The 12 Best Speedrunning Games (And What Make Them So Great)

Want to get started as a speedrunner? Here are some of the best speedrunning games for first-timers.

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If you’ve ever watched someone speedrun a game you’ve played, you know how impressive it is to see.

You might have thought you were good at the game, and maybe you are, but speedruns take your average run through a game and make it look like you’re playing your very first videogame.

That said, speedrunners are only human. With a little practice—okay, a LOT of practice—you can start speedrunning games too. But which games are good for speedrunning?

Here are our recommendations for the best speedrunning games and what make them so great for speedruns.

1. Goldeneye 007

Platform: Nintendo 64

While some people love speedrunning ultra-long games, such games really kill the meaning of “speed” in speedrunning.

A game like Goldeneye 007, on the other hand, can take as little as around 20 minutes to make it through depending on the difficulty. Sure, it takes a lot of knowledge and practice, but it’s doable!

2. Parasite Eve

Platform: PlayStation

As speedrunner Professor Palmer noted on Reddit, Paradise Eve is a fantastic candidate if you’re a first time speedrunner, especially if you’re a fan of RPGs. There’s a great guide, and even though it takes a few hours, it’s much shorter than other RPG speedruns.

3. The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past

Platform: Super Nintendo

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is a classic among speedrunners because there are so many ways to approach it.

If you’ve got a controller you’re willing to sacrifice, doing a glitched run is surprisingly easy. If you’ve been playing for a while, you’re probably familiar with this game, which helps too.

4. Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!

Platform: Nintendo

Some games are extremely unpredictable, which makes speedrunning them especially difficult.

Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!! is anything but unpredictable, so as long as you memorize the game’s cues and timing, you’ll be able to run through it in a little over 20 minutes.

5. Strider

Platform: Nintendo

The NES version of Strider is notoriously glitchy, which means that if you know what you’re doing, you can get through it in around five minutes.

If you don’t know what to do, there’s a fantastic video from Awesome Games Done Quick 2016 (you can find it on YouTube) that shows you everything you need to know.

6. Undertale

Platforms: PC/Mac, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch

There are quite a few reasons that Undertale is great for speedrunning. For starters, it’s not terribly long to begin with.

But more importantly, there are several recognized types of runs through the game, so you have your choice of ways to play the game that fits you best. There’s no one “proper” run.

7. Pokémon Red & Blue

Platform: Nintendo Game Boy

If you’re a Pokémon fan, most of the core games in the series are worthy candidates for a speedrun.

That said, the community around Pokémon Red & Blue speedruns is the biggest of all, and there are nearly endless ways to try your hand at speedrunning these games.

8. Super Mario Bros

Platform: Nintendo

If you grew up with the NES—or if you’ve got a Nintendo Switch—then you’re probably already familiar with Super Mario Bros, and that’s partly what makes it a great speedrunning game.

Most runs are mainly about execution, so you’re not praying to the RNG gods (much). People are still improving, too! The current world record was set just a few days ago as I write this.

9. Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door

Platform: Nintendo GameCube

Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is one of the best games you’ve probably never played. And even if you’ve played it, you’ve probably never tried a speedrun for it.

A slow speedrun of this game is only around four hours, while a fast speedruns is closer to two hours. Either way, you don’t need to invest massive amounts of time for this one.

10. Fallout 3

Platforms: PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3

Fallout 3 is a game that kept players busy for hours on hours, but depending on how you want to run it, a speedrun can be as short as 15 minutes.

While the game is also available on PlayStation 3, speedrunners should stick to either PC or Xbox 360 because the notorious Bethesda bugs are even worse in the PS3 version.

11. Portal

Platform: PC

Portal isn’t an especially long game, even when played normally. Speedrunning makes it ridiculously short because of how notoriously buggy Valve’s Source engine can be.

Plus, the built-in level select makes it easy to practice the parts that give you trouble over and over again.

12. Super Mario Odyssey

Platform: Nintendo Switch

Yes, a certain plumber does seem to show up in speedrunning games an awful lot.

Players have been running Super Mario 64 for years, but as the newest game in the series, Super Mario Odyssey has plenty of fresh territory left to explore.

If you’re looking to set a speedrunning world record, a relatively newer game like this one is your best bet.

Playing Video Games Over and Over

Maybe you aren’t looking at speedrunning as a way to impress your friends (or internet strangers).

Maybe you’ve just beaten your favorite game a few times and you’re looking for a way to get more playtime out of it. Yes, speedrunning is one way to do that. But it’s not the only way.

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