Summer Games Done Quick 2022 marked the first in-person event the organization has held since Awesome Games Done Quick 2020, meaning it’s been a full two and a half years since hundreds of gamers have come together to watch people rush through videogames as fast as humanly possible. The online events were fun, but there’s no replacing the energy of a crowd roaring and clapping while the runner performs in front of them.
Games were played, ukeleles were strummed, pins were balled, runs were sped, bedtimes were obliterated, and I don’t think anyone died?
I think you know what’s coming now. That’s right. It’s time. For. 10. Speedruns.
They are unranked, and I have organized games from the same series into one category each. In general, I have tried to prioritize runs that were new to GDQ in some way. For example, although the Super Mario 64 run was amazing, I chose not to include it because it happens almost every GDQ. I love watching speedruns because they show how the games we love work, how they can be broken and how playing videogames really well can be an art form.
Please do not yell at me on the Internet, I am a very sick boy. Believe it or not, I have not seen every speedrun from a 24/7 event. I did my best. Thank you.
Look. There were a lot of Mario speedruns, because people love Mario. As they should. Two of my favorites, however, were Super Mario Maker 2 and Super Mario All-Stars + Super Mario World.
Super Mario Maker 2 has been performed in this way before at GDQ, but it’s one of the best examples of why having the event in-person is so exciting. Two teams of three people each compete to beat fan-made stages the fastest, each person passing the controller to the next one each time they fail. It’s so fun to see some of the best Mario Maker players think on the fly, and seeing the crowd react to their wins and losses is so fun.
Super Mario All-Stars + Super Mario World is a four-for-one package deal, completed in an unbelievable 11 minutes and 55 seconds thanks to a bunch of game-breaking glitches that allow the runners to skip straight to the credits on most of the games. Some runs are demonstrations of pure skill the way the developers intended, whereas others, like this run, show how an understanding of a game’s code can allow them to basically crack it open like an egg.
Pokémon are also popular. There were two runs of Pokémon Shining Pearl. The first one, performed without glitches, was three hours, 40 minutes and 13 seconds. The second one, performed with lots of glitches (opening and closing the menus in very specific ways allows runners to skip out of bounds and walk straight past the final boss), was 17 minutes and 34 seconds. I watched both, and they are both amazing.
There was also a run of Pokémon Snap in 30:31 and a Pokémon Emerald randomizer in 3:14:04. I promise I will not judge you if you want to watch that. I might actually watch them after writing this.
I love Zelda. You love Zelda. EVERYONE loves Zelda!
Speedrunners, it turns out, also love Zelda.
My favorite Zelda run of the event was the Ocarina of Time tool-assisted speedrun (TAS), which is a program that enters controller commands far faster than any human could hope to do. This was really less a speedrun and more a bunch of guys breaking open a one-of-a-kind beta cartridge of the game, showing off what it looked like before it was completely finished and then creating their own fan-game within the game itself without doing any external hacking. They were allegedly able to do this because of programming thousands of highly specific button presses into TASbot, which somehow allows it to alter the game itself through the debug menu.
Other good runs were of Link’s Awakening in 1:40:32, a chunky speedrun of the original version of The Wind Waker in 2:47:57, and a really fun co-op randomizer run of Ocarina of Time in 2:25:23.
Soulslikes have been a staple of speedrunning since they’ve been a thing, and the new drug on the block, Elden Ring, is certainly no exception. There sadly weren’t any new runs of any other games by From Software, but this was made up for by the fact that there were two amazing Elden Ring runs, the first one getting all remembrances, clocking in at 1:53:24, and the second one being any%, clocking in at a shocking 33:58.
If you do not love RUBIEHART, we are not friends. I interviewed them for a big feature you can read here, but really all you need to know is that they kicked off the entire SGDQ and did amazing. They also sang a ukulele song about the game afterwards. Please also watch that. The run is 47 minutes and 29 seconds long.
The first-ever full run of a Xenoblade game at any Games Done Quick event, the chunky run of 2018’s Xenoblade Chronicles 2: Torna in 2:40:53 was amazing, featuring my favorite let’s player, Chuggaaconroy. I love his energy and puns so much, and he and the runner Enel would just chat about Xenoblade and other games they love while getting through the more boring parts of the run. If you want something comforting to put on in the background while you do laundry or some other menial task, I could hardly think of a better run than this.
Again, if you do not love Celeste, we are not allowed to be friends. The first run by GrosHiken is 56:18 and goes to the true ending of the original game, but then there’s a second run, which is actually a hack of Super Mario World made to look like Celeste! The second one is run by MrMightyMouse_ in 22:20.
Portal 2 is an amazing game with amazing speedrunners, but TASbot can do what no human could dream of doing with that game. Programmed and organized by Can’t Even and mlugg, the run of the game is full of blink-and-you-miss-it tricks that are literally impossible to accomplish by human hands alone. Please don’t watch this if you are at all photosensitive, because there are a lot of flashing lights and colors here.
One of the most surreal runs of the entire event was Spyro the Dragon by Dayoman in 1:29:10. Running late at night, I’m not convinced that Dayoman and Murray from Stranger Things are different people, and that’s a good thing! [Remind me to ask Brett Gelman if he’s ever heard of Spyro the Dragon.—Ed.] He applies baby powder to his fingers for more precise movements. He speaks so poetically about the power of the human spirit while collecting emeralds in a game from the original PlayStation. I just… love him so much.
Never change, Dayoman. Never change.
Paste’s, Game Informer’s and many others’ game of the year for 2019 was Control, and seeing the game being speedrun on a beefy PC is a sight to behold. The run lasts an hour, 36 minutes and four seconds, and I can never unsee the things that happened here.
Neither will you.
The Pathless, McDonald’s Treasure Land Adventure and Kirby and the Forgotten Land are all also fantastic runs worth your time. Here they are:
Joseph Stanichar is a freelance writer who specializes in videogames and pop culture. He’s written for publications such as Game Informer, Twinfinite and Looper. He’s on Twitter @JosephStanichar.