It’s the beginning of another year, which means that Awesome Games Done Quick is back, albeit virtually again due to Florida legislation making it unsafe for LGBTQ+ people and people who don’t want to get COVID. That didn’t stop awesome games from being done quick, however, as the event raised over $2.6 million in support of the Prevent Cancer Foundation.
Being a 24/7 event, please understand that it would have been damaging to my health to have watched every single event, and there are still many I’ve not watched that I’d like to, such as a run of Blade II that was as much an interesting interview with the game’s developers as it was a showcase of how it could be broken and sped through. That said, of the 24 runs I did get to watch, these are my 10 favorites, in no particular order.
Okay, so lumping a bunch of games from the same series might be considered “cheating” by some, but to me, it’s just an exploit to speed through as many games as possible. There were five Zelda speedruns, of varying lengths and flavors. My favorite was The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild being run in under half an hour, thanks to some new crazy glitches the runner named Player 5 was able to use to his advantage.
The other four were great as well, though! There was a race of BS Legend of Zelda, which doesn’t stand for a bad word but instead stands for Broadcast Satellaview, which was a Japan-only SNES add-on that used satellite technology to download games way before digital downloads and cloud streaming were commonplace. It’s a cool piece of history that got to be displayed in speedy form.
The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword was a mind-melting three-hour run that used “reverse bit magic” to trigger flags and basically code what they wanted into the game by running around on the title screen. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D and A Link to the Past are pretty standard mainstays for AGDQ, but it’s always fun to see them absolutely broken apart and pieced back together.
There were a whopping seven runs of Mario games, but you won’t hear me complaining! The most noteworthy was the four-player race of Super Mario Galaxy 2, which produced a new world record for the three-hour any% category by Jhay. There were also two insane Kaizo Mario runs of fan-made, super-difficult Super Mario World hacks, as well as more traditional runs of Super Mario Land, Super Mario Bros. 3, and a bonus showcase of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe’s DLC tracks.
But did I say seven games? Because it’s more like 11, since Skybilz’s run of Super Mario All-Stars Shuffler was an hour and 20-ish minutes of running through five Mario games at the same time, shuffling randomly between each game every 30 seconds to 10 minutes.
We had both classic and modern Pokémon representation at AGDQ 2023, including runs of Pokémon Yellow, Pokémon Legends: Arceus, and a chaotic run of Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Explorers of Sky on the DS. My favorite of the three was definitely Legends: Arceus, as the run features a lot of frantic-looking but actually incredibly precise movement as well as the more traditional Pokémon math calculations used for battles.
AGDQ 2023 being online isn’t all bad, because it increasingly allows for showcases like StepMania, which couldn’t be accomplished in person. Less a speedrun and more of a “look how incredibly fast I can move my feet” run, StepMania’s performance by dimo is an hour and a half of seeing a Dance Dance Revolution-like game played on the absolute most difficult levels, with extra incentives being met for dimo to “sight-read” (play for the first time) custom-made levels made just for GDQ.
Portal speedruns have been around for almost as long as GDQ, I’m sure, but this is something I’d bet you haven’t seen before. Speedrunner Msushi plays all the way through Portal without using any portals, but with the modded power to create an infinite number of airboats, vehicles from Half-Life 2. How does this help the runner beat the game faster? You’ll have to see it to believe it.
Fashion Police Squad
Winning the award for “best run of a game I never knew existed but I’m so glad it does,” danejerus’ run of Fashion Police Squad is a sight to behold. The game is pretty much what you’d imagine from the title: You play as a member of the fashion police and fight fashion crimes by making the citizens of the city fabulous. Runner danejerus also does a stylish dance break in the middle of a cutscene as well, so if that sounds up your alley, you won’t want to miss this.
PowerWash Simulator is known for being a nice and calming game where you power wash various vehicles and locations, but here, it’s intense. Six people coordinate together to clean dirt and grime off a unicycle, an airplane, a UFO and more at breath-taking speeds, with each vehicle that might take over an hour for one casual player being blasted through in no time. This run also got a world record on the GDQ stage!
Stray is a beloved game from 2022 where you play as a cat and do cat things, but in the speedrun by Erims, “cat things” apparently also includes clipping through walls, phasing through doors, and spinning way too fast around in a bucket. Check it out!
What do you get when you take a game that already melts brains by playing with perspective and have a speedrunner break it to pieces? You get Ozmourn’s run of Superliminal, half an hour of giant soda cans, jumping out of bounds, and fighting the wonky physics of bouncy castles.
Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales
Although nearly an hour of the two and a half-hour speedrun of Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is cutscenes, runner Pessilist and their couch of commentators keep things interesting throughout with Spider-Man trivia and plenty of memes. When the runner does gain control, it looks more like The Flash, with Miles “bunny-hopping” up and down across New York City with incredible speed.