Some Sick Speedruns To Check Out

As this article goes up, it’s Awesome Games Done Quick 2023. It’s going to go down in history as Another GDQ, but notable because this one pivoted from a physical event to an online event in response to a Floriday business deciding to Florida very hard and lean heavily into COVID denialism with the wishy-washy ‘well we can’t act like masks are a good idea’ bullshit that really is just a soft landing for ‘people who deny germ theory have enough money that we don’t care about public health and safety.’ Point is, that it’s GDQ, right now, as you’re reading this.

You might not care that much about speedrunning, despite everything I’ve said about how interesting and engaging it is (in general), but are curious about now, how the experience of the event might feel, and what you might want to watch. I’d like to recommend then, a list of five things that haven’t aired yet (as of publication date) that you can look out for, and which I think serve as solid, single experiences (based on, admittedly, only partial knowledge).

These should all be screening, at some point after this articles goes up, on the Games Done Quick channel.

Neon White is a game made for speed and execution; it’s one of those games with shooting, and running and moving, but the failure states and errors in the levels are so tight that you usually die and reset, in the same model as games like Superhot or Hotline Miami. Those games take the genre of a lot of combat games, and instead of allowing them to work as combat games (which usually have unreliable damage output and input, to allow for you room to experiment), turn the failure states up to the highest level, turning them into a tactical puzzle game.

Neon White, being speedrun, looks a lot like a a roller coaster ride. You might have a hard time following why things are happening, but there’s a constant sensation of movement, a sort of fundamental excitement to the whole experience.

Celeste is a now-iconic queer-metaphor needle game, the genre of games where the whole experience is meant to feel like threading a needle; taking tiny opportunities, with very long stretches of frantic action before you can take a moment to breathe, to relax. This is a 25-minute speedrun of the Into the Jungle mod which adds a campaign mode to the game, rather than a singular linear narrative.

Celeste speedruns are about watching movement executed beautifully, and what makes this a great place to start is how you’re removed from everything and can just take in the sight of the performance. It’s also short, so rather than spending an hour watching this game experience, there’s a constant change, pulling you on through the game quickly.

There’s a Super Mario Land for the Gameboy race. This is a kind of speedrun where the actual game itself is pretty well sorted; there’s not a lot of new technology in finishing this game perfectly. But, the game has variance and randomness in it, and you can use that variance to occasionally gain time (or lose it if you mess up), which makes it perfect for racing.

It’s only a two person race, and it’s on a game with a very simple method, and it’s only 15 minutes long. Again, if you want to see a more conventional ‘race’ kind of sport, this can be a good way to get started!

Once more I’m going to recommend a really short game, Katana Zero as a speedrun to watch. It’s only ten minutes, and the game itself is extremely fast and aggressive – a lot of the features of the game are built so that when you do speedrun it, you don’t have to deal with things like the story getting in your way.

What makes Katana Zero a great speedrun to watch is that the game itself is not fundamentally altered by being a speedrun; if you go play the game, you will see yourself doing things that are much like the speedrun, just less practiced. It’s not a game where you have to learn a completely new categorical skill to beat it. This kind of speed game is a rare treat, where the speedrun of the game is the best version of the game you could already play.

Unless some new tech has happened in the past few months, in which case, shut my mouth.

Finally, right at the end of the event, there’s going to be a three hour Pokemon Legends: Arceus run! These runs tend to be great because that means they’re doing a huge pile of small, discrete things that cannot be easily ignored or bulk skipped. This is great because it means you get to watch a lot of the game experience, and see a good player play well, but also you don’t have to fret about every moment you see or miss if you have to shift your attention around.

Plus, it’s Pokemon! When did you last finish a Pokemon game? It’s a great way to see one played through.

But…

But

What if you’re reading this article a few weeks later? As if that’s a thing people do? And if they do, do they ever really follow up on the links? Well, the good news is that all these speedruns will be archived on the Games Done Quick youtube channel, and if you’re over there checking them out…

What about checking out other stuff from the weirdly-named Summer Games Done Quick (for some reason, put in the middle of winter)?

Warioware: Touched! by Mr_Shasta in 31:31 - Summer Games Done Quick 2022

Warioware Touched! It’s short and sharp and it’s silly, and it’s a great way to check out the different, silly, funny things that the Warioware Touched game includes. The way that these games work is that you don’t really get to do a lot of planning – you have to make a quick reaction to the kind of game, then act based on that. It’s like a library of microgames, and this lets you see them all.

Pokémon Snap by quo in 30:31 - Summer Games Done Quick 2022

The original Pokemon Snap is a pretty interesting kind of game, being as it’s a mix of a first-person shooter and a rail shooter type game. This is a great run where you can watch the ridiculous behaviour of these hard-to-route levels tested to their extreme even while the game gets weird about what does or doesn’t count as ‘in frame.’

ICO by SanchoPanda in 1:37:05 - Summer Games Done Quick 2022

If you’re not familiar with Ico as a game, it’s a big slow game about exploring a puzzle and wordlessly taking in a story. It’s a game famous for a lot of people liking it and having positive opinions on it (and more than probably finished it, y’know)? Anyway, it’s a good speedrun and lets you see some of the really splendid bits of the game (at high speed).

There, five to look out for, and three to check out afterwards!

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