Dossier : Les Speedruns

You who enter this site or who frequent it diligently, you may not be aware of an underground world among the Nostal-Geeks. A world similar to ours, but temporally unstable, where a week is like a minute. In this world, we finish games. Quick. My friends, welcome to the world of speedrunners.

Speedrun nostal-geek
‘Do not move during the photo!

Speedrun, which could be translated as « Race at full speed », is a practice of finishing a game as quickly as possible, without cheating (we will come back to the notion of cheating a little later)! You who may have struggled for 3 weeks on Mario 64 for example, know that some speedrunners finished it in 5 minutes and 2 seconds! How come? Let’s step straight into this world full of notions and interpretations.

Speedrun, yes, but under certain conditions

For a speedrun to be validated, you must run the original game in the language you like. Be aware, however, that some Asian games take much less time to display texts and therefore will be faster to do than their European version. It happens that certain records are defined by region as the difference between two languages ​​is great.

If you lean towards an emulator, the ROM that will be accepted ends with a [!], this symbol means that the file is an identical copy of the cartridge. Moreover, speaking of emulators, you should know that our usual emulators do not always reproduce the behavior of the console, because some emulator developers sometimes take shortcuts, either to optimize the program or to save PC resources. who will do it. So remember to find out and select the emulator most faithful to its original console.

Contrary to what you may think, you have the absolute right to exploit anything that is part of the original game to complete the game… see where I’m going with this? I specify: all exploitations of Bugs, Glitches and other Exceptions are highly recommended. For example, if you find in a game a bug allowing you to cross a wall to go directly to a level further, it is accepted and you will even be greeted by the speedrunners for this find.

The different types of Speedruns

A speedrun can be classified according to the objective and the technical means that you have set for yourself, let’s start with the simplest:

 

  • The « Any percent » Speedrun, or Any%:

The Any% speedrun is the most classic, its objective is simply to reach the end credits, or defeat the end boss. It is not necessary to collect all the scrolls of death, or all the pieces of legendary armor, which is why this type is called the « No matter the percentage of completion ».

 

  • 100% or more:

Speedrunning from 100% requires collecting all the important items in the game (stars for Mario 64 for example, or parts of Megaman X ‘s armor ). So you have to go through all the necessary places or find some way to get them. Beyond 100% we find the speedruns that require completing the game plus the additional levels unlocked! The most glaring example is Castlevania: Symphony of the night and its endless worlds.

 

  • The Low percent or Low%:

Unlike 100%, the Low% speedrun consists of picking up the bare minimum of quest items and finishing the game with the smallest percentage of progress possible.

The CAS Case

The Tool-Assisted Speedrun (or TAS) is a very special case in the world of speedrunners, because it raises a fundamental question: Is manipulating the variables of a game cheating? Rather than deciding this question with a rusty machete, it is preferable to define a separate category.

The TAS are therefore part of a parallel world, where programming and video games work together to create stopwatches to cry on our good old opus! Yes my friends, you will never manage to finish Mario 64 in 5 minutes with your only Nintendo 64, because you have been tricked, there is something else…

The Tool Assisted Speedrun consists of studying the proper functioning of the game, the way it was programmed and all the flaws that will allow it to be manipulated to obtain the desired result (Any% or 100%) as quickly as possible. We even go so far as to observe how the information is stored in the console’s memory, to see if there is a way to replace, for example, a pair of rotten boots with the legendary sword!

A more concrete example is found in Zelda 64: Ocarina of Time . There is a technique called the « Reverse Bottle Adventure » which, from a simple empty bottle in the game, makes it possible to obtain a whole quantity of objects. Make no mistake about it, this kind of speedrun requires advanced computer knowledge as well as the appropriate software to be able to consult the console’s memory in real time.

Tool-assisted Speedrun
A Snake and Pong game in Super Mario World, that’s going a bit far…

Well, to conclude, I’ll give you a quick list of insane things you can see in a speedrun:

  • A character who arrives in front of the final boss when he has just left the first area of ​​the game
  • A hero who moves 4 times faster than normal
  • Impossible platform jumps
  • Epic rewards that constantly appear (this is called luck manipulation)
  • Bosses who literally get run over when in your memories, these monsters took you at least 10 minutes…

 

I salute Realmyop and Coeurdevandale, who are already doing their best to publicize this fascinating practice.

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