If you’re anything like me, you get super excited when Games Done Quick comes around. The speedrunning charity is up to multiple events a year, but none are quite as big as the original Awesome Games Done Quick, which will be held this year in Orlando, Florida from January 5 through the 12. I can’t wait for the runs to start, but for those not in the know, here’s a brief rundown.
AGDQ is an annual event that gathers speedrunners from around the world to show off their skills on the big stage, while raising money for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. And raise money, they do. To date, GDQ events have raised over $22 million over the past 10 years, and last year’s event, Summer Games Done Quick, set an all-time event record, raising over $3 million for Doctors Without Borders. While nothing is certain, I wouldn’t be surprised to see next week’s event break that record as well, as each event seems to be bigger and more successful than the last.
The full schedule for next week is over here, and there are runs for pretty much any video gamer to watch and enjoy. That said, I thought it would be fun to highlight a few of the runs from next week that I’m excited about. Maybe you’ll find something to catch your eye as well. Please note: the times listed below are in Central Standard Time, because I live in Nebraska. If you go to the schedule in the link above, the time will automatically convert to your time zone.
1. Super Mario Bros. 3 – 100% Race
Runners: mitchflowerpower, TheHaxor, stewie_cartman
When: Sunday, January 5th – 5:49 p.m. CST
Est. Completion Time: 1:14:00
This will be a fun race for a few reasons. First and foremost, you’ve got a game that most people are familiar with. Next, you’ve got three of the top SMB3 speedrunners in the world facing off against each other in an attempt to beat the entire game as fast as possible. I mean, mitchflowerpower holds the world record in 100%, Any% Warpless, and Any% (No Wrong Warp). But, that’s not to say he’s got an easy match. Both TheHaxor and stewie_cartman are great runners in their own right, and their runs routinely appear on speedrun leaderboards for SMB3. It will just be a fun race to watch on a technical level, at the very least. Additionally, 100% is a fun category to watch because of the many auto-scrollers within this game. Most speed categories skip these, since there’s no optimization to be had. However, in this category, runners who are used to moving as fast as possible are forced to play them and wait, potentially throwing them off their game. Again, it’s just going to be a fun race to watch.
2. Final Fantasy VIII – Any% Co-op Relay
Runners: Tojju, Muttski, Luzbelheim
When: Tuesday, January 7th – 11:01 p.m. CST
Est. Completion Time: 8:55:00
Since AGDQ is a 24-hour event, you’ll often find long runs of role-playing games overnight, and if you’re a night owl, they can be a blast to just have on in the background while you’re doing other things. Even so, Final Fantasy VIII is a fun game to watch in its own right. As an RPG, it features some interesting gameplay techniques, and graphically, it’s got some really interesting environmental designs. Plus, seeing people play an entire Final Fantasy game in less than 10 hours is always a treat.
3. The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends – Any%
When: Thursday, January 9th – 3:43 a.m. CST
Est. Completion Time: 00:08:00
This is another middle of the night run, and it may seem like an odd entry on such a short list, but for me, it’s probably the most speedrunny form of speedrunning at this year’s event. You have an obscure game from 30 years ago run by the world record holder, and at an eight-minute estimate (twice as long as the current world record), it’s one of the shortest runs for this event. There will probably be glitches. There will most likely be frame-perfect skips. There will definitely be the result of hundreds of hours playing a game that hardly anyone remembers. If you want a brief, quick introduction to what speedrunners do, this is it. Also, it’s a great opportunity to let you know that while the event is streamed live on Twitch, GDQ does upload all of the individual runs to Youtube, so if you don’t want to stay up until 4:00 a.m. to watch an old NES game, you can certainly check it out on demand in the days following the event.
4. Celeste – Farewell
When: Friday, January 10th – 9:08 a.m. CST
Est. Completion Time: 00:20:00
Hands down, one of my favorite games to watch someone speedrun is Celeste. The movement in this game is so impressive and the tricks require such precision, to see it run perfectly is a thing of beauty. It also helps that the game was created with speedrunning in mind, and one of my favorite GDQ runs in history was a race at SGDQ2018, which featured three of the game’s developers on the couch providing commentary. This particular run is just the DLC released late last year, but it will still be quite a show.
5. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Randomizer – Open Mode, Crowd Control Difficulty
When: Saturday, January 11th – 1:04 p.m. CST
Est. Completion Time: 03:30:00
This will be a very interesting run for two specific reasons. First, it’s a randomizer. If you don’t know what that is, it simply randomizes all of the elements of the game, leading to a new experience every time you play. There are randomizers for a lot of different games, but my favorite is The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. This is a game that is designed in a linear fashion, where you enter a dungeon, find a treasure, use the treasure to defeat the boss, and then use the treasure to gain access to the next dungeon, where you repeat the process. With items and treasures randomized across the entire game world, there is no singular route. In fact, the runner really won’t know where to go until he starts to see what items are in the treasure chests available to him at the beginning of the run.
Additionally, this is a Crowd Control game, which means that the audience can use Twitch Bits to affect the game in real time, such as reducing Link’s health to one heart or inverting the runner’s d-pad controls. If the audience is so inclined, they can even help the runner by giving him bombs or upgrading his sword. Even better, the bits will also go to charity, so in addition to messing with the game, you’ll also be donating a little bit to a good cause. Simply put, this is probably the most unpredictable run at the event. Literally anything could happen.
6. Untitled Goose Game – All Main Tasks
When: Saturday, January 11th – 4:44 p.m. CST
Est. Completion Time: 00:25:00
This is the first appearance of the horrible goose at a GDQ event, but it probably won’t be the last. I haven’t watched any Untitled Goose Game speedruns, but I’ve heard they’re fun. If nothing else, you’ll probably see the most efficient to-do list completion in history, with multiple items crossed off at the same time.
7. Super Mario Maker 2 – 4v4 Blind Relay Race
Runners: CarlSagan42, grandpoobear, PangaeaPanga, Barbarian, juzcook, ryukahr, Aurateur, Thabeast721
When: Saturday, January 11th – 5:29 p.m. CST
Est. Completion Time: 01:15:00
If you’ve never had a chance to watch some high-level Super Mario Maker 2 gameplay, you are certainly missing out. Level makers seem to be in a race to create the most difficult levels that can still be beat. This race gathers eight of the best SMM2 players on the Internet and tasks them with a series of levels created specifically for the event. When one player dies, they pass the controller, and the next player tries to use what the first player learned to make it a little further. While these won’t be the most difficult levels — they do have a time limit to adhere to — you’ll still see some wild tricks and gameplay.
Now, these runs are just a few out of the hundreds that will be featured next week. If nothing on this list strikes your fancy, then I would encourage you to go take a look at the full schedule. There are games on that list that pretty much anyone can enjoy.
Awesome Games Done Quick starts on Sunday, January 5 at 10:30 a.m. CST and runs through the following Saturday at about 11:30 p.m. It can be watched in its entirety for free on GDQ‘s Twitch channel.
(All images provided by Games Done Quick)