State of the Game (v1.1.1)

Now that the game and its new content have had some time to settle in, I figured I’d give a run-through of the speedrun meta, some of the issues relevant in it, and some potential balance suggestions. Let me preface this with that while this whole post might seem overly negative/nitpicky, I’m still enjoying the game quite a bit, especially on challenge categories like double-time or Yves. As a warning, this is gonna be a VERY long post, so here’s a quick summary of the key points. You can find more details and specific suggestions in the wall of text below. Summary of Points

  • Dungeons should not fully regenerate every time you enter them
    . Bolding this because not only do I think this is the single most detrimental trait to the raceability of this game (especially in Dungeon Mode), but I think it’s also undercutting the replay value of the game for casual players.

  • Dungeon Mode could use some refining on the following points:

  • Lower start to the difficulty curve

  • Larger variety of dungeon generation style

  • Less restrictive methods to improving damage

  • An option to re-run zones so you don’t get stuck on weak builds upon dying to bosses

  • Courage Shovel, Torch of Wisdom, Boots of Power, and Glass Slippers could use nerfs.

  • Greatshovels, Glass Shovel, and Ring of Risk could use buffs/reworks.

  • Flails need to work consistently, intuitively, and also not sometimes crash the game.

  • Several use-items could use reworks to make them more relevant.

  • Zelda is substantially stronger than Link or Cadence, and that’s ok, but nerf Nayru’s Love a bit.

  • Cadence is a budget Link and needs buffs/reworks to her kit to make her stand out more.

  • Octavo’s Haste ability is overwhelmingly strong and his sole defining character trait, but also utterly useless on Double Time and Fixed Beat modes. This should maybe be reworked.

  • Shrines are a good addition but many of them are unremarkable. Shrine of Death stands out as way too strong and has some major bugs vs. final bosses.

  • Some other minor balance/quality of life changes (listed at the bottom).

Dungeon Generation

Let’s go ahead and get the big bold point out of the way first. We just finished CaHOOT 7: our first Dungeon Mode tourney. While it was mostly enjoyable, it was soured by a few races in which players who died benefited from doing so**.** In game 3 vs. Zinpars, I found myself soft-locked by an awkward setup in 1-3 involving a turbine pushing me into an area surrounded by deep water, and was forced to save and quit. This gave me a completely different zone 1 on the replay - one that gave me a TON of glass weapons compared to the initial generation, which enabled me to outclass Zinpars’ equipment and take the race by a large margin, despite playing zone 1 twice. Similarly, in game 2 vs. Tufwfo in the finals, I took a death in zone 2 and found myself very far behind. However, the death meant I was given radically different floors for the rest of the run, including a very easy zone 4. Off the back of that zone 4 alone, I went from being about a full zone behind to being slightly ahead, ultimately winning the race. Dungeon Re-generation essentially turns a seeded race into an unseeded one the moment one racer dies**. Coupled with the relative lack of penalty for dying in Dungeon Mode, this can potentially make Dungeon Mode racing an absolute mess****.** We’re seeing a problem similar to the one of Lucky Charm in pre-amplified Crypt of the NecroDancer brought up to a much larger scale that affects not only items, but floor generation as well. This is a lesser issue in Story Mode, where the penalty of losing rupees and keys is actually a relevant punishment, but still an issue there nonetheless. In CaHOOT 3, our first major head-to-head story mode tournament, my grand finals match vs. Incnone ended very anticlimactically with a seed in which the Goron Shop was very far out of the way. On the Temple of Storms, I accidentally entered before I had the necessary resources to skip the first floor, resulting in an additional re-generation of the dungeon when I left and re-entered. This resulted in an easy Hover Boots pickup for me, rendering the difficulty of obtaining the Goron Locket irrelevant. Meanwhile, Incnone was left unable to find Hovers and spent over a full minute traversing the overworld to the Goron Shop, making for a landslide victory on my end due to an entirely accidental, arbitrary routing decision.

I also feel this is negatively impacting the replay value for casual players. On replays, the only thing that substantially changes is the overworld layout - a large open area with enough empty space that you can typically ignore combat altogether anyway. Players experience the full scope of the randomness of dungeons in their first playthrough, which I think undercuts motivation to replay the game. I think the game could potentially be much better**, both for casual and hardcore players, if dungeons were generated one time for a given seed and remained mostly static for that given seed.** There still could be some wiggle room for randomness on death/reload in terms of exact enemy composition or item positioning, but I still think providing a degree of consistency within the scope of one given seed is important.
Dungeon Mode

Dungeon Mode is a great addition to the game, offering a more action-packed, fast-paced game mode without the sometimes long-winded overworld traversal. It has a ton of potential to be a great racing/speedrunning mode, but as things currently stand, it could use some refinement (beyond the issue with floor re-generation mentioned above). The in-game description describes it as “closer to the classic NecroDancer experience”, but it’s currently missing a few important notes from its predecessor. Here are some ways that could be addressed:

  • Lower the starting difficulty curve.

Crypt of the NecroDancer starts with a zone 1 that doesn’t much punish the player for being on their relatively weak starting equipment. Every common enemy is essentially neutralized in a single hit from a 1-damage weapon, with black skeletons, white monkeys (a 1-3 exclusive), and minibosses being the only encounters that require heavy time investment. Cadence of Hyrule, by contrast, starts right out of the gate with enemies that require multiple hits to dispatch being the norm, with common enemies as tanky as 4HP red guards right at the start. This makes starting with glass slippers VERY powerful and makes non-racing speedruns into a flurry of resetting for good rolls out of the opening chest. If enemies in the first zone were more consistently manageable on low damage, one could safely take Glass Slippers out of the starting item pool and lower the need for heavy early-game resets.

  • Make better weapons more freely available.

The above point closely ties into this one. The process of getting a better weapon in the early game is extremely long and involved and simply not worth the effort. One must find a decent basic weapon, farm up diamonds, and then hope to luck into a great fairy cave offering decent infusion options. There are a number of ways this could be addressed, such as reducing the cost of basic weapons/infusions and giving more detailed visual cues to indicate a great fairy (such as unique wall sprites, or making them consistently appear on certain floors - think of how the Blood Shop was guaranteed to spawn in the first two floors in NecroDancer). Alternatively (and I think I like this route better), make some weaker pre-infused weapons occasionally available in shops in the early game (Ruby and Emerald-infused weapons, and/or just Spears/Broadswords/Daggers/Shortswords), somewhat better ones in the mid-game (Titanium or Obsidian-infused, and/or pre-infused Flails and Character-Unique weapons), ending with the curve out currently in Dungeon Mode with Legendary weapons in the end-game.

  • Make dungeons more varied.

Every zone essentially just being the Future Hyrule dungeon with slight biases towards the dungeon associated with the upcoming boss, gradually slightly more and more stuffed with enemies, makes the playthrough feel somewhat flat throughout. The playthrough would feel more dynamic throughout if the dungeons more closely resembled the dungeon styles found in Story Mode, with enemy compositions to match. One could maybe even included locked mini-boss rooms on a floor or two of a given zone, which would address the current issue of deaths feeling relatively free of consequence. It might not be bad to add an additional distinct zone between the Octavo and Ganon fights as well (Zone 5 being Hyrule Castle, and Zone 6 being Future Hyrule).

It’s also worth noting that smashing together multiple dungeon styles constantly has some pretty major consequences beyond making the dungeons feel repetitive. Most notably this happens in dungeons with lava hazards and Hinox as the mini-boss. There have been multiple instances of a Hinox throwing a bomb across the map into lava adjacent to the player, which causes it to instantly detonate and kill them with no chance to respond.

  • Add a portal in pre-boss lobbies to allow a re-run of the current zone.

While relevant in any context, this is especially important in Yves runs, where the lack of weapons and usable items mean one’s build is entirely based on temporary equipment. While allowing the player to reset straight into a boss fight after a death seems like it’s doing the player a favor at first glance, in application it’s actually quite awful to be stuck without the ability to farm up new equipment against a boss one is struggling with.

Story Mode Route

If you’re not familiar with the route, here’s a quick run down of the important points. Note that this is only for vanilla Story Mode runs without Double Time, Permadeath, or Fixed-Beat Modes enabled. Knowing this will help give some context for individual points later on and help illustrate which items are currently relevant (and by extension, which ones are not). If you’re already familiar with the route and what items get used, you can skip to the next section.

  • Start as Zelda.

  • Nayru’s Love

is far and away the most powerful ability in the game

  • Rapier
    is the best weapon type in the game (honorable mention and close 2nd to Flail)

  • The central positioning of Hyrule Castle/Zelda’s Tower compared to Link’s House is far more useful.

  • Get the Lute.

  • Fast travel to Sheikah Stones is super important. Usually, we get theLute

from the Cadence Cave in either Gerudo Desert or Lost Woods - the caves on Death Mountain and Lake Hylia are typically too far out of the way to be worthwhile. Gerudo Desert is usually preferred if convenient, since two of the relevant items in the next step are present there.

  • Gather Overworld items and establish warps
    .

  • Power Glove

is always obtained, as it enables Temple of Storms, Lost Swamp, and Frozen Grotto skips, as well as makes walking on the outside edge of the Hyrule Castle map tile easier.

  • Flippers
    are obtained in 99% of runs, only very situationally skipped in runs with early Hover Boots without a convenient Goron Locket.

  • One of the most important technically-optional items to find is the Torch of Wisdom
    , usually through the consistent guaranteed spawn from the fountain in the grasslands.

  • The Titanium Dagger
    is optionally obtained as well as either a backup to glass weapons, or a damage boost until a better weapon (usually Rapier or Flail) can be infused.

  • Any convenient Keys
    are also good to get.

  • Bombs
    also get filled using a combination of enemy drops and guaranteed bomb pots at Gerudo Village and Prince Zora’s Cave.

  • Use-items from purple chests are typically NOT worth the time investment, other than maybe the Windmill Hut chest (Down Thrust is typically NOT obtained, either).

  • Warps are typically established to Lost Woods (at the start of the maze puzzle), Gerudo Ruins, Hyrule Castle Drawbridge, Frozen Grotto, Windmill Hut, Kakariko Crypt, and the Goron Shop.

  • Complete Kakariko Crypt
    .

  • Since Kakariko is a sub-dungeon and completing it does not increase global difficulty, completing it before other dungeons is ideal. Typically, you want to make sure to have additional damage (either Titanium Dagger, Glass Weapons, Boots of Power,

orGlass Slippers) and the Torch of Wisdom.

  • While the Torch of Wisdom
    is mostly used to spot extra Keys more easily, seeing any of the following is potentially strong:

  • Auto-digs (Auto-Shovel

or Shovel of Courage, Courage preferred)

  • Good base weapons (Flail
    or Rapier, though investing a key in obtaining them is not always worthwhile)

  • Glass Weapons

  • Helpful rings (typically Ring of Courage
    or Ring of Piercing)

  • Damage-ups (Boots of Power
    , Glass Slippers, or Enchant Weapon Scroll)

  • While doing this, most runs also kill Freddie, both for the Coupon
    and the free Key.

  • Wake Link. Buy the Goron Locket (if Goron Shop was found) with the Coupon
    .

  • Combined with the Flippers,

this enables entry into Gerudo Ruins without collecting the Gears. Also purchase Bombchus.

  • Start completing main dungeons.

  • Note that the order that follows is flexible.

  • Regardless of dungeon order, check the Purple Chests for Bow/Great Bow
    , Hookshot/Longshot,Pegasus Anklet, or War Drum (and even if one of those is not there, grab something anyway to cycle the item pool to the fourth item for the next dungeon).

  • Torch of Wisdom
    remains important here for the same reasons as in Kakariko Crypt. Ideally, try to get Flawless Victory on bosses to try and find a good base weapon for infusion without the need to spend a key.

  • Temple of Storms

is typically done early. The back-entry through Death Mountain with the turbines can generally be used, so long as you have the Power Glove and a pushable half-block is present on the screen. The Greaves given in the pot at the front of the lobby guarantees a consistent setup for skipping the first floor using the Power Glove and two Bombs, though you can swap to Link to save a bomb and some health. Gleeokenspiel is typically fought using Bombchus, though Bombs work almost just as well, which means finding a good weapon prior to this isn’t particularly important and makes this an ideal early boss. Fighting Gleeokenspiel as a later boss makes the heads too durable to go down to two Bombchus.

  • Frozen Grotto
    is also a decent candidate for an early dungeon. The first floor can be easily skipped with the Power Glove, Iron Boots, Glass Slippers, or with a diagonal Bomb boost. That said, Wizzroboe is by far the boss with the most RNG, so runners may want to wait until they have higher damage (either through infusion at the secret Hyrule Castle vault, or Glass Weapons), as this mitigates the number of good RNG rolls one needs for a smooth fight. Every missed cycle in this fight dramatically increases its duration. Bow/Great Bow and Bombchuscan also help mitigate bad RNG.

  • Lost Swamp
    is typically done after finding the Hookshot/Longshot or Pegasus Anklet, as either one saves a fair amount of time in the Lost Woods maze. The first floor can be easily skipped by using the Power Glove to throw the crate in the lobby onto the switch by the purple chest, though this method doesn’t allow you to reach the purple chest.

  • Gerudo Ruins
    is typically done towards the end, as it has the most restrictive set of items needed to skip the first floor. If the Goron Locketisn’t found, this will typically be done last in an effort to find Hover Boots from a dungeon floor, as combining that with a Bomb can get past the entrance and first floor. That said, it makes the dungeon more difficult due to lack of hot coal and lava immunity, so the Goron Locket route is typically preferred. Gears are NEVER collected. Bass Guitarmos Knights don’t become a substantially longer/more difficult fight when done late, so doing them later is generally preferred.

  • Complete Hyrule Castle.

  • There’s not much of note in routing once you have all instruments. Power Glove + Bomb, Bombchu,

orHookshot + Torch are used to light the torch in the entryway.

  • Being able to deal 5+ damage in one hit helps against Octavo a lot - this can usually be done with Obsidian
    orGlass Rapier*,*augmented by Boots of Power, Glass Slippers, Enchant Weapon Scroll,and/orWar Drum(with War Drum easily being the least-preferred method).

  • If 5 damage in a single hit can’t be achieved, Bow/Great Bow
    can help pick up the slack on distant teleports.

  • Complete Future Hyrule
    .

  • Legendary Weapons, mainly the Jeweled Dagger

orFragarach(the Hylian Flail is ok too), can be obtained along the way in Future Hyrule in a pinch (i.e. never infused a weapon, never picked up titanium dagger, broke all glass weapons, and have spare keys), but are generally not bothered with.

  • Ganon is typically killed with a combination of Bombs
    and Nayru’s Love to avoid freeing side characters more than necessary, as more characters freed means more targets to keep safe.

Temporary Item Breakdown

It’s fairly straightforward to see just by looking at the items mentioned in bold above what’s hot and what’s not, so to speak, but let’s break them down by category. We’ll start with the passive/temporary items and weapons. S-tiers are extremely powerful, A-tiers are useful, B-tiers provide either strong benefits with drawbacks or situational benefits, C-tiers provide inconsistent benefits, D-tiers are base-line items or negligible benefits, and F-tiers are typically detrimental to have compared to alternatives.

  • Weapons

  • S: Rapier

(Simple, straightforward move-attack. +1 damage lunge helps reach critical damage thresholds vs. bosses)

  • A:
    Flail (Strong move-attack weapon made slightly awkward with its strange targeting prioritization)

  • B: Spear, Longsword
    (Straightforward ranged attacks, makes some fights easier without needing to back off)

  • C:
    Broadsword(Good at handling crowds but can snag on enemies you don’t want to fight)

  • D:
    Dagger/Shortswords(Manueverable, but has trouble handling dense swarms)

  • F: Greatshovel
    (Broadsword but snags against things that aren’t even threatening to hit you)

  • Shovels

  • S: Courage

(Turns walls from a time-consuming obstacle into an invincibility tool, sometimes allowing you to surf the walls straight to the exit room without fighting anything)

  • A:
    • B: Auto
      (Eliminates time-consumption on digging, but opens up swarms. Also breaks itself quickly, as it attempts to dig undiggable walls as you walk along them and drains its own durability)

    • C: Battle
      (+2 damage isn’t usually worthwhile unless you’re still on 1 damage. The time spent digging could typically just be spent attacking instead.)

    • D: Stamina
      , Basic (Stamina rarely runs out as long as you’re using it efficiently. If you need a stamina refill, it’s typically more efficient to refill by getting kills instead of digging)

    • F: Glass
      (Can farm up money on shop walls and dig open cave entrances without a bomb, but money farming is a VERY slow process and rarely ever necessary, and sealed caves are rarely worth visiting. The prospect of being left with no shovel at all upon taking damage isn’t usually worth the upsides)

    • Torches

    • S: Wisdom

(Finds good items and the guaranteed wall-keys in dungeon floors, rendering key-challenge rooms and many shop visits unnecessary)

  • A:
    • B: Reflection
      (Protects against pesky bow-guard snipes, but drains quickly)

    • C: Obsidian, Battle
      (Obsidian provides an ok amount of additional lighting but provides no overworld benefit. Battle provides a small passive benefit if the player is making mistakes)

    • D: Basic,
      Glass(Glass Torch can help with mapping and avoiding dangerous enemies, but provides no benefit on the overworld. Being left without a torch at all if you take damage is generally not worth the risk.)

    • Rings

    • S:

Courage(Save time on movement)

  • A: Piercing
    (Eliminate need to play around shields, saving time against Darknuts, Talos, Iron Knuckles, Hylian Guards, and Stalfos)

  • B: Glass, Nayru’s
    (Glass keeps valuable but fast-draining items such as Auto-Shovel, Boots of Power, and Torch of Reflection healthy, and guards Glass weapons from breaking in one hit. Nayru’s Ring protects glass weapons and prevents damage entirely for its hit, but also uselessly procs against non-damaging attacks like web-balls that the player would likely have been safe to ignore)

  • C: Protection, Healing, Charisma
    (Small, mostly negligible benefits by comparison)

  • D: Risk,
    Blasting(Risk is pretty much impossible to get any use out of, as Rings take damage when you do - trying to get to low health to activate the ring usually breaks it in the process, especially since the game repeatedly actively refills your health with item drops and post-boss heals. Blasting has some useful combat applications and offers an alternative, generally safer approach to the Ganon fight, but bombs are important for many boss fights and skips and shouldn’t be used too recklessly. Blasting also invalidates bomb-boost-based skips)

  • Boots

  • S: Power, Glass

(Boots of Power’s unconditional damage increase is a HUGE plus, though it won’t last for an entire run without Glass Ring. Glass Slippers provide the same benefit plus some time-saves against shallow water and ice, all without the threat of a gradually decreasing durability. However, taking advantage of that requires the player is playing VERY well, as taking any damage renders its lifespan shorter than Power’s)

  • A:
    -
  • B:
    Hover, Iron(Hovers enable a few back-up skips, most notably the Gerudo Ruins entrance, and save time in dungeons vs. pits. Iron boots enable some very slightly faster skips and save time vs. shallow water and ice, but disable any bomb-boosting attempts)
  • C
    : Greaves(Defense boost is nice but typically negligible compared to benefits of other boots. Most notable use is in the health-intensive double-bomb Temple of Storms F1 skip, after which it tends to immediately get dropped for other boots)

Temporary Items: What to Nerf

While obviously items are going to have their strengths and weaknesses, I think it gets to be a problem when one item outpaces every other competitor in its slot by a considerable amount. This makes for a stale meta-game where every run goes for the same build in a game where part of the star is supposed to be its variety across playthroughs. A few items stand out to me in particular in that sense: Torch of Wisdom, Shovel of Courage, Boots of Power, and Glass Slippers.

Torch of Wisdom was already good in 1.0, but it got even better when 1.1 made the torch consistently reveal wall-keys (previously, they’d only sometimes be revealed). I think a good way to bring it down from its lofty position a bit is to nerf its effect indirectly. That is, rather than changing the fundamental function of the torch, consider re-tooling dungeons’ wall key mechanics. Currently, a key is hidden in the wall (or in water/poison water/lava) in every dungeon floor, and they’re very often not at all difficult to obtain. One way to make Wisdom a bit less of a must-have would be to change that somehow - either by making the free key not a 100% guarantee, or by more consistently putting it somewhere out of the way. Alternatively, one could add some sort of indicator to the wall sparkles to give the player a chance to distinguish which hidden wall items are keys from the ones that are items, bees, diamonds, or hidden stairs without the need for Torch of Wisdom. In this case, Torch of Wisdom would just become a light aid in finding the keys, rather than an absolute necessity to avoid chasing sparkles for worthless diamonds and items.

Shovel of Courage was stupidly strong in Crypt of the NecroDancer, basically being a risk-free Miner’s Cap in most cases (which was already a VERY strong item despite said risks), only being arguably worse with a few specific weapon types (which are not found in Cadence of Hyrule) - so I’m surprised it made it here to Cadence of Hyrule completely untouched. It’s basically superior to the similar Auto-Shovel in every way, as it’s both safer and lasts longer. Looking back to Crypt of the NecroDancer, the only time the Shovel of Courage didn*'t* feel stupidly strong was in Zone 4, where the big-digs rendered it completely impossible to chain together non-stop invincible digs. Perhaps giving it that treatment at all times would be a good way to bring its power level down a bit - whenever the player move-digs into a wall, it also digs all the diggable tiles around the target. Alternatively, Shovel of Courage could maybe take an overall durability reduction to dissuade overusing it, or take a massive hit to its durability whenever it prevents damage - this could be combined with a durability buff to the Auto-Shovel to make them more comparable, with Shovel of Courage being safer and Auto-Shovel being longer-lasting.

Boots of Power and Glass Slippers are tough ones to rework, however. The +1 damage is ridiculously strong, but gutting that aspect renders them useless. The best suggestion I can come up with is to somehow limit their appearances until later in the game.

Temporary Items: What to Buff

On the other side of the spectrum, we have the items that are considered too weak to ever be beneficial to a run. I think the ones worth looking at most are Greatshovels, Glass Shovel, Battle Shovel, andRing of Risk.

While I definitely appreciate the out-of-the-box thinking with a weapon that interacts in a way that isn’t just direct combat, the implementation of Greatshovelsamounts to a carbon copy of an already underwhelming weapon type (Broadsword) that also snags on walls you don’t even really want to dig. The targeting methods could use a rework, perhaps only going for an attack if an enemy is in range or if the tile being directly pushed into is a diggable wall. Considering a different attack range entirely to move the weapon away from being basically a broadsword may also be a good idea.

Glass Shovel’s ability to give you easy money off of shop walls seems appealing, but the process is way too slow to be worthwhile in most cases. Perhaps giving it a big AoE dig to speed up the process, or making shop walls drop more money could shore this up a bit.

Battle Shovel isn’t absurdly weak, but it’s a bit lackluster since having a weapon that deals 2+ damage renders it relatively useless, and the top of the shovel market is currently dominated by the time-saving move-diggers, making shovel choices a bit one-dimensional. The original “infinite” damage functionality from Crypt of the NecroDancer could come back to give competition to Courage/Auto shovels in a completely different direction. Seeing as there are no diggable walls in boss fights, there’s no concern about this trivializing the important fights.

Ring of Risk is nearly impossible to activate and maintain without breaking it since the game routinely gives you health drops and health refills after bosses, and trying to reduce your health back into activation range damages and eventually breaks the ring. It’s only useful at all on Yves, where it becomes pretty much the best item in the game. Perhaps a change to something like “+1 damage, but take +0.5 damage when hit” would allow it to maintain its theming, make it usable for non-Deku characters, and make it less unilaterally powerful for our Deku scrub friend (as he would no longer be able to safely take any hit without dying/losing potions).

Also worth mentioning is the Flail. While in theory capable of competing with the Rapier, it currently has a lot of strangeness on its targeting. It fails to hit enemies when walking around certain corners, and also always prioritizes enemies on the left, even when one is closer and threatening to attack the player from the right. The current target priority can be described as 3-2-1-4-5, but it would be much more consistent if it were 4-2-1-3-5. There’s also still an inconsistent bug with Glass Flails that sometimes crashes the game when they hit a burning Fire Keese, making them even scarier to use.

Permanent Item Breakdown

Sadly, the vast majority of permanent items is currently not relevant in any capacity, which limits the value in going out of one’s way for additional purple chests and items in both Story Mode and Dungeon Mode. As a quick summary for Story Mode, this is what we are and aren’t interested in from purple chests:

  • Yes:
    Bow/Great Bow, Pegasus Anklet, Hookshot/Longshot, War Drum (6)
  • No:
    Boomerang/Magic Boomerang, Cane of Somaria, Deku Leaf, Fire Rod, Ice Rod, Fire/Ice/Lightning/Poison Arrows, Rito Feather, Tower/Mirror Shield (13)

In Dungeon Mode, the item pool in these chests widens considerably and the usefulness of some of the items changes.

  • Yes:
    Bow/Great Bow, Pegasus Anklet, War Drum, Flippers, Snorkel, Bottles, Goron Locket, Big Bomb Bag (9)
  • No:
    Boomerang/Magic Boomerang, Cane of Somaria, Deku Leaf, Fire Rod, Ice Rod, Fire/Ice/Lightning/Poison Arrows, Rito Feather, Tower/Mirror Shield, Hookshot/Longshot, Power Glove, Tingle’s Dowser, Shield Technique, Big Quiver, Down-Thrust (20)

There is, of course, nothing wrong with there being items that are stronger/weaker than others, but the balance is heavily skewed towards weak. Even many of the items listed in yes are extremely situational. The Bow/Great Bow, despite currently being the best combat item out of the lot, sometimes doesn’t get a single use in a run where it’s picked up, which says a LOT about the combat items weaker than it. The War Drum provides extra damage that can sometimes be useful against certain bosses, but is typically awkward or not worthwhile to setup. Hookshot/Longshot is too unreliable to get any use outside of the Lost Woods maze to save a few seconds, and sometimes even fails to do that depending on the enemy positions. The Pegasus Anklet, while providing the most obvious consistent advantage in movement, struggles to get consistently used as it cuts into stamina needed to cast Nayru’s Love. Items like the Flippers, Snorkel, and Goron Locket only get used in Dungeon Mode if the dungeon floors happen to provide situations where they’re useful. Bottles are purely a safety measure and are skipped by most players. The Big Bomb Bag is currently the best thing to find in a purple chest in dungeon mode by far, as it provides a full fill of both Bombs and Bombchus on pickup.
Permanent Items: What to Nerf

Honestly, this is only a single thing, and it’s not even something from the purple chests:Nayru’s Love**.**A big part of the problem currently is that every use item with a combat application is outclassed in damage, time, and stamina efficiency by Nayru’s Love. Potential tweaks include increased stamina usage, and/or more limitations on its ability to reflect melee damage. Perhaps have a cap based on your current attack damage, or maybe make it unable to return damage on melee hits at all unless the Shield Technique (which is currently pretty useless) is obtained.

Permanent Items: What to Buff

Even with Nayru’s Love being brought down from its high horse, most items would probably still struggle to find consistent use. Again, there’s nothing wrong with a few of the items being relatively worthless in the speedrunning context, but more potential variety in runs would be great. Here are some potential changes that could be made to improve a few.

  • Hookshot/Longshot
    **:**Currently extremely limited in its use for time saves because of its limited range of objects it can hook to, as well as the fact that it stops cold upon hitting an item pickup. Hookshot could be improved by making it pass through item pickups, having the player pick them up as they’re pulled to their destination, or pulling them in to the player after failing to latch onto something and retracting back.
  • Goron Locket:
    Give immunity to the burn status. This is honestly more of an issue with the way burn instantaneously spreads and causes unavoidable damage than with the Goron Locket being underwhelming. Although, the fact that Goron Locket provides safety against heat-based damage but not the burning status effect feels odd.
  • Cane of Somaria:
    Next to worthless - mostly just serves as a tool for puzzle-based caves, and even then there are usually alternatives that could potentially serve other purposes. This could use its secondary function from its source game, A Link to the Past. That is, when a block is already deployed, using it again will cause the block to explode into fireballs that damage enemies.
  • Deku Leaf:
    Some way to use this near pits or ledges to float over them for a short time (a la Windwaker) could give this more utility - maybe even go as far as completely replacing its ability with this function. One could limit it to two tiles so that it essentially serves as an alternative to Hover Boots without opening too many doors for potential exploits and skips.
  • Fire Rod/Ice Rod:
    Simply too low of damage for the time and stamina cost. Boosting the damage could help (increase the stamina cost if needed), or one could give it the ability to hold and charge, releasing for a more powerful beam attack (have it consume a VERY large amount of stamina to prevent spamming it). The reason Bow is useful is because of its ability to instantaneously damage across a large distance - giving the rods a limited ability to do something similar could help.
  • Tingle’s Dowser:
    To be quite honest, this feels like a poorly conceived gimmick item, being utterly useless to anyone who has completely disabled (or is otherwise unable to perceive) controller rumble. This should probably provide at least some sort of vague visual indicator to hidden items and/or dungeon exits on use.

Story Mode: Character Balance

Zelda is the clear winner in a Story mode speed over Link. There’s been some discussion in community spaces about making them more balanced with each other, but honestly in the overall design space of the game I think the power difference is fine as is. Link’s shield is a little easier to freely use with less overall payoff. It essentially makes for the dynamics of a beginner vs. advanced character, where the advanced character requires more game knowledge to utilize but has larger payoffs. All that said, I still stand by my above suggestion that Nayru’s Love should be knocked down a few pegs, as it’s strong enough to the point of obsoleting nearly all other equipment options.

Cadence, on the other hand, could use some reworks. She shows up late in the run beyond either a multi-part unlock condition, or as an end-game unlock if you don’t find all Cadence caves. Not obtaining her until a significant way into the game would suggest she’s either a powerful character, or perhaps a challenging character a la Yves. However, her shield ability being identical to Link makes it impossible to avoid comparing her against him. On the fronts of L-abilities and unique weapons, Cadence is significantly worse off in both regards. She gets a very unremarkable immunity to shovel decay - something typically only relevant with Auto-Shovels (and only because they currently have the arguably buggy behavior of losing durability while walking next to shop walls). Her lack of other restrictions to her kit means these shortcomings obviously aren’t meant to be part of a challenge-character package, rendering her very underwhelming and cementing her status as “Budget Link”. Here are some potential suggestions to help elevate her as a strong, independent character.

  • Extend her infinite Shovel durability trait to ALL temporary items (non-Glass Torches, Rings, and Boots).
    These are all items (or variations thereof) that Cadence uses in Crypt of the NecroDancer, where they don’t have limited durability - it would be totally plausible that the reason for this is she knows how to use them better than Link or Zelda.
  • Rework Greatshovels.
    This was addressed earlier in the Temporary Items section, but Greatshovels are to Broadswords as Cadence is currently to Link - nearly functionally identical, but with a caveat that makes them substantially weaker. Greatshovels could use some targetting reworks to prevent them from snagging on unwanted walls (think of how most weapons don’t snag on bushes or vines, despite theoretically being able to destroy them at range), and an attack-pattern rework to make them a more distinct weapon.
  • Buff/Rework Shovel Strike.
    Link’s Spin-Attack provides additional damage, can be held and moved with, and covers ALL adjacent tiles to the character that potentially threaten damage, pushing them away. By contrast, Cadence’s Shovel strike deals a flat 1 damage, cannot be held/charged/pivoted, and only covers tiles in front of her, leaving her vulnerable to attacks from the side or rear while channeling it. It also comes with the additional restriction of requiring a shovel - not something relevant most of the time, but potentially a problem immediately after taking a death or breaking a Glass Shovel. Giving it a similar ability to be held or pivoted and making it either deal damage based on current weapon strength, or a flat 2 or 3 damage would help considerably. One could also experiment with giving the option to hold it down for more beats, expanding the range and damage of the attack for very long charges.
  • Replace Shield.
    Cadence using the same shield as Link seems like an odd choice, especially since she doesn’t use normal shields in Crypt of the NecroDancer. Tools she has in NecroDancer that could work as a defensive option include variations on the Earth Spell (could push away and stun enemies, fits well with the dig/shovel heavy character design that’s already been established) or Shield Spell (a short-lived, very expensive spell that grants temporary damage immunity for a few beats - could scale based on the physical shields [Small/Tower/Mirror] found).

Octavo

I’ve already mentioned all this in my initial 1.1 impressions. Octavo at his core is a great re-work of the Melody formula from Crypt of the NecroDancer, with the changes to the functionality of the Golden Lute making it feel more controllable and less overpowered, without the frustration of slow, drawn-out deaths if you happen to get fully surrounded. The NecroDancer fight at the end of the run is also a lot of fun.

However, Octavo for all his unique character traits is currently dominated by one in particular: Haste. My opinions since then have vastly not changed. The ability scales poorly into double-time mode and fixed-beat mode, where it becomes practically worthless, but in normal single time runs, it’s the only aspect of his character that matters. The ability forces uncomfortable double-mashing poses using both the stick and the D-Pad to utilize optimally, makes the occasional random stamina drop from enemies WAY too valuable, trivializes most boss fights, and has unclear cues and durations making the end of the spell very awkward. I still stand by my earlier statements that a slow or sleep spell that temporarily disables or cuts enemies to half-speed would have fit better in the scope of the game and provided the same sense of being able to run laps around enemies, without feeling overwhelmingly game-defining in the speedrun.

It’s also worth mentioning that Boots of Power are even more overwhelmingly strong here than on other characters, due to his weapon-locked status.

Shrines
I haven’t had quite as much experience in this department yet, but overall I like the addition of Shrines. That said, I feel that the actual effects/implementation of them is about 50/50.

  • Mostly Good:
    Shrine of Conga, Shrine of War, Shrine of Glass, Shrine of Mystery

  • Shrine of Conga

is a nice alternative take on NecroDancer’s Shrine of Rhythm, which went pretty consistently unused because it slowed you down so much. By contrast, the Shrine of Conga here speeds you up and gives you some nice items, but obviously makes the run a bit scarier with the faster irregular beats. It’s a good trade-off.

  • Shrine of War
    provides the very strong Boots of Power, but at the cost of making the run a little more dangerous overall. Again, a good trade-off. That said, I don’t like how Shrine of War randomly spawns enemies constantly - it leads to potentially obnoxious deaths where an enemy pops up next to you and attacks the next beat.

  • Shrine of Glass
    is a classic from NecroDancer and gives you powerful but risky equipment through Glass Slippers, Glass Weapon (after bombing it), and Glass Ring to protect it all. It’s a much more preferred balance of risk/reward in terms of punishment for taking hits compared to Shrine of Death. That said, some Glass items are a bit lackluster compared to items they’re potentially replacing, although the Glass Torch is much stronger in Dungeon Mode than Story Mode.

  • Shrine of Mystery
    provides some fairly strong items in the Torch of Wisdom and Ring of Piercing, but the fact that the Torch of Wisdom just shows you a bunch of question marks limits its value considerably. That said, Torch of Wisdom is very much the strongest torch in the game, so maybe this is an alright limitation to face for a zone before getting unrestricted usage of it.

  • Unremarkable:
    Shrine of Blues, Shrine of Coral, Shrine of Peace

  • These all feel either inconsequential or not worthwhile. I don’t currently have any ideas to throw at you guys, and would have to play around with them more to get a better feel for what they’re missing.

  • Needs heavy rework:
    Shrine of Death

  • This Shrine is ridiculously

strong. In theory, this is a decent risk/reward balance, but the thing is that much of Cadence of Hyrule’s difficulty, especially in the late-game, comes from the large amount of tankier enemies overwhelming you. This cuts out enemy tankiness as a factor and makes avoiding damage altogether considerably easier. What’s worse, it works against bosses that normally force multiple phases or cycles out of the player, allowing you to save tons of time by completely nullifying boss fights. This is a HUGE time save if found in the final dungeon/zone, especially when playing as Octavo where it currently outright kills the NecroDancer prematurely during phase 2. The strength of this shrine in the end-game is to the point where runners are starting to reset if they don’t find Shrine of Death in Z5 in Dungeon Mode. At the very least, this needs to be made to not work against final bosses that normally ignore the player’s actual damage values, but I think this shrine would be better off scrapped or reworked entirely.

Misc. Changes
With that, I’ve touched on most of the biggest offenders, but there are still a few other minor points to touch on.

  • Burn Damage

  • Burn travels pretty much instantenously from unit to unit when a fireball hits and it feels pretty unfair, especially since you can’t prevent the damage once it spreads to you (unless you happen to be near water or have a Burrow ability). I think it should spread considerably more slowly, and also maybe be prevented by having the Goron Locket.

  • Dungeon Generation Bugs and Issues
    in 1.1

  • Bounce traps tend to spawn in front of boss/exit rooms in normal dungeons (i.e. Temple of Storms, Gerudo Ruins, Frozen Grotto, Lost Swamp, Hyrule Castle) that point away from it, necessitating a bomb, iron boots, or an enemy to block the destination tile. This appears to be a new behavior as of 1.1.

  • The new turbine gap-jump setpiece causes a lot of problems. Enemies spawning inside them (especially Lizalfos) tend to result in very unfair situations. In the case of Lizalfos, they often get stuck at the edge of the pit charging towards it, completely preventing you from actually clearing the gap. Other enemies can cause similar issues at times. The solid walls on the edges of this setpiece also seem capable of rendering a floor completely incompleteable in Dungeon Mode! We had this happen during a Dungeon Mode race at AGDQ - a combination of a tree wall and the solid walls surrounding the turbines completely blocked access to the exit. I’ll have to see if we still have the seed number saved somewhere.

  • Random floors don’t seem conducive to consistent behavior from Hylian Guards, who seem prone to getting stuck in corners or near pits for completely random amounts of time before they spot you. This makes for frustrating situations where a guard is stuck bumping into a corner near a hallway you have to access, but they may randomly get unstuck as you try to walk past them and hit you. This behavior has been present since 1.0.

  • Ganon Fight

  • While you can manually equip a weapon after breaking it as of 1.1, helper characters that start equipped with Glass Weapons won’t have their basic dagger/shortsword until it breaks. Once it breaks, it’s added to their inventory, but won’t automatically equip. This should be added to their inventory at the start of the fight so that it properly auto-equips on glass break, and so that one can swap off the glass weapons straight away if they want.

  • The way temporary items function on helper characters is very unclear and inconsistent. For example, an equipped Ring of Risk in an Yves run won’t affect helper characters, even though they share the same 1 HP that should be activating it! Scroll of Need also yields very unclear and questionable results when used with helper characters freed.

I think that’s everything. I hope some of this is helpful. I may come back later to update some of this. Thanks again for everything!

This is all extremely well-said, and I want to voice my strong agreement with all of it. Spooty’s summary does a very good job of highlighting almost all of my current major issues with the game (which, of course, come from a speedrunning/racing/replayability perspective). It would be redundant for me to repeat everything he’s already said, but please don’t take my not doing so as demonstrating anything but complete agreement.

A particular thing from the above that I’d like to signal-boost are the comments about dungeon keys. Key management – the art of choosing which key rooms to fight, which shops to visit, and where to spend effort looking for overworld keys – used to be one of my favorite parts of Cadence of Hyrule routing; it now feels like something you spend very little time thinking about, since the optimal route involves getting Torch of Wisdom and mostly just picking up what keys you find along the way.

I would be quite happy to see changes that somewhat re-emphasize the key-gathering aspects of the game. Attempting to consistently generate wall keys “out of the way” would be mildly helpful, or making the key substantially less than a 100% guarantee (although this interacts poorly with the current inconsistency/“unseededness” of dungeon generation). Another suggestion is to move the gold chests to the 1F of each dungeon, so that the shop key can also be moved to the 1F, though this has the potentially negative effect of making it more necessary, for extreme speed, to find good glass weapons (which feels a little difficult to make consistent in the current state of the game).

Also just wanted to say that I pretty much agree with everything about this.
A handful of people discussed this topic on the condor ND discord last night and from the sounds of it, everyone did seem to be in agreement with pretty much everything it had to say, emphasizing various things from it.

i myself do not really run the game at all, but from a viewers perspective, this all seems great to me both as a viewer, and a “casual” player (read: not a speedrunner, someone just playing around for fun).

The additional point I’d bring forward is the whole permadeath situation.
In my experience most people, at least those vocal about it, do not really like permadeath in its current state, at all, so it sees very little use.
People typically seem to want the randomization aspect separated into its own mode, as it could potentially help story mode runs become more interesting, since you wouldn’t be guaranteed flippers and gloves from the same locations every single run.
But at the same time people don’t really seem to enjoy the increase difficulty at all, since it just makes some things stupidly powerful, one-shotting you out of nowhere in situations that just don’t feel fair, and other enemies just becoming extremely tanky early on to the point of if being better to just avoid them entirely.
Could probably go much deeper into this subject, but I’ll leave it at that for now.

To start off, thanks so much for compiling this list, Spooty! I agree with a vast majority of the suggestions & observations you’ve made, even as a mid-/tier CoH racer/speedrunner, as a career software engineer, and as a very occasional hobby game developer (done more reading about game dev than coding).

While I have a few potential things I’d like to discuss further, I should really be getting to bed for the night, so I’ll just put the first one that popped back out at me for now (it’s a lot of text to re-sift through ?).

So, from what I’ve read of someone supposedly providing some of the text datamined from the save files, there are supposedly two variables at work to determine spawn point currently: something like currentZone and isAtBossFloor. However, in non-Permadeath, there are also Sheikah stones in every lobby.

I see two other alternative solutions that wouldn’t require adding any sort of teleporters that don’t already exist in the floor maps:

  • Just rely solely on Sheikah stones to determine where to spawn.

  • Granted, seemingly, the Sheikahs are mostly there to provide a heal instead of for their teleport purposes, and I could see an argument against this option in the case of more casual players potentially skipping a Sheikah and then getting confused why they aren’t spawning at where they thought they would (or even spawning at the previous boss’ lobby).

  • However, this would allow us to self-enforce whether we spawn at the boss floor or in the zone lobby for the purpose of refilling on consumables or potentially finding things we missed on our first run through (this presuming that dungeons in both Dungeon and Overworld/Story modes become purely tied to seed and don’t procedurally regenerate).

  • Just completely remove the isAtBossFloor flag, always enforcing respawning at the zone’s lobby regardless of whether you made it to the boss floor.

  • This essentially is the same thing as what Spooty is suggesting, but without having to figure out where to add a teleporter tile that only applies to Dungeon Mode versions of the boss floor lobbies and specifically teleports you back to the Zone Lobby.

  • This would also more closely resemble the NecroDancer experience, especially single-zones modes (aside from maintaining any permanent stuff we’ve picked up, like weapons and A/X/B/Y items, and unused consumables).

  • This would also
    also make deaths in racing more fair, since it wouldn’t be any racer’s choice whether they go back to the beginning of the Zone or not (like with Spooty’s or my first suggestion above).

  • For example, if someone decided they needed to teleport back for resources, or felt like they wouldn’t get enough resources in one run of the floor, and the other person just decides to grind away at a boss instead and manages it before the first person has gotten the resources they wanted, then the second person would be ahead, possibly the entire time, possibly only shortly (depending, again, if the floor generation were fixed to the seed and not constantly regenerated, and thus resources aren’t potentially completely different, potentially even better than the first run). With this option, instead, both racers that died to the first boss would have to go back through the entirety of that same zone, regardless of whether they need more resources or not.

After thinking about them all, I feel like my #2 is the least complex solution to this issue of these three, and also the one I’d consider to be most fair for both casual players and competitive ones.

I like the re-randomization of dungeons when re-entering them, but I can see that that would not be suitable in a Race scenario. Maybe there should be a Race mode/option added that neuters some of the RNG stuff to better cater racing the game without compromising the current experience?

I’m unfamiliar with shrines so I can’t comment on that section, but overall I like the feedback you’ve offered.

Going to add to Incnone’s comments on Keys with another minor suggestion - Keys should not be dropped by minibosses**.** Mini-boss drops are typically just helpful temporary equipment, but keys are the one thing they drop that are part of a hard requirement to beat the game (in Story, at least. Not Dungeon Mode, as it currently stands). It sticks out as an anomaly.

As for CloudMax’s comments on Permadeath, it’s in a bit of an odd spot, but I will mention that I completely forgot to even bring that up because the category in its current state is so universally ignored. The enemy upgrades are honestly more obnoxious and slow the game down than anything. Having to deal with top-tier enemies from the start of the run carries the same issues I brought up in my Dungeon Mode comments, making for an incredibly slow early game where attempts to push harder are typically met with a wall of health that you simply don’t have the resources to overcome.

On the full item randomization front, I’m not convinced it’s a great fit for the overall game environment as it currently stands. I think hiding away items that help with progression only works particularly well in traditional Zelda randomizers because they’re absolutely required to progress, which brings in a meta-game of figuring out how to optimally check locations to give you the best chance of finding it early (or, in a race setting, assuming your opponent is too strong to beat straight up and deliberately going for the lower odd plays in an attempt to gain an advantage through luck). Here, the items do nothing more than allow you to skip 1F in a dungeon, saving you about 20-30 seconds in said dungeon. That’s little enough that actively hunting for additional purple chests doesn’t even tend to make back the time you spend, and that’s assuming you spike the Power Glove or whatever on the first one. It does very little to change how you route the game, beyond that maybe you don’t even bother with the Prince Zora or Gerudo Village puzzles anymore because they’re likely to give you worthless junk, and that the Hover Boots skip into Gerudo Ruins is going to be more common than the Goron Locket + Flippers one.

All that doesn’t even factor in that the permadeath flag itself is terrible for racing. Any deaths beyond the first minute mean the other racer slows down to ensure they absolutely do not die and its a free win. Doesn’t make for a great spectator experience.

I don’t mind the idea of a mode that increases the difficulty a bit by making enemies a little harder and greatly decreases the available amount of free health, but as it is Permadeath Mode is just not super appealing.

I heavily agree with everything in this thread! I would like to add a few small things:

1: Cadence having access to Link and Zelda’s signature weapons. I see no reason why she shouldn’t get Longswords and Rapiers, and I think they’d make her more fun to play with all the buffs you mentioned.

2: Ganon should not spawn sarcophagi…

I too completely agree with this! VidMate 9Apps VLC