Supple Think: The End of Time

The End of Time

by Zen

Posted on Thursday, December 20, 2007
Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

So while I'm getting all excited over the speed run possibilities in SMG, K1 was asking me to put together a bunch of my favorite speed runs as something he could put on display in the store. Putting it together was a happy trip down memory lane and whatnot, so I figured I'd share my opinions on some of the finest examples of the art.

Bear in mind that I chose these to be approachable and watchable as much as impressive or interesting. There are some really fine runs out there of RPGs and such that I didn't list, but watching an hour of leveling up kind of offsets however interesting the planning is.

Castlevania: Symphony of the Night in 43:51, Single-Segment
A game as winding and nonlinear as SotN has obvious potential for sequence breaking, but it took many a year before the glitches in this video were properly exploited. This run isn't the most spectacular, but the game gets dissected in some very cool ways.

Chrono Trigger in 3:34, 33 segments
The first run I saw of this game was around five and a half hours long, and very impressive. This beastly run on the Japanese version clocks in about two hours faster, and actually fights Lavos with the bucket way earlier than anyone thought possible.

Contra III Hard Mode in 17:00, Single-Segment
Maybe not the most interesting run, but in terms of sheer execution this is one of the most impressive.

Devil May Cry Dante Must Die! mode 100% in 1:35:34, 15 segments
The Devil May Cry games have been the subjects of some very fine speed runs, but this one is probably my favorite. Not only is it on the highest difficulty setting getting the highest rankings, but it was all done from a scratch save file and got enough orbs to get 100% along the way. This really wasn't intended by the developers, and if you check the comments you'll find out just how tight the timing was to accomplish it.

Mega Man X low% in 34:09, Single-Segment
Some speed runs are the clear product of a youth spent obsessing over a game, and in a way there could be no more poignant love letter to Mega Man X than this run. When I saw the first published run by Mike Uyama, I felt like the routes through the levels were so precise and practiced that you could almost picture him as a child playing through it over and over again. Subsequent competition and some cross-pollination with the TAS community has resulted in a much lower time and an extremely good run.

Mega Man X 100% in 39:41, Single-Segment
Not necessarily more impressive than the above run, but if you ever tried to get the Hadouken in this game it's wild and crazy to see it done in the context of a speed run, and the results are fun to watch, if a tad anticlimactic.

Metroid Prime any% in 1:03, 16 segments
SDA started out as a Quake speed run site way back in the day, and was somehow affiliated with PlanetQuake in ways I don't completely recall. The guy who ran the site was a Metroid buff, and decided to show his appreciation for the series by posting his speed run of Metroid Prime. I think the time was 1:37, and it went up with insanely detailed comments that clearly demonstrated the eye for lost seconds and possible improvements a good speed runner needs to have. That run was the seed for the entire site as it exists today, and this run is 34 minutes faster and impressive as fuck.

Metroid Prime 100% in 1:28, 21 segments
Was the any% run over too quick? Well, that's what 100% runs are for. Now you get to see how much of the game you can skip while still getting everything.

Metroid Prime low% in 1:18, 18 segments
And if you want to see the most insane sequence breaking there is, low% runs are your thing. If you've watched all these and you still aren't satisfied, I recommend watching their PAL equivalents. Several of the speed tricks used in these runs were made impossible in the PAL and Players' Choice versions of the game, but the low% is just as low and all the runs are almost as fast thanks to the ingenuity of everyone involved. This means completely new and more audacious tricks for us to watch.

Pikmin 9 days/50 pikmin, 8 segments
Some people liked to run Pikmin with the fewest Pikmin possible. Some people liked to finish it in as few in-game days as possible. It turned out that it was possible to do both in the same run. If you think that sounds like this speed run is carefully planned, tightly executed, and thoroughly refined, then you're absolutely correct.

Super Mario 64 70-star in 1:01:32, Single-Segment
I can remember the anticipation for this run approaching insanity. People love their Mario 64, and it happens to be a brilliant game to speed run. If you dig around you'll notice three different categories for the game, one of them being a much faster 16-star run. That run is mostly just about executing a particular glitch to cheat through the game, which is impressive in its own right but not nearly as entertaining as this stunningly-executed run on the game's intended path. This run's route planning, speed tricks, and sheer reckless abandon displayed in the final moments are the stuff of legend, and many people on the SDA forums consider this their favorite speed run ever.

Super Mario World 100% in 1:31:45, Single-Segment
SDA has very strict submission rules and a thorough verification process performed by some extremely talented people, so you can rest assured that any runs on the site were performed on a console without cheating. Even so, after watching this video people will head to the forums and insist that this run is a tool-assisted video that slipped through the cracks. This means you need to watch it.

Yoshi's Island 100% individual level runs see table
The first speed runs I saw of this game were fairly by-the-numbers, and I despaired at ever seeing truly clever runs full of speed tricks and daring maneuvers. Fortunately, trihex went absolutely fucking loco on this game's ass one level at a time, and then did it again. I hope he's not done, but there haven't been any new ones up in some time so it's safe to say the definitive runs are up right now. Downloading them all from the table is a bit unwieldy, but absolutely recommended. This is one of the absolute best experiences on SDA right now, in my opinion.

Super Metroid in 0:32, Single-Segment
Despite Super Metroid's primacy in the speed run field, its page was stagnant for a long time. Smokey had a run up that was I think around five segments, and clocked in somewhere around 35 or 36 minutes (depending on whether he used the then-controversial Murder Beam). Not too long ago this fine Japanese fellow completely ravaged that time, and in one segment. A lot of people say this run's overhyped, since it just applied modern speed run standards to an obsolete record, but any world-record run of this game deserves your attention.

Super Metroid 100% in 0:55, 7 segments
This is it: my favorite speed run of all time. It showcases numerous glitches in the game in ways that are intuitive and attractive, it bypasses major areas (and even one boss) while still getting 100%, and careful planning went into the navigation of each room. I own this on DVD. It may be one of the oldest runs on the site, but it's an absolute work of art.

Zelda in 33:34, Single-Segment
A runner goes by the name TSA (The Silent Assassin) fancied himself God's gift to Zelda speed runs a while back and vowed to take every single Zelda record on the site. His credential was that he had the then-world record for Ocarina of Time, which I'll go into more below. He was basically well meaning, but his hubris was gargantuan and it started to spill over into some genuine lack of respect for existing runs. He was convinced he could take this record easily, but it ended up being a big project. To his enormous credit, he stuck with it and produced a very fine, very precise single-segment run. This is a really difficult game to run, but the results are great to watch.

Zelda: a Link to the Past in 1:39:47, Single-Segment
Back when most games were getting pretty straightforward treatments on SDA I remember being shocked to see a damage boost to bypass a small part of one of the dungeons in this game. By now things have progressed to full-on sequence breaks, and this remarkably... perfect game gets the thorough and loving thrashing it deserves.

Zelda: Ocarina of Time in 2:26:56, 25 segments
So the aforementioned TSA was the cock of the walk with his five-and-a-half-hour single-segment run of this game, and then he managed to break five hours. It was long the irritating banner raised by single-segment zealots who thought breaking a run up into segments was categorically and incontrovertibly inferior to the purity and intensity of the single-segment experience. The only pieces of evidence you need against this idiocy are the single-segment no-death 100% run of Super Mario Sunshine, which is totally impressive in theory but an absolute chore to watch, and this run which basically cuts TSA's record the fuck in half, bitch. It uses some save-warping, but the main time-saver is all the really precise tricks that no human being can perform when doing the whole game in one go. It's way, way, way more interesting to watch than any of TSA's runs of the game, and a must for anyone who wants to see the fruits of the most rabid persistence and ingenuity the speed running community has to offer.
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