You get the feeling you are the only person who knows about a secret or a glitch, when in reality it is so widespread there are fewer people who don’t know about it.
In The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past there exists a shortcut through the woods where a player can navigate to level four before stepping foot in Swamp Palace or Skull Woods. With only the hammer from the dark world’s first dungeon, a player can find a portal in the lost woods, then nab the titan’s mitt from Thieves’ Town. With these wonderful golden gloves the tempered sword is made accessible, making level two and three a piece of cake. Whipping the cheese balls coming off of Argghus with an upgraded sword is fun knowing, technically, you are not supposed to have it.
Super Metroid embraced sequence breaking. The development team programmed advanced moves into the game to encourage players to do just that. Bomb jumping (like in the original) and wall jumping can propel a player to heights conventional gameplay does not allow without certain upgrades. So why get the high jump boots then track all the way back for the spazer when the spazer is just a couple of wall jumps away? Another technique, known as the mach ball, allows players to accelerate in ball form allowing for early super missiles and ice beam, as well as a skip of the spore spawn boss. Bomb jumping can be aggravating unless you truly have it mastered. A player could spend an hour hopelessly blasting away getting nowhere without perfect timing. And the reward is not as great as the one for one-hundred consecutive super jumps in Super Mario RPG. Before I perish, I will earn the super suit.
Super Mario RPG is so polished that game designers accounted for a possible early sequence break. Later in the game, from Land’s End a secret exit leads back to Kero Sewers for the cricket jam which can be traded to Frogfucious for ten frog coins. Back in Kero Sewers Mario finds himself on what was previously thought to be an inaccessible high ledge. but crafty players found a way around it. Draw a boo near the wall, then jump on top of it to enter a fight sequence. Run away from the fight and the boo will flicker for just a moment essentially acting as a platform. Quickly hop on the boo and up to the high ledge to barely reach the Land’s End pipe. But don’t get your hopes up. When you enter the pipe and seemingly pass 70% of the game, the nervous Shy Away will approach you saying “This is a dead end, so it’s best to turn back now.” He’s right that you do reach an area you cannot pass, but it’s also good advice to turn back since you will get your ass handed to you by these later enemies. Kudos to Square’s game testers for spotting this possibility before the game reached the production line.
I had a sickening satisfaction when I began a new game of the original Legend of Zelda and decided to defeat level seven first. Unprepared, I made a fool of myself. After quickly gathering bombs, two heart containers, and the white sword I braved level five. Although I died a handful of times in the swarms of dark nuts trying to get the recorder, I was eventually successful thanks to the shooting sword. When I brought the recorder back to the “pond where fairies don’t live” I had an inkling I was missing something. I plowed through a few rooms coming to an impassible stream. At that point, I realized I needed the ladder. Thankfully level three and four were nearby so I returned with the ladder in mere minutes. On my way back I realized I needed the food to pass the hungry goriya. Thankfully, I had enough rupees so I picked up a cheap piece of meat from the blue ring shop and returned to level seven with everything I could possibly need.
It seemed like a lot of work for a sequence break, but when I held level seven’s triforce having never set foot in level one or two it felt like it was all worth it. Also, I had a new appreciation for the boomerang and realized how much I took it for granted over the last twenty-two years
Remember the first time you beat all five star worlds in Super Mario World it somehow led you to the front door of Bowser’s castle? I was disappointed when I discovered this shortcut because what was the point of completing the rest of the game? Then again, that carries on Mario tradition since in the NES classic a player could find his or herself in level 8-1 in about five minutes. Or in Mario 3 a player could get there in about the same amount of time. AVGN rightly points out that the kid from The Wizard would have no idea where to find two whistles in Super Mario Bros. 3 the first time through. I guess that Jimmy kid was a savant, but it’s still tough to believe.
“Ones who does not have triforce can’t go in.” Okay. Despite the terrible “all your base are belong to us” translation, the message is understood. I am forced to do Legend of Zelda’s level nine last. As much as I would like to maneuver my way to the red ring and silver arrows before beating aquamentus in level one, I understand. But explain to me this: how did the old man find himself in the dungeon? You know, the guy living a quiet life deep in a cave of monsters whose only human interaction is ordering Link to “Go to the next room.” He doesn’t have the triforce. And who is that guy think he is telling us we can’t enter without the triforce? Shouldn’t he encourage link to save Hyrule whenever he felt it was feasible? What do you really need before going in? Essentials include four bombs (found or purchased for just twenty rupees), one key (found or purchased for eighty rupees) and the bow (discovered in the first dungeon). Let me in, old man. I am trying to rescue Zelda from that filthy pig warlock, save Hyrule, and set an all time record in the process. Has anyone found a way to glitch through the triforce douche in level nine?
It wasn’t much of a sequence break, but in The Secret of Mana, you can return to Potos Village despite being permanently banished for taking that ghost’s advice when he told you to pull the sword out of the river. It takes careful maneuvering, but you can get one of your party members behind the guy who spends his life keeping you out of the town. At this point tap select and control that character who has passed through the blocking guy. Once back in Potos you cannot accomplish anything, except an inexpensive rest for three gold pieces. The hometown discount is a surprise considering the permanent banishment.
Sequence breaking is pretty much lost on modern games. Final Fantasy XIII’s linearity cages me in as a gamer. Without the ability to attempt something new a game loses its replay value. I keep going back to Mega Man games because boss orders give so many possibilities. And I keep coming back to these other classics because each playthrough can be a little different due to more choices built into the game and sequence breaks that maybe you weren’t supposed to find. It’s all right. You can chuckle to yourself every time you acquire the titan’s mitt. And when you slay Argghus with the tempered sword you are just reaffirming to yourself you’re a clever bastard.