Welcome to our weekly open thread for the discussion of gaming plans, nagging questions, and whatever else we feel like talking about. No matter what the topic, we invite everyone in the comments to tell us: What Are You Playing This Weekend?
For me, and I suspect for a lot of you too, January is a hangover. After the excess and revelry of the holidays, the new year rolls around and it’s still as cold and dark as it was last month but now with nothing to look forward to. I tend to spend the whole month in a funk, accomplishing very little, until one day I look around and it’s already halfway through March. This new-year sluggishness is just one of the many reasons I could never hope to participate in Awesome Games Done Quick.
AGDQ, the charity speedrunning marathon, hit the ground running just three days into the new year and maintained an incredible level of excitement and spectacle for seven straight days. By the time the event came to a close in the wee hours of the morning on January 10th, it had raised an amazing $1.2 million for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Every one of the dozens of runs that took place over the week was a minor miracle, the result of hundreds of hours of practice and impossibly deep knowledge of how these games work. It would be impossible to give them all the praise they deserve in this limited space, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t at least single out a few of my favorites. You can find most of the runs archived on the marathon’s official YouTube channel.
For anybody who isn’t sure what the big deal with speedrunning is, DarkSpineSonic’s run of Sonic Lost World for the Wii U represents just about the platonic ideal. Every speedrun is a little bit different, but most draw from a common pool of skills: extremely quick reaction time, an intimate familiarity with the game, and a deep knowledge of useful glitches. In this run, DarkSpineSonic makes expert use of just about every skill a speedrunner would need in their arsenal. He switches effortlessly from exploiting bugs and loopholes to just straightforwardly playing at an incredibly high skill level. All this while maintaining a lucid, informative commentary on how the game works and how best to conquer it. Everything you could hope to find in a speedrun is on display in here somewhere.
Even if you’re not going to start speedrunning games yourself (I’m certainly not) you can still learn a lot about your favorite games by watching them get torn apart at these events. Kingdom Hearts is a game I’ve played countless times, but only after watching Zetris barrel through it in just three hours did I discover that I’ve been playing it wrong this whole time. In Kingdom Hearts, you’re able to call Disney characters to aid you in battle, but I’ve never bothered to actually use them. It always seemed more efficient to just whack enemies with my giant key. Zetris, though, demonstrated that summons are not to be underestimated, summoning Mulan’s Mushu to trash the final boss in just a few seconds. I used to think Mushu was useless. Dishonor on my cow.
If you haven’t got three spare hours to watch a Japanese role-playing game done quick, maybe you can find 25 minutes to watch an already fast-paced game done at warp speed? Hotline Miami is a mile-a-minute vortex of carnage even in an amateur’s hands, but Snowfats turned the game’s brutality into something that looked almost balletic in its speed and grace. On several occasions he topped his own already towering level high scores, inspiring applause from the audience. Toward the end of the run he accidentally replayed a level twice and just rolled with it, then went on to earn a high score in that level as well. Snowfats also had a guy wearing a tiger mask sitting on his couch, a delightfully surreal touch appropriate for the game on display.
How about you, Gameologitrons? What were your highlights from Awesome Games Done Quick 2016? Do we have any speedrunners in the comments? Let us know, along with what you’re playing this weekend.