My summer vacation has started, which usually means it’s almost time for Summer Games Done Quick. GDQ is a twice-annual speedrunning marathon, and each one lasts for a week. The summer one tends to be my favorite; the runs can be a bit more laid back and the charity is preferable to the one they use for the winter marathon.
- The schedule can and will change throughout the event, so if there is a game you are really interested in watching, you should check the schedule the same day of that game and also a bit before it’s supposed to come on the air. Runs are unpredictable, so there’s natural fluidity to the time slots.
- For different types of games, there are different run categories. Pay attention to things like:
- 100% or any%, the two most frequent run completion types – one involves collecting or doing everything a game has to offer; the other is just getting to the end of the game as fast as possible.
- Restrictions like glitchless, 2 players 1 controller, co-op, and the like. This will give you more information regarding the general atmosphere of the run.
- Runs have an estimated time to completion, which will give you the approximate time you’ll need to watch the run.
Keep in mind when watching these speedruns that many of them will involve the players going through the game in ways you haven’t in the past. If a run doesn’t call for glitchless or other restrictions, you’re likely to see things done to intentionally break the game and skip large amounts of the actual intended gameplay. This takes some getting used to and can look really weird the first time you watch a run for a favorite game.
That said, if you just relax and watch some people play games while using quite frankly amazing execution, muscle memory, and crazy amounts of practice, you can have a pretty good time. I suggest you find games you have played and liked on the schedule and trying to watch those to get started.
If you aren’t sure, here are some runs I think are likely to be great this week:
- Luigi’s Mansion any%, no OOB (out-of-bounds). The restriction means the runner can’t break the constraints of the levels to get places the game didn’t intend, so this requires going through a decent amount of the game, and is estimated at around an hour.
- Metroid Prime 100%. Some people really find these runs interesting because there is good execution necessary, but I frankly find them boring because large amounts of the run take place out-of-bounds. If you want to see a game get broken, watch this.
- Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, any% glitchless. One of the all-time great games, played to full extent, in 36 minutes. Should be fantastic.
- Super Monkey Ball Deluxe, Ultimate. Watch people wreck this game with what is essentially playing angles very carefully. Looks reckless, is actually super-controlled.
- Mirror’s Edge, any% glitchless. A game that was designed with multiple paths in mind. Speedrunners have no doubt found all the super-fast ones, and the execution necessary for this should be impressive.
- I Am Bread, any%. I say this because I tried playing this game and found it inscrutable and impossible, and this runner is going to beat it in 15 minutes and make me feel really old in the process.
- Pokemon Puzzle League, 1P Stadium, Super Hard. Puzzle game execution at this high a level is always impressive.
- FPS Block of games, starting with Half-Life. Every game here should show super-impressive play, even with glitches.
- Ninja Gaiden 3, any%. Watch this and then remember how hard these games are and hate yourself immediately.
- Marble Madness, any%. See above.
- Castlevania: Rondo of Blood, Richter any%. The finest 2D Castlevania pre-Symphony, done in 25 minutes. It’s likely you aren’t familiar with this entry in the series (it was on Turbo CD), so you should give it a peek.
- Mega Man X2, any% race. Four runners play side-by-side, trying to finish first in a live situation. X2 has a super-optimized run that is really impressive to watch and easy to grasp.
- Shadow of the Colossus, NTA. I personally don’t think this game is as awesome as a lot of people do, but the run should be impressive.
- Portal, inbounds. Should be one of the more amazing-looking runs of the whole event.
- Chrono Trigger, any%, no wrong warp. Puwexil is one of the best RPG runners to watch. His commentary during the run (and the “couch commentary” helping him along) will be great and will explain exactly what’s going on as he does the run. CT is also a great run.
- Tetris: The Grand Master block. You should watch this because I won’t; once you have seen these runs once, you have seen them all, but this is Tetris at a level that’s more instinct than reaction. TGM is way harder than any Tetris you have played (they will play on arcade hardware).
- The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, all dungeons, swordless. I don’t even know how you would do this, so I’m going to be watching this one with fascination.
- Super Mario Series Warpless Relay Race. Great games, done head-to-head, and with relay handoffs to boot.
- Metroid Block. Always one of the highlights of any GDQ. Usually tight races, high execution, sequence breaking in a lot of cases.
- Dark Souls 3, All Bosses. Watch someone rip through this game with way less health than you would ever try to play with and weird items you didn’t think about using.
- Super Mario 64, 120 star. Every star. Every level. A game that requires crazy-cool execution and looks rad when people pull it off.
- Earthbound any%, glitchless. An RPG to send the marathon into the sunset, and a run that even today is still being rerouted and changing to be more efficient.
There’s plenty more I could have put in here, but these are the things I’d suggest to anyone who asked me about GDQ and what they should peek in on.
I hope you watch and have some fun doing so. Please consider donating to the event!