Speed Run

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"Iji throws herself into the following in-game cutscene with great haste. No, his life was not worth the 15 seconds to prevent that from happening. This is a speedrun bro!"
—Daniel Remar's Iji speedrun.
"I beat Super Metroid in under an hour and it was Worth It."

A playthrough of a game with the intent of completing it as fast as possible for the purposes of entertainment and competition.

There are two types of speedruns: "regular" and "tool-assisted".

  • Regular aka Realtime - Consists of a player sitting down with an actual copy of the game and playing it normally, using only whatever features are available on the original hardware.
    • Some regular runs are Segmented. Each segment consists of a level or group of levels. Instead of playing the entire game in one sitting, the player is tasked to get the best time possible for each segment, retrying each segment as much as desired.
  • Tool-assisted - Use Emulation to play the game frame-by-frame to create the optimal time possible, often exploiting glitches and manipulating random events along the way.

In both versions, Sequence Breaking, route planning, and tight play are the key.

There are also three subcategories: "100% run" (where the player tries to collect everything in the game as quickly as possible), "minimalist runs" (where the player skips all unnecessary items while still completing the game as quickly as possible), and the "pure speed run", also known as "any%" or "fastest time" (where the player skips as much of the game as is needed to achieve the best time).

Speedruns are usually created as an attempt to show off one's skills, while still providing an entertaining video. (Most speedrun compilation sites have a requirement that the run must be reasonably entertaining, and under a certain length [usually 7–8 hours, with many being just a few minutes], to be accepted.) They are not for people who want to enjoy the plot or explore the world. Due to the many methods used in speedruns, and overall design of different games, It is not a good judge of how long a game is for the average player at all; for instance, there could be exploitable bugs that are only possible to pull off in a Tool Assisted run, and others that can be done in realtime with only a great deal of dedication, skill, and luck. A specific example of this: some Tool Assisted runs use glitches that require hitting left and right at the same time, or up and down at the same time; those ones are basically impossible on any standard unmodified controller. The optimal path can be radically changed at every step based on whether or not these bugs are used.

Some series that are popular for speedrunning are Quake (the series which arguably started competitive speedrunning), Doom, Metroid, Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Mega Man.

One of the most popular "regular" speedrun archive sites is Speed Demos Archive. For tool-assisted, technically perfect runs, try TAS Videos. For speedruns and speedrun races performed live for your viewing pleasure, head over to SpeedRunsLive.

Tropes associated with speed runs:
Examples (all links external):
  • This run of Super Mario Bros. 3 is one of the most famous tool-assisted speedruns of all time. When it first started making the rounds it was not initially advertised as being tool-assisted, which led many gamers to decry it as "fake". It has since been obsoleted by more than 35 seconds, but is still a good example of its type.
    • Speaking of SMB 3, it's not only possible, but very easy for a moderately skilled player to finish the game in approximately twenty minutes if they know what they're doing. It requires the player to beat the first three levels of the game, the first mini-castle, and six more levels (in World 8). Not dying helps, but twenty minutes is if you take your time.
    • Then there's the quad-run TAS of all four Super Mario Bros. NES games (original, Lost Levels, 2 and 3) with a single controller input (similar to the Mega Man example below), and it's still faster than the above-mentioned SMB3 run by Morimoto.
  • The nightmare difficulty for Quake, beaten in just under 20 minutes (a world record). Quake is one of the most-run games of all time, so the route and performance is extremely optimized.
    • Even better, a run a few years back smashing that to pieces with a Nightmare run in 12:23 [dead link]. The run is a segmented run, however, and while still talented, is far better than could be expected of a straight playthrough.
    • That version too has been updated to 11:30, but it hasn't been published yet (except in raw demo form). http://speeddemosarchive.com/quake/projects/qdqwavp2/
  • Metroid Prime 100% Completion in 1 hour, 37 minutes. Has since been obsoleted, but this run (which was Slashdotted) brought speedrunning into the mainstream.
    • The above is just one product of the very active Metroid speedrunning community. Among other things, every 2D game has now been beaten in less than an hour (Metroid II: Return of Samus was the last to fall). Here are a couple of the all-time classic runs:
    • Red Scarlet's 100% Super Metroid run in fifty-five minutes, a work of art that stood proudly on Speed Demos Archive for seven years, has been replaced by Christopher Hill's time of forty-eight minutes.
    • Biospark's 1% Metroid Fusion run in 49 minutes with no saves. In 1% conditions, one hit is fatal for most of the game; doing this in a single-segment run is mind-bogglingly hard.
  • A no-death world record run of Halo 2. Published in the Guiness Book of World Records.
  • In Marathon Infinity, it is quite possible to skip 4 levels in the level Electric Sheep. A speed run video is in the making.
  • 70 stars and a defeated Bowser in just over one hour in Super Mario 64.

"At first there were 70 stars because Bowser demanded it. Then there were 16 stars because MIPS the rabbit demanded it. Then there was 1 star because Bowser's Sub demanded it. Now there are none because the viewers are impatient and demanded the game be quicker."

  • A rare example of an RPG speedrun that actually deserves the word "speed": Fallout 1 in nine minutes and nineteen seconds.
  • The vast RPG Morrowind got thrashed in seven minutes thanks to ingenious (ab)use of the game's fast-travel powers.
    • There's also this speedrun, utterly demolishing the previous video's time in 4 minutes and 19 seconds.
  • Mirror's Edge has this as a game mode. It even has achievements for it, and features the nigh-impossible task of completing the second level, Jacknife, in under 11 minutes. This mission takes 20 minutes on the first try. Have fun!
  • This has understandably become almost a sport in the Sonic the Hedgehog series, with the record time for the entirety of Sonic the Hedgehog 2 being 18 minutes and 12 seconds, and Sonic 3 & Knuckles being almost completely broken by tool-assisted speedruns.
    • Especially interesting for the first Sonic Adventure game (and it's Updated Rerelease), since the combination of three dimensions and lots of Good Bad Bugs has lead to some rather creative shortcuts.
    • Sonic 1 on the Genesis/Mega Drive can be beaten in less than 21 minutes, real time. Green Hill Zone Act 3 in particular is pretty funny. The huge time bonus for clearing an act in less than 30 seconds is a factor; for a couple acts it's faster to avoid it.
  • In Cave Story, the final Sacred Grounds level includes an on-screen timer (if you find a special item), which has the sole purpose of encouraging people to do speed runs. Various bonus pictures are shown if the player completes this within a certain amount of time. Despite the excessive amount of enemies and hazards and several gates that take five full seconds to open, people have been able to complete the level in mere minutes.
    • Iji also includes a timer for speedruns, and when new features are added, the author usually makes sure they won't affect speedruns. For example, skipping the fight with Krotera (possible from version 1.3 onwards) forces Iji to give Vateleika (offscreen) a ten-minute head-start, so speedrunners will fight instead.
  • It's possible (if you know the solution to the final two puzzles) to skip just about everything in Myst. You can start a new game and be watching the ending in under a minute. Naturally this kills most of the replay value to the game, which is why the game is the only one in the Myst series to get an Updated Rerelease which adds some new stuff (but it doesn't change the way to get to the ending, unfortunately). Later games in the series actually required you to do the whole game.
  • Grand Theft Auto: Vice City was dominated in a single sitting of just under two hours, skipping almost half of what would normally be considered obligatory story missions and sidequests.
  • Speedrunning is prominent in Zelda games as well. Fastest 100% speedrun of The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time? 5 hours, 52 minutes. Fastest speedrun, period? 21 minutes, 45 seconds.
  • Using a save file from Saga Frontier II, it's possible to get an extra weapon in Legend of Mana and break the rest of the battles wide open. This weapon can allow you to beat the final boss in 8 seconds.
  • A popular activity among Rubik's Cube fans is "speedcubing," or solving the cube as fast as possible. The world record for a 3x3x3 cube stands at 6.24 seconds.
    • And there's yet another way to approach this puzzle.
    • There is also a tool-assisted run of Rubik's World for the Nintendo DS that beats the world records for 2x2x2, 3x3x3, and 4x4x4 cubes.
  • Sport stacking is a similar activity, in which you stack cups into a specified stack as fast as possible.
  • Kingdom of Loathing's New Game+ style of play allows it to be one of the few MMORPGs that allows for speed runs - from level 1 to defeating the Naughty Sorceress, in as few adventures as possible. Players compete, share notes, and obsess fiercely over shaving adventures off of the top time. A truly speedy speedrun usually involves skills gained from 30+ ascensions, ultra-rare or archaic items, plans mapped out well in advance, and $20 or more donated to the game.
    • Hardcore speedruns remove the advantages of items and donations, but still require permed skills from many Hardcore ascensions, as well as tighter planning. Luck doesn't hurt, either.
      • They only remove the advantage from donation equipment, you still need the familiars and skills just as much if not even more so.
    • Bad Moon speedruns do put everybody on a pretty equal footing, by temporarily stripping you of those familiars and skills. There's a guide out there for reliably doing one in 12–14 days. (To compare, a 1-day speedrun has been done in regular play, though luck was a significant factor, and there are people who consistently do 4-5 day runs in Hardcore.)
  • Half-Life in Half an Hour uses the "exploiting glitches" method, and also uses such tricks as trapping a scientist in a door to stop it from closing all the way and using grenades to power jumps.
    • This Half-Life 2 speedrun is notable in that... well, just read the comments. It exploits glitches just like Half an Hour, including bonking people with objects to make them teleport, and jumping off items you drop and grab below you to fly. Probably the best part is flying over the entire Ravenholm minus the mine area in 30 seconds, never seeing Father Grigori. A similarly wacko bit is the "Water Hazard" chapter; Gordon ditches the speedboat halfway through and glitches his way through a few miles of radioactive goo just so he won't have to wait for NPCs to attach a gun to the boat, and when the climactic battle against the chopper begins, he leaps over a dam and runs away to the next area.
  • Castlevania games have generally been very good for speedruns that go ridiculously faster than an average playthrough, but even the series' general high level of breakage in runs was dashed to pieces with this TAS run beating Harmony of Dissonance in under 23 seconds.
    • This Aria of Sorrow run demonstrates the power of luck manipulation in tool-assisted speedrunning; by creating a speedrun frame-by-frame, it's possible to ensure that the Random Number God always gives you the correct number. As a result, this run completes the game while collecting all 120 of the souls—normally very rarely occuring random drops—in 24:56!
  • Here's both loops of the notorious Nintendo Hard game Ghosts N' Goblins being completed in just under 23 minutes. And here's its Super Nintendo sequel—again, both loops—in just over 42 minutes on its hardest difficulty.
  • Final Fantasy IX actually rewarded the player for doing a speedrun. Getting to a certain area in the final dungeon in less than 12 hours will net you an Infinity+1 Sword.
  • The Mega Man series is also notable for speedrunning. As seen here, assisting with tools can make 1 unrecognizable from its former self.
    • There seems to be a small trend where people try to see how fast they can beat more than one game at the same time using the same controller. Here's a TAS that features a guy beating Mega Man X 1 and X2 in about 40 minutes and another where two guys beat ''Mega Man 3 through 6 in about the same amount of time.
      • The Mega Man X/X2 run has been obsoleted by this, a 100% Completion of Mega Man X, X2, AND X3 using one controller's input.
    • Time attacks on 9 are pretty impressive too as seen here. Due to weapon balancing, every weapon comes in handy even outside the boss fights, some of which are used more often and others less.
    • Mega Man 10 features time attack leaderboards and the ability to view the replays of any of the top ten times from any stage (or the whole game) from inside the game itself.
  • There's a TAS for NES Tetris's A-Type mode. No, your eyes aren't broken. I said "A-Type."
  • The Speed Gamers are a group of people who perform live, consecutive speedruns of all or most of the games in a given series. Their speedrun marathons occur about once a month and are usually used to raise money for charity. You can check when their next marathon will be on their website.
  • Instances in World of Warcraft sometimes have quests requiring you to finish them or reach a certain point within a time limit, meaning that Speedruns are an actual programmed part of gameplay.
    • Not just the quests: in some of the earlier instances, most notably the Scarlet Monastery, respawns are a problem for groups that take their time, especially in the Cathedral wing, where patrols can pop up at inconvenient times. And the deity of your choice help you if you all die on the final boss, chances are all the mooks you killed on the way got better.
    • The first raid instance of vanilla World of Warcraft saw a bit of a speedrun war break out. A Norwegian guild posted a speedrun of Molten Core being clared in 1 hour and 35 minutes. Another guild saw that and decided to do it one faster, clearing it in 1 hour and 22 minutes. Cue the Norwegians to up the ante, reducing it to 1 hour and 10 minutes. And this when 1 hour was considered reasonable for clearing the first two bosses (1 hour being respawn time of the trash leading up to it).
  • On the topic of MMOs, Warhammer Online often has fast respawn timers on Player Versus Environment enemies, good if there's competition for said monsters, but you'd better hurry up and grab/kill what you need before they're back if you're 1) alone and 2) squishy. A respawned monster can easily take out a Bright Wizard or Sorcerer who's already in a fight.
  • Eversion switches to a time attack mode after you clear all the worlds. Additionally, the game starts doing a self-parody of the creepy messages that sometimes replace the "READY!" screen in worlds X-7 and X-8, with messages like "GO!", "HURRY UP", "GAME ON", and "READY! TO RACE".
  • Ace Combat has various Scrappy Levels where you have to take your plane through an enclosed area. So, naturally, people took the fastest plane available and went in with maximum power. Like taking "Greased Lightning" from 2 in the X-29 or "Aces" from 5 in the MiG-31.
    • One runner took it upon himself to run the PlayStation 2 games in one sitting (on Very Easy, but still!), beating 04 in 2:29:30, Zero in 1:20:38, and 5 in 3:56:54.
  • Punch-Out!! attracts many speedrunners, as the mechanics of the game (specifically, the patterns and weaknesses of the enemy boxers) allow for much probing of the system. Super Punch-Out in particular, due to the minor differences in system compared to the previous games, has had speedrunners get times on nearly every opponent down to ten seconds or less. Nick Bruiser, the final boss, in 9.98 seconds. (There's a faster one on YouTube, but its legitimacy is questionable.)
  • The Metal Gear Solid franchise also attracts a variety of speedrunners. Some examples include:
  • Grand Chase features this as part of its series of Player Versus Environment quests. It's not that hard, as you're given 15 minutes to finish a dungeon.
  • Braid features this built into the game itself - in addition to having several timed segments of the game with par time and leaderboards, getting the final achivement, "Speed Run", involves completing the entire game in under 45 minutes. (Including the ending.)
  • Spyro 2: Ripto's Rage/Gateway to Glimmer has an interesting double jump glitch. With that glitch, speed runners can complete the game with 0 orbs or 40 orbs and only pay Moneybags thrice.
  • Unlocking one of the challenge rooms in Spelunky requires beating the game in 10 minutes or less. The game can be beaten much faster than that, though that takes at least as much luck as skill.
  • Reaching Scenario 28 in Super Robot Wars Compact under 250 turns unlocks Shin Getter Robo. Also, if you clear a scenario in less than 11 turns, you can give a skill to one of your pilots.
  • Speaking of short tool-assisted speedruns, there's the entire Pokémon Yellow speedrun with 152 Pokémon caught within less than 90 seconds and with mere seconds of in-game time and by throwing away entire floors. Honored for their exploits indeed.
  • This tool-assisted Chrono Trigger speedrun uses such a heavy Script Breaking, that the story of the game makes no sense, verging straight into full-on Mind Screw.
    • This tool-assisted run skips even that, reaching the ending in three and a half minutes by abusing sub-frame resets to turn save corruption into a science.
  • NASA's free game Moonbase Alpha is pretty-much a whole little multiplayer game built around the concept. The team of players has 25 minutes to repair the damaged life support systems of the lunar colony.
  • The ultimate in luck manipulation, Kings Bounty in under 10 seconds, with just 0.3 seconds of actual gameplay.
  • Jagged Alliance 2, a single player campaign that usually takes days to play through, in less than seven and a half minutes.
  • Even visual novels can get a speedrun. Here is a speedrun of trying to play though Narcissu as quickly as possible. Your tpm (tears per minute) counter will be very high.
  • Thought that a game based off Family Feud would be without a TAS? Here's a (NSFW) one that proves how hilarious those can be.
    • As it turns out the text parser in that game is pretty lax. As long as almost all the letters are there and they're kinda in the right order, you're golden.
  • Board games are not immune: Fastest possible game of Monopoly. Thirty seconds. Seriously.
    • The fastest speed run of all time (On SDA) is actually Clue, coming in at a time of three seconds. By the time you finish reading this, you could have already watched the run in its entirety.
    • The speedrun of the PC version is now the fastest, clocking in at a mere second!
  • Some TAS runs of Game Boy titles get a bit ridiculous thanks to the ability to manipulate the game's memory directly to take the player right to the ending. Demonstrated to great effect in the current standing runs of Pokémon Yellow version (1:09.63) and Super Mario Land 2 (2:28.08).
  • A 43-minute world record run of the original Deus Ex (on Realistic difficulty) exploits a number of bugs and shortcuts (grenade jumping, skipping the entire first mission, glitching JC's weapons into a prison cell so he can retrieve them immediately afterwards, physics exploits, etc.) and the open-world nature of the game to get past situations that would stall most other players. The end result is that JC Denton skips most of the boss encounters, never deactivates his killswitch, has conversations with people he's never met before and blows himself up into Ludicrous Gibs right before hightailing it out of Area 51.
  • This speedrun of Arcanum uses a lot of Sequence Breaking. It involves killing Stringy Pete, who is widely considered to be the most difficult fight in the game, within 4 minutes of starting the game.
  1. though keep in mind that unintentional examples should not be added to that trope's article
  2. to compare, the time requirement for GM rank is 13'30", and that's just one of the requirements