List of video games notable for speedrunning
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 90s 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.
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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.[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.
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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 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 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
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) 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 "high-jump boots". Since the path through the map is non-linear, it is complicated to find the most efficient speedrunning routes: areas with seemingly essential power-ups 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 Any%[Note 3] world record is held by speedrunner Oatsngoats, with a "real" time of 41 minutes and 56 seconds.
Because the Metroid series awards players for completing the game with a faster time, groups of player were inspired to discuss techniques on message boards such as GameFAQs and to capture and post video 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.
The current record holder of the first game in the Super Mario series, Super Mario Bros., is speedrunner darbian, who beat the game in 4 minutes, 56 seconds, and 878 milliseconds, only a few milliseconds faster than runner-up Kosmicd12. According to darbian, Saving 21 frames in World 4-2 is possible, yet very difficult, and speedrunner andrewg would be "the best person at getting this [right]." More novel achievements have also been accomplished in Super Mario Bros., such as beating the game without scoring any points.
The record-time for beating Super Mario World is in hands of speedrunner Area51, who beat the game in 9 minutes, 45 seconds, and 360 milliseconds in February of 2017, just 140 milliseconds faster than the previous record holder, xpaco5. Though, it is possible to make credits of the game roll within two minutes by using arbitrary code injection in the first level of the game, this is not considered an entirely fair way of beating the game, and is best done using tool-assistance.
Super Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island is a game that is very 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 time down.
It is possible to speedrun Super Mario 64 in various ways. Though speedruns exist of people playing through the game fairly, it is possible to skip large portions of Super Mario 64 by using glitches. Using a glitch dubbed the "backwards long jump," with which the player character can move through walls, a player can skip almost all levels of the game and beat it in only a few minutes. Completing Super Mario 64 100% – i.e., collecting all the game's "stars" – is also a popular method of playing through the game. Recently, the 120 Stars category has become much more competitive. The current record time for Super Mario 64 120 Stars was set on April 30, 2016 by the Twitch streamer Cheese05 with a time of 1 hour, 40 minutes, and 39 seconds. The previous record of 1:40:44 by Twitch streamer Puncayshun was five seconds slower and was set only five months before the current record.
The Legend of Zelda series
The original The Legend of Zelda and The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time are popular speedrunning candidates. The record for the first game in the series is currently held by speedrunner LackAttack24. Any%[Note 3] speedruns of this game involve a great deal of movement optimization and item drop management, as well as some amount as 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 original Japanese version of 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. However, this workaround was patched in subsequent versions of the game, including the US and PAL release.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
Ocarina of Time speedruns used to take hours to carry out, as the game contains a large amount of long, mandatory dungeons. During the 2000s, the community of Speed Demo Archives discovered various glitches in the game that allowed players to skip portions of it. The "Door of Time Skip," for instance, allows player character Link to sequence break and skip many of the game's levels by passing through a wall. In 2012, the "Wrong Warp" glitch was discovered, which allowed Link to teleport from the first dungeon to the final boss of the game, making 20 minute speedruns of Ocarina of Time possible.
Speedruns of Ocarina of Time are somewhat dependent of the console the game is played on. Originally, speedrunners played Ocarina of Time on the Chinese-only iQue Player, because it has quicker loading times and faster scrolling text than the Nintendo 64 version. However, the current record was achieved with the Japanese version of Ocarina of Time played on the Wii Virtual Console, as this version of the game includes an exploitable glitch not present in other versions.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time has been described as "one of the most intricate and well-documented games for speed running" because of its familiarity and potential for glitches. The current world record is in hands of skater82297, with a time of 17 minutes and 13 seconds. Beating the second best, Torje, with a difference of 567 milliseconds.
Dark Souls series
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, it is possible to complete an Any%[Note 3] run in under 45 minutes, though average players take dozens of hours playing through the game once. 21-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. The current world record for the All Bosses category speedrun is held by Kahmul78, clocking in at 1:11:23 IGT (in-game time). 
Any% runs of its sequel, Dark Souls II, take about 16-20 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, but can still be used if current patches aren't 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 zone" mode has been used for speedrunning, with the current record sitting on 3 minutes and 44 seconds. 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."
- 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.
- 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.
- "Any%" refers to beating a game without having to play through any optional content.
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