Must go faster
Speedruns, be they tool-assisted or old-fashioned, are certifiably awesome. Tool-assisted speedruns (or TAS) use programming trickery to manipulate a game with an exactness and haste that surpasses any mere mortal. The more traditional method of speedrunning also requires extensive planning and game knowledge, but with an additional need for dexterous fingers, nerves of steel, and the patience of a saint. But no matter the method, the end result is always the same: witnessing games you know and love, being played in ways you never thought possible.
Being that speedrunning is such a competitive scene, expert runners are endlessly devising clever and creative ways to skip as much of a game as is humanly (or mechanically) possible. Their hard work is our reward, letting us watch in disbelief as these games are completed faster than the average commercial break. We're looking forward to seeing the 10 minute speedrun of Watch Dogs (opens in new tab), which clocks in at around 40 hours long for mere mortals. If you think you can beat these times, you're either a gaming genius or absolutely insane. In any case, these runs are all pretty much required viewing. You've got a few minutes to spare, right?
The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind (4:19)
A humongous, wide-open fantasy world full of breathtaking vistas and intriguing NPCs? Nahhhhhhhh. Just create a character and make a beeline for the final area of the game the second you get off the boat. This run involves teleportation, glitch-tastic world jumping, and wizards falling out of the sky--but even if you can't decipher just what the hell is going on, the mere notion of how many dozens of hours of content that gets skipped makes this run impressive.
Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 3 (3:55)
Typically, a 2-minute round in Tony Hawk gives you enough time to complete two or three missions; maybe score the Secret Tape if you're lucky. Or you could just plow through the entire game in under 4 minutes like a skateboarder on speed--your call. By cramming the maximum number of missions into a single line, this speedrun demolishes each level before you even know what punk band and/or rapper you're listening to. And here you thought your kickflip-to-grind combo was impressive.
The Lord of Terror has doomed us all! His demonic power threatens tooh, you killed him already. Well done on that. This run uses multiple saves and severe luck manipulation to generate the easiest dungeon Diablo's ever built, with entrances and exits to each floor practically touching, making the path downward little more than a spiraling staircase. Add in the Sorcerer's ability to teleport and some negative health glitches, and you've got the quickest demon exterminator in all of Tristram! Too bad about the whole "the bad guys win anyway" thing.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (2:13)
Link may be the Hero of Time--but judging by this TAS, he's also a master of time and space. What else (besides a bevy of multi-directional-input glitches) could explain the way he warps and leaps through Hyrule Castle as if physics didn't exist? One moment, you're hoofing it through enemy-filled corridors; next thing you know, you've assembled the almighty Triforce. Ganon gets approximately one millisecond of screen time before he--for some reason--ceases to exist. Hurray!
A Boy and his Blob (1:46)
This run includes one of the most disorienting sights in any video game: managing to fall through the world and into the game's ending, complete with staff credits. What you're witnessing is the complete and utter breaking of a game, where timid NES-era code simply can't withstand all the rapid inputs (did you see that jellybean selection at 0:52?) and phasing through walls. One trip in and out of Glitch Hell later, and Blobolonia is saved.
Super Mario World (1:39)
Here's another glitch extravaganza, but this one pretty much relies on exploiting the actual game code of this beloved Super Nintendo classic. In practice, that means plugging inputs into eight separate controllers (using two Multitaps, naturally) and confusing the heck out of the game with a barrage of button-press information. The results are glorious: seemingly infinite Yoshi egg spawns, shells as helmets, and the game eventually just giving up trying to decipher it all and rolling the end credits.
Pokmon Yellow (1:19)
If Watchmen's Dr. Manhattan played Pokmon, this would be the outcome. No, it's not that Mr. Mime shows full-frontal nudity--it's how Ash phases through solid matter, catches all 152 Pokmon in an instant, then completes the game with a time of 0:00. This is likely the plot of the long-lost Pokmon anime episode where divine powers give Ash omnipotence, letting him bend the very fabric of reality to his will.
Many of us probably spent hours as kids puzzling away at the myriad switches and strange environmental objects in Myst. Little did we realize that, provided you know where to go (the fireplace) and what to do (input the correct button sequence), this adventure can be wrapped up in a jiffy. OK, so it's not that easy--but as this TAS demonstrates, completing the prerequisite fetch quest and switch-flipping can be done in no time flat.
Dark Castle (56 seconds)
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who have played Dark Castle on Genesis and know how god-awful it is, and those who haven't, living in blissful ignorance of the worst game controls known to humankind. It takes under a minute to defeat the evil Black Knight, provided you've plotted out the right path--but it'll take even less time to embrace a hatred of Dark Castle's idiotic sound effects, atrocious platforming, and ear-splitting music. OK, so Dark Castle isn't exactly popular--but it's a run worth seeing just to witness such a putrid game being reduced to almost nothing.
Gone Home (48 seconds)
Imagine hearing all this positive buzz about Gone Home, the indie that tugs at your emotions just like it plays with your fears of dark rooms. Then you boot it up, poke around, find a secret passage--and suddenly, the game is over. If you're the type to fiddle with every inch of your virtual environments, you can actually locate a secret panel (and in doing so, a key) without needing a map found much later in the game. At that point, it's just a hop and skip up to the attic, and BAM, game over without any emotional journey having occurred!
Castlevania: Harmony of Dissonance (22 seconds)
I'll say it plainly: what you're looking at is a work of art. Playing as the unlockable vampire hunter Maxim, this run paints an entire tapestry of feelings over the course of its 22-second duration. There's initially amusement at Maxim's quick dashes, followed by surprise at his abilities to leap entire rooms in a single bound. But the subsequent wall-warping trip to the final encounter is nothing short of stunning. Before you can even get your bearings, the race to the ending is over. It's beautiful.
Clue (1 second)
This is it--the Holy Grail of speedrun times. It doesn't get any quicker than this, unless you're counting hundredths of a second (which, quite honestly, most speedrunners do). Yes, setting up a virtual round of this classic board game technically takes more than a single second. But the actual time spent playing is over in the blink of an eye. Coincidentally, this also has to be the world record fastest solving of a murder case.
Faster than a speeding bullet
Sure, gamers like you and I may never know what it's like to set a world record for fastest completion time. That's OK--and if you want to simulate what it might feel like, just play a game of You Have to Burn the Rope (pictured above). Any other insanely fast speedruns you recommend? Give 'em a shout-out in the comments below.
And if you're looking for more amazing gaming feats, check out 15 Super Smash Bros. players who are MUCH better than you are and Who needs Achievements? 8 DIY challenges to drive you mad.