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Saturday, February 6, 2016 by LotBlind

Home on the Safari

Have you ever tried to eat an entire banana in one go? That banana is the analogy of Town & Country Surf Designs 2: Thrilla's Surfari and you trying to chomp through that whole title without pausing or wondering why. And that's precisely how to speedrun. That link was contrived, but I think 'WhiteHat94' at least gets it! I introduced the game (that we abbreviated to Town & Country II: Thrilla's Surfari) in what I see was my very first update as a surprisingly varied NES platformer involving a 90's-type gorilla (the Home & Country company's mascot) going ape over surfing and skating. Imagine that, a gorilla going ape. To achieve a 0:14:15, WhiteHat found some additional seams with tears large enough for a full-grown primate to slide through. Hence the minute and 15 off.

From Gorillas to developer Guerrilla Games. I know this guy 'Soliduz Znake' well enough to let slip I wasn't exactly thrilled when the first things I learned about Killzone 2 - and I wasn't surprised with such a... vulgar and humorless name - were cover-based shooting and code named weapons. Yes, it's a realistic shooter. Not being a critic whose job entails wading through as many games fitting that description as you wade through Japanese at an onsen, I was full happy to give the game a chance. Speedruns often change the gameplay anyway. The amount of sole hero these games want you to feel is as contrary to the idea of a trained military as a harpoon is to wildlife protection. Or is that just the easiest difficulty setting manifesting itself? The damage spatters on the screen amount to more than 15 litres of blood over the course of the 1:57:27 run but nothing can stop a white guy.

I think Doom fans will find this amusing.

If I tell you this game appeared just 9 months ago and the run oozed its way through the creaky SDA machine having probably been available for posting some 15-30 days ago, you'll know the game is neither lengthy nor especially complex. Homesick is more of an atmosphere piece with a slow, sullen progression. Gameplay is unremarkable with a few simple puzzles strewn about, but clearly that's not the point. If the run time came to anything shorter than 0:10:26, you couldn't make out the story at all. And that's what this genre is called according to the reviewer at Kill Screen, a story exploration game. It must have made an impression on 'triblast55' or why else would he have went back for the snack-sized speed-run-through? This run is in 4k XQ (lolQ) if you plez.

BTW, the timer's queue is empty so you need to send in more PC runs quickly to get him off his laurels.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 by LotBlind

The Silence of the Hills

With all of the Mario games out there, please excuse me for thinking I'd already written about Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars in the none-too-distant past. Seeing the old run was from 2011 I became mighty confused AND baffled until concluding '0xwas' has handed over a wholly different assignment for us to correct and assess. Not that there's much to correct in this 2:38:01 which obsoletes the preceding by some 20 minutes. The game was also run in the AGDQ of '13 which is the one I reviewed in its entirety over the course of rather a long time (worth!). If you have a game you run that was played during AGDQ '13 and you haven't gotten round to submitting it our way yet, know that if you do, I might pick it up and mention that it was played that year. LITERALLY no other difference.

But not to leave you in suspense with the run itself, I'd have to know a bit more about it.

***

Okay okay, now that I know a bit more about it:
-the game has an active scene in Japan where the runner harks from (I'd love to see a chart of nationalities represented amongst SDA users and runners!)
-the Japanese version, which he had, is about 10 minutes faster, so 10 minutes-ish is also the real improvement
-no dropping of super jumps happened, which is probably really prolike.

Arigatou gozaimasu!

Speaking of Japan, looks like all the games I elected for today are from thereabouts. Take Silent Hill 2 for instance. Another, more defining defining quality it has is it's Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw's favourite game or close to it. He's a critic so he should know. The run inherits part of ITS definition from the runner being none other than Andrew 'Bigmanjapan' Bondarenko who slams this dunk with even more style than the previous time he did the same category (PC, on normal), shaving off just under a minute to bring about a 0:43:23. I'm scanning the largely unaltered run notes to see what's new: apparently you rotate to cancel dialogs faster. I think Andrew must have been doing a really great job, because the game itself keeps telling him he's saved it from being forgotten about by the speedrunning universe.

Hideo Kojima was really in the zone (in the end zone?) when tasked with producing the non-HD original of Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner HD back in 2003, in times before Konami's great swoop. In his vision, left undiscovered by the broad audience, the player was given more weapons to toy with with less non-combat gameplay to detract from the straightforward 3D-shooter experience where mechs battle each other over... well my eyes can't seem to focus on the plot synopsis on Wiki, it's that elusive and unnecessarily complicated. Another trademark of Japanese imports, the sub-par English script and voice acting ("Pay attention to your back, too.") will set you either in tears or in guffaws according on your natural inclinations. I've no doubt 'AllTheHighwinds' is nodding his head. I always feel guilty if I've been unable to say a few words about the run's gameplay. With games in 3D, and especially when the play area extends along the Z-axis, it's considerably more difficult to follow all events. Let's just say stuff gets targeted and swatted down like a photonic fence powered by cold fusion. 0:59:34 is seven minutes off the previous too with changes in strategy here and there. Played on normal with vanilla Jehuty on the PS3 (or possibly 360 because you don't deserve to know).

Friday, January 22, 2016 by LotBlind

Fantasize About Being Kula Than the Blue Bomber

The Blue Bomber is back! Wait, the "Azure Striker" is back! That's what he was always called right? Azure Striker Gunvolt, the "ring-any-bells?" 2-year-old series from Inti Creates (makers of the Mega Man Zero games, Mega Man 9 and 10, Shantae and other similar franchises) replaces robot masters with "Adepts" and one evil corporation with another. It does also explore a remixed combat system that forces you to first tag enemies, then use another ability to actually berid of them. A high emphasis is placed on skilful play with a score multiplier ticking up every time you've been cool.

Availing himself only of a few automatically acquired bolts and eschewing the upgrades system entirely, Jordan 'Greenalink' Greener does the maximum of hop-hopping, dash-dashing and walljump-walljumping to bag the bad ending within an in-game time of 0:49:13 motivated by jpop and anime and Japan in general. Played on the 3DS.

Also exuding eastern esthetics, it's Epic Battle Fantasy 2, one of seven (give or take) currently existing entries into the flash JRPG series borne in 2009 (give or take) by Matt Roszak alias Kupo Gaming. I say "give or take" because there were a few games that foreboded the progressively more well-defined series proper. In the second game the format is still one fight followed by another with some softcore... umm... level-upping taking place every here and again. We see 'Crow!' take down a tankier than average tank on "epic" difficulty within just 0:22:16.

If you don't think the aforementioned game is a show of high craftsmanship, you first need to see one of the author's older works and I think you'll find things have moved in a rather agreeable direction since then! Honestly, though, there's a hand-made feel through most of the game and it's quite funny at times.

Verifier respondage got me extra hyped for this next one: "a very impressive achievement and a role model submission" I read. The first word in Kula World isn't just "more cool": 'kula' is Swedish for 'ball'. The development team WAS Swedish so we may assume that's a pretty solid theory. I don't know what the most direct predecessors for this type of ball roll simulator are aside from Marble Madness. It predates [Super] Monkey Ball by three whole years you see, and is more puzzle and less arcade. Maybe it IS one of those venerable granddaddy trailblazers! If that is the case, 'adeyblue' is surely honoring its stately dignity. 157 levels divided by 0:38:37 means just short of 15 seconds per level. There's 15 levels per world. MORE ADEYBLUE SPEEDRUNS CONFIRMED! Give the audio commentary a listen to hear what those blue and purple pills do, and why Adey thinks he made a mistake when choosing this as his first speedrun...

Wednesday, January 13, 2016 by LotBlind

Beat'em'up to the Punch

...or they'll beat YOU up with THEIR punches instead.

Beat'em'ups were one of the essential genres of the arcade era. Something arcade machines could portray that home console publishers wanted censored was graphic violence and mature themes in general. Thus Battletoads Arcade is the Battletoads where you drill and decapitate things. Don't get me wrong, it's not Mortal Kombat! It's corny, it's cartooney, it's fine! The point I was making is when no-stranger-to-the-genre Patrick 'PJ' DiCesare takes each of the boys in turn on a walk through the six arduous levels, Pimple (0:40:22) goes hard, Rash (0:40:20) goes hard, and Zits (0:39:38)... is all out of fly-paper. All the runs come with audio commentary on track 2 that I recommend despite PJ himself being awfully quiet.

Oh, did I say they go "hard"? My bad, they go "hardest". Here's a few words from the verifiers:

-"Getting 1cc's on this game is idiotic, and doing it on hardest is even more idiotic. All these runs are stupid as hell. I'm not really sure whats wrong with PJ to make him do this."

-"Still can't believe what PJ has done. I mean one of the bossfights on this difficulty is literally designed to be impossible (so they could get more coins from you)."

I gotta add I wasn't going to but just couldn't stop watching one of these ridiculous runs through.

Here's a game series named after the last few minutes of gameplay... Final Fight. The original Capcom title was released for the arcade in 1989 and had a Game Boy Advance port in 1994 amongst others. This was called Final Fight One, took its graphics from the earlier SNES port but returns a cut stage and supports more enemies on screen. I don't think this changes also-no-stranger-to-the-genre Jeremy 'DK28' Doll's modus operandi at all: you just want to assist everyone onto the same side of the screen so you can start infinity-ing their multicolored health bars away in an orderly fashion. You also devour all food sighted in trash cans, barrels and cardboard boxes cluttering Metro City, and realize collecting weapons can only ever hurt your Damage-Per-Second.

The last time DK ran Final Fight, the runs were on "very easy", so it's very easy to assume running on "very hard" was... very hard? It's also a little bit hard to make out the run commentary but it's there so just crank the volume!

Alpha Cody
0:31:09
Alpha Guy
0:39:06
Haggar
0:38:19

I actually also have a run for the aforementioned arcade version of Final Fight, this time by also-also-no-stranger-to-the-genre Sean 'MURPHAGATOR!' Murphy. The version differences may be seen in your increased chances of despawning enemies just by jumping/backflipping the scene, the two female bad guys (bad girls?) Roxy and Poison, the graffiti in the open-air bathroom shack and the usage of the non-kosher phrase "OH! MY GOD!!". 0:22:53 is the time elapsed when Murph decided to do just one casual attempt one morning before work playing Cody. The runner's understanding of the value of keeping the combo running extends to keeping our audio commentary combo running through the entire update. Check it out for more detailed insights!

I wanted to think the name of Final Fight: Streetwise referred to the fact that you're generally always moving along the road left-to-right in beat'em'ups, not across it: Street-wise, that is. Sadly, this PS2 title bursts my bubble bursting Metro City into freely explorable 3D. It stars Kyle Travers, the brother of Cody from the first game but features the other main characters too.

The again present audio commentary with the same runner, Murphagator, and friends on track 2 of the 1:01:55 tells you more than you need to know. Just realize it's not at all a bad watch despite its terrible ratings. Vice versa. In large part because enemy names look completely randomly generated. Again, I saw the whole thing instead of just spot samples.

Moral of the story? Audio commentaries retain customer interest.

Thursday, December 31, 2015 by wickedcodeferret

Fueled By Clickbait

Adventure games are the original clickbait ads. No, seriously! Pixel hunting for just the right item to click on or combination of inventory items to get past some obtuse puzzle pretty much led to those terrible advertisements that show up on all web pages on the Internet:

I personally can't wait until someone writes a point-and-click game that's nothing but navigating through clickbait ads. Either way, speedrunning Adventure games is an art in amongst itself, minimizing mouse movements and managing clicks to preserve precious mouse click fluid. 'Cause you don't want to run out of click fluid in the middle of a run, right?

The Dark Fall series of Adventure games involve piecing together historical mysteries involving ghost hunters, ancient evils, occasional time travel and a punishing inventory system that doesn't manage any notes or clues, requiring the player to keep track of things outside of the game. Like on paper. Plus devious puzzles... lots and lots of puzzles. However, when you already know the solutions and don't need to click on a bunch of journals to figure out things like plot and backstory, going through both games is a breeze! Andrew 'Bigmanjapan' Bondarenko flies through both games, destroying all puzzles in the way of victory, solving Dark Fall in a quick 0:04:31 and Dark Fall II: Lights Out in a slightly longer 0:09:35. Try not to blink when watching these runs or you might miss large portions of the game.

Full Throttle's dystopian future of motorcycle gangs still existing in a world of hovercars is still considered a classic of the Lucasarts SCUMM Adventure game days. With incredible voice acting, occasional arcade elements mixed with the traditional point n' click and full motion video, it still holds up today as a great game. Especially with its story involving greed, murder and minivan production, which I'm pretty sure Sons of Anarchy copied more than once in that show's story arcs. Taking control of Ben, Andrew 'Bigmanjapan' Bondarenko revenges the death of Corley Motors' President and rides off into the sunset in 0:14:02. Which includes speeding past that stupid wall kicking puzzle.

Another series that blend action with pixel hunting are the Quest For Glory games, which include multiple paths through each game depending on the class of character being played. Fighters fight their way through, Thieves sneak and steal, and Wizards just wizard everything in sight. Starting with Quest for Glory: So You Want to Be a Hero, Paul 'The Reverend' Miller posts a Fighter run through the lands of Spielburg in 0:09:27, which is faster than the Wizard by about a minute, but about 10 seconds slower than the speedy Thief.  Also, after quickly saving the land of Fricana and reuniting the Lion, Leopard and Human tribes in Quest for Glory III: Wages of War not too long ago, Paul 'The Reverend' Miller also speeds up the Fighter (0:26:25) and Wizard (0:25:43) paths with improvements of 1:18 and 1:45, respectively.

Lastly, waking up and discovering your home planet is in a collision course with a giant organic spaceship is never a good way to start a morning. Best you can do is jump in your trust banana-can rocket, travel to the spaceship and click through a whole series of screen-based puzzles to prevent the collision and save the day. If any of this makes sense, you've obviously played Samorost. Solving surreal puzzles with lots of clicks and digging the groovy sountrack, Andrew 'Bigmanjapan' Bondarenko saves the gnome-y homeworld in 0:04:29. Which should hopefully lead the way to a run of Samorost 2 in the near future

Sunday, December 27, 2015 by IsraeliRD

Contractual

I wanted a better word but apparently words containing 'Contra' in them that pertain to a partnership don't seem to exist (better said: I can't find any at the moment). So a contract it is. Sort of. An agreement between both parties? Works with today's theme.

Revisiting Contra ReBirth, we get a couple of good runs. Jeremy 'DK28' Doll did an Easy difficulty run as Bill in 0:12:37, and then Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen & Jeremy 'DK28' Doll did a Co-Op run on Hard difficulty, clocking in at 0:13:52.

Up next is another new entry to the Contra series, this time Neo Contra. Taking place in the year 4444 (insert lame joke here), Earth became a prison planet. Long story short, bad guys attempt to take over the planet and Bill is awaken from his cryogenic sleep (also, he's a clone of the original). Paired with a samurai, they go and destroy 'Neo Contra'. Both the organisation and the game, that is. Familiar names did the following runs:


Until next time, have a happy new year!

Saturday, December 26, 2015 by IsraeliRD

Contraposition

I didn't know we had a run for Contra 4 until AFTER I took screenshots for the gamepage and tried to upload them. If you liked the previous run by Mr. K, then you'll be happy to see this time around Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen & Zack 'Zallard1' Allard teamed up to serve us with a Hard difficulty Co-Op run, clocking in at 0:24:13. In addition to that, both of these guys also speedran the Challenge Mode, which is made up of 40 levels which are repeated parts of levels from the game. Those are finished in 0:33:54, done on Hard mode as well.

Up next is Super C. While we don't have any improvements to the existing 1-player runs, we do have a couple of new ones. Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen & David Heidman Jr. did an any% run in 0:13:08, and since that wasn't enough, they went ahead for a No Items run as well, beating the game in 0:13:36.

The last game is bad, and the audio commentary I listened to while watching this run is what indicated that to me. Adding to the list of Contra series SDA hosts we now have Contra Force. Kyle 'Mr. K' Halversen was the victim and thanks to a handful of shortcuts that were much needed, you get to enjoy this run in 0:14:51.

Friday, December 25, 2015 by IsraeliRD

Contravene

This is violating the game on so many levels.

Today's Contra III: The Alien Wars runs are adding several new categories with a few really awesome improvements, considering how good the previous runs were. Hard to pick which run to watch first with all of this variety...!

Thursday, December 24, 2015 by IsraeliRD

Contramure

I've sat here wondering for the last half hour what to write pertaining to Contra, and turns out I have nothing to say that hasn't been said before.
So yes, we've had Contra: Hard Corps appearing a month ago, but before that it's been 1 year and 9 months since any Contra game appeared on the front page. In fact it was the Xbox-Live version of Contra that was last posted. Has no one played Contra? Not at all.
If you somehow missed the Contra Conferences, then you will be happy to hear that the runs recorded for these last 3 years were submitted to SDA, and they all amassed together to bring you something special for this holiday season! Today marks the first of four consecutive days where you get to see so many Contra runs that you will lose your shirt, gain some muscles and go shoot some aliens.
Oh, and one more thing... most of them contain an audio commentary.

Today's Contra runs obsolete the old NES runs and add a couple more:

Tuesday, December 22, 2015 by LotBlind

Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger (really just faster...)

The one year in-between the releases of Age of Mythology and Age of Mythology: The Titans is approximative of the interval between seeing the last set of Individual Levels runs for the former and now beholding the same for the latter. Developed for Microsoft by Ensemble Studios in 2003, The Titans brings a new player on the field: The campaign lets you play the Atlanteans who misled by the evil deity Kronos enter a war with the three other cultures - Greek, Norse and Egyptian. Additions include new god powers such as "Sky Passages" which allows units to blink across the map in a flash. IIRC this is one of those that see use in 'UtterNutter''s 1:25:56 but other cool strategies also abound.

It's never too late to speedrun. Mark my words! This ship will NEVER sail. Wait, doesn't that mean no-one's ever getting anywhere? My point is here we have 'AlecK47' who first arrived on the scene a full 10 years ago and has now scored his opener with two Invididual Levels improvements for Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Breaking into any Sonic ILs table, I can only imagine, takes a lot of dedication and so even saving 2 seconds on Emerald Hill Act 2 (for an 00:35) should not be slighted, let alone the 6 seconds hewed off the Wing Fortress Zone record (making it an 01:38). This leaves us with a new combination time of 0:14:36.

Starcraft has featured on the front page before during my time, though in the form of its expansion, Brood War, and so I won't wax lyrical, dramatic, or prosaic on the topic today. Suffice it to say it was a 1998 seminal Real-Time Strategy hit following the footsteps of Blizzard's equally popular WarCraft II. And that you should probably have heard of it. Of the three available races, 'Zergreenone' goes Terran, enters mission number 5, and gives the troops a whole flurry of orders that speed the human army into victory 11 seconds faster than before. The new time is 04:57 and the whole table stands at 2:28:30. If this young runner keeps going with this game, I predict more top times will exchange hands ere long.

Okay, so here's the real tofu (because I'm vegetarian) of this update: a whole new racing game inductee, but not one that hasn't seen competition, it's Mickey's Speedway USA. Because it's a kart racer, there's nothing to say about it (they're all highly derivative of each other), but that doesn't mean both the race records and lap records submitted by 'PerfectTaste' aren't both tight and klutch. For most of the races, the fastest kart belonging to "scientist, lecturer, psychologist, and world traveler" Ludwig von Drake is the one opted for with infrequent appearances by other characters on the what are probably more technical courses (my guess anyway). The runner, who started on their Speedway journey way back when the game came out, etches their name all across the ILs tables (filled with gallons of powerslides and close cornering) having stopped short of nothing... but reclaiming EVERY LAST WORLD RECORD before submitting to us! Differences of a few frames can be spotted on the records board at speedruns.com. The verifiers all seemed to appreciate these runs too.

Race records:
0:25:15.67
Lap records
0:08:14.50

This ILs-themed update is probably the best place to mention this: even though small, down to single-level improvements to existing ILs tables are always accepted at SDA, if it is your possible intention to return to the game at some date in the not-too-distant future, there's probably no rush to submit them right away. Same goes for getting a number of different endings for example. I'm saying this because it makes processing the runs more efficient the more there are in the same package. I full well know some ILs tables are optimized to the stratosphere and even one improvement demands a marathon of attempts, but just as a heads-up. If you just plain want some feedback, feel free to link your run in the game thread and see if anyone capable of giving you some comes around.

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