The best game-breaking speedruns of Summer Games Done Quick 2020
If you've read our gaming coverage over the past few years, you may have picked up on our love of speedrunning—the act of mastering and exploiting beloved games to finish them faster. While a ton of video and streaming channels focus on this hobby, we continue to look to the biannual Games Done Quick marathon series for the most entertaining (and even educational) speedruns every year.
This week, Summer Games Done Quick turned 10 years old and celebrated the milestone by raising $2.3 million for Doctors Without Borders—all without leaving the house. The series already has a few years of remote speedrunning tech experience under its belt, so the lack of a physical location had only a mild effect on the marathon's watchability. Thankfully, the whole event was captured for VOD enjoyment on YouTube, so if you'd like to catch up on the fun, we present to you the following embedded options and explanations as to why they're fun to watch.
Super Mario 64: Speedrun.com continues to list the N64's breakout classic as a fan favorite, so we were excited to see how a preprogrammed run, adjusted on a frame-by-frame basis, could break the game. As an added bit of challenge, the programmers in question focused on a later version of SM64, which meant they couldn't lean on its notorious "backwards long jump" bug for extra speed.
Instead, they found an entirely new, and utterly bonkers, exploit in which Mario perfectly jumps between two walls to gain ludicrous amounts of speed. And thanks to their TASBot approach, they guided the jumps in ways that a human player could likely never replicate. The result gets this game's "any percent" run down to an unbelievable 7 minutes, 38 seconds.
Pump It Up!: One benefit of running SGDQ 2020 from players' homes is that nobody had to ship their bulky equipment. That's certainly the case for the insanity of Pump It Up!, a DDR-like dance game whose songs stretch across a "two-player" array of buttons for a single player. This run's player, a pro dance gamer who goes by the alias HappyF333tz, demonstrated some of the most insane rhythm-gaming proficiency I've ever seen, and the full hour-long run is an utter spectacle.
If you're short on time, fast forward to the one-hour mark in the above YouTube embed to cut to the "bonus incentive" song that F333tz completes at the end, after he's already clearly exhausted. He nearly fails this 220bpm blur of a track a few times but still manages to complete it, after reminding viewers that only six people in the world have beaten that song on the above settings.Advertisement
Half-Life: Alyx: The honor of GDQ's first-ever VR game goes to Valve's 2020 masterpiece, and it arrived with a serious bang thanks to this game-breaking speedrun for the ages. The meat is all in runner Buffet Time's physicality, which you can see in the corner of the screen. He exploits the VR game's head-tracking focus by constantly kneeling, ducking, and crawling. By getting low to the ground, resetting his in-game position, and standing up, Buffet Time grows to serious heights in order to march above the levels in ways players were never meant to do. (That's not his only "strat," mind you, but you'll have to watch the whole thing to see his other wizardry.)
Homey D. Clown: At an early point in this awful game's 10-minute run, one of the commentators offers a pretty simple summary of what to expect: "This game aggressively farts at you." Indeed, the highlight (or, arguably, lowlight) of the marathon's "awful block" is a point-and-click MS-DOS conversion of a recurring sketch from the '90s Fox comedy series In Living Color. You'll appreciate how brief this speedrun is as soon as the music and sound effects begin, which are easily some of the worst ever committed to a hard drive.
Virtual Boy Wario Land: In another first for the marathon series, we see an original Virtual Boy game—albeit rendered in "2D" mode (just the left eye's view) and with the obnoxious red overlay converted to pure black-and-white. Even without that failed Nintendo console's 3D gimmicks, we're still left with a compelling side-scroller speedrun, especially since the Wario Land series emphasizes special weird abilities like high-speed rushes.
The Witcher 3: The phrase "any percent" in a speedrun usually indicates that we're getting into game-breaking territory, and this runner's exploits are absolutely dizzying to watch. The run begins with a funny floating-horse trick, but shortly after that, speedrunner Kaadzik says goodbye to pegasus emulation and hello to a time-warping glitch that makes the game run at "Yakety Sax" speed.
Doom Eternal: While the 2016 Doom reboot was notorious for broken skyboxes and geometry, its sequel had some (but not all) of those patched up. Either way, this "no major glitches" speedrun of this year's triumphant series return forces its runner to focus on proper movement and combat timing, and it's among the most technically proficient speedruns of this summer's entire eight-day stretch. (In particular, the infamous Marauder enemy doesn't stand a chance against these strats.)Advertisement
Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening: "We didn't even scratch the surface of how unbelievably busted this game is," one commentator said at the end of this glitch-filled exploration of the Game Boy classic. That's remarkable, because the number of exploits and glitches shown off in this year's speedrun was pretty remarkable. (This is not the 2019 remake, to be clear, which has its own litany of exploits.) Bonus points go to this speedrun's play-from-home nature, which meant speedrunner Mghtymth enjoyed couch cameos from his mother and dog.
Hypnospace Outlaw: One of 2019's weirdest and most memorable games, Hypnospace Outlaw is also easily exploitable for the sake of speedruns since it revolves around browsing an alternate-history version of the Internet. If you've never played the game, this run will have the simultaneous effect of spoiling its biggest twists but also enticing you to play the game yourself and learn about all the weird side stories that runner Lizstar passed on her way to establishing a new world record (without even realizing it).
TrackMania Nations Forever: In another "less glitch, more proficiency" run, speedrunner Wirtual flexes his lightning-quick reflexes in this beloved, physics-filled PC racing game.
Dusk: This nostalgia-driven FPS from 2018 is already a blast to watch in a speedrunning capacity, since it was intentionally designed with bugs and exploits left in the code for speedrunners' benefit (and older, speedrun-friendly versions can be accessed via the game's official Steam version via the "beta" drop-down menus). The fun only ramps up when its lead designer and producer join in as commentators, mostly in the form of faux-complaining about how the speedrun is breaking their game.The above speedrun embeds are only a taste of the eight days of madness you can find at the full SGDQ 2020 archives, which include a number of speedrun "races," a mother lode of classic and niche games, and lengthy runs of popular RPGs like Final Fantasy VII Remake, Pokémon Shield, and more. (And if you didn't donate to beneficiary Doctors Without Borders during the marathon, it's not too late.)
The best speedruns you'll ever see
The best speedruns are made of videogame magic: from clipping through walls, in-game actions which allow players to execute strings of modified code, to the discovery of new mechanics that even game developers never knew existed. The world of video game speedrunning is certainly as weird as it is wonderful. With events like Games Done Quick and European Speedrunner Assembly proving popular all over the world, it’s no wonder that this highly competitive subculture has taken off.
Live streaming sites like Twitch and YouTube have only heightened the popularity of these competitions, giving speedrunners the perfect opportunity to show off their video game prowess to the world. While speedrun records are being smashed on a daily basis, there are a number of standout performances that have blown us away in both their mechanical skill and overall mastery. To help you get up to speed, we’ve picked 10 of the best video game speedruns and provided in-depth details on how each player achieved their record times.
Dark Souls (All Bosses) in 1 hour
FromSoftware’s Souls series is known for its punishing combat and incredibly unforgiving gameplay, making it the perfect game for grizzled speedrunners to show off their skills to the world. For most players, Dark Souls’ campaign is a journey fraught with in-game suffering and a multitude of frustrating deaths. However, for speedrunner Catalyst, beating Dark Souls in 1h 04m 47s is nothing more than a walk in the park. Catalyst uses a series of sequence breaks in order to obtain key items and reach each boss arena as quickly as possible. The process of defeating each boss is also faster than usual thanks to the moveswap glitch, which allows Catalyst to transfer the running, rolling and plunging attack from one weapon to another. Not only does this double the weapon’s damage output when used correctly, it also helps set up some incredibly satisfying kill times.
Ocarina of Time in just under 8 minutes
Ocarina of Time is one of the most popular games to speedrun thanks to its intricate glitches, absurd skips, wacky warps, and interesting use of movement that breaks the game in weird and wonderful ways. The current Any% world record is held by Zudu, who completed the game in just 7m 48s 100ms. Zudu uses a combination of Stale Reference Manipulation (glitches that overwrite the game’s memory), Function Pointer Manipulation (actions that allow players to execute modified code), and Arbitrary Code Execution (allows the player to write code with regular inputs). To the untrained eye, Zudu’s playthrough looks like a fever dream of completely random actions, but each of these moves have an impact on the way in which the game interprets them. Essentially, Zudu is writing and running code through his in-game actions, making it possible to skip large swathes of content and telling the game to run the end credits. Speedrunning Ocarina of Time is as fascinating as it is complicated!
Pokémon Red in 1 hour 45 minutes
Since Pokemon Red and Blue’s initial release in 1996, Professor Oak has sent millions of fledgeling trainers out on their quest to become the Pokemon master, but none have ever achieved this feat as quickly as pokeguy. This blisteringly fast trainer beat the game in just 1h 45m 21s, making him the second-fastest champion in all of Kanto. While Oak’s Grandson, Blue may be programmed to always take first-place, pokeguy’s achievement is certainly an impressive one. The incredible thing about this playthrough is it’s glitchless, meaning no in-game exploits were used to accomplish this time. Instead, pokeguy relied on his over-levelled Nidoking to brute force his way through the game, using powerful moves like Earthquake and Horndrill to KO opponents before they could even retaliate. In fact, pokeguy’s run has proved so fast that he’s held this record for an entire year, so challengers will need to beat this time if they want to be the very best.
Getting Over It With Bennett Foddy in 1 minute 13 seconds
Getting Over it made waves in the streaming community back in 2017 thanks to its ability to completely unhinge even the calmest of players. This humble climbing game may look simple in both its design and mechanics, but the various obstacles and lack of checkpoints make reaching the top a herculean task. Fortunately, we can all live vicariously through speedrunner, Blastbolt's 1m 13s 224ms run. There may be no fancy glitches and skips in this run, but it makes the whole thing even more impressive. The fact that this whole playthrough can be watched in just over a minute is also pretty insane, so make sure you check out Blastbolt’s channel for future record attempts.
Resident Evil games have always encouraged quick playthroughs, especially since each game invariably gives you a rank based off of your completion time. As a result, speedrunners have been drawn to Capcom’s grizzly zombie franchise ever since Chris Redfield and Jill Valentine graced our screens back in 1996. However, Capcom’s remake of Resident Evil 2 is currently the game to watch and 7rayD is the latest speedrunner to hold the title, clocking in at an impressive 52m 10s.
This speedrunner relies purely on his knowledge of the game’s map to quickly solve puzzles and traverse through the corridors of flesh-eating undead, while also using Leon’s knife to effortlessly take down the many menacing forms of William Birkin. To the untrained eye, it may seem like 7raD is merely showing off, but Resident Evil 2’s knife damage is tied to the system’s framerate. As he’s playing on PC, 7rayD is able to reach higher frame rates and dish out huge amounts of damage, greatly reducing the time needed to complete each boss encounter. To make things even better, he even goes as far as to juggle while running away from the game’s oversized crocodile.
Super Mario 64 in 1 hour 38 minutes
Cheese is famous in the speedrunning community for his world record run in the 120 star category of Super Mario 64, a title he’s continually held since June 4, 2017. While Cheese makes use of a few nifty skips to cut through large portions of certain levels, he still manages to collect all 120 stars in order to achieve 100% completion in 1h 38m 54s. One of the most notable skips involves a perfectly timed jump that sees Mario fall to the very bottom of Slip Slidin' Away, allowing Cheese to collect the star in a mere 20 seconds. Even when Cheese is just moving around the world, he combines Mario’s various jumps and dives to create huge amounts of momentum, granting him the speed needed to pull off some ridiculously fast plays. Beating this time won’t be easy.
Celeste in less than half an hour
Getting Madeline to the top of the mountain while avoiding the various hazards is difficult at the best of times and while Celeste may not be a long game, it does take a lot of skill and determination to beat. As a result, many speedrunners have turned their attention to this hard as nails platformer in order to claim the world record. Marlin is the current world record holder who achieved a cool 27m 09s 943ms, using only dash jumps, secret paths, and split-second wall grabs to beat the competition. In fact, Marlin is so fast that Madeline’s ghostly doppelgänger, Badeline can barely keep up.
Super Metroid in 41 minutes
Super Metroid is no stranger to the speedrunning spotlight and Nintendo’s sci-fi shooter is the perfect place to flex your platforming prowess. Behemoth87 did exactly that when he managed to snag a 40m 56s, beating the previous record by a few seconds. The use of sequence breaking is used in this playthrough, which allows Behemoth87 to acquire power-ups way before they were originally intended, allowing whole sections of the map to be skipped. During combat, Behemoth purposely runs into enemies while shooting in order to trigger the iFrames (invincibility frames) needed to take opponents down without receiving any damage. If that wasn’t enough, Behemoth87 uses Samus’ Spin Jump to expertly dodge his way through waves of flesh-eating aliens, only narrowly avoiding their clutches. Watching Samus destroy the Space Pirates and escape the destruction of a planet in the span of 40m 56s is pretty impressive stuff.
Portal in just under 7 minutes
The Portal series offers some truly fantastic opportunities for speedrunners to glitch their way through the game thanks to the mechanics of the iconic portal gun. Portal Speedrunner, Shizzal uses a series of Edgeglitches in his 6m 53s 940ms run to force the camera into detaching itself from his body, allowing him to shoot portals on the opposite portal from where he’s positioned. This nifty technique is performed by standing on top or next to the edge of a portal and gives Shizzal the opportunity to create some rather mind boggling Chamber skips. Not only is this speedrun fast, it’s also a great exercise in both geometry and precise map knowledge.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild in Less than half an hour
Considering players can head straight to Hyrule Castle and face Calamity Ganon straight after leaving the Shrine of Resurrection, it was only a matter of time before speedrunners used their expertise to beat the game in record time. Sketodara01417's 27m 29s 530ms run uses techniques like whistle sprinting to constantly run while recuperating his stamina bar, fall damage cancels to negate any damage taken from falling, shield clipping to allow him to pass through walls, and bullet time bounces which grant him the ability to launch himself off of enemies and bombs. All of these techniques require precise timings and even greater setup, especially the bullet time bounces which shave off huge amounts of overworld travel time. If getting to Hyrule Castle in record time wasn’t wasn’t impressive enough, Sketodara01417 manges to vanquish Calamity Ganon in nothing but Link’s boxer shorts. It’s certainly an impressive feat and one that is worthy of a watch.
10 essential speedruns you need to see
Watching the best speedruns makes something special happen inside the mind of even the most grizzled and seasoned gamer. A good speedrun hits different to watching even high-end esports gameplay; there's something about the obsessive, perfectionist passion of watching someone obliterate a game in a fraction of its intended time that just appeals: watching gamers that are the best in their field take advantage of every single shortcut and figure out how even the most inconspicuous glitch can be helped to slice of seconds of their overall time... it's tantamount to technical magic.
That special something speedruns manage to capture works across genres. From the biggest triple-A games to even the most obscure retro titles, there's value in watching a speedrun of just about any game you care to mention. Ever seen someone complete the original Legend of Zelda in just 30 minutes? How about watching someone absolutely rinse the notoriously brutal Dark Souls in under 50 minutes. If that has whet your appetite for brilliant games being completed at breakneck speeds, read on – we've got a lot more where that came from.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time – Any% in 7:48
Ocarina of Time is one of the most popular speedrun games out there. For years, it's been a popular choice for both veteran and green speedrunners, with many players citing a fondness for the game dating back to their childhood as a reason for picking it up. Thanks to some incredible and unlikely strats – such as summoning the Arwing from Star Fox 64 without cheats or mods – that make the Any% category hotly contested. Watching the game get absolutely blasted in under 8 minutes is a treat, and we're sure players are going to find more ways to shave seconds off that time in the future, too.
Cuphead – All S+P Grades in 1:10:00
What makes this speedrun so special is the context. The runner – TheMexicanRunner – doesn't usually play modern games. TMR actually holds a Guinness World Record for completing all 714 officially-released NES games, an accolade he picked up in 2017. From then, TMR started making a name for himself as a serious speedrunner, setting records in games like Contra and Battletoads. His fans suggested he pick up the run'n'gun game, and he quickly found an affinity with it, setting many world records in the game's release period. The showcase at GDQ, above, is one of the best examples of his talents in the genre.
Celeste – All C-Sides (Dance Pads) in 14:
Celeste is an infamous title. For casual and core players alike, the indie darling is known as a game that loves to ramp up the challenge and lay on new mechanics iteratively – culminating in a final section that makes even platforming experts take a deep breath. So attempting all the hardest levels in the game (that is, completing all the C-sides) is a huge challenge. PeekingBoo wants more of a white-knuckle ride in his AGDQ 2021 appearance, though, and opts to throw away the controller and do the speedrun on a full-size dance pad. Even non-gamers will be impressed by the sheer amount of co-ordination and poise a run like this takes. It simply beggars belief, and you need to see it to believe it.
Super Dram World – Any% in 33:03
Playing through regular retail versions of games is one thing, but what about games that have been modded specifically to pose more of a challenge to speedrunners? ROM hacks like this are a pretty common thing in the speedrunning world, and Super Dram World may be one of the most infamous. The hack is a modified version of Super Mario World created by PangaeaPanga that was inspired by the Kaizo Mario World series when it comes to level design and difficulty (that is to say: it's hard). Red Bull athlete GrandPooBear makes short work of the mod in this incredible live footage at GDQ 2017. You can learn more about GrandPooBear's other runs at the link.
Super Metroid – Any% in 40:56
Retro platformers and Metrovanias are a very popular destination for Speedrunners: between a high skill ceiling, the internal fist-pump you do when you nail a sequence break, glitches, and the need for pixel-perfect maneuvering, the games offer everything an eager runner could possibly want. Acquiring power-ups earlier than the developers ever intended you to makes you feel powerful, yet still vulnerable. It's a great mix. As such, going back to the birth of the eponymous genre and seeing a veteran runner make short work of a game many people struggled with back in the day is a very cathartic experience indeed.
Portal – Glitchless% in 15:16
Sure, it's fun to wrap around the levels and exploit sub-pixels in 2D games, but there's a joy to breaking a 3D game, too. You'll see most titles on this list tend to exist in just two dimensions, but watching Shizzal make short work of Portal in a Glitchless run really shows off just what you can do in a 3D game even if you stay within the physical bounds the developers initially set out for you. The rapid, dizzying pace at which the runner spins, shoots and hops through the titular portals is mind-boggling. It's hard to keep up with the run when you're watching it – let alone playing the game itself!
Pokemon Red/Blue – Any% in 1:45:21
We're going with a video here that doesn't have the world record at the time of this article going live, but instead explains the theory behind how this speedrun works. There's a lot of very specific maths you need to know in order to run a Pokemon game, and even then every run can be thrown into jeopardy thanks to critical hits, random encounters, and more besides. The commentary on this video goes into a great amount of detail on what every speedrunner needs to be aware of if they want to beat the Elite Four in under two hours. If this isn't your speed, though, maybe you'll want to see the various Catch 'Em All runs, or even how it's possible to complete the game in under two minutes.
Sonic Mania – Sonic + Tails in 49:42
Considering speedrunning brings retro and modern games together so well, what better game is there to show off just how much older and newer titles have in common than a re-thinking of one of the 90s most inconic titles? Sonic Mania collects levels from the four mainline Sonic games (the original trilogy and Sonic CD) as well as adding a few new levels based on the original formula into the mix, too. Watching Claris blast through the game and show off all the enhancements to this nostalgic project is an absolute delight, and a real showcase of why speedrunning will endure as a gaming niche for years and years to come.
Fallout Anthology – Main Series Any% in 2:16:21
Now, you may look at that 2+ hours completion time and think "isn't this article supposed to be about speedruns?" And that's a fair comment. But consider that this run actually takes us through four full RPGs, and you start to see why it's so impressive. Better than watching someone clear four games that would likely take the average player over 100 hours to complete, though, is listening to TomatoAnus talk about the games. Not content with simply explaining the process, at one point the runner also whips out a 3D model made out of plastic cups to better explain a glitch to the audience. Now that's dedication!
Dark Souls: Prepare to Die – Any% in 29:54
Dark Souls is an action-RPG so infamous for its difficulty, it's even spawned its own genre; the 'Souls-like'. Generally speaking, a Souls-like game will see the player die (a lot) as they play through the main game. Powerful bosses, sadistic level layouts, Mimics, pitfalls, fake-outs... everything is out to kill you. Most players need to adopt a slow-and-steady approach to these games in order to come out on top, but not speedrunners. Watching a World Record run of any From Software game is amazing. But watching a runner that's been trying for years to bear the game under 30 minutes finally break through that goal? It's an amazingly cathartic experience.
List of video games notable for speedrunning
Wikipedia list article
Speedruns are popular for a large variety of games. Most high-level speedruns have been performed by members of online communities. The speedrunning community originated on discussion forums in the late 1990s and early 2000s, where the fastest routes through early first-person shooters were discussed. Later-on, as speedrunning became more popular, specific video games became known as common speedrunning candidates. Some modern indie games are explicitly designed for speedrunning.
December 1993 saw the release of id Software's Doom. Among some of its major features, like its then-exceptional graphics, LAN- and Internet-based multiplayer support, and user modification possibilities, it also gave the players the ability to record demo files of their playthrough. This particular feature was first picked up by Christina "Strunoph" Norman in January 1994 when she launched the LMP Hall of Fame website.
This site was, however, quickly obsoleted by the DOOM Honorific Titles, launched in May 1994 by Frank Stajano, which introduced the first serious competition between players. This site would create the basis for all DOOM demo-sites that would follow. The DHT were designed around a notion of earning titles by successfully recording a particular type of demo on pre-determined maps in the IWADs. These 'exams' became very popular as the player had to earn each title by sending in a demo of the feat to one of the site's judges to justify their application. Doom II was released in October 1994, and the DHT conformed to the new additions as well as the new Doom version releases. At the height of its popularity, the DHT had many different categories and playing styles. For example, playing with only the fists and pistol while killing all monsters on a map became known as Tyson mode, named after the heavyweight boxer Mike Tyson. Pacifist-mode was playing without intentionally harming any monsters. Each category had easy, medium, and hard difficulty maps for players to get randomly chosen for.
In November 1994, the game, Doom speedrunning scene, in the form of the COMPET-N website, took off. Its creator, Simon Widlake, intended the site to be a record scoreboard for a variety of Doom-related achievements, but unlike its predecessors, they all centered around one key idea: speed. Players were required to run through Doom's levels as fast as possible in order to attain a spot on the constantly updated COMPET-N scoreboards which eventually made Doom one of the most popular games for speedrunning.[Note 1]
Like the DOOM Honorific Titles, this site experienced multiple location changes over time; it was even at Cdrom.com for a while before István Pataki took over as maintainer and moved the site to the now-defunct FTP server ftp.sch.bme.hu[dead link]. From there on, since early 1998, it was in the hands of Ádám Hegyi, who has been the maintainer ever since. It was located for some time at Doom2.net. In 2012, COMPET-N player Zvonimir 'fx' Bužanić took over maintaining the site and re-created a new database for WADs and PWADs. It is currently located at http://www.doom.com.hr/compet-n.
As of March 2006, COMPET-N contains a total amount of 6072 demos (on both official and custom maps), accounting for a total time of 462 hours, 8 minutes and 20 seconds.
In September 2000, Doug 'Opulent' Merrill opened up a new era of Doom speedrunning with the Doomed Speed Demos Archive (DSDA). Unlike COMPET-N, which required players to use original executables and restricted competition to a handful of WADs, this new archive supported competition for any WAD, with any executable or source port. For 7 years this initial incarnation of DSDA kept track of the runs submitted by the community, displaying the data in a series of news updates, along with occasional commentary by the maintainer. The work of maintaining the archive was performed manually, and, as time went on, the burden of maintenance increased. To alleviate this issue, and to improve usability of the archive itself, Andy Olivera began working on a second iteration of DSDA, which became available in November 2008. This coincided with a large increase in Doom speedrunning interest, with the annual demo count increasing from approximately 750 in 2008 to nearly 2000 in 2009. While a significant improvement over the original archive, this second version still lacked modern features, such as leaderboards and more advanced stat tracking. Work on a third incarnation began in January 2017, driven by Ryan 'Kraflab' Krafnick. The new DSDA currently mirrors the old archive but is still in active development. This latest iteration is located at https://www.dsdarchive.com.
As of September 2019, DSDA hosts 54,724 demos with a total time of 4,428 hours, 28 minutes, and 23 seconds.
This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(October 2016)
Quake was the only game to rival Doom as the most popular game to speedrun.[Note 1] People first started recording demos of Quake playthroughs when it was released in June 1996 and sharing them with others on the directory in Cdrom.com's Quake file hierarchy. There were two distinct kinds of demos: those in which the player killed all monsters and found all secrets on the map (called 100% demos) and those in which the player ignored these goals in order to finish the level as fast as possible (called runs). All levels were, at that time, recorded solely on the "Nightmare" difficulty level, the highest in the game.
In April 1997, Nolan "Radix" Pflug first started the Nightmare Speed Demos web site to keep track of the fastest demos. The first Quake Done Quick of the game, carrying over one level's finishing statistics to the next. The run ended up finishing the entire game on Nightmare difficulty in 0:19:49; an astonishing feat at that time. It received widespread attention from gaming magazines, being distributed with free CDs that usually came with them. This popularized speedrunning for a much larger audience than before and attracted many newcomers. Not all of those newcomers agreed with the old-timers's dogma that runs should be made on the hardest possible skill level. Thus, in August 1997 Muad'Dib's Quake Page came to be, run by Gunnar "Muad'Dib" Andre Mo and specializing in "Easy" difficulty runs. One month after that, the famous Quake Done Quick movie was superseded by a new movie called Quake Done Quicker, on September 14, 1997, which improved the game's fastest playthrough time to 0:16:35.
In April 1998, Nolan and Gunnar merged their pages, thus creating Speed Demos Archive, which today is still the central repository for Quake speed demos of any kind. Ever since its creation, a large variety of tricks have been discovered in the Quake physics, which kept players interested even up to today, more than two decades after Quake's release. Subsequently, Quake Done Quick with a Vengeance was released on September 13, 2000, which featured a complete run-through Quake in the hugely improved time of 0:12:23.
As of March 2006, Speed Demos Archive contains a total amount of 8481 demos (on both official and custom maps), accounting for a total time of 253 hours, 44 minutes and 39 seconds. The fastest minimalist single-segment completion times that have been recorded thus far, as of June 10, 2006, are 0:13:46 for the easy difficulty run and 0:19:50 for the nightmare difficulty run, both by long-time Quake speedrunner Connor Fitzgerald. The 100% single-segment completion times are 0:46:02 for the easy difficulty run and 1:09:33 for the nightmare difficulty run, respectively Marlo Galinski and Justin Fleck.[Note 2]
Quake Done Quick
Main article: Quake Done Quick
An important aspect of the Quake speedrunning community is Quake Done Quick, a collection of movies in which the game is finished as fast as possible with special rules and aims. Unlike the normal records listed above, these movies are created one level at a time rather than in one continuous play session; as such, it is possible for multiple people to help create the movie by sending in demos of individual levels, and much faster times can be aimed for as the segmentation allows one to easily try again upon committing an error. It also allows runners to only have to focus on a small portion of the game rather than all of it.
These movies are by far more popular than the conventional records, both in the community itself and outside of it. Some of them, most notably the movies that feature a fast playthrough of the game on the Nightmare difficulty level without additional voluntary challenges, have even been distributed with gaming magazines and posted on news sites. Slashdot has published an announcement of the then newly created Quake Done Quick with a Vengeance movie on its front page. Out of all the series' movies, this one is also the most popular. In it, the entire game is finished in 0:12:23 on "Nightmare" difficulty, the hardest in the game. This run succeeded Quake Done Quicker and the original Quake done Quick movie, in which the game was finished in respectively 0:16:35 and 0:19:49. The main reason for the latest installment being over 4 minutes faster, an improvement that surpassed the initial expectations of the runners, was the discovery of bunny hopping, which allowed runners to attain a much higher speed in most levels and even made it possible to save rockets or grenades for jumps that could now be done without them. This movie is currently being improved by new and old runners for a production called Quake done Quick with a Vengeance Part II. As of May 2006, the improvements that have been made thus far would result in a time of 0:11:32 for the entire game, an improvement of 51 seconds.
Some of the productions have been turned into Machinima movies, using so-called "recams" (showing the run from preset camera perspectives rather than the first-person view) and sometimes even custom skins, models, and a script to turn them into films rather than speedrun videos.
Super Metroid (Nintendo, 1994) became popular among speedrunners due to the emergence of console emulators with demo-recording features. In normal Super Metroid gameplay, the player may find certain items such as "high-jump boots". Since the path through the map is non-linear, it is complicated to find the most efficient speed-running routes: areas with seemingly essential power-ups can be bypassed at the expense of improved mobility. This drove the discovery of sequence breaking, in which a player can acquire power-ups before the game design intends, allowing whole sections of the map to be skipped.
Because the Metroid series rewards players for completing the game faster, groups of players were inspired to discuss techniques on message boards such as GameFAQs and to capture and post videos of full playthroughs. Despite internet limitations in the early 2000s, the ability to share video footage of Metroid runs allowed speedrunners to collaborate and learn from one another. It was during online discussions of Metroid Prime that the term "sequence breaking" was first widely used.
Super Mario series
Early platform games of the Super Mario series are popular in the speedrunning community. Super Mario Bros., Super Mario World, Yoshi's Island and Super Mario 64 are particularly notable for speedrunning accomplishments. Most notable speedruns of Super Mario games are generally carried out without tool-assistance, though speedrunners make frequent use of glitches and even memory corruption to make optimal times.
Super Mario Bros. is a notoriously competitive game to speedrun, with the world record held by Niftski, who beat the game in 4:54.948. The speedrun includes multiple frame-perfect inputs in order to clip into walls, flagpoles and warp pipes.
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island is a game that players commonly speedrun at Awesome Games Done Quick. Charlie Hall of Polygon has described speedruns of Yoshi's Island as a "great introduction to the showmanship and the rich community" behind the Games Done Quick marathons. Through exchanging strategies and doing theory routing, the Yoshi's Island speedrunning community collaboratively work on pushing the completion time down.
It is possible to speedrun Super Mario 64 in various ways. Though speed runs exist of people playing through the game as intended, it is possible to skip large portions of Super Mario 64 by using glitches. Using a glitch dubbed the "backwards long jump," (BLJ), and variations on it such as "side backwards long jump" (SBLJ) or "lobby backwards long jump" (LBLJ), the player character can move at very high speeds, which allows the player to clip through walls such that a player can skip almost all levels of the game and beat it in only a few minutes, collecting 0 of the intended 70 stars that are normally required. As of February 2, 2021, the world record for this category, dubbed "0 star," is 6 minutes, 31 seconds and 520 milliseconds, by Japanese speedrunner Kanno. Additionally, many players run an older route that omits one BLJ in favor of using a different, slower glitch, which requires 16 total stars. This gives an additional challenge over the "starless" route, as players must execute difficult glitches while also obtaining the fastest (and in many cases, most difficult) stars in the game. The current world record for this category is also held by Kanno, with a time of 14:58.090
Completing Super Mario 64 100%—i.e., collecting all the game's 120 "stars"—is also a popular method of playing through the game, as well as completing the game without using BLJ but using other glitches and exploits to obtain 70 stars as quickly as possible. Recently, the 120 Stars category has become much more competitive. The world records for 70 and 120 stars are 46:59 (Dwhatever) and 1:38:21 (Batora) respectively.
In more recent times, Super Mario Odyssey, released in 2017, has garnered a community of speedrunners. As of August 11, 2021, the game has the third most speedrunners of any game on speedrun.com, only trailing Super Mario 64. and Minecraft. Many glitches are used to optimize the times, such as out of bounds clips in the Lake Kingdom, Wooded Kingdom, Snow Kingdom, and Seaside Kingdom, and a jump in the Moon Kingdom skipping the Moon Cave and boss fight.
The Legend of Zelda series
The original The Legend of Zelda and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time are popular speedrunning candidates. Any%[Note 3] speedruns of this game involve a great deal of movement optimization and item drop management, as well as some amount of luck. Speedrunners rely heavily on having bombs with which to defeat high-level enemies. A common glitch used in speedruns of this game involves clipping through walls while the screen is scrolling.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, the third game in the series, can be beaten within two minutes by using particularly advantageous glitches.
The fourth game in the series, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, can be beaten in under two minutes using arbitrary code execution. The DX version of the game, which added coloured graphics, an extra dungeon, and more side quests, and removed the well-known "screen warping" glitch, can be beaten in under three minutes using ACE. The world record for the main Any% category, which bans the use of wrong warps, saving and quitting and then re-entering the file, or going out of bounds, is 51 minutes and 56 seconds, held by VlackSR. The game's 2019 remake for the Nintendo Switch has also become somewhat popular for speedruns.
More recently, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has been a popular subject for speedrunners due to its non-linear format, which allows the game to be beaten in less than half an hour with only minor glitches. In particular, the French (France) version of the game is used frequently in Any% speedrunning because the voice acting runs slightly faster than in other versions (e.g 3.967 seconds faster than the English version). The current Any% record is held by Player_5 at 25 minutes and 6 seconds. On May 16, the speedrunning community released a segmented Any% speedrun which is supposedly the best theoretical time at 22 minutes and 44 seconds, though development has continued and the final time currently sits at 22 minutes and 32 seconds with other categories such as Master Mode Any%, Bug Limit Any% and All Dungeons also being worked on.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Originally, Ocarina of Time speedruns took several hours to complete, as the game contains many long, mandatory dungeons. Throughout the mid-2000s, the Speed Demo Archives community discovered various glitches and sequence breaks in the game that allowed players to skip large portions of it. For instance, the Door of Time Skip allows the player to skip the child Link dungeons by doing a precise side hop through the Door of Time, which has a slight opening in the corner of it. In 2012, the "Wrong Warp" glitch was discovered. The complicated trick has many uses, the most famous being the wrong warp from the Great Deku Tree, the first dungeon, to Ganon's Castle after Ganondorf has been defeated. This allows the game to be beaten as child Link, which allows for the game to be completed very quickly.
Speedruns of Ocarina of Time are dependent on the console the game is played on and what language the game is being played in. There are many different Nintendo-released versions of the game on a plethora of consoles, with each console having many advantages and disadvantages over each other. For the Any% category, runs have primarily been done on the Japanese Wii Virtual Console version of the game. The Virtual Console has both faster loading times and less lag than the Nintendo 64 version of the game, although it takes longer to reset the game on Virtual Console. Runs used to be done mainly on the English version of Ocarina of Time until runners realized that in order to compete with Japanese players' times, they would have to use that version of the game because the text scrolls faster on the Japanese version of the game than it does on the English version. In that regard, the Chinese iQue Player version of Ocarina of Time has both faster loading times and faster scrolling text than the Nintendo 64 and Virtual Console versions of the game. This was the fastest version for Any% until the discovery of Get-Item Manipulation, a glitch that crashes the game on this system. In 2019, Stale Reference Manipulation, and subsequently Arbitrary Code Execution (ACE), were discovered, thus bringing the Any% time into the single digits. ACE was originally thought to be possible only on the Nintendo 64 version, which is where the record was brought down to about 7 and a half minutes in mid-2020. The current record was achieved on the Japanese Gamecube Master Quest version of Ocarina of Time. This version of the game has a video file in place of the credits that gets triggered upon the game's completion, and it was discovered that this function can be executed in Kokiri Forest, which cut the record by another 20 seconds.
Ocarina of Time has been described as "one of the most intricate and well-documented games for speedrunning" because of its familiarity, as it is one of the most popular games for both speedrunning and casual play, and its wide array of glitches.
Dark Souls series and related games
Dark Souls, a 2011 game by From Software, is known for its unforgiving gameplay, but despite this, the game is very popular among speedrunners. Through the use of several intricate skips, glitches, and wrong warps, it is possible to complete an Any%[Note 3] run in under 35 minutes, though average players take dozens of hours playing through the game once. 20-minute speedruns are possible because of a glitch dubbed the "Kiln Skip", which can be used to skip almost the entire second half of the game. The original method for this exploit was removed in an update, but a new method of performing it, which requires the current game update, has also been devised.
Any% runs of its sequel, Dark Souls II, can be done in under 20 minutes, as it is possible to avoid almost all battles in the game and to move around the world at a "ridiculous pace" using the "binoculars" item. The tricks that make a run this short possible were patched out in "Scholar of the First Sin", but can still be used if current patches are not downloaded.
Spelunky, a 2012 indie platformer created by Derek Yu, has been a common candidate for speedrunning, with its fastest runs taking between one and two minutes. As Spelunky features a large amount of random procedural generation, speedrunners cannot solely rely on memorization. To have a chance in beating the current record, a speedrunner must get a specific random seed, though despite this, skillful players may recognize repeating level patterns and know how to optimally use the game's items, such as a difficult to use "teleporter" that allows a player to skip large chunks of a level.
Despite the high difficulty of the game, even Spelunky's "Hell" levels have been used for speedrunning, with the world record sitting under four minutes. Another highly difficult run of the game is the so-called "eggplant run", in which a player has to go through a specific set of objectives to turn the final boss into an eggplant. This was done solo for the first time in November 2013 by speedrunner Bananasaurus Rex, though it took him 90 minutes. Douglas Wilson of Polygon dubbed this run "2013's most fascinating video game moment."
Cuphead is a run and gunindie video game developed by StudioMDHR, inspired by the rubber hose animation style of the 1920s and 30s. The game features one or two players taking control of animated characters Cuphead and his brother Mugman to fight through several levels that culminate in boss fights in order to repay a gambling debt to the Devil. Cuphead has been noted for its notorious difficulty, and has spawned a dedicated speedrunning community, with The Mexican Runner running the game at AGDQ in 2018 and 2019.
Cuphead runs fall under multiple categories, such as Any%, All Flags, All Bosses and Full Clear, and are usually divided by difficulty - "Simple", "Regular" and "Expert". Cuphead runners have also invented many creative categories, such as only using one gun type, completing the game in pacifist mode, and completing the game as fast as possible using the character duplication glitch. [Note 4]
Minecraft is a sandboxsurvival game developed by Mojang and released in 2009. The goal of traditional Minecraft speedruns is typically to defeat the Ender Dragon, but there are several other possible criteria, such as obtaining a certain item, collecting all of a certain type of item, or reaching a certain build height.Minecraft speedruns are split into four main categories based on the platform: Minecraft (Classic), Minecraft: Bedrock Edition, Minecraft: Legacy Console Edition and Minecraft: Java Edition as well as other extensions based on whether the world seed is set or random or fan-made content within the game.
Minecraft speedruns are heavily luck-dependant, and as such there have been several instances of players cheating, whether accidental (most notably by prominent YouTuber Dream) or intentional. Dream, one of the most well known speedrunners and previous holder of the world record, has confessed to cheating on his speedruns. The current holder is Brentilda, with 9 minutes and 36 seconds.
- ^ abThis statement is based on both the number of demos and the total amount of recorded demo time, which far exceed those of other games that are popular with speedrunners.
- ^Quake demos are usually stored in the Dzip compression algorithm, which was developed by Nolan Pflug and Stefan Schwoon. It is available for free download at Dzip Online.
- ^ ab"Any%" refers to beating a game without having to play through any optional content, and, in Super Metroid's case, without the use of major glitches.
- ^For more information on these categories, known as "Category Extensions", see the relevant page on Speedrun.com
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