Twice a year, Speed Demos Archive and Speed Runs Live put on a hell of a show. A 24-hour, weeklong marathon of speedruns (wherein, a super-skilled player will finish a game as quickly as possible, often by using glitches or tricks), all in support of charity.
As always, there’s an eclectic selection of games and runners. And, as usual, the show has been fantastic this far. Kicking off the July 4th weekend, there were several runs that caught our eye:
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze
What better way to start off a list than with one of the finest — and might I say, criminally underappreciated — platformers of the last decade. This run was a race between Team USA and Team Canada, with team members switching in and out — and even switching control schemes — adding to the chaos.
It’s a great run of a fantastic game — perhaps less glitch-oriented than many other runs in the marathon (being a 2D platformer with less say, out-of-bounds trickery available than many 3D games), and more a test of pure platforming skill and timing. The commentary is particularly on-point, with a constant play-by-play explaining each strategy and what it actually means.
Runner Saintmillion positively decimated Demon’s Souls in 1:09:27 – a game that many skilled gamers can’t even get close to beating. Using a magic build and a few glitches that look like actual magic, Saintmillion makes quick work of the game. It’s still a Souls game — so he does die a few times — but that only makes victory all the sweeter.
Super Mario Sunshine
Watching BouncyBoy move like a tiny tornado through Mario’s most underrated 3D platformer is a thing of beauty. There were times it almost felt like he was manipulating the level around Mario, so quick and masterful were his manipulations. The 3D Mario moveset is so rich, it feels like a perfect tool in the hands of a skilled practicioner.
Like all runs, there are a few gaffes — including one heartbreaking miss in an early “secret” level. Again, it only serves to remind you that you’re watching a live demonstration.
Blood_Thunder’s BioShock run — which occurred not long before his equally awesome Wolfenstein: The New Order run — had me genuinely excited. He made expert use of glitches — like a level skip used to bypass Fort Frolic in its entirety — physics exploits, and a generally thorough understanding of the game’s scripting.
To me, BioShock has always felt like interactive theater — a grand stage play that allows you to peek around its edges, but never too far, lest you see the machinations behind its machinations. This felt like a guided tour behind the scenes of an elaborate (if violent) Disney ride.
The individual video for the BioShock run isn’t live just yet: you can watch it here starting around 15:01:10.
Of course, this is just the beginning. There are another 5 days of runs to enjoy — and we’ll be updating you on our favorites as we go along.