Video games notable for speedrunning
Traditionally, speedruns have been performed by members of online communities about games in general, usually through discussion forums, using strategies devised by members of such forums. When the activity became popular enough to accede subculture, the first sites dedicated to speedrunning started appearing — usually specializing in just one or a few games. Some of these sites have sustained activity for a long time, sometimes even up to today, due to the large potential its games have for speedrunning.
December 1993 saw the release of id Software's Doom. Among some of its major features, like at that time unparalleled 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 demosites 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 his 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. Many legends in the Doom speedrunning scene started out in the DHT, including George Bell (Tyson), Steffen Udluft (Pacifist), Kai-Uwe “Gazelle” Humpert, Frank “Jesus” Siebers (Nightmare), Thomas “Panter” Pilger (Reality), and Yonatan Donner. Unfortunately, the DHT always had trouble retaining a permanent Internet location. This, combined with the changing rules and the diminished importance of most of the titles, made public interest wane as the years rolled on.
In November 1994, the 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 humanly 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.
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.
Quake is arguably the only game to rival Doom as the most popular game to speedrun ever. People first started recording demos of Quake playthroughs when it was released in June 1996 and sharing them with others on the demos/e 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 a decade 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 runner 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.
The records listed here are continuous runs through all of Quake that are recorded in one playing session. This kind of run, done on either a full episode or the entire game, is called a Marathon. Such runs are categorized in two types and difficulty levels; 100% runs, in which it is required that the player kills all monsters and finds all secrets on every level, and runs without this requirement.
|Easy difficulty (run)||0:13:46||June 29, 2005||Connor Fitzgerald|
|Easy difficulty (100% run)||0:46:02||March 7, 2004||Marlo Galinski|
|Nightmare difficulty (run)||0:19:50||July 19, 2005||Connor Fitzgerald|
|Nightmare difficulty (100% run)||1:09:33||October 18, 2005||Justin Fleck|
Quake done Quick
As mentioned earlier, another very 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 higher 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, is 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.
For a full list of the movies that have been created, see the Quake done Quick Web site. Unlike the conventional records, the individual players that worked on these movies are not listed; there are always many different players working on these projects, and as such, they are usually attributed to the “Quake done Quick team”, while details on who made which portion of the run can be found in the description text files that come with them.
Super Metroid (Nintendo, 1994) achieved popularity with 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 the high-jump boots. Since the path through the map is non-linear, this is a complication to finding efficient speedrunning routes: Areas with such items can be bypassed at the expense of the 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. The current world record is held by Zoasty with a real time of 44:32 and a game time of 29 minutes.
Super Mario series
As games, the Super Mario series features some of the most defining games to the platformer genre. Due to their popularity and simple yet challenging physics and gameplay mechanics, every instance of the series is well-suited for speedrunning. As such, there has always been a lot of competition for the top times for these games.
Super Mario 64
Super Mario 64 is a game that is known for its fast gameplay and many speedrunners, it is the most competitive and popular game to speedrun. There are 5 categories that are common in speedrunning: 0 star, 1 star, 16 star, 70 star, and 120 star.
A 120 star speedrun consists of obtaining every star available in the game. The world record for a non-tool-assisted run is held by Siglemic with a time of 1:44:01 (N64), and 1:43:22 (VC). The world record TAS (tool assisted speedrun) is held by a team of speed runners consisting of MKDasher, Nahoc, SonicPacker, Bauru, Eru, Goronem, Jesus, Kyman, Mokkori, Moltov, Nothing693, Pasta, SilentSlayers, Snark, MythzjE and ToT. with a time of 1:20:41.
To beat the game without utilizing programming errors in the game to sidestep various checkpoints (star doors; glitching through the 'endless stairs'), 70 stars are required to reach the final Bowser stage. In 70 star, the optimal route has the speedrunner not entering the level Jolly Roger Bay at all. The non-TAS world record is currently also held by Siglemic with a time of 48:28 as of August 21, 2013, and there is a TAS completing the game 'BLJless' in 42:58.52 done by 15 TASers.
16 star is what used to be the fastest way to complete the game, before it was obsoleted by the 1 star and 0 star categories. It abuses 2 glitches to enter other areas early. The first is known as the "Mips Clip", where the player collects 15 stars to make Mips the rabbit appear and then uses it to get on the other side of the 30 star Bowser door. The second glitch is known as the "Backwards Long Jump" which is used on the two stairways upstairs in the castle after the player has obtained the second key. This glitch abuses the mechanics of the long jump to propel the player through the 50 star door and to skip the endless stairway. The 16 star non-TAS record is held by "A_k_1kan" with a time of 15:22. The TAS world record was completed by Nahoc with a time of 13:28. Nahoc edited together files containing the exact input from single star runs done by numerous authors he names in the video description.
The 0 star run completely forgoes any stars opting instead to go straight to fights with Bowser primarily using the "Backwards Long Jump" glitch. The non-TAS world record is held by FunilaSM64, with a time of 6:41. The world record TAS is 5:01.25 since March 31, 2013, done by a team of speed runners consisting of Snark, Kyman and ToT.
Super Mario Bros
One of the first platformer games to feature Mario as protagonist was Super Mario Bros., for which Andrew "AndrewG" Gardikis recorded the world record with a time of only 4:58 as of August 2011. (This time has been improved by frames since then) This is only 4 seconds slower than the fastest tool-assisted speedrun, which stands at a TAS time of 4:57.33. (The TAS is about 4:54 using the timing that andrewg uses, but 4:57 TAS timing) Despite the fact that tool-assisted speedruns are usually much faster than their unassisted counterparts, due to the way they are created (for example, many game engines have bugs that allow the player to pass through walls, but these glitches are usually so difficult to exploit that they are only considered to be a viable strategy in tool-assisted speedrunning, where one can get the necessary precision required to do so), the difference between the two runs in time is very small. The reason the TAS is so much faster is because of the abuse of the Left + Right glitch to allow mario to accelerate slightly faster.
Another incredibly popular speedrun in the series is Richard Ureta's Super Mario Bros. 3 run. He runs through the entire game and uses warp whistles to skip worlds 2 through 7 entirely, bringing the final time to 0:11:11. This time was obsoleted in mid-2007 by Freddy Andersson with 0:11:03. Andersson's run was replaced by Andrew Gardikis to a time of 11:01 on 5/27/2008 which was finally obsoleted again by Freddy Andersson to a time of 10:48 on 2/11/2010.
Interestingly, the tool-assisted speedrun of this game, made by Morimoto (もりもと) in November 2003, was also very popular outside of the speedrun community as it was the first published run of this famous game, ending after 0:11:04 of input. As such, there was little knowledge of how and why tool-assisted speedruns were made, which spawned a lot of controversy over his run; after it was mass-posted on forums all over the Internet, the users of those forums would call it a hoax after finding out that it was created using an emulator, citing that Morimoto himself "admitted" to creating the movie "frame by frame" and that it took him two years to do it. These claims came to be after a page was found on Morimoto's now defunct site in which he explains how he created the run with the Famtasia emulator, using conventional tool-assisted speedrunning methods; however, when it was posted, a machine translation was used instead of the original text, causing it to differ severely from the intention, which spawned the misunderstandings. His run has, however, since been obsoleted a few times by faster versions. The current fastest tool-assisted speedrun for Super Mario Bros. 3 stands at 0:10:26.42, by Thomas "Lord Tom" Seufert and Mijitsu.
Super Mario Bros. 2 is speedrun frequently, especially on TASvideos. The record is held by Chris Knight, at 8:32.7, the warpless record is 26:36 held by Tommy Montgomery. The tool-assisted record is 7:41.16. The record playing as Princess Peach only is 8:29.57. The warpless tool-assisted record is 18:29.26.
The Legend of Zelda series
The games in the Legend of Zelda series generally take a large amount of effort to speedrun due to their length and non-linearity, even when played as quickly as possible, and because a lot of different techniques can be used in addition to extensive route planning. Nonetheless, they have been fought over by many speedrunners due to their high popularity, and have thus been improved frequently.
In 2006, a groundbreaking series of glitches were discovered in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time which enabled the game to be completed with only three of the six Sage Medallions. This, along with the completion of MUPEN64, resulted in the production of the first tool-assisted speedrun[dead link] for Ocarina, finishing at 2 hours and 33 minutes. In early 2007, another major glitch, dubbed "Bottle Adventure," was discovered by Kazooie. This glitch exploits the way the game handles pointers to manipulate inventory items onto the B button. In August 2007, a player named "P. DOT" completed a Bottle Adventure-enabled TAS with a final time of 1 hour and 56 minutes. In 2008, another glitch was discovered that allowed a player to clip through the Door of Time with only a sword and no Spiritual Stones. In 2012, a groundbreaking glitch was found in Ocarina of Time by SockFolder and R0bD0g. By escaping the warp that appears when defeating Queen Gohma and using a door that leads back to the Deku Tree, the game warps the player to Ganondorf's defeat, skipping nearly the entire game; the player only need to escape the collapsing castle and defeat Ganon to end the game. The current world record of the game is held by Shaeden on the Japanese Virtual Console version with a time of 19 minutes, 11 seconds.
In September 2007, a tool-assisted speedrun of Majora's Mask was completed with a time of 2 hours and 14 minutes, utilizing many of the same glitches as Ocarina of Time, such as bomb hovers and superslides. The Speed Demos Archive time of 3 hours, 37 minutes remained outdated by two years, until the 6th of September 2009, when a new record produced by Daniel 'Jiano' Hart had managed to clear the game in 2 hours, 3 minutes and 4 seconds in a single-segment all thanks to new glitches and sequence breaking (including the Wrong Warp glitch, Goron Lullaby skip, Boss key skips in both Great Bay and Snowhead temples and Bottle Duplication glitch to prevent backtracking for collecting 7 Zora eggs). The run was then improved to 1:49:33 by Steven 'ingx24' Brown. (The standard for timing changed between these runs. Old SDA timing was from gaining control of Link, whereas new ZSR timing is from starting the file. Ing's run in ZSR timing is 1:52:52) A Japanese player 'SVA' then took the record with a 1:47:47 (the Japanese version is considered to be only slightly faster). Around this time the most recent TAS was made by MrGrunz with a time of 1:29:32. 2 new tricks (a trick to clip out of bounds with the hookshot or bow, and post-dungeon cutscene skips) and further optimization lead to the record of 1:42:53 by ZFG (Zelda Freak Glitcha). In January 2013, a Swedish speedrunner named Dennis 'EnNopp112' Haugen took the record with a time of 1:42:43, and further improved it to 1:34:38, which uses a newer route. He later improved it to 1:34:30, and then even further to the current record of 1:34:29. 'EnNopp112' also holds the 100% non-TAS record with a time of 5 hours, 18 minutes, and 8 seconds.
Tomas 'Tompa' Abrahamsson of the tool-assistance community has been able to reach the end of The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past in only 0:03:44.65 (3 minutes, 44 seconds) due to a glitch that allows Link to travel through walls. Since the levels in the game are connected by the edges of one screen, the player is able to walk through walls, passing entire levels as he goes, and eventually reach the Triforce room. This glitch, which requires that the player presses the “up” and “down” keys at the same time, can theoretically be reproduced on a real console, although it is nearly impossible to perform by a human player using a conventional controller: pressing “up” and “down” at the same time is impossible with most controllers, which feature a D-pad that can't be depressed in opposite directions at the same time. The run also features a trick that makes Link run faster by alternating “up” and “down” button presses every other frame; this is also not practically possible to perform by a human player due to the high speed at which one would have to give this input. This makes the run a very clear example of the difference between human and physical limitations.
Besides a very short completion of this game, another tool-assisted version that does not use the aforementioned exploration glitch was also produced, resulting in a much longer run of 1:16:11, also by Tomas 'Tompa' Abrahamsson. The fastest non-tool-assisted completion time without savewarps, deaths, or going out of bounds is 1:24:04 by Kryssstal.
Another interesting case is "The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening". this game came out in two versions. The Game Boy version included a glitch that allowed completion in 0:03:49.12. This glitch was fixed in the "DX" version for the Game Boy Color making the smallest attained time 1:00:02.68. Both of these runs are tool-assisted.
One of the most competed speedruns in the Zelda series is The Wind Waker. The current record has reached 4:27:53, set by Cosmo Wright on 09/13/2013, with the former world record of 4:28:41 belonging to Demon9. This run makes use of several glitches including storage, superswims, and zombie hovers.
Other Zelda game speedruns include The Legend of Zelda in 0:34:23 by Darkwing Duck, Zelda II: The Adventure of Link in 0:59:43 by Kristian 'Arctic_Eagle' Emanuelsen, The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess in 3:17:31 on the GameCube version by Rodner.
The Pokémon Series
For more information go to Pokemonspeedruns.
- DOOM Honorific Titles[dead link]
- "C O M P E T - N". Doom2.net. 2005-06-21. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- This statement is based on both the amount of demos and the total amount of recorded demo time, which far exceed those of other games that are popular with speedrunners.
- "COMPET-N Database". COMPET-N. 2006. Retrieved March 25, 2006.
- "Quake done Quick". Wayback.archive.org. 2006-03-13. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- Quake Done Quick: QdQr[dead link]
- "Quake Done Quick: QdQwav". Wayback.archive.org. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- "Quake (PC) - Speed demo collection". Internet Archive. 2006. Retrieved March 25, 2006.
- Note that Quake demos are usually stored in the Dzip compression algorithm, which was specially developed for these files by Nolan Pflug and Stefan Schwoon. It is available for free download at the Dzip Online Web site.
- "SDA: Profile of Connor Fitzgerald". Speeddemosarchive.com. 1985-06-23. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- "Speed Demos Archive". Speed Demos Archive. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- "SDA: Profile of Justin Fleck". Speeddemosarchive.com. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- "Slashdot | Quake Done Quick - With A Vengeance". Games.slashdot.org. 2000-09-14. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- "Quake Done Quick: QdQwav". Wayback.archive.org. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- [dead link]
- The Quake done Quick team (1997). "Quake done Quicker". Quake done Quick. Retrieved December 25, 2005.
- The Quake done Quick team (2006). "History of the routes in QdQwav". FilePlanet. Retrieved March 26, 2006.
- See the Quake Techniques paragraph.
- "Quake done Quickest". Speeddemosarchive.com. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- Speed Demos Archive contributors (2006). "Quake done Quick with a Vengeance Part II". Speed Demos Archive. Retrieved May 7, 2006.
- "Quake done Quick". Wayback.archive.org. 2009-03-02. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- Turner, B. (2005). "Smashing the Clock". 1UP.com. Retrieved August 13, 2005.
- "Game list". SpeedRunsLive. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- Wiki keeping records: ; link to speedrun: 
- "Siglemic - Twitch". Twitch.tv. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- "TASVideos movies:  N64 Super Mario 64 (USA) "70 Stars BLJless" by CeeSammerZ, coin2884, Eru, Goronem, Jesus, Kyman, Mickey/VIS, Mokkori, Moltov, Nahoc, Nekuran, Noth". Dev.tasvideos.org. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- "スーパーマリオ64 RTA記録保管庫 - 16枚RTA". 1.atwiki.jp. Retrieved 2013-10-04.
- [TAS] Super Mario 64 "16 Stars" in 13:28.40 - YouTube
- Super Mario 64 Speedrun - 0 Stars 00:06:41 COMPLETE
- N64 Super Mario 64 "0 Stars" in 5:01.25 By Snark, Kyman and ToT
- Speed Demos Archive - Super Mario Bros
- TASVideos movies:  NES Super Mario Bros. (JPN/USA PRG0) by klmz in 04:57.33
- Speed Demos Archive - Super Mario Bros. 3
- TASVideos movies:  NES Super Mario Bros. 3 (JPN/USA PRG0) by Lord Tom & Mitjitsu in 10:26.42
- Speed Demos Archive - Super Mario Bros.: The Lost Levels
- TASVideos :: View topic - #1672: P.DOT's N64 The Legend of Zelda - Ocarina of Time in 1:56:04.98
- [dead link]
- Speed Demos Archive - The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask
- ZeldaSpeedRuns Leaderboards
- TASVideos movies:  SNES Legend of Zelda - A Link to the Past (USA) "glitched" by Tompa in 03:44.65
- TASVideos movies:  SNES Legend of Zelda - A Link to the Past (USA) by Tompa in 1:16:11.05
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Speedrun
- TASVideos movies:  GB The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening (USA v1.0) by bobmario511 in 03:49.12
- TASVideos movies:  GBC The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening DX (USA v1.0) by Swordless Link in 1:00:02.68
- The Wind Waker - ZeldaSpeedRuns
- darkwing_duck_sda - Both quests back to back
- Speed Demos Archive - Zelda II: The Adventure of Link
- Slashdot contributors (2004). "'Perfect' Zelda NES Speed Record Beaten". Slashdot. Retrieved May 25, 2006.
- Slashdot contributors (2003). "Metroid Prime Done Even Quicker". Slashdot. Retrieved May 25, 2006.
- "Xs", Slashdot contributors (2003). "Metroid Prime Done Quick". Slashdot. Retrieved May 25, 2006.
- Pflug, N. (2004). "History of Quake speed-running". Speed Demos Archive. Retrieved October 16, 2005.
- Merrill, D. (2003). "A Brief DOOM Demo History". Doomworld. Retrieved October 16, 2005.
- Mills, A. (2005). "Metroid Sequence Breaking". Samus.co.uk. Archived from the original on October 28, 2004. Retrieved December 21, 2004.