Introduction to Speedrunning


The new world record for 120 star completion speedrun in Super Mario 64.

Ally Crosby, Staff Writer

Speedrunning is a playthrough of a game or a single level with the motive of completing it as fast as possible, mainly with the help of glitches and shortcuts to reduce time. Speedrunning is both a hobby and a competitive field. The competitive players often record their time or stream their gameplay live on Twitch and Youtube. In addition, the elite speedrunners often set the game’s language to Japanese, as the Japanese characters take up less space than other languages and result in slightly shorter text cutscenes. While this may not seem like a big difference to some, every second counts toward the run. In general, speedrunners often do practice runs on their own to get a grasp of the fastest routes, glitches, and shortcuts. With practice runs, players improve their muscle memory, timing, and knowledge of the game for optimum gameplay. “It’s pretty difficult because once you get to a faster pace your brain slowly starts to forget things that you’re supposed to do,” Summer Baars elaborates. 

Many games suitable for speedrunning often have unpatched glitches and mistakes in the coding that can be used to the player’s advantage. Experienced players often practice sequence breaking, which is where the player can skip multiple cutscenes and events to achieve a faster time. Some players might use tool assisted speedrunning, also known as TAS, in which computer tools assist the player in doing impossible glitches and optimizing their gameplay to the maximum, thus resulting in inhumanly flawless gameplay. However, TAS is not used in real time speedruns and competitions. 

Speedruns are categorized in degrees of completion. These degrees are the Any%, Low%, and 100%. The Any% and Low% runs involve doing minimal gameplay and using sequence breaking to achieve the fastest time without completing most of the checkpoints. The 100% runs require the player to complete the game to the fullest, which means collecting every important item or going through every checkpoint, while still maintaining a fast overall time. “I think speedrunning is a fast paced competitive way to play video games. Skill, strategy, and patience are all needed to succeed in this activity,” Anthony Marquez states.

There are some ideal games that many competitive and recreational speedrunners play through. Some fan favorites to speedrun include Super Mario 64, Super Mario Odyssey, Metroid, and many more. The popular games to speedrun are often on the Nintendo 64, a 90s console, possibly due to the many exploitable glitches (such as the infamous backwards long jump in Super Mario 64), little cutscenes, or the prospect of coming back to childhood games. There are many speedrunning communities located on several platforms, where users can discuss gameplay mechanics, publish their times, and improve their personal records.