AGDQ 2017 Hype: Speedruns Incoming!

Awesome Games Done Quick is a seven day marathon that brings the best speedrunners from around the globe to play for charity.  It’s an absolute onslaught of childhood nostalgia and pure gaming bliss.  Starting on Sunday, January 8th, and continuing until January 15th, AGDQ 2017 will be upon us.  After the massively impressive Summer Games Done Quick (SGDQ) event this year, AGDQ is shaping up to be the best Games Done Quick event yet.  At NintendoStar, we’re dedicated to bringing all the best gaming events straight to you.  If you take a look at the schedule, you’ll notice there’s a huge amount of Nintendo games ranging from NES classics to modern masterpieces.  We’ll be bringing you up to date coverage with completion times, world records, and in-depth looks at some of the best runs 2017 will have to offer.

Additionally, these events are done with charity in mind.  GDQ events constantly accept donations that viewers can place towards bonus runs, prize giveaways and more.  All donations collected for AGDQ events go to the Prevent Cancer Foundation, an excellent charity that makes leaps and bounds in cancer research.  Last year, they managed to collect over a million dollars in donations over the course of the week.  Donating is easy and fun, and gives the entire event a “feel good” atmosphere to it.  It’s truly one of the best times of the year; gamers coming together to raise money for the sick and helpless.  It’s no wonder that the event has gotten massively popular, constantly topping the Twitch.tv charts when on-air.

For those unfamiliar with speedrunning, it’s a massive community with smaller communities built around each game.  Players take hundreds of hours learning a game down to its core, and then attempt to complete it as fast as possible.  There’s a wide array of rules and regulations, but there’s always one rule; if it’s in the game, it’s not cheating. As you watch some highlights from past years, you’ll see players jumping through walls and even skipping hours of gameplay.  The idea is to use the game against itself in a forceful way, bending the game in crazy ways to accomplish insanely precise tactics.  It’s a vast understatement to say that speedrunning requires skill.  With millisecond precise timing, even the most basic of speedruns require the player to know the game better than they know themselves.

Just so you’re up to pace on speedrunning lingo, I’ve prepared a small definition list.  If you decide to watch along in addition to checking out my write ups, you’ll want to know these phrases.

Speedrunning Lingo

Any%, 100%: These indicators will tell you how much of the game will be completed.  In speedrunning, a player trying to complete 100% of the game will take a completely different path than someone racing to the finish.  “Any%” are usually full of more glitches, crazy moments, and are fast paced.  100% runs are usually a bit more laid back, but still incredibly interesting to watch.

OoB: “OoB” stands for “out of bounds”.  Reaching areas of the game not intended to be reached via normal play is considered “out of bounds”.  Many tricks in speedrunning will require breaking out of the confined area of play, and usually utilizing glitches within those spaces.  Most of the time, you’ll see this in context of “No OoB”, indicating the player will not go outside the normal bounds of play.

Glitchless: Glitches in games can range from almost ineffective all the way up to game shattering.  The majority of speedruns use glitches to force the player further ahead.  Glitchless runs are super interesting, due to the absent of these time-savers.  Glitchless runs usually indicate a high amount of pure skill, and not a technical breakdown of the game.

While runs are taking place, commentators and the players themselves will often talk about how the game is being played.  There’s a lot of common knowledge phrases in speedrunning, but to those outside of the community, could be found confusing.  Here’s a few phrases you’ll definitely hear, but might not be explained immediately…

RNG- Without getting too technical, “RNG” stand for “Random Number Generation”.  It’s essentially how a game decides to randomize a variety of things.  Speedrunning often has
“RNG manipulation”, or seemingly unimportant actions that will affect “random” outcomes later on.  “RNG” is also the downfall of many speedrunners, as any aspect of the game that uses it can never be 100% predictable.

Strats- “Strats” is just short hand for strategy.  However, runners will refer to techniques they are using as “safe strats”, “marathon strats”, and plenty more.  With this context though, you’ll be able to tell when they’re showing off different approaches.  Perk up when you hear a runner say “risky strats”, it might be followed up by something incredibly impressive.

Here’s the thing, my lovely readers.  While speedrunning is super interesting and technical, it requires a certain kind of person.  I’m not saying that ALL speedrunners are quirky, just that most of them are.  When put on a stage in front of hundreds of thousands of viewers, things might get a little cringey or become completely lost on you.  You have to keep in mind that these players also have fans of their own, and will be utilizing their time during the event to embrace that fan base.  For that reason, there’s going to be a lot of inside jokes, weird catch phrases, and even obnoxious singing.  It took me almost five years of watching these events to realize one simple fact; you’re not really supposed to understand EVERYTHING!

So now that you’re adequately familiar with the idea of speedrunning, you’re probably interested in seeing what it’s all about.  Luckily, as aforementioned, I have spent many hours watching speedruns and sharing them with my friends.  Below, I’ve compiled some excellent clips and highlighted some runs to get you hyped for January.  You’ll also get a taste of how I’ll be covering the runs during live coverage.  Let’s take a look at some of the best speedruns in AGDQ and SGDQ history.

Super Mario 64 Beaten in Under 30 Minutes… with one hand.

Game: Super Mario 64 (Nintendo 64)

Event: AGDQ 2014

Runner: Peaches_

Final Time: 22 minutes 22 seconds

This run is an excellent introduction to how absolutely skillful speedrunners can be.  Not only does Peaches_ manage to absolutely demolish “Mario 64” in under  twenty-five minutes, but he also does it with only one hand.  At 7:49 into the run, he displays an ungodly amount of precision and control as he skips around the first Bowser boss stage with ease.   With the addition of a “controller cam”, you get to see his quick movements and confident controller inputs as he plays.  It’s truly an astounding run.

Ninja Gaiden II in under 15 minutes… only using the sword.

Game: Ninja Gaiden II (NES)

Event: AGDQ 2014

Runner: Duckfist

Final Time: 13 minutes 4 seconds

If you’ve played any of the classic Ninja Gaiden games, there’s a few things that are super obvious.  First off, the game is almost impossible.  Ninja Gaiden is best known for its punishing difficulty, and for good reason.  Second, magic is a huge help if you ever want to make any sort of progress.  Leave it up to runner Duckfist though, to breeze through the game only dying three times, all of which are planned.  Additionally, he manages to show absolute mastery of the game by only using the sword.  If you’ve ever made it to the final boss and lived to tell the tale, you’ll be in awe at how quickly Duckfist wraps up the final form.

Super Punch Out! In under 25 minutes… blindfolded.

Game: Super Punch Out! (SNES)

Event: AGDQ 2014

Runner: Zallard

Final Time: 24 minutes 9 seconds

You may be surprised to hear this, but blindfolded speedruns aren’t as rare as you’d think.  It’s essentially the final challenge; beating a game without seeing it.  AGDQ and SGDQ have both hosted several blindfolded runs before, but this (and the next one on our list) definitely take the cake.  In this run, Zallard shows true mechanical prowess by defeating every opponent in under 25 minutes.  Additionally, there’s some great moments in which he calls out the round timer down to the millisecond, all while blindfolded.  It shows that the blindfold is merely a set piece, the true amazement is how well Zallard knows this game.

Ocarina of Time (Child Dungeons)… blindfolded.

Game: The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Event: AGDQ 2015

Runner: Runnerguy2489

Final Time: 1 hour, 26 minutes, and 56 seconds

Out of all the mind-blowing speed runs I’ve seen, this one probably takes the cake.  The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is widely considered one of the best games of all time.  The community around it is giant, and has led to some great speedruns.  AGDQ has hosted runs such as “Any% in under 20 minutes”, “100% in under 3 hours”, and more.  However, runnerguy2489 shows off an incredible amount of knowledge of the game’s space and limitations in this run.  Using just the audio queues, runnerguy2489 blazes through all three of the first dungeons in under 2 hours.  For comparison, I recently started streaming Ocarina of Time, and made it up to the second dungeon in 2 hours.  Runnerguy2489 does 3 in almost half the time… without vision.  If you watch one speedrun in your life, make it this one.

Get Hyped, AGDG 2017 is Coming

Now that you’re familiar with the world of speedrunning and have seen some of the best ones AGDQ has hosted in the past, I hope you’re super excited for AGDQ 2017.  Once again, we will be covering a lot of the big Nintendo titles as they get shown.  I’ll do my best to describe all the glitches shown, all while giving you exclusive commentary that you can only find on NintendoStar.  So bookmark the site, tweet your friends, and get ready for January 8th at 11:30 AM… AGDQ 2017 is going to be amazing.