Last week saw the running of the latest edition of Summer Games Done Quick, a week-long event that brings together many of the best videogame speedrunners from around the world to raise money for charity. The event managed to raise over US$1.2 million for Doctors Without Borders, a new record for the event.
Speedrunning is about making your way through a videogame as quickly as possible, and may or may not involve taking advantage of glitches and exploits in the game in order to skip over areas or otherwise break the intended way the game is played. A really good speedrun makes for amazing viewing, and the format for SGDQ means that not only do you get to see some amazing speedruns, but you also get commentary on how various tricks are performed and why they work the way they do. Most importantly, the speedrunners are great people and generally pretty entertaining to watch.
While we went about our regular business of being awesome video game writers here at Rocket Chainsaw Towers, we had all the TVs tuned to SGDQ, and have hand-picked a number of highlights for you to enjoy if you weren’t able to watch it live.
First up is Puri_Puri’s run of Shenmue II, which showed off a lot of cool techniques from Sega’s classic open-world title. It also pokes gentle fun at the game’s more unique aspects, and especially its, well, memorable voice acting.
Ghouls and Ghosts is a game that gave many kids nightmares back in the day. Not because it was scary, but because it was really, really hard, and you had to beat it twice. Here, Aquas smashes through it with ease.
KevinDDR showed off his mastery of Tetris The Grandmaster 3: Terror Instinct at AGDQ earlier in the year, but he’s back, and this time he’s brought KAN along with the rest of the crew from that event. KAN is, alongside KevinDDR, one of only six known people to ever get the grandmaster rank on TGM3, so this video genuinely involves two of the best players in the world facing off in the toughest Tetris game ever made.
There was a lot of Castlevania at SGDQ, with Aria of Sorrow, Dawn of Sorrow, Portrait of Ruin, Simon’s Quest, Super Castlevania IV and even Rondo of Blood all being run. The highlight, however, was the race between dr4gonblitz and Romscout on Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Race events can be hit-or-miss, but this one worked out well as it featured two really good runners maintaining close competition throughout the game.
Bastion was one of the surprise hits of 2011, an isometric action RPG with a really cool storyline and great art. Vulajin has put the time in to really blast through the game, and you get to see some pretty cool techniques throughout his run.
The Zelda series is a perennial favourite at GDQ events, and this time around saw Majora’s Mask, Twilight Princess and A Link To The Past all get a run. The highlight, however, may just have been jkoper’s swordless run of the very first Legend of Zelda. Perhaps it isn’t so dangerous to go alone, after all.
One of the overarching themes at SGDQ 2015 was paying tribute to Satoru Iwata, who’s sudden passing has affected the entire gaming community. This was most evident during Aurilliux’s run of Earthbound, a game that Iwata did much of the programming for. One of the donation incentives was to set the name of the player to Iwata, and if you know Earthbound, you’ll know just how profound an effect that might have at the end of the game.
The indie game Roundabout has been something of a sleeper hit since it came out. The game mixes live action video into its fairly devious mechanic of a constantly rotating stretch limousine that you must guide through many obstacles. The cutscenes are what make the game, of course, and this speedrun lets them all play out to full effect. As a bonus, the developers of the game are on the line for some additional commentary and some gentle poking fun at speedrunning.
Big Jon is one of the best-known runners in the community, and his Twitch channel is pretty fun. He’s also a really skilled runner of Super Mario Bros: The Lost Levels (aka the Japanese Super Mario Bros 2), which is perhaps the most difficult of all Mario platformers. Jon takes it in his stride though and blasts through all 52 levels. This is a great watch.
This next video isn’t actually a speedrun, but that doesn’t mean it’s not awesome. TASBot is a specially designed robot who’s purpose is to input data from a ‘tool-assisted’ speedrun into a real console, essentially replicating the run on real hardware, rather than relying on the emulator techniques that tool-assisted speedruns often use. This video isn’t actually of TASBot playing, but it is a tool-assisted two-player run of Ikaruga. This is essentially the game played as optimally as possible, assuming the player could time their inputs as perfectly as possible. As with any highly-skilled run of Treasure’s classic shooter, the result is pure artistry.
The finale of pretty much all GDQ events involves two things – a run through one of Square’s classic RPGs and a race on Super Metroid. Throughout the event, people would donate to save or kill “the animals”, which are the animals at the end of this game that you can optionally rescue. Famously, a world-record-pace run at AGDQ earlier in the year fell short due to the need to save the animals. Here’s this year’s four-way Super Metroid race in full:
Finally, the aforementioned classic Square RPG this time around was Chrono Trigger, with usual suspects for these events Puwexil and Essentia. While this perhaps didn’t quite live up to the hype of last year’s Final Fantasy VI run (that’s an eight hour video, by the way), it’s still well worth watching. If you love Chrono Trigger and want to see them smash their way through it, then all we can say is that you’re in for a fantastic ride.
If you want to watch more of SGDQ 2015, you can catch the entire thing on the Games Done Quick Youtube channel. The next GDQ event will be Awesome Games Done Quick 2016, held in January.