with heat and a countdown timer appears, exactly like it does when you're underwater. The Goron Tunic protects you from this. However, the main part of the Fire Temple isn't hot at all: the hot areas can be sprinted through with impunity. That is, until you get to the boss. As far as is known, it takes at least two minutes to beat Volvagia, which would require 15 hearts, or far too many heart pieces over the odds to make it worthwhile. A great shame.*

The record for beating OoT - timed from the moment Link jumps out of bed to the time the final blow is struck against Ganon, and including all intermediate speech and cutscenes - is 5 hours and 25 minutes, set in April 2004 by Mike "TSA" Damiani. A faster run is possible, but would be nearly flawless.

*Update: it is possible to beat OoT without the Goron Tunic, provided you acquire a bottled red fairy. This will revive you when you die halfway through the Volvagia fight, and reset the timer, effectively doubling the time you have available. This has been verified experimentally (though two red fairies are advisable for insurance). However, skipping the Goron Tunic is such a lengthy workaround that it wastes more time than it saves.