Published 4 August, 2013 | by Shane Henry4
Extreme Retro Gaming: Speedrunning
The best thing about gaming at anytime I feel, is that you can make it what you want it to be. You can relax, chillout and escape from the world, or you can challenge your inner-self, your abilities, or feel that you can completely dominate a game wholeheartedly through effort and the sheer love of the game. I also thought about people being very passionate about retro gaming to a degree and this notion instantly made me think of one thing. SPEEDRUNNING.
With the advent of YouTube, people can record their past glories and their greatest gaming moments. Twitch.tv took it to another level, providing a base for gamers to showcase and broadcast live streaming to the gaming masses. Although what you see nowadays are the hordes of League of Legends or CoD streams, there is a small tight-knit community of gamers who specialize in completing a game in a set time or period, breaking the game through glitches to find better routes, or to prove that a hard difficulty is a challenge if you put the time and dedication into the game mechanics. This is why I find speedrunning enthralling to watch.
My first experience into the world of speedrunning was from speeddemosarchive.com. At the time, I never knew that there were a community of players who specially try to beat some of the best known games in the fastest time possible. Seeing it in video form though has converted me, and it was amazing to watch.
The first game that popped into my mind, was Donkey Kong Country on the SNES. I was curious about how it was possible to finish the game in around 30mins, when in my childhood, it took me probably 1-2 months. When I saw the glitch at the first part of the game which skipped half the game, and the resulting gameplay afterwards, I was gobsmacked. *my childhood memories are shattered into oblivion!!* Then I was curious whether there were similar shenanigans on modern games, so I took a look on YouTube for Dark Souls speedruns. The first one I saw was one completed by a Japanese gamer in 1hour 30mins (or roughly speaking). When I saw this, it was a turning point.
The players made their own rules to determine whether they mastered the game or not. What can be physically possible to be achieved in the game, what cracks did the developers leave out which can be exploited to your advantage. The speedrun community has been there for years in the background, but I didn’t notice at all until recently…with the help of one site.
This site is speedrunslive.com. Founded by a speedrunner named ‘Cosmo’ (who is now mainly currently speedrunning Zelda: The Wind Waker), this site aim’s to bring more awareness to speedrunning by providing a way to collate all live speedrunning related streams on Twitch.tv into one page, and focuses on streamers to race against each other on a game of their choice. Even though it’s a relatively young site, I think in terms of pure gaming, it’s one of the best sites on the internet, and great place to learn what retro gaming is all about.
There is a lot of fun and discussion via the Twitch chat, seriousness, close calls, anger, and strokes of pure gaming genius, all live and in colour. Streamers stream whatever game they please, to try and beat world records in finishing the game as quickly as possible. I sure had my fair share of quality viewing from this site.
Watching games being torn apart from my childhood into ways that hasn’t been seen for the first time is always the thrill of watching speedrunning. When I see streamers doing 100% runs of certain games, it boggles the mind just how much practice needs to be done. There are certainly a few heads in the community who are the bees knees. Siglemic, one of the best and most popular speedrunners, destroys Super Mario 64 like a piece of cake when doing 100% runs, and STILL insists he is crap at the game. LIES. Adam and Joshimuz playing a variety of GTA games, with some great commentary in the process.
Watching Trihex practice Yoshi’s Island on the SNES, instilling perfection, creating his own list of things to do on each stage, just so he is confident of doing each stage as perfectly as possible. SVA, ZFG, Moltov, Ennopp and Runnerguy taking the helm for Zelda Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask, and various other speedrunners specialising in games like DKC, Banjo Kazooie, Super Mario Sunshine, Sonic 3 and a various host of other games.
Special events in the community also happen. ESA (European Speedrun Assembly) is a meetup of speedrunners who tackle games and provide a charity donation box for a worthy cause. SGDQ/AGDQ (Summer Games Done Quick/Awesome Games Done Quick) are the American equivalents. These events provide the chance for speedrunners to showcase their skills on a particular game which could be relatively unknown, or well known speedrunners to showcase popular games and to talk through their games to a live audience, all in the aid of raising money for charity. For me being an arcade gamer, I love community, and this community spirit to improve their times on random games is also a catalyst to make friends through a different type of gaming. It will always be a good thing!!
Cosmo and the well-known and legendary Zelda OOT speedrun
With the Xbox One providing stream support via Twitch.tv, and the PS4′s using share functionalities, one could imagine how easy it might be to showcase gaming talents to the masses. Speedrunning is one of those talents that will continue to be there, as long as there are games. With sites like speedrunslive.com, it also provides a great insight into retro gaming, and what made certain games legendary in the eyes of gamers.
As the saying goes: What man can make, man can break. For speedrunners, it’s about taking these games as far as humanly possible.