With records broken on an almost weekly basis and an increasing numbers of players jumping into the fray, speed runs are no longer the reserve of a niche community on the fringes on the gaming world.
Whether it’s the dedication of the players or the sheer pleasure of seeing our favorite games deconstructed and glitched in ever-surprising ways, speed running has a unique allure. It’s like viewing thousands of hours of play and years of research condensed into a perfectly executed choreography of timing, mechanical skills and unwavering nerves.
To showcase this wondrous side of video games, we’ve compiled a list of ten speed runs from games we all love that are well worth investigating.
Super Mario 64
Arguably one of the most popular speed running games, Super Mario 64’s records are hard to come by, but they do happen.
As recently as last week, speed runner Dowsky shaved three seconds off the existing 0-star record. For a run that lasts under seven minutes, it’s a testament to how runners continue to plunder the game for new ways to save time 20years after release. It’s even more impressive given that Dowsky landed the 1-star record on the very same day.
Super Mario World
Blindfolded runs are more popular than you’d imagine, especially when it comes to Super Mario World. The latest record is held by Katun24 with a time of 13:31.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Any% stands as the holy grail of speed running. Many have tried, few have succeeded. The latest world record, held by Torje, saw the record fall below the 17-minute mark for the first time.
Beating Bloodborne is challenging enough as it is, but seeing runners storm through the game’s bosses without breaking a sweat is as discouraging as it is impressive. The current record of 19:54 was achieved last summer by Insilico_. We imagine very much the same will happen if Bloodborne 2 ever materializes.
Celeste is designed for speed running through and through, so it’s no surprise the platformer has become a favorite among both runners and fans. In August of this year, TGH managed a 27:31 Any% percentage run that is almost balletic in its precision and poise.
Dark Souls I, II, and III
The Happy Hob holds one of most singular records, which technically isn’t so much about speed running, but about sheer skill. After over a year of practicing, he was able to beat the Dark Souls trilogy back-to-back without sustaining a single bit of damage. Not one single hit from all the enemies scattered across three of the most challenging games ever made. We don’t recommend watching the full 10 hours as it’s quite a slog, but sampling his mechanical prowess is a must.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
As runners furiously try to break games to cut time off their runs, they occasionally stumble onto a glitch that will completely redefine the nature of the run. A new trick uncovered last week in Grand Theft Auto San Andreas has done just that. While the previous record was more or less nearing the 4-hour mark, runner Powdinet has cut it down to a comparatively tiny 25:52.
While most of us remember the Bunker level from GoldenEye on Nintendo 64 as the multiplayer map of choice, speed runner Karl Jobst storms through it in all of 16 seconds. To the untrained eye, it’s hard to know precisely what’s going on from the camera pointing down to repeatedly using Bond’s watch, but rest assured its all with purpose.
Blink, and you’ll miss this one, but 4shockblast beat a DOOM record that has stood fast for over 20 years. In this near perfect run, he was able to bring the record down to a before-now seemingly impossible time of 8 seconds (technically 8.97, but DOOM’s clock rounds down). We highly doubt it can be improved.
The Last of Us
Why you’d want to rush through Joel and Ellie’s emotionally-charged story is beyond us, but speed runners have of course tried their hand at The Last of Us, completing the game on the hardcore ‘grounded’ difficulty level in under 3 hours. AnthonyCaliber currently holds the world record with a 2:51:14 run.