I adore SGDQ. It's a week-long charity speedrun marathon to benefit Doctors Without Borders, with some of the best speedrunners from around the world showing off their skills and occasionally breaking their own records. There are always off moments, but this year's event was, in my opinion, wonderful. People don't just yell "hype" randomly anymore, there were fewer awkward moments in the production, and I daresay there was an air of positivity and inclusiveness to the show.
I didn't watch the whole thing, but of the runs that I caught, here are a few of my favorites.
Dark Souls 3 by ThorW
Runner ThorW was so collected, so informative and so gosh-darn chill and entertaining throughout his all-bosses run of Dark Souls 3 (up to DLC1) that I couldn't look away. I played something like 60 hours of the game myself (I only stopped because something, somehow, went wrong with my Onion Knight, he didn't show up for the fight with Yhorm, despite my following every quest direction to a T, I was so bummed I quit the game), and watching it perfected in this manner was… cathartic.
Banjo-Kazooie by StivityBobo
I've been watching this runner perfect his Banjo Kazooie game (ha!) for years now, and he never disappoints. He nailed a series of extremely difficult tricks in this 100% run, and wasn't far off pace for a world record. But really, I am always down to watch "long" runs of this game, which showcase the intricate, layered level design of one of the finest 3D platformers in history.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Radical Rescue (GameBoy) by ZorlaxSeven
This was a huge surprise for me! I tuned in during the Gameboy block, and was excited to see this classic Metroid-style TNMT game (which I played for like, twenty minutes back in 1993). The run was entertaining, but the best part was the fact that the runner smashed the previous world record by a whopping nine seconds.
I genuinely love the lesser-known game runs during SGDQ for that reason—it's not wildly uncommon for these games to have record-breaking moments like this, with an affectionate audience going wild and the runner beaming with pride. It's beautiful!
Warpless Super Mario Relay
by Just_defend, bjw, Svenne, darbian, Dotsarecool, xsvArea51, truman, LackAttack24, grandpoobear, Kosmicd12, MrCab, Kirua, SuperSonic71087, Aweglib, RaikouRider
This is just a joy to behold— Super Mario Bros. 1, 2, 3, Lost Levels and World are run, in a row, by three teams, all racing for the glory. It's like a mega-injection of nostalgia and a good-natured competition all at once, and the race finished ridiculously close for a 5 game series—highlighting the sheer skill of these folks.
Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast by CovertMuffin
I do, generally, gravitate towards runs of games I've played, for obvious reasons: I know how they work, and if I've actually beaten it, I probably liked it and want to see more. But that's not a prerequisite to enjoy a speedrun, as this wonderfully bananas run from CovertMuffin (great name!) proves. The runner is enthusiastic and informative, and best, very obviously having fun while skipping wildly through levels, breaking the hell out of the game.
Zelda: Breath of the Wild by Orcastraw
This was a bonus speedrun, not originally on the schedule, but once a bonus donation incentive was met, Ocrastraw was called up to do a 45-minute any % run of the recent classic. And she pulled off one of the most entertaining runs of the entire marathon, showing off tricks, giving context for all of her strats, joking around when horse-related mishaps occurred, and generally kicking this beautiful game's ass.
This is the rare game I've played enough of (somewhere around 200 hours, at this point) to have the slightest grasp of the kind of subtleties that a speedrunner will know how to exploit, so, on top of being entertaining, this one was actually very interesting on a mechanical level to me.
On so many levels, this run exemplifies what I enjoy about speedrunning, as a practice. It highlights everything about a game's design—from level construction to the subtleties of mechanical interaction. It's a display of skill and showmanship. And best of all, it shows a love of a given game, flaws and all.
I still need to watch a bunch of the marathon, which I'll be happily doing for the next… oh, six months or so, until the winter season and AQDQ. Congrats to all of the runners, Games Done Quick production staff, and MSF, and to all who participated.