Keeping the peace
After years of conditioning, most gamers associate violence with progress. And who could blame them? Developers often drop us in a room, make us kill a bunch of enemies, then nudge us toward the next room to start the process over again. It's gotten to the point where being able to complete a game without harming a single enemy is a laudable achievement. It's so much easier to pull the trigger than it is to turn the other cheek, so it's extremely impressive when someone beats a game killing as few--ideally zero--enemies as possible.
A lot of modern games, even the most violent ones, don't force you to kill anyone. But talking, sneaking, or stun-gunning your way to a peaceful resolution over the course of a 10-hour game is something that you have to experience for yourself. Speedruns, on the other hand, condense all the non-violent ducking and dodging of a pacifist run into 10-20 minutes of exciting, how-did-he-do-that moments where no one (besides bosses) gets hurt. So what does it look like when a player amazes you with their degree of nonaggression? Just watch these impressive speedruns to find out.
Let's start things off with a bang--or in this case, an atomic explosion of impressive skill. Sinister1, the legend behind the blindfolded Punch-Out!! speedrun, proves that he's a gamer of many talents by breezing through one of the hardest platformers ever made without harming a single gun-toting goon. Yes, he's forced to kill bosses to progress, but as far as the stages go, he doesn't pick up any power-ups or unsheathe his katana a single time. This one's a must-watch for all of its extraordinary, nail-biting moments, like Sinister1 outrunning bullets to take advantage of the NES' sprite limit, or getting assaulted by a flock of angry birds (which are somehow the most powerful enemy in the game).
Bill Rizer and Lance Bean may carry around enormous rifles at all times, but that doesn't mean they can't be conscientious objectors. This unbelievable pacifist run from Soig and zyr2288 sees Bill booking it through enemy-filled levels while refusing to shoot his opposition (again, bosses being the only exception). Actually, that's not quite accurate--he actually shoots around multiple enemies just to 1) show that he can and 2) teach them about the dangers of the battlefield. Bill's even compassionate enough to take his own life multiple times so that he can phase through some tractors with temporary invincibility rather than blow them up. What a nice guy.
Contra 3: The Alien Wars
If you thought pacifism in the middle of a heated warzone looks awesome in 8-bit, just wait until you see its 16-bit counterpart. Runner McBobX acts like an extraterrestrial diplomat as he cruises through city ruins, refusing to shoot at waves of aliens intent on murdering him and his kind (on Hard difficulty, of course). In fact, the screen gets so full of bullets and bad guys at times that it looks like Bill Rizer is calmly waltzing his way through a herd of stampeding wildebeests. This run teaches a valuable life lesson: murdering aliens is only justified when their existence prevents the screen from continuously scrolling. And in reverence for their untimely death, you must follow Bill's example and do a spin-around dance to pay your respects.
How dare Simon Belmont. He claims that he's the world's savior, descended from a long bloodline of vampire killers. But he's actually little more than a home invader, busting into an eloquently furnished castle like he owns the place and whipping everything--especially inanimate objects--in sight. Thankfully, runner Grincevent is a different breed of Belmont, who has no interest in harming monsters or destroying property. With the exclusion of boss fights, this pacifist, minimalist run refuses to whip a single enemy or break a single candlestick on the path to Dracula's lair.
Castlevania: Symphony of the Night
If you think that the purposeful use of glitches detracts from the entertainment or validity of a speedrun, please turn away now. For everyone else without a stick up their butt, here's an incredibly impressive piece of video game pacifism kinda. See, Alucard actually does slay a few monsters while back-dashing all over Dracula's castle--but through the use of a few exploits, the game doesn't count the kills and Alucard doesn't gain XP as a result. Plus, he's forced to use his bare hands in every fight, so at least he broke his peaceful ways in a gentlemanly fashion.
Anyone hungry for a PEACE of pizza!? Am I right!? We've previously discussed this bizarre NES adventure, rebranded to be a piece of propaganda for Domino's Pizza, as it fits in a long line of junk food advergames. But what you might not know is that the Noid is actually one of pizza-kind's biggest advocates of nonaggression. Just look at the way he cheerfully leaps over those who would do him harm throughout the entirety of this tool-assisted run. Pay no attention to the bonus rounds where the Noid bashes clowns and thugs on the head with a hammer. They (probably) had it coming.
Halo 4 (Shutdown)
Here's one way to maintain peace: ensure that your enemies never spawn to begin with. Before we get to the pacifism part, you should know about Mythic difficulty, a fan-made level of challenge that exceeds Legendary by stacking every last Skull effect on top of it. You'd assume that Mythic would make pacifism impossible--but as runner Legendary smile demonstrates, it's always best to take the high road. In this instance, the "high road" refers to cruising over the majority of the Shutdown mission map with a series of tricky jumps through the stage's ceiling, skipping every last firefight in the process.
Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes (Intel Operative Rescue)
When you want to encourage a little nonviolence in gamers, just do like Kojima Productions and add a mission-specific Achievement/Trophy called Pacifist. While it might look like Big Boss is offing countless enemy soldiers in this run, they're actually just literal dirt naps. That's thanks to the Uragan-5 Pistol, a little non-lethal number that fires stunning blasts of air in place of bullets. While most of the ground troops are forced to sleep where they stand, Big Boss is kind enough to make a stack of unconscious guards so that they won't get blown up when he shoots a rocket launcher at an incoming armored vehicle. Hey, even Mahatma Gandhi had to blow up tanks from time to time*. As for the guy that falls unconscious out of a helicopter, let's just assume he landed safely without breaking his neck. It's all in the name of saving Kojima!
*This is not true.
Do no harm
Pretty crazy, right? It kinda makes you want to hug the next in-game enemy you see instead of disemboweling them with a shotgun. Know of any other awesome pacifist speedruns that I missed (excluding this Ninja Gaiden 2 pacifist run by duckfist, pictured above)? Share a link to the video in the comments below! Or Rick Roll me, whatever floats your boat.
And if you're looking for more, check out Popular games you can beat in 5 minutes or less and 8 amazing things Super Smash Bros. will teach you about Nintendo.