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Whether you’re in it for the competition, the tricks, or just want to squeeze every last ounce of fun from your favorite game, Speedrunning is an awesome hobby, and once you start, it’s difficult to stop! There’s something uniquely rewarding about learning a game inside-out, and every title has its own barriers to break when you’re trying to go fast.
If you want to view your games through a completely different lens, I wholeheartedly recommend trying to Speedrun them. Anyone can do it and now is as good of a time as any to give it a go.
What are the best beginner Speedruns? Well, it’s not a simple question, but there are some fantastic candidates out there, and that’s what this article is all about!
Bottom Line Up Front
There’s no such thing as a perfect Beginner Speedrunning game, as everybody has strengths, weaknesses, and games they excel at. If your favorite game doesn’t lend itself well to Speedrunning, the list in this guide is full of games you can try without putting in hours of groundwork. These games have wonderful active communities with guides written by the best runners around, so take your pick. Or just play Celeste!
A Couple of Quick Questions
Before you dive into the list, I want to explain why your favorite game may not be the best to start with and give you some food for thought if you’re struggling to choose.
“Just Speedrun Your Favorite Game!”
One of the most common suggestions I see when someone is trying to pick a game to Speedrun is ‘pick your favorite’. Honestly, for most people, it’s a fine suggestion as you probably won’t mind playing your favorite game repeatedly. The problem arises when your favorite game is something like Final Fantasy X, where the best runners in the world take 10 hours to beat it. All of a sudden, Speedrunning, your favorite game becomes an incredible undertaking.
Even if your favorite game is short, you might just not enjoy how it’s run, and that’s OK! Use your favorites as a good starting point, but don’t lose sleep over it if you draw a blank here.
Fancy Yourself a Pioneer?
For some Speedrunners, the most rewarding aspect of the hobby is discovery and unearthing new strategies. In most Speedrunning communities, runners share their findings and theory craft together. There’s competition, but there’s always a community push to combine ideas, and when new records are set, they are built on collective hard work.
It’s exciting to research and experiment instead of re-treading what others have already done. If that sounds interesting, why not Speedrun a brand new game, and be a part of creating strategies that others may use in the future?
What Do YOU Want From Speedrunning?
The most important question to answer when picking a game to Speedrun is ‘What do I want?’.
This isn’t an exhaustive list, but you should consider these points when picking any game to invest time in for Speedrunning:
- How long do you want to play?
- Do you like hard games?
- Would you prefer to Speedrun with or without Glitches?
Come up with your own criteria, but you’ll be surprised what parts matter to you when you’ve Speedrun a few games!
I can already hear a few daggers being sharpened for even suggesting selection criteria for Speedrunning, but hear me out! This list aims to be as inclusive of fledgling runners as possible and those that are new to the hobby. I don’t think a game needs to be easy for a beginner to enjoy, but guides and community resources need to be readily available. My criteria are as follows:
- The World Record for the game from start to finish (Any% or otherwise) cannot exceed 90 mins.
- Must have a pre-existing, thriving community.
- Must be able to Speedrun right out of the box without community tools or down-patching (reverting to a previous version which is usually restricted to PC).
- One game per series.
The community point may not seem important, but a little guidance goes a long way to demystifying Speedrun tricks. You simply don’t have access to that information for lesser-run games, and I feel it’s pretty important for a newcomer. Speedrun.com has dedicated pages for thousands of games, and most have guides either in text or video form. These are like sacred scriptures to a novice runner!
Finally, some games are better for Speedrunning when played on an older version (Undertale, for example). Downpatching is a minor hurdle for PC players but an awful one for those on a console. With that in mind, every game must be ready to learn from the get-go.
These titles are in no particular order, and all offer a great entry point into the weird and wonderful world of Speedrunning! Some genres owe themselves better to the hobby than others, but there should be something for everyone here!
- Platform: All
- World Record: 26mins 12s
After ‘Your favorite game’, the most common Speedrun suggestion I see is undoubtedly Celeste, and with good reason! Celeste is a phenomenally polished, no-nonsense, 2D platformer with a skill ceiling floating above the stratosphere. Celeste is beloved for its wonderfully tight controls, beautiful environments, fiendishly tricky jump puzzles, and skill-based gameplay.
Every screen in the game is like its own enclosed jump puzzle with multiple ways to approach it. These usually range from ‘simple’ to ‘obnoxiously difficult’, but those demanding approaches are where the time savers are! Events outside the player’s control are the bane of any Speedrunner, with most games having their fair share of RNG. Celeste seemingly has none, and every success or failure can be attributed to your skill and mastery of Celeste’s movement mechanics.
I know I’ve hyped up the difficulty but don’t let that put you off. Challenging games are some of the most rewarding to Speedrun because you’ll quickly notice improvements if you stick with them. At the time of writing, Celeste has a staggering 28,000 submitted runs on Speedrun.com. Most other popular games have less than half of that.
The Simpsons: Hit & Run (SHAR)
- Platform: PC, PS2, Xbox, GameCube
- World Record: 1hr 19mins 45s
Teetering just under that 90mins limit, SHAR is enjoying a remarkable resurgence in popularity right now! I’ve been dabbling in this one myself, and the hype is justified! The best way to describe SHAR is like a story-driven ‘Crazy Taxi’ with a Simpson’s splash of paint on top.
Mastery of the maps and precision driving are the order of the day, and there are plenty of clever Speedrun tricks throughout the run. Driving games don’t typically lend themselves well to Speedrunning, so seeing one with such an active community is refreshing.
It’s not just your driving skills that will be tested in SHAR. There are vehicles and costumes you need to buy, and ensuring you collect enough coins to do so is a calculated balancing act. Learning optimal routes to manage everything will dramatically improve your times, and it’s extremely rewarding when everything pans out. I highly recommend this one!
Resident Evil 2 (2019)
- Platform: All
- World Record: 51mins 16s
One big reason I have a one title per series limit is that Resident Evil exists. Most of the games in Capcom’s flagship horror series owe themselves well to Speedrunning, and even the series director has commented on the fact! Resident Evil 2 is the most popular game in the franchise to Speedrun, with over 8000 submitted runs at the time of writing.
Resident Evil games reward exploration with healing items galore, powerful weapons and ammunition. Speedrunning forces you to forego these in the pursuit of a quicker time, and the faster you go, the harder it gets! This dilemma makes Resident Evil 2 an intense game to Speedrun, and the better you become, the more risks you’ll learn to take. This game, in particular, has several parts that slightly change each time you play, forcing the runner to adapt and keeping the game fresh.
- Platform: All
- World Record: 17mins 48s
Superhot is a contender for the most stylish game on this list. If you’re unfamiliar, Superhot is a first-person shooter with one big twist; enemies and bullets only move when you do. As you can imagine, this makes for some dramatic gunfights, and they are even more impressive when done at speed.
Much of Superhot Speedrunning is down to memorizing where enemies will appear and the fastest way to dispatch them. There’s also plenty of snap decision-making to compensate for your poor aim! Superhot is one game on this list you’ll feel at home playing if you’re a keen FPS player, as you’ll find those skills transfer over quite nicely. As it’s so short, you’ll be able to memorize most of it quickly, and from there, you can focus on optimizing your run and improving your times.
- Platform: All
- World Record: 14mins 31s (Glitchless), 5mins 53s (Out of Bounds)
Valve’s famous physics-based puzzler should need no introduction! Portal challenges players to navigate a series of ‘Test Chambers’ full of pitfalls and impossible obstacles. Or at least they would be impossible if you weren’t armed with the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device! Portal is a unique hybrid of puzzle game and first-person shooter. It’s fun to play casually, and Speedrunning blows the doors off in terms of how creative you can be.
The Speedrun.com page is full of intimidating categories, but the Glitchless category is a great place to start as it resembles a standard playthrough. If you’re drawn to Speedrunning by flashy tricks and tech, they don’t get much more impressive than in Portal, and you’ll be flinging yourself around like a pro in no time!
There’s plenty of room to grow as a Portal Speedrunner thanks to some tricky movement techniques but save them for later. For now, enjoy making a mockery of GLaDOS and the Aperture Science Labs.
- Platform: All
- World Record: 15mins 18s
Hades launched to nearly universal praise as a stunning Roguelite with a charming story and tight combat controls. As it turns out, it also makes a fantastic Speedrunning game with smart decisions having a massive impact on your times. There’s a generous assortment of weapons without one standing miles above the rest.
This build diversity is incredible as plenty of different playstyles compete for the number one spot. This Speedrun tests your combat mastery and how you forge a build together on the fly. Ultimately, lousy RNG can kill a run, but once you understand how the game works, you can do plenty to sway it.
Arguably, Hades bends my rule about being able to Speedrun without prep as you need to fully upgrade your base stats which takes a while. As that prep can all be done in-game and it’s a fun run, hopefully, you’ll still give Hades a shot. If you’re a PC player, you can skip all of that and download a premade save file from Speedrun.com. I won’t tell if you won’t!
Wii Sports Resort
- Platform: Wii, WiiU
- World Record: 15mins 49s (All Sports Category)
I always love seeing a game that’s a little unusual making the rounds in the Speedrun circuit, and few have made a splash quite like Wii Sports Resort.
The Speedrun community have split the game into several categories, including 18-Holes Golf and Cycling, but the one closest to an Any% run is ‘All Sports”. In ‘All Sports’, you need to finish an event in every sport, and it’s as simple as that. Don’t be fooled into thinking the leaderboards are overrun with casual players. Competition is fierce at the top level, and Speedrunners have developed incredible strategies for each sport.
Wii Sports Resort is still the best Sports game out there (Sorry Switch Sports) and remains a joy to play. There is no entry barrier, and as long as you have the console for it, it’s probably the easiest Speedrun to get into and learn. A light-hearted and fun entry into the world of Speedrunning!
Klonoa: Door to Phantomile
- Platform: PS1/PS2 (or as part of the remastered collection on current-gen hardware)
- World Record: 37mins 58s
OK, HUGE disclaimer here. I Speedrun Klonoa: Door to Phantomile, so naturally, I’m biased! That being said, I run Klonoa because it’s got everything I look for in a great Speedrun.
Klonoa is a 2.5D Platformer with tight controls, unique jump mechanics, and fun boss battles. With a bit of practice, you can beat the game in under an hour, and the run is littered with clever tricks. The tricks really drew me to the run as they make genius use of the 3D environments. The tricks are simple once you understand how they work, but they look so impressive, and the boss battles done optimally are a sight to behold!
As it’s relatively unknown, I’m almost certain you won’t see this game recommended anywhere else. Still, I can’t sing its praise enough if you want to sink your teeth into a rewarding platformer.
Super Meat Boy
- Platform: All
- World Record: 17mins 27s
Tough-as-nails platformers usually make perfect titles for Speedrunning, so it should be no surprise that Super Meat Boy is on this list.
Super Meat Boy shares many similarities with Celeste but has much more grounded jump mechanics and momentum-based puzzles. Each level is simply a race to reach your girlfriend, Bandage Girl, and most are designed to be played fast and only lasting a few seconds each if done optimally. This is a punishing game, but it’s a fantastic entry point into Speedrunning because you’ll be able to see dramatic improvements in your times when you get a feel for it.
There are some marvelous community guides for anything you could ever need, and if you don’t shy away from difficulty, Super Meat Boy ends up being a great, addictive Speedrun.
Super Mario Odyssey
- Platform: Nintendo Switch
- World Record: 56mins 55s
Honestly, any Super Mario game could have made this list as they are all certified bangers for Speedrunning. Super Mario Odyssey Speedruns stand out thanks to all the unique ways to traverse the world and how they make full use of Mario’s hat!
If you’ve played Super Mario Odyssey, you’ve likely experimented with the fantastic jumping mechanics already, and a big part of the Speedrun is refining those skills. There are different routes you can take through the game depending on your skill level, and the community has made some mind-blowingly good guides to follow.
There’s plenty to memorize, so if your time is limited, other games on this list may be better for you, but if you have the time, why not spend it on a game that’s sure to become a classic in the future?
- Platform: All
- World Record: Any% 5mins 37s, Glitchless 50mins 34s
Have you ever wanted to beat Outlast but been too chicken to actually do it? If so, why not Speedrun it?
Games like Outlast are a whole lot less scary when you understand how the bad guys work and learn to use that to your advantage. That’s precisely what you’ll be doing in this Speedrun, and you’ll be more focused on running around the asylum at break-neck speed than cowering in a locker somewhere.
A word of warning, If you’re running the Glitchless category, the hour-long run will take some time to learn. There are so many cool tricks to master on top of the route around the asylum, but if you put a little time in, you’ll quickly see results.
Mike Tyson’s Punch-out!!
- Platform: NES, Nintendo Switch Virtual Console
- World Record: 14mins 55s
One common misconception about Speedrunning is that you need to ‘no-life’ it if you want to become decent. If free time is a luxury, a single-segment Speedrun may be more up your alley. The beauty of Punch-Out!! is you can Speedrun the entire game OR become a specialist at a single fight.
There’s something special about Speedrunning a classic and nowadays, you have decades of guides and strategies at your fingertips. Speedrunning Punch-Out!! is so much more than throwing punches and hoping you win. There are techniques to annihilate every opponent in the game; some can even be KO’d in a single jab! This game is a crowd pleaser and one you can master no matter how much time you have.
- Platform: All
- World Record: 9mins 12s
Minecraft should need no introduction being one of the most played games on the planet! Going into Minecraft Speedrunning without knowing about the game beforehand is an uphill battle, but there are tons of guides available, and its impact on the Speedrunning landscape can’t be ignored.
The most popular way to Speedrun Minecraft is to start a random world and race to defeat the Ender Dragon. Unlike a game like Celeste, Minecraft is incredibly RNG-dependent, and countless runs die to bad luck. Still, an absurd amount of nuance and strategy goes into Minecraft Speedruns. If you’re willing to dive in, you’ll find an ocean of strategies to explore and an active community willing to share their knowledge.
- Platform: NES, Nintendo Switch Virtual Console
- World Record: 10mins 45s
I debated putting this one on the list because there is a MASSIVE entry barrier, but the Speedrun is so much fun! Castlevania’s entry barrier is you have to be able to beat it, which is no mean feat. The good news is that Castlevania has been with us long enough that every nook, cranny and enemy spawn has been documented. It may be easier to learn the Speedrun over just finishing the game normally!
If a bit of hard work learning the game won’t put you off, Castlevania is a fantastic, if unforgiving, platformer. For lack of a better word, there’s an incredible ‘rawness’ to this Speedrun. You don’t have many abilities, and there’s a grand total of 2 buttons on an NES controller. There’s beauty in simplicity, and that’s why after over three decades, Castlevania is still seen as a classic whether you’re trying to beat it quickly or not.
Mario Kart 8
- Platform: Nintendo Switch
- World Record: 1hr 24mins 30s (200CC 48 Tracks)
Much like Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!, Mario Kart is a superb candidate for Speedrunning if you’re short on time because you can focus on a single track or many at once.
Mario Kart is a skill-based driving masterpiece, and once you learn how to drift correctly and use your Mushrooms for boosts, you’ll see rapid improvements in your times. Anyone can throw a Kart around and enjoy what’s on offer here, and ultimately, the moment you start recording your times, congratulations, you’re a Mario Kart Speedrunner!
When you want to take Mario Kart 8 more seriously, the Speedrun.com page has everything you could need, from racing lines to Kart builds. If you’re learning one track at a time, there’s very little to memorize, making it a perfect entry into Speedrunning no matter how casual of a runner you are.
- Platform: Mobile
- World Record: 11mins 48s*
Subway Surfers is a weird anomaly because, if anything, it’s the antithesis of Speedrunning. The best way to describe it is like Temple Run against a Cityscape. The most popular category is ‘no coins’, aiming to survive as long as possible without collecting coins on the run.
If that sounds like the polar opposite of Speedrunning, it is, but in a round-about way, Subway Surfers does cover all the Selection Criteria I set. The longest recorded run is under 14mins. The community is humungous, active, and over 22,000 runs have been submitted at the time of writing.
Subway Surfers only demands your time to improve, making it perfect for newcomers. It’s not a Speedrun, but it’s found itself in a prevalent position on Speedrun.com. Oh, it’s a mobile game, so you don’t even need a games console or PC to play it.
*In Subway Surfers, the highest time possible is the best.
- Platform: All
- World Record: 48mins 56s (Marriage%)*
Technically, a full game Speedrun exists for Stardew Valley, but it’s barely run due to the sheer amount of time it takes and all the events beyond the runner’s control.
Stardew Valley is much better as a platform for Speedrunning community-made goals, and that’s why it has a spot in the honourable mentions section. There are dozens of fun ways to Speedrun Stardew Valley! Whether you’re into fishing, fixing up the community centre, or want to race to get married (I’m not kidding, it’s called Marriage%!), there’s probably a category to accommodate you.
There’s a stigma that categories like this are low effort or easy ways to earn leaderboard positions, but that couldn’t be further from the truth with Stardew Valley. Many of these categories are treated with the same respect that Any% runs are in other games, and there is plenty of galaxy brain theory crafting throughout.
*As there are so many ways to Speedrun Stardew Valley, the World Record is category-dependent and can be anything from 12mins to 3 Hours! Marriage% is one of the most popular, beginner-friendly categories and the one I’d urge a new runner to try first.
If you’re STILL looking for a game to play, you may have some luck browsing this thread on Speedrun.com. Sadly, it’s not been updated in a while, but it’s a place where Speedrunners advertised the games they play to garner a larger audience.
If Stardew Valley Speedrunning has piqued your interest, I’ve written a guide on some of the most popular ways you can run the game. You can read that here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Are There Any ‘Bad’ Games to Speedrun?
Answer: I don’t think any game is fundamentally bad to Speedrun, but depending on what you enjoy, some may simply not gel with you. For example, one of my all-time favourite games is Prince of Persia: Sands of Time. After some research, the most optimal way to run the game is almost entirely out of bounds and skipping virtually every obstacle. There’s a ton of skill in the Speedrun, and some players relish tearing a game to shreds like this, but this style of Speedrun is not for me personally.
Question: I’ve Put X Hours Into this Game, but I Don’t Like it. Is it too Late to Swap?
Answer: Absolutely not! Some runners forget that Speedrunning isn’t a job (although the hours could say otherwise!). It’s a hobby and something we do for fun. If you can’t get on with a game, don’t force it. At best, you won’t enjoy it, and at worst, it could kill the game for you. You lose nothing if you’re fussy, and trying out plenty of games will show you what you really enjoy in a Speedrun.
Question: What’s the Bare Minimum I Need to Speedrun a Game?
Answer: You only need two things to Speedrun any game. You need to be able to beat the game, and you need something to record your time on. Even a timer on your phone will suffice. When you get better, you’ll need to look at ways to record your runs if you want to submit them, but the longer you play, the better you’ll get. Don’t rush, and enjoy the process!
Speedrunning your favorite game has many benefits, but sometimes, it’s just not suitable. The most popular games for Speedrunning all boast a high skill ceiling, but with a bit of practice, anyone can learn and give them a go. Any game on this list would be a perfect entry point into the world of Speedrunning, but it’s always good to experiment. Who knows, maybe you’ll find the next big thing!