Awesome Games Done Quick is back to bless us with the spectacle of sensational speedruns, in a week-long event benefiting the Prevent Cancer Foundation. This beloved annual tradition has already raised over $200,000 in less than two days, and with dozens of speedruns still on the docket, this year’s AGDQ is well on track to crest $1 million in donations.
I’ve put together a short list of runs that I’ll be tuning in for this year, and if you’re unfamiliar with the wild world of speedrunning, feel free to use these recommendations as your guide. There really is something for everyone during the event, so no matter what kind of games you’re into, AGDQ probably has you covered.
Silent Hill 2 (New Game, PC)
Tuesday, January 8, 1:30 a.m. Eastern
Silent Hill 2 is a really fascinating game to watch get blown open by a speedrunner, since playing it normally is a very plodding, methodical experience.
What even is a Silent Hill game when you don’t have to spend hours and hours checking to see if doors are locked? Do the riddles still work if you know the answers ahead of time? Can a game still be scary when you’ve memorized its tricks? You too can learn the dark answers to these questions — just know that Silent Hill 2 is full of disturbing and graphic images, as well as discussions and depictions of sexual violence.
Nier: Automata ([E] Ending, Normal, PC)
Tuesday, January 8, 4:38 a.m. Eastern
Before you get too excited, I can only recommend this run to people who have already completed Nier: Automata. It is one of the most brilliant games of the last 10 years, and I can’t really sit here and tell you that it’s okay to watch a speedrun of it before you experience it yourself. I would go to prison.
If you have made it to [E] Ending of Nier: Automata, buckle up. This run is expected to take four and a half hours to complete, which is not nearly enough time to process all the emotions that’ll rise to the surface. If you thought you were over Nier, I’ve got news for you. None of us ever really get over Nier.
Sonic Forces (Any%, PC)
Tuesday, January 8, 3:39 p.m. Eastern
Speedruns of Sonic games are always worth tuning in for, as Sonic games tend to be breakable in really spectacular ways. This is doubly true for 3D Sonic games, so I’m very, very excited to see Sonic Forces get cracked open like an oyster on an otter’s belly.
Trauma Center: Under The Knife 2 (Normal, DS)
Wednesday, January 9, 3:10 a.m. Eastern
Nintendo DS games that make heavy use of the system’s touch screen always make for interesting speedruns, and Trauma Center: Under the Knife 2 is no exception.
The game requires a lot of precision stylus wizardry under normal circumstances, and normally takes 11 hours to complete, according to How Long to Beat. Awesome Games Done Quick only allotted two hours and ten minutes for this run, however, and I’m pretty sure the runner gets a real medical license at the end of it.
The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (All Dungeons, Gamecube)
Wednesday, January 9, 3:56 p.m. Eastern
Regardless of how you feel about Twilight Princess specifically — and trust me, people feel a lot of ways about this game — there’s no arguing that 3D Zelda games make for great speedruns. These games are chock full of fascinating glitches and precision no-hit boss encounters, and Twilight Princess is no different.
It is a bit longer of a run, expected to take around four hours to complete, but I don’t think anyone will blame you for ducking out early. I usually bounce after Link back-flips through a wall, or the runner pauses on 12 specific frames of animation during an explosion to cause a buffer overflow or something. I don’t understand most of it but heck if it ain’t really cool!
Mega Man DOS ver. (Any%, PC)
Thursday, January 10, 1:33 a.m. Eastern
Yes, you did just read what you think you did — the MS DOS version of Mega Man is getting a run at this year’s AGDQ. It kicks of the annual “Awful Games Done Quick” block of programming, and honestly the whole thing will be worth seeing. We’re talkin’ Virtual Hydlide, Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, Garfield: A Week of Garfield — all the greats.
But if you have to pick just one awful game to watch, make it the MS DOS version of Mega Man. Trust me. This game doesn’t have, like, music. There are only three Robot Masters. Everything about it is wrong, and I love it.
Chex Quest (Extreme Ooze Speed, PC)
Thursday, January 10, 5:50 p.m. Eastern
Chex Quest holds the distinction of being the absolute best prize ever contained within a cereal box, ever. This is an indisputable fact. I also personally feel like there’s an argument to be made for it as the best free game of all time, but that’s a subject for another list.
I was never able to beat Chex Quest as a child, but that didn’t stop me from pouring dozens of hours into it on our family Compaq Presario (Pentium MMX, baby!). This run takes a huge amount of coordination and effort, no doubt, but I’d be lying if I said this was anything other than a nostalgia trip for me.
Dead Cells (Any%, PC)
Thursday, January 10, 7:55 p.m. Eastern
Speedruns for randomly generated games like Dead Cells are really fascinating to me, as the runner has to memorize possibilities, rather than routes or skips. Level layouts, items, and enemy placements get shuffled every time you start a new run in Dead Cells, so I’m extremely interested in seeing how the runner handles these curve balls.
Do they skip items until they find the exact right build? Do they make the best with what they have? What are the best mutations for maximum speed? Let’s all find out together!
Celeste (All Chapters, PC)
Thursday, January 10, 9:45 p.m. Eastern
Of all the games on this list, Celeste is perhaps my most anticipated. Speedruns can be fascinating and hilarious, but they can also be just flat-out unbelievable to look at, especially when it comes to a game that requires as much precision and dexterity Celeste. Speedrunning is at its best when the feats on display seem physically impossible, and this run promises that in spades.
Klonoa: Door to Phantomile (Any%, PlayStation)
Friday, January 11, 6:23 a.m. Eastern
Klonoa is my favorite game of all time, so you’d better believe I’ll be (virtually) front row and center for this run. I do wish it were a 100 percent run, rather than an any%, as every inch of this gorgeous game deserves being seen, but I’ll take what I can get. Hopefully this exposure will encourage more people to track down a copy of this exceptional platformer and experience it for themselves.
Divinity: Original Sin 2 (Any% Old Patch, PC)
Friday, January 11, 12:08 p.m. Eastern
My two best friends have several hundreds hours logged in a co-op Original Sin 2 save, and I’ve ridden shotgun on a non-zero amount of that file. They’ve yet to beat the game, as far as I am aware, and honestly I’m just watching this run to see what happens at the end of this game.
Puyo Puyo Tetris (Extra Stages 100%, PC)
Saturday, January 12, 9:12 a.m. Eastern
Tetris runs are always worth tuning in for at AGDQ. Even if it’s a more casual game like Puyo Puyo Tetris, and not one of the bewildering entries in the Grandmaster series, you are going to see some unbelievable ish. The human brain does not seem capable of playing Tetris as quickly and perfectly as these people play Tetris, and yet here we are, year after year, seeing the impossible right before our eyes.
Dark Souls 3 (All Bosses, PC)
Saturday, January 12, 3:12 p.m. Eastern
This game took me just over 100 hours to beat, and I even skipped an optional boss due to its “incredible, even by Souls standards” difficulty. AGDQ thinks this run is only going to take two hours, and I don’t not believe it, but I also need to see it for myself. I spent two hours on character creation alone, let alone every dang boss in the whole dang thing.
And hey, these selections are only a fraction of what’s going on this week, so be sure and peep the schedule for thyself. Who knows, they might be running your favorite game of all time! It happened to me!