Tool Assisted Speedruns are one of my favorite game media subgenres. You can witness not only the ingenuity of the player, as they meticulously, frame by frame, attempt to create the absolute fastest possible route through games. You also see the genius of the developers who made these games, as players throw themselves against the game’s defined borders, finding cracks in the walls.
Most speed runs go for speed over all – but others aim for 100% completion, or full takeover. One of my favorite categories is humor. It’s tough to do well, but when it works, it really works. These TAS videos differentiate themselves from glitch compilations in that their aim is to actually complete the game – just in the stupidest way possible.
It can be tough to find the good ones, so hey! Here we are to show them to you with minimal effort on your part. Soak it up, kids!!
Family Feud (1993, SNES)
Let’s start right out with a scorcher. Family Feud for SNES brings the classic TV game show home to you, and asks you the important questions, such as “Name an occupation that begins with B.” The number one correct answer is, of course, “I bathed keanu reeves.” The ridiculous answers (a few of which, I’ll warn, are of questionable taste) are coupled with the Hall family’s incredulous looks to excellent effect.
So what’s going on here? In this run, TAS-er Heisanevilgenius is manipulating the game’s desire to accept misspellings. As long as most of the letters it’s looking are there in the basically-correct order, the answer is accepted. The runner really pushes the boundaries, answering one question with the very appropriate; “abracadabra I win.”
Super Scribblenauts (2010, Nintendo DS)
Super Scribblenauts, for those who have never played the series, is all about getting these little Starite things. It’s a puzzle game really, in which the player character needs certain objects to complete a task. To do this, the game asks players to type in nouns and adjectives, which will appear in game and be used by the player’s avatar.
As you can imagine, this lends itself to some pretty weird stuff in the hands of an experienced TASer. The runners, Chef Stef & Kiwisauce, chose some of the most ridiculous combinations possible, using dead lions in as many situation as possible. This one’s a slow burn, because you need to realize conditions are being filled in each stage. But once you do, it really works. Using one extremely long series of attributes to solve multiple puzzles (like the swashbuckling medicinal unicolor paintbrush) is not only amusing, it’s pretty clever.
I recommend skipping around a bit, just to see the breadth of what this game can do. When you start seeing fires in space being put out by a “frosty bongo” or the creation of a “very very flying yak,” you know it’s a good time.
Brain Age (2006, Nintendo DS)
Ryuto’s run of Brain Age doesn’t go for the fastest time, but it sure does deliver in other regards! I almost don’t want to spoil it. In fact, I won’t, just go watch it. I will tell you that the runner’s idea of “a number” is very loose.
So how the heck was this done? Essentially, the runner hid the actual number inside the drawing – since the correct answer eventually arrived, the game accepted it, since it has to account for all manner of illegible handwriting anyway. If you want a rundown of all the characters used, check out the TASvideos description (but don’t spoil it for yourself!)
Brain Age 2 (2007, Nintendo DS)
I promise I’m not cheating! This is legit good, and different from the run of the first. While it starts off with characters still, the runner (Ryuto again) next moves on to words in other languages. Then arcane symbols. Then comes the piano section.
RBI Baseball (1998, NES)
RBI Baseball is a venerated classic, but the game’s AI might be a little too classic, as runner adelikat shows us. As the outfield flails, the infield doesn’t do much better, allowing multiple bases stolen, and plays that I’m not even sure are legal. It’s super amusing to watch these adorable little doofuses just throw the ball away, even if baseball isn’t your thing.
OH, BUT THERE’S MORE!
It was tough narrowing this down to five, so I’ve got a few honorable mentions for you as well, quick-style!
Tony Hawk’s Underground 2 (2004, Gamecube). This one’s closer to a glitch video than the rest, but watching the runner start out the game by running straight into the wall (and completing the objective) gets me every time.
Super Mario All-Stars (1993, SNES).
If you’re at all familiar with the Super Mario Bros series, you’ll be aware of how ridiculous this is right away. Mario spends most of his time running backward, after all.
Mortal Kombat Deception (2005, Gamecube)
Mortal Kombat has always been purposefully ridiculous, but TASers take it the next level. From making the game look like a broken mess to just hanging out out of bounds, you’re bound to find something to love here.