Video games notable for speedrunning

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.



Quake is arguably the only game to rival Doom as the most popular game to speedrun ever.[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'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[2] 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;[3] 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 One month after that, the famous Quake done Quick movie was superseded by a new movie called Quake done Quicker, on September 14, 1997, which improved the game's fastest playthrough time to 0:16:35.[3]

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.[4]

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.[5] The fastest minimalist single-segment completion times that have been recorded thus far, as of June 10, 2006, are 0:13:46[6] for the easy difficulty run and 0:19:50[7] for the nightmare difficulty run, both by long-time Quake runner Connor Fitzgerald. The 100% single-segment completion times are 0:46:02 [8] for the easy difficulty run and 1:09:33 for the nightmare difficulty run, respectively Marlo Galinski and Justin Fleck.[9]


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.

The most noteworthy Marathons are listed below.[9] Many more have been created, however; for a full list, see Speed Demos Archive: Marathons.

Category Time Date Player
Easy difficulty (run) 0:13:46[6] June 29, 2005 Connor Fitzgerald
Easy difficulty (100% run) 0:46:02[8] March 7, 2004 Marlo Galinski
Nightmare difficulty (run) 0:19:50[7] July 19, 2005 Connor Fitzgerald
Nightmare difficulty (100% run) 1:09:33[10] 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.[11] 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.[12] This run succeeded Quake done Quicker and the original Quake done Quick [13] movie, in which the game was finished in respectively 0:16:35 and 0:19:49.[14] The main reason for the latest installment being over 4 minutes faster, an improvement that surpassed the initial expectations of the runners,[15] 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.[16] This movie is currently being improved by new and old runners for a production called Quake done Quick with a Vengeance Part II.[17] 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.[18]

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.[9][19] 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.


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.[20] 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.[21] 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.[1]

Like the DOOM Honorific Titles, this site experienced multiple location changes over time; it was even at for a while before István Pataki took over as maintainer and moved the site to the now defunct FTP server From there on, since early 1998, it was in the hands of Ádám Hegyi, who has been the maintainer ever since. It is currently located at

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.[22]

Metroid series

Super Metroid (Nintendo, 1994) achieved popularity with speedrunners due to the emergence of console emulators with demo-recording features.[23] 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 by 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.[23]

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. There are 5 categories that are common in speedrunning: 0 star, 1 star, 16 star, 70 star, and 120 star.

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 Mike "Siglemic" Sigler with a time of 1:49:06.[24] The world record TAS (tool assised speedrun) is held by Rikku with a time of 1:39:02.13.[25]

70 Star

To beat the game without major skips, 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 held debatably by Mike "Siglemic" Sigler with a time of 50:45.[26] There is contreversy surrounding Siglemic's time because he ran it on the Wii Virtual Console, which has faster loading times than the Nintedo 64 Cartridge. Because of this, most speedrunners consider Shigeru's 51:20 as the true world record and place Siglemic's run in another category. There is a TAS in progress [27]

16 Star

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 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 propell the player through the 50 star door and to skip the endless stairway. The 16 star non-TAS record is held by Akira with a time of 15:54.[28] The TAS world record was completed by Swordless Link with a time of 14:27[29]

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 4:59 as of August 2011.[30] This is only 2 seconds slower than the second fastest tool-assisted speedrun, which stands at 0:04:57 (adjusted for timing differences), created by R. “Pom” Yoshizawa in July 2005.[31] However, this run has been obsoleted by K.H. "klmz" at a TAS time of 4:57.33.[32] 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. This is because the gameplay of Super Mario Bros. leaves much less room for impressive speed tactics due to the constant running speed.

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.[33] 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.[34]

Interestingly, the tool-assisted speedrun of this game, made by “もりもと” (“Morimoto”) 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.[35] 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.[36]

Super Mario Bros. 2 is speedrun frequently, especially on TASvideos. The record is held by Andrew Gardikis, at 9:15, the warpless record is 26:36 held by Tommy Montgomery. The tool-assisted record is 7:52.67. The record playing as Princess Peach only is 8:29.57. The warpless tool-assisted record is 19:39.93.

Super Mario Bros. The Lost Levels is another game popular for speedrunning. The tool-assisted record is 8:09.23. The record using Luigi is 8:16.42. The regular speedrun record is 8:34.[37]


  1. ^ a b 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.
  2. ^ Quake done Quick
  3. ^ a b Quake Done Quick: QdQr
  4. ^ Quake Done Quick: QdQwav
  5. ^ "Quake (PC) - Speed demo collection". Internet Archive. 2006. Retrieved March 25, 2006. 
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ a b
  8. ^ a b
  9. ^ a b c 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.
  10. ^
  11. ^ Slashdot | Quake Done Quick - With A Vengeance
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ The Quake done Quick team (1997). "Quake done Quicker". Quake done Quick. Retrieved December 25, 2005. 
  15. ^ The Quake done Quick team (2006). "History of the routes in QdQwav". FilePlanet. Retrieved March 26, 2006. 
  16. ^ See the Quake Techniques paragraph.
  17. ^ Quake done Quickest
  18. ^ Speed Demos Archive contributors (2006). "Quake done Quick with a Vengeance Part II". Speed Demos Archive. Retrieved May 7, 2006. 
  19. ^ Quake done Quick
  20. ^ DOOM Honorific Titles
  21. ^ C O M P E T - N
  22. ^ "COMPET-N Database". COMPET-N. 2006. Retrieved March 25, 2006. 
  23. ^ a b Turner, B. (2005). "Smashing the Clock". Retrieved August 13, 2005. 
  24. ^ [1]
  25. ^ [2]
  26. ^ [3]
  27. ^ [4]
  28. ^ [5]
  29. ^ [6]
  30. ^ Speed Demos Archive - Super Mario Bros
  31. ^ nesvideos - movies: #374
  32. ^ [7]
  33. ^ Speed Demos Archive - Super Mario Bros. 3
  34. ^ [8]
  35. ^
  36. ^ [9]
  37. ^ [10]

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