7 Incredible Speedruns From Summer Games Done Quick 2020
As I wrote a few months back, the speedrunning community is the most powerful force for good works in the entire gaming industry. Games Done Quick (GDQ) is the de facto organizing body of the community, putting together all the biggest events on the calendar.
They just wrapped up Summer Games Done Quick(SGDQ) 2020, which due to COVID-19 had to be held entirely online. Despite the challenges with putting on an event where the participants are scattered all over the world, the folks at GDQ pulled it off seamlessly, showcasing over 140 runs in total and raising more than $2.3 million dollars for Doctors Without Borders.
I’ve gone through a large portion of the 140+ runs that were done at SGDQ in order to bring you some of the best stuff on offer. This list represents what I think are the best characteristics of speedruns and runners: deep knowledge of the game, incredible skills developed over hundreds of hours, the ability to understand and take advantage of in-game glitches, and the communicative ability to describe to viewers what is happening in each run. If you’re a fan of games at all, you will find something to love in each of these videos. Enjoy!
Ask any gamer about difficult NES-era games and Kid Icarus will undoubtedly get a mention. One of the best things about speedrunning is the nostalgia of remembering how much you struggled with a game, then watching these runners blast right through them. The runner here is a perfect example of that, at many points staying in perpetual motion as he knows exactly where each platform is, makes incredible mid-air kills, and utilizes several skips and glitches that are fascinating to see. Both of the runners are fantastic with their commentary as well, giving trivia about the game and explaining exactly what they are doing and why. It’s a quick run that is immensely satisfying for fans of the game.
Ratchet & Clank: Up Your Arsenal
This is another run where the technical prowess of the runner is on display, and both he and his commentator do an outstanding job of explaining what is happening and why they use the particular strategies. This is a must-watch for any Ratchet & Clank fan, as it will make you appreciate the games even more. Not only does the runner break the game and continually go out of bounds, but he does it with an incredible amount of speed and knowledge of every pixel on the screen. Really impressive stuff here.
This one is in here for a couple of different reasons, both the skill of the runner to play the game blindfolded (!!!) and the infamy of the game itself. Night Trap was a Sega-CD game released in 1992 lampooning 80’s B-movie horror flicks, and it is truly awful. Not only that, but it was one of the games that led to the Congressional hearings over violence and sexualization of women which ultimately saw the creation of the Electronic Software Rating Board. If you’ve never seen the game, it’s worth watching this run just to say you have, and for the knowledge drops provided by the runners. This is proof that bad games can still be entertaining, so don’t miss it!
Trackmania Nations Forever
As I mentioned in the intro, one of the things that can make a speedrun great is the ability of the runner to engage the audience by explaining what they are doing. In this case, Wirtual does an incredible job talking about each turn, input, and trick happening as he goes through every track. The early tracks are very basic, so even though the explanations are really enlightening, the best part of the run starts around 15 minutes on the video. This is where the run begins to get difficult, and the runner showcases excellent skill and proficiency with the game. It’s a long run but absolutely worth checking out.
Pump It Up!
This is going to be on everyone’s “must watch” list but I don’t care, I would be doing all of you a disservice if I didn’t bring it to your attention. There are just no words… it shouldn’t be physically possible to do what this guy does. Even if there was nothing else to see, his setup is just incredible. I’m going to guess that is a completely custom controller that he’s standing on, and the display cabinet and everything up front look like something straight out of a Japanese arcade. And that’s all before he even starts playing the game!! This is not the kind of title I would normally pay attention to, but seriously, this is a completely stunning feat of athletic ability and concentration. Just watch and thank me later.
Shovel Knight: King of Cards
I love everything about this run. The game is amazing to watch on its own, but seeing the skill of the runner as he never stops moving on the way through the level is truly special. He has two fantastic commentators for the run, one of whom was a part of the game’s development, so there’s plenty of backstage knowledge and interesting facts being tossed around. And there’s just something incredibly relatable about seeing the runner’s kids doing their thing in the background while he plays the game. It gives the experience an everyman feel even though the skills on display are definitely unique. Check out this near world-record run and enjoy the 2D goodness.
Mega Man 9 Race
I can’t make a list without including one of my favorite types of speedruns, the race. In this type of run, two players compete against each other in the same game, starting at the exact same moment and seeing which player has the best strategy to finish first. This one looked like it wouldn’t be close as one of the runners died twice early on, but made a stunning comeback when the former leader was hit with some horrible luck on the final boss battle. Entertaining commentary and a super close finish make this one great to watch.
Distilling over 140 runs down to a list of 7 is an exercise in frustration because there are just so many incredible performances. Here are a few that just missed the list.
Half Life: Alyx — What is probably the biggest VR title ever becomes the first VR title to get a speedrun at GDQ. The runner himself displays incredible physicality during the run, so keep one eye on him and one on the game!
Doom Eternal — This game is an incredible example of a shooter that is more than just a shooter. The skill and style shown by the runner along with surgical precision is a sight to behold.
Hollow Knight — This is another incredible race of an incredible game. 2D platformers don’t get any more beautiful, immersive or difficult than this, so seeing two runners bend the game to their will is just awesome.
Literally Everything Else — The magic of speedrunning is that there’s something for everyone. 100-hour epics beaten in 3 hours, games so broken they can be beaten in under 10 minutes, a game about Pringles, you name it and it’s here. I’ve linked to the entire playlist, just scroll through it for a minute and I can almost guarantee you will find something to love!