Friday, January 15, 2016

100% Completion FAQ

I've recently got people asking me about what does and doesn't count for 100% in a Zelda game, both via email and comments, so I've decided to write a blog post about this topic.

ZeldaWiki has a good 100% Completion page, where you can find all the individual requirements for every game, so I'm not going to list this here again. I've even been contributing to this page in the past, before it got locked, so it should be correct for the most part.

But overall this is a very subjective matter with entirely different views. Some people like to call having everything in their inventory "100%" for the sake of convenience, ignoring everything else there might be. Other people tend to go into extremes, where even the most dedicated Zelda fans would feel like wasting their time. I like to find a middle ground with certain logical rules for 100% completion.

A general way to sum it up is: complete every task that results in a reward or permanent (positive) change in the game world. This may contain tasks like:

  • All Heart Containers gotten
  • All collections completed
  • All items found
  • All upgrades for items and capacities gotten
  • All dungeon items acquired (Map, Compass, etc.)
  • All maps completed / fully visited
  • All bombable walls and rocks destroyed
  • All treasure chests opened
  • All dialogue changes triggered
  • All world rewards unlocked (e.g. cow in hourse)
  • Best ending accessible
  • All checkmarks on your save file checked
  • All achievements cleared (Big Plays, Challenges, etc.)

Those don't apply to every game, for example Majora's Mask keeps resetting the entire game world, so only your inventory and your maps are relevant for completion.

And "completion" is truly the keyword that you need to keep in mind. It's about things that get unlocked and saved permanently, tasks that offer some sort of one-time-reward, even if it's just some Rupees or some nifty hole in a wall.

In the following I will talk about certain deeper topics, which have risen as questions about the pseudo science of 100% completion...

Hero Mode / 2nd Quest

If there's a 2nd Quest or Hero Mode playthrough, then you usually want to have your 100% savegame in that mode, since beating the game in highest difficulty is a normal task for completion or because there are additional rewards. The Hero Mode in The Wind Waker HD doesn't count though, because it is only an option, which you can toggle on and off at any time and where the game doesn't keep any record. The 2nd Quest does count, though it technically isn't much different from the normal game. If it wasn't for the changed Treasure Charts, it would only offer aesthetic changes, which could be negligible.

With certain games you might want to have completed savegames in both modes. The Master Quest for Ocarina of Time 3D is a good example, because it basically acts as its own game. It even used to be a standalone game on the GameCube. Also, with the original The Legend of Zelda, the 2nd Quest is so vastly different that you might want to copy your completed 1st Quest before starting the 2nd Quest.

With the Oracle games it is even strictly necessary to have two savegames, because playing the games in only one order will never result in 100%. But you need to start with the same Hero's Secret, because this marks the file with a Triforce, gives you an otherwise missing Heart Container and lets you share your rings. And then you have to continue with a Linked Game. Do this in both orders and you're golden.

Verdict: go do your 100% in a Hero Mode file, sometimes do both


There are some things that you might want to achieve, but you can't, because you're missing other players and/or the right peripherals. Here are some examples in the Zelda series:

  • Completing A Link to the Past & Four Swords on the GBA
  • The Tingle Tuner quests in The Wind Waker
  • 16 Big Plays in Phantom Hourglass
  • 50 StreetPass Challenges in A Link Between Worlds
  • 128 Multiplayer Challenges in Tri Force Heroes
  • 15 Friendly Tokens in Tri Force Heroes

Some of these can be done entirely alone, for example A Link Between Worlds generates Shadow Links in fixed intervals, it just takes forever to do all challenges this way. Or you can use a second Nintendo DS / 3DS system and Downplay Play to achieve some goals, like getting the 16 Big Plays and 15 Friendly Tokens.

But other things are impossible on your own, like completing Four Swords on the GBA for example. In that case you're out of luck and can just do whatever is possible in the scope of singleplayer completion.

One exception would be the Virtual Console versions of the games. In Phantom Hourglass on the Wii U it's impossible to play the multiplayer, so it certainly wouldn't count and only the singleplayer scope applies.

Verdict: better get some friends, who like Zelda


Certain Zelda games let you make choices, which alter characters, your items and even the entire game world, but for 100% completion it's usually irrelevant, what choices you make. The only exception would be the old men in The Legend of Zelda, who give or take Heart Containers. Never take the Potion and always pay the Rupees, because otherwise you won't have the full 16 Heart Containers in the end.

Everything else is pretty much up to you. Here's what choices can be made throughout the Zelda series with the number of possible outcomes in parenthesis:

  • The first photo in Link's Awakening DX (2)
  • Your animal buddy in Oracle of Ages & Seasons (3)
  • Bipin and Blossom's son in Oracle of Ages & Seasons (5)
  • The two Oracle houses in The Minish Cap (6)
  • Your relation with Peatrice in Skyward Sword (2)
  • Cawlin's letter in Skyward Sword (2)

Both the Oracle games and Skyward Sword encourage multiple playthroughs and with that it's probably a good idea to change things up when replaying the games, just to have savegames with different outcomes for your display. For example you could like Peatrice on your first game and then reject her in Hero Mode.

But this has nothing to do with 100% completion and it's entirely up to you, what you prefer. Maybe you find a certain outcome superior and to be the only real choice, like having Nayru in the blue house and Din in the red house in The Minish Cap.

In case of Bipin and Blossom's son it would even be impossible to store all five different outcomes with one copy of the game...

Verdict: choices don't count, but you still want to consider what choices to make

Missable items

They are the bane of every completionist. You're at the end of the game realizing that there are certain items, which can't be acquired anymore. So, you have to start over from the beginning. And yes, these things do count for 100% completion.

Luckily this happens only rarely in the Zelda series with the following examples being the most well known ones:

  • Multiple Heart Containers in The Legend of Zelda (see choices)
  • 4 photos in Link's Awakening DX
  • Deku Nut capacity upgrade in Ocarina of Time (glitch)
  • 15 figurines in The Wind Waker
  • Light Arrows in The Minish Cap
  • 2 Letters from Ooccoo in Twilight Princess

Here you can find a complete list of things to permanently miss in Zelda.

With the remakes there also have been some improvements in this department. For example you can't miss that Deku Nut upgrade in Ocarina of Time 3D anymore. And thanks to the Tingle Bottles it's also possible to complete your figurine collections at any time in The Wind Waker HD.

Verdict: better not miss those!


While some people like to have 99 of everything for their perfect savegames, anything that is subject to change doesn't count for 100% completion. This includes numbers of items, statistics like death counters and similar. These things go into the territory of creating a "perfect snapshot" and are sometimes just nice to have, but not necessary. They are purely of aesthetic nature and not part of unlocking things.

For example in Ocarina of Time the item counters will be colored green, if they are at maximum. This looks pretty and I also like to fill all pockets, before making my final save. But it has nothing to with the game's completion. You could just fire those arrows and spend all your Rupees right away. These things don't stick permanently.

In some cases it would also be exhausting or go into unhealthy extremes. Imagine grinding 99 of every Ship Part in Phantom Hourglass or 99 of every material in Tri Force Heroes... Having found at least one of each during the course of the game to unlock their entry is enough. You could always sell them again, so having 99 pieces is nothing permanent.

Statistics are similar, even though they have a permanent nature and usually a clear maximum and minimum. For example you can have collected 99999 Rupees in A Link Between Worlds in total, but you could also have 99999 deaths... And do you really want that?

With death counters Zelda fans like to go for the noble "000", because it looks good, but this is also just for your personal satisfaction and not part of the game's completion. It's also nothing permanent, because you technically could die in your savegame and make that a "001". You could then only aim for the 999 deaths to make it look special. In the NES classics it was even impossible to have a zero death savegame, since saving counted as a defeat.

A special case might be Link's Awakening, because the best ending is only accessible from a 000 death run. So, this is a special exception, where you truly want the zero deaths on your savegame. But technically it's also not a subject of completion, since it can be changed at any time.

Verdict: counters don't count (pun intended)

Minigame Records

Minigame records are a similar topic like counters and their maximums, because with some minigames you can achieve perfect scores. The 2000 points at the Horseback Archery in Ocarina of Time might be the most prominent example, which many people like to get for their savegames. And of course this acts as a permanent change, so you could argue that this is part of 100% completion, especially if these records are displayed somewhere. Still, this dives more into statistics and cosmetics than actual completion. And while 2000 points in the Horseback Archery is easy enough, trying to get a perfect score in Octoball might drive you insane.

This is why the general consensus is that minigame records only count, if they unlock some reward. In case of your typical larger quiver and Heart Pieces this should be clear, but there are also less obvious rewards like dialogue and environment changes, which you have to consider.

For example 999 hits in the sword training games of The Wind Waker and Spirit Tracks gives you special titles with certain characters. This isn't much of a reward, but it does count. But the most evil and well known example is probably the 999.99 Seconds Cucco Run in A Link Between Worlds, because this unlocks a Giant Cucco, which even then appears in the ending. This only counts because of the reward, if the Cucco would unlock after 100 seconds, you wouldn't need to go for the 1000 seconds. So, yeah, most people will probably never achieve 100% in A Link Between Worlds including myself.

Now, with minigames that have an open ended score the case should be clearer. You potentially would have to hunt for world records to have a "100% completion", if you count these scores. So, you don't. You only go for the records, which give you the rewards. And the same logic should be applied to minigames with a maximum score.

Verdict: minigame records only count, if there is some reward

Treasure Chests

Do you really have to open all treasure chests in a Zelda game for 100% completion? Yes, you do. But... only in dungeons there are clear indicators for whether you have opened all treasure chests or not. If you're missing any, the Compass shows them on the map. And then you should grab them, because those are clear goals in the game, even if they just contain some useless Rupees.

Now, with chests on the overworld you usually don't have them marked on the map and there is no check mark for having opened all treasure chests in the game. It would be nice to get some small treasure chest icon on your save file for that, but there isn't. And since there isn't, it doesn't really matter at all, even if they technically do count. You can always claim that you found all chests and the only way to prove you wrong would be going through the entire game world and checking every chest individually. And even if there's one to be found, we would be right back to theoretical 100% again, since you can just go to that chest and open it now that you've found it. It's basically a completion paradox thanks to the lack of any indicators.

And ignorance is bliss. It wouldn't be the first time that I've thought that I had found all chests, only to discover some cleverly hidden chest somewhere later. You never can be sure.

But if you want to be thorough, the best way is using check lists. For example I like to use this Light Ring Chart for whenever I replay The Wind Waker, so I don't miss any of the sunken chests in the ocean. Or there are good maps for the NES Classics showing you all hidden secrets.

With Twilight Princess there are check lists for treasure chests in the official Prima Guide, which is also quite helpful for this game, because there are lots of hidden chests and grottos, which are easy to miss. There are also these rocks on the overworld, which you can blow up with a bomb, so called "Bomb Rocks". Those give you Rupees and they stay destroyed, leaving little stones as marks of their existence. Those are basically just a different form of treasure chests and they do also count. And there are many of them, quite some of them hidden under water. However, from my knowledge the check lists in the official Prima Guide are incomplete and therefore only partially helpful. But I will try to find something on the internet, because this would be nice to have for playing Twilight Princess HD soon.

With the other Zelda games it's usually not to hard to find everything by going through the game normally, so I don't resort to check lists there. And in the multiplayer Zelda games treasure chests won't matter at all, because the levels reset every time. The same goes for Majora's Mask.

Verdict: only really matters, when marked on maps, unless you like to be thorough


K2L said...

For me, the following example does not count because it's permanently subject to change:

- The No-death run. If that means no best ending (as in LA) then too bad. I can live just fine without it. Hopefully so will others.
- The upgrades of the pouch bag items in Skyward Sword (namely the shields and ammunition bags), because you can sell them anytime.
- Always having the maximum of arrows, bombs, etc. Believe it or not, this was once included in that ZW article, and I personally removed it because, well, the only thing that should count is that you find the bow and bomb bag and their respective upgrades, no?

I don't count the following ones because I may be a Zelda fan, but I don't suffer from OCD:

- All chests opened. Especially if that means cases like having to go through the entire Great Sea in TWW to open every single random chest sunken or having to return to a previous part of TP because of the idiotic "your wallet is open so leave this Rupee alone" mechanic. Just..... no.
- All Ship and Train parts in PH and ST, especially since the games themselves hardly cooperate with the cause.
- Totally expendable items like the extra lives and experience bags in Zelda II. Especially because, in the case of the lives, your count is resetted to 3 at the start of every playthrough session anyway.

I'm actually very disappointed that the ZW article has becomes so stupidly OCD-centric in regards of what should be consiered part of the completion or not. Then again, ZW as a whole is a ruined mess, and to think many of the current staff members have wanted me to return, and most of the corrupt ones erased from existence.

TourianTourist said...

I agree with the first part of your comment, but not the 2nd half.

And no, just because someone enjoys being thorough in a video game, doesn't mean that he has a mental disorder. And if you don't have all Ship Parts and Train Carts in PH and ST, then you're clearly don't have 100%, because there is stuff missing from your collection. They are a pain to get due to the randomness, I agree, but that doesn't make them obsolete for your completion. Just accept that these games are something that you might not want to complete...

I've once seen someone telling me that the figurine collection in The Wind Waker doesn't count, because that person simply didn't like this quest. And that's nonsense, you're just making excuses for yourself so you can pretend like you got the "100%"... But why would having 100% even matter, if you don't suffer from OCD? :-D

I do agree with the current ZeldaWiki article for the most part, even if there are things like the Cucco Run, which I probably will never do. But I can accept that and won't exclude it, just so I can pretend to have 100% in ALBW.

About the treasure chests and also the various goodies in Zelda II ... As I explained, they technically do count, but in the end it doesn't really matter, because there are no indicators, except for chests in dungeons. But when I see a treasure chest, why wouldn't I go and open it?

Eren Jaeger said...

So basically, if you get the chests that you can recall from memory (or chests that you suddenly randomly find) and open them, then you should technically be in the clear for 100%?

Eren Jaeger said...

Also, while I did collect them, I don't think Point Bags and the 2 Link Dolls found in the Palaces should count. After completing them, they simply turn to stone and you can no longer access them, so it's kind of hard to say whether you've gotten everything or not. However, for Point Bags and Link Dolls in the overworld, they're definitely important to collect, as they no longer appear after obtaining them.

TourianTourist said...

Yes, the P-Bags in the Zelda II dungeons can basically be ignored. You can't go back there and it's not like you will be missing anything unique.

Francesco Sellitto said...

But, i want to add another general clause: all that you do to achieve the 100% is something that a skilled zelda player can do.
So, the ocarina of time 3d master quest boss rush, the 100 hit in spirit tracks, even the irritating clown minigame in skyward swords....
The cucco game no. Is literally a bullet hell type of game that no more than 10 people have completed. You have to survive for 15 minutes in a bullet hell game with only 1 life... no way that a skilled ZELDA player can do it. If all of us are poor, then the less poor is rich... i mean, you don't have to do the cucco minigame for normal and hard mode to achieve the 100%,this is only bad trolling by Aonuma.

TourianTourist said...

Well, maybe a SKILLED Zelda player can dodge Cuccos for 15 minutes...? :D

I agree that it's something rarely anyone will be able to pull off, unless this game will be playable with restore points on the Virtual Console in 10 years... But you get a reward from it, so it counts. Deal with it.

I mean, why wouldn't it count? Because it's too hard for me and you? Where would we draw the line? Nintendo simply screwed up here and made something that's nearly impossible to complete. And this is not Aonuma trolling, but the director Shikata. Anyway, I just hope that Nintendo received enough negative feedback about this, so that this will never happen again.

Francesco Sellitto said...

Well, the answer of your question is simple.... how many skilled Zelda players have completed 100% the game? Nobody, because you have to deal for 2 times with this minigame. In the past games we have to deal with some hard, but doable minigames: the goron dance, the ALBW baseball, the OOT3d Master Quest Boss rush... the 999 hit in Spirit Tracks.. But this one is pure trolling. I'm not complaining about the unlockable, i've deal with it in my own way (and i'm not trying to change your mind about it XD) , because if nobody can do 100% with this game, than this minigame is just a joke, doable only if you're very very skilled in bullet hell games... and with no pattern, you must be lucky a lot in that case too.

TourianTourist said...

That's all irrelevant to the cause. I bet that there are many video games that are nearly impossible to complete for various reasons. In case of ALBW I'll just settle for the 99% and call it a game.

Justin Benson said...

I actually have completed ALBW 100%, including the Cucco minigame, and I have the pics to prove it. In fact, I've completed every game in the series 100% (following the ZW list's requirements to the letter). So I guess what I'm trying to say is, yes, it is possible for a skilled Zelda player to complete the game. XD

The Four Who Are One said...

This is a really old post, but I have to ask - do you consider beating the records that Lanayru wants you to complete for the Silent Realms in the Thunder Dragon's Lightning Round for 100%? All they unlock is treasure and rupees, and you only need to do them once to get the 50 rupee reward he always gives you for doing something for the first time.