5 Games That Popularized The Concept Of Speedrunning

The traditional of speedrunning was commemorated best in these entries.

Story Highlights

  • Speedrunning in video games has remained a popular tradition ever since the 90s.
  • Some games are just better suited for speedrunning, producing huge communities.
  • These are also some of the best options for speedrunners to beat existing records.

The video games industry is chock-full of traditions that are celebrated in one way or another by players. One of these is popularly known as speedrunning. It is best defined as gamers trying to reach the credits as fast as possible under certain rules to beat existing records. I am far from a speedrunner, but the tradition holds a special place in my heart—for some titles, at least. And I think it’s high time we paid a little homage to it.

The speedrunning scene has flourished greatly because of a select few games since its inception in the 90s. The communities built as a result popularized the hardcore tradition, and now many games practice it with customary rules. It is quite challenging but oh-so rewarding when the existing records are broken. 

These Titles Are Quite Involved In The Speedrunning Scene

Before moving forward, I’d like to clarify that these are just my personal favorites. The truth is that there were too many games to consider for this list.

1. Super Mario 64

Super Mario 64 has continued to garner popularity because of its speedrunning scene | Image Source: Games Radar
Super Mario 64 has continued to garner popularity because of its speedrunning scene | Image Source: Games Radar
  • Genre: Platformer
  • Platforms: Nintendo 64 and iQue Player
  • Developer: Nintendo EAD

What’s a better choice than Super Mario 64 to discuss the impact an entry has had on speedrunning? Speedrunners were quick to adopt the title soon after its release in 1996, with early attempts mostly focusing on unoptimized but impressive runs to complete the game faster. Many glitches were discovered that streamlined the process and made subsequent records faster over the years.

There are various categories, such as the popular 16-star one. It involves collecting only 16 power stars to reach Bowser. However, I was more intrigued by the 1-star category; it was popular until Suigi completed a run in less than seven minutes last year. It was a perfect attempt, which has made it nearly impossible to be beaten.

2. Dark Souls

The original Dark Souls is what started it all for the highly popular souls-like genre | Image Source: IGDB
The original Dark Souls is what started it all for the highly popular souls-like genre | Image Source: IGDB
  • Genre: Souls-like and Action RPG
  • Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One
  • Developer: FromSoftware

Dark Souls is often recalled for propelling the Souls-like genre, but its impact on speedrunning is also commendable. The community around it saw strides as various categories emerged soon after its launch, such as Any% and All Bosses. Speedrunners often employ various glitches and skips that are always a treat to witness in action.

So far, the game has been beaten in under 20 minutes, which is an astounding journey to witness just as a spectator. It’s crazy because most of us spend more time farming for our favorite gear.

3. Minecraft

In the last few years alone, Minecraft has seen some drastic growth in the speedrunning department Image | Source: IGDB
In the last few years alone, Minecraft has seen some drastic growth in the speedrunning department Image | Source: IGDB
  • Genre: Sandbox and Survival
  • Platforms: PC, Linux, macOS, and all major console platforms
  • Developer: Mojang Studios

Who needs to introduce Minecraft? A peaceful sandbox full of nostalgia for us in one way or another. Speedrunners have also found much solace in the entry since the mid-2010s. While I haven’t kept up with much of the speedrunning scene for this game, a few attempts I’ve seen have pulled me like no other.

Dream’s speedruns are controversial, sure, but watching them during his golden day was fun for a while. If you’re willing to give speedrunning the game a shot, there are many categories to choose from. Drip120 achieved the best Any% Glitchless run 4 years ago by completing the game in only 7 minutes and one second. However, Minecraft has been beaten in under two minutes by Rayoh in a Set Seed Speedrun.

4. Portal 2

Portal 2 speedrunning flourished because of the game's unique and fun mechanics | Image Source: IGDB
Portal 2 speedrunning flourished because of the game’s unique and fun mechanics | Image Source: IGDB
  • Genre: Puzzle-platformer
  • Platforms: PC, Mac OS X, Linux, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Nintendo Switch
  • Developer: Valve

I’ve found the Portal series to be quite mind-numbing. It seems so easy until you start mingling with the harder levels. Regardless, the intricately woven mechanics and captivating puzzles make for a nice playground for speedrunners, so it’s no surprise the game caught on. Many often take advantage of a variety of fun glitches and quicksaves to save a bunch of time.

Like the norm, there are many categories, including a co-op one. In the Single-player and no Save-load abuse category, Burger40 beat the whole game in only 55 minutes three months ago.

5. NES Tetris

NES Tetris speedrunning scene has made massive strides in the recent times | Image Source: GitHub
The NES Tetris speedrunning scene has made massive strides in recent times | Image Source: GitHub
  • Genre: Puzzle
  • Platforms: Nintendo Entertainment System
  • Developer: Nintendo R&D1 

NES Tetris is my favorite version of the game, and it so happens to be the most popular iteration among speedrunners. I was introduced to its speedrunning scene last year after the intense 5-year-old match between the underdog Joseph and 7-time champion Jonas pulled me into the niche community. Many developments have happened since then.

While not a traditional speedrun, the 13-year-old prodigy Blue Scufi officially beat the game by reaching the “True Killscreen” last year during a speedrun match. It was only done using AI in the past. Now, speedrunners are trying to get the earliest crashes in the game, with the final goal of hitting the last level 255 after avoiding all the pre-defined crashes.

All in all, these titles have birthed some insane speedruns ever since their release. All of them have propelled this precious custom, which has only grown over the years. It remains to be seen how speedrunning will continue to thrive in the future.

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Shameer Sarfaraz is a Senior News Writer on eXputer who loves to keep up with the gaming and entertainment industries devoutly. He has a Bachelor's Degree in Computer Science and several years of experience reporting on games. Besides his passion for breaking news stories, Shahmeer loves spending his leisure time farming away in Stardew Valley. VGC, IGN, GameSpot, Game Rant, TheGamer, GamingBolt, The Verge, NME, Metro, Dot Esports, GameByte, Kotaku Australia, PC Gamer, and more have cited his articles.

Experience: 4+ Years || Education: Bachelor in Computer Science.

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