Beta quest

The Ocarina of Time is the most hackable Zelda game of the series. The number of development fragments that can accessed via the use of an Action Replay or GameShark cheat cartridge is unrivalled by even the bigger Zelda games like Majora’s Mask or The Wind Waker. The most famous code-set has effects on the game dubbed the “Beta Quest”, though this name only refers to its glitchy nature as opposed to the beta stage of its development cycle. Another code, with more limited usage in a normal game, is the Moon Jump code, which assigns a levitation command to the L button. I’ll first show you some of the cool things you can do in a normal game with this Moon Jump code, and then some of my adventures through the Beta Quest.

Normal Quest + Moon Jump

The Moon Jump code can exploit some of the inner-workings of Ocarina of Time, without needing to enter Beta Quest codes. By holding down L, Link will float directly upwards, and can be directed (slowly) by either running before holding the button down, or tapping L while holding a direction. To access the Moon Jump, you need to enter one of the following codes into your Action Replay or GameShark cheat cartridge, depending on what version you have:

V1.0 (1998): D01C84B5-0020   811DAA90-40CB
V1.1 (1999): D01C8675-0020   811DAC50-40CB

View static area models


By using the Moon Jump, you can jump over the limits of the static areas in the game that use pre-rendered backgrounds. In the second before you are taken back to the start of the area (minus half a heart), the backgrounds disappear and reveal the untextured models that turn the 2D images into 3D spaces with perspective. Strangely, not all pre-rendered areas reveal these structures using this method; for instance, shops and houses simply fade out, while the same happens in Hyrule Castle Market (an area which would have been particularly interesting to see without the pre-rendered overlay).

Explore Hyrule

When you’re running around Hyrule, feet firmly stuck to the ground, the world seems quite solid and fleshed out. With the game’s original 320x240 resolution, it can be a little hard to tell whether that mountain in the distance is the real Death Mountain, or a cardboard cut-out. Of course, we don’t like to admit the real answer to ourselves, but by using the Moon Jump, all ability to suspend your disbelief is shattered. Here are some of the more popular locations in Hyrule, and how we can see they’re clever illusions.

When I thought of poking around Hyrule using the Moon Jump command, the first place I that came to mind was the gorgeous waterfall in Gerudo Valley. As a younger gamer, I spent ages just looking at it, wondering what was beyond.

As you can see in the second screenshot here, the river tapers off to a point, and the whole of waterfall’s top has no collision detection, meaning that Link will just fall through. You can’t even swim in the water and let it take you over the edge.

The entrance box for the Gerudo Valley - Lake Hylia shortcut is really tall, so when I went down the valley to float over it, I found myself being warped as usual. When I floated back to the waterfall I realised that this warp is, somewhat predictably, only one way.

The river doesn’t give the appearance of going off in the distance like in Gerudo’s Valley, but rather just has this wall blocking the way. The water is shallow enough to stand in, and pushes Link with a minimum of force.

On Hyrule Field, you can float over the walls of Lon Lon Ranch and walk inside. As you can see, there’s no ground texture but you can still run around as if there was. Nearer the entrance, the collision detection disappears and you will fall through the floor.

By floating over towards Death Mountain, you can tell that the great mountain is actually a cardboard cut-out.

If you load the Death Mountain model by going to its trail, it’s easy enough to float your way up to the top and inside. However, this pathway to Death Mountain Crater is all you’ll find.

The last area of note is Hyrule Castle, which normally looks quite solid and robust. By using the Moon Jump to raise your viewing angle slightly, you can see just how incomplete the model is. It looks a little like a pop-up book.

Get really, really high

Sure, it’s fun to use the Moon Jump to push the boundaries of Ocarina of Time, but it can be equally fun just to get really, really high and to enjoy the view from way up “there”.

   

If you get high enough, you can see the scenery slowly draw back in - first, the geometry, then textures, fogging decreases, until finally certain models like Epona draw in and you slam, surprisingly soberly, into the ground.

Levitate in cut-scenes

You can also use the L button to rise during cut-scenes. As this screenshot illustrates, it even works during the introductory trailer before you load a game.

Beta Quest

The “Beta Quest” isn’t actually a beta version of the game, but rather, a set of codes that muddle up the game in varying ways. Using different variations of the Beta Quest code will enable you to explore what are basically glitched versions of Ocarina of Time. You might be thinking, “...why?” but the answer’s simple: it’s fun! You need to enter one of these codes into your cheat cartridge:

V1.0 (1998): 8011B9E3-00??
V1.1 (1999): 8011BBA3-00??
V1.2 (Post-1999): 8011C093-00??

Now, as unhelpful as this comment may be; these codes may not work for your game. For instance, on my cartridge, the code 801197E3-00?? works, but I don’t know why. It might take a bit of Googling before you find a code that works for you. Now, you’ll notice the question marks at the end of the codes - you replace these with numbers to gain different “quests”, as it were. For instance, 00 will bring 00 quest up, 01 for quest 01, and so on. To give you an example of the differences between quests, in 00 entering Hyrule Castle Market (by Moon Jumping over the drawbridge) will freeze the game, but doing the same thing in 01 will take you to the shop in that town. In 00 Hyrule Field is dark, but in 07 it’s bright daylight with rolling mists.

Because there are so many possibilities with exploring Beta quests, the following is just the adventure I had, but by entering different areas and using different codes, you’ll run into a bunch of crashes, but also a bunch of weirdness. Enjoy!

Example adventure

When I loaded the game, I was greeted with an exceptionally dark Hyrule Field. In the pictured scene, the night sky isn’t visible and the draw distance is low. There’s no music, and everything eerily echoes as if you were in a cave.

Strangely, the first sound effect on load is Epona neighing, and then you hear her footsteps get gradually closer. When I looked around, I couldn’t find her, so I played Epona’s Song (notice the graphical glitch) and she still didn’t arrive.

Checking the items equipped to my invisible C buttons, and I found I had a Fairy Ocarina, some bombs, and a bow. When I took out my bow and drew back an arrow, the ammo was strangely invisible.

I decided to first Moon Jump over the drawbridge, but the game froze, so after a reload I decided to check out Kakariko Village. The village was on fire, not like when you first enter the village as an adult, though; we’re talking huge walls of fire.

Strangely, my HUD had reappeared, which I’d read knocked you out of Beta mode, which is true to an extent. Doors seemed to link together slightly more coherently, and the start menu was accessible again. Anyway, I decided to check whether the fire was just a placeholder, but as you can see by this screenshot, it was definitely in working order.

I entered the house on the right to see what exotic location it would take me. It turns out I was just taken into this house pictured on the left, and when I took the exit, I was placed into Kakariko Village at early dawn.

Bored, I reset the game and decided to investigate the Lost Woods. I was taken to this screen - I have no idea where it is or what the mysterious flesh-coloured object is on the left, but the game had effectively hung.

After another restart, I played the Bolero of Fire to warp me to Death Mountain Crater, only it warped me inside this box instead. I was still Adult Link, but it was the section of the game when Talon was still asleep outside the ranch.

I wanted to get into the Castle and, completely forgetting about the Moon Jump, tried to move Talon out of the way. But how? Crazily, I had two eggs in my inventory, one useable, one unusable. I played the Sun’s Song until the eggs hatched and tried to use one to wake Talon, but it didn’t work.

So I Moon Jumped my way over the guards to Hyrule Castle Market. The owl spoke to me as if I had never been here before - another indication that this was the map set for Link’s first visit.


   
However, when I reached the Market, I was most definitely in Adult Link’s world. I went back to the Castle to see where I arrived, and the game played the cut-scene where Link sees Ganon’s Castle for the first time. There was nothing much to see, so I went to the Temple of Time.

It was peculiar, but the Temple of Time was in the state just before Link takes the Master Sword and becomes an adult. I played the Song of Time (with my Fairy Ocarina). The door opened as expected, and I went to take the Master Sword (though of course, it was on my back).

When I walked through the door towards the sword, a scene played automatically. The lighting was strange, but it was the scene where Link first travels through time, and then when that had played, Navi flew up to Sheik and circled around the pedestal speaking about the Master Sword, as if this was the first time we’d walked through the Door of Time (which I guess it was, only with a bizarre intermission).

When I reloaded and tried to visit Gerudo’s Valley, it hung on this screen.


   
I visited Lake Hylia and found myself immediately transported to Jabu Jabu’s resting place. A quick look around revealed Princess Ruto standing on a cliffside. You can lock on to her, but your target reticule isn’t visible and you can’t talk to her. Just underneath the water is Zora’s Sapphire, just spinning around.

If you look underwater where the Sapphire is, the whole area fogs up, and here you can see the contrast between the same scene when the fog has yet to recede and when it has cleared.

By Moon Jumping a little over Jabu Jabu’s face, you enter him with the same panorama as you normally would entering a dungeon for the first time, but you emerge in the Big Octorok’s room. Leaving this room produces predictable results, so I restarted and went back to Jabu Jabu’s resting place.


 
This time, I Moon Jumped towards the Ice Cavern and found myself firmly in real beta territory. Graphics from this “Ice Dungeon” were seen in Ocarina of Time development screenshots, and it was cool to actually visit. The wall textures here are actually multi-layered, giving them a strange feeling of depth.


 
Behind the red ice in this first room was a peculiar hole full of water. You could dive down, but the alcove pictured was a dead end. Strangely, going into this hole produced a thick red mist that slowly disappeared when I returned to the surface.

Exiting the first room via the pictured door, I ran through a rocky, snowy tunnel until I reached this strange room. It looked normal enough from afar, but as you got close to the edge of the tunnel the graphics became washed out with turquoise blue, and the fog receded to reveal an abyss around the floor that had patchy collision detection. Coming off this room were half-finished tunnels that didn’t lead anywhere, so I reset the game.


   
The last place I visited was Lake Hylia, and the game produced this interesting scene transition. A huge cut-out of a Triforce span into the screen, covering up the field of vision before fading into the next scene.


 
I ended up in the Forest Temple with my back to the boss door. I had no other place to go, so I entered the boss room… and ended up in the Water Temple. It was a bit tricky to navigate without my full inventory, so I exited the temple, only to emerge back in Jabu Jabu’s resting place. Seeing a pattern emerging, I decided to turn off the game and finish my Beta Quest.

This adventure is representative of only a small range of possibilities. By using different codes, warp songs and exits lead to different locations, and its fun just to explore and see what weird things you can find.

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