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For over a decade, GDQ has been shining a spotlight on Speedrunning, sharing this wonderful niche hobby with a worldwide audience. Speedrunning has grown in popularity in the last few years so much that it dwarfs what many ever imagined it would!
A lot of Speedrun history has been made at GDQ events through the years, and if Speedrunning has piqued your interest, it can be a little daunting if you’re looking for a decent run to watch.
In this GDQ Speedruns Guide, I will recommend some of the best runs I’ve seen through the years.
Every recommendation will have a quick summary of the run and a YouTube link so you can watch them right away. If you’re ready for a trip through the history of Speedruns, let’s begin!
What Is GDQ?
GDQ is a charity fundraising organization and has been responsible for exposing countless Speedrunners to the hobby! ‘GDQ’ stands for ‘Games Done Quick’, and they host 2 events annually, AGDQ and SGDQ. AGDQ stands for ‘Awesome Games Done Quick’, typically held at the beginning of the year. SGQD stands for ‘Summer Games Done Quick, ‘ which usually kicks off around June.
At these events, Speedrunners showcase the best Speedruns around to a live audience and a massive online audience on websites like Twitch. Both events raise a fantastic amount of money for charity. Gaming at the highest level and raising money for a good cause. It’s a perfect match!
Bottom Line Up Front
Speedrunning has exploded in popularity over the last few years, and GDQ events have been integral to that!
This guide contains some of my favourite Speedruns of all time. It’s always satisfying to see your favourite games get torn apart by Speedrunners. If nothing tickles your fancy in this guide, see if someone has run yours elsewhere!
What I Look For in a Great GDQ Speedrun
Everyone will have a different opinion on what makes a Speedrun fun and enjoyable to watch. There are some things I absolutely love (hyped and/or detailed commentary, for example), but some things really put me off.
With this in mind, I think it’s important to explain some of the criteria I’ve used to put this guide together. Feel free to skip this section if you just want to watch some fantastic Speedruns!
I enjoy a relaxed commentary from either the runner or a host. I like to have speedrunning tricks explained, and in a way I can unravel as a newcomer. Some GDQ commentators are incredible and carry the run almost as much as the runner themselves!
I bring this up because a great commentary can add to a speedrun, but a not-so-good one can take away from it. Commentary is hard to get right, but when done correctly, those runs shine.
Too Many Glitches
One of the things that got me into Speedrunning is the glitches. They fascinate me, and sometimes I’ll learn how to do them even if I have no interest in running the game! However, I think there can be ‘too many’ glitches, which spoil the flow of a Speedrun for a viewer. I draw the line at runs where much of it is spent outside the map or traversing pitch-black kill planes. I appreciate the skill involved, but they aren’t exciting to watch.
As GDQ has grown in popularity, most runs showcase a solid, coherent route through the games, so this isn’t much of an issue nowadays.
In Run Resets
This may sound a little nitpicky, but I’m not a fan of runs where hard resetting becomes an integral part of the Speedrun. Like with glitches, I appreciate the skill involved, but nothing takes me out of a Speedrun like a runner switching the game off.
Resets can be used to create some unique scenarios (like manipulating ‘RNG’), but I don’t enjoy watching them. One exception to this rule is if the speedrunner is doing something insane, like a blindfolded run. Yes, some speedrunners play blindfolded, and some of those runs have made their way into this guide!
The Speedruns in this guide are in no particular order, but I’ve included a mix of new and old games from a broad range of genres. Whether you’re a fan of retro or modern games, whether you’ve 20 mins to spare or want a Speedrun you can fall asleep to, you’ll find something great to watch here.
Doom Eternal by Bloodshot9001 – SGDQ2020 Online
What better way to kick off this list than with an FPS master class? This incredible Doom Eternal run by Bloodshot9001 showcases how insane every facet of this game can be. The Category is ‘Any%, No Major Glitches, ‘ which means there’s a lot of stylish speedrun tech, but it doesn’t break the flow of the run. Bloodshot9001 shows off some ridiculous shooter skills, and combining that with Doom Eternal’s incredible movement makes this a jaw-dropping run from start to finish.
The commentators are superb and go out of their way to explain the runner’s decisions, weapon choices, and skips. They don’t overwhelm with jargon either, which is appreciated. There’s a ton of crazy execution on display, and you don’t have to be a Doom savant to enjoy it.
Pepsiman by Theboyks – SGDQ2018
If you’ve never heard of Pepsiman, all I can say is you’re in for a treat. Pepsiman is one of the most bizarre games in the entire PS1 library (and that’s saying something!), and it was released exclusively in Japan.
Pepsiman is essentially an auto-scroller, but as each level is crazier than the last, you can’t help but watch the entire thing. Theboyks carries this run with a superb solo commentary. The gameplay is stellar, but the highlight of this run is how much the crowd gets into it. Someone even cosplayed as Pepsiman!
Compared to some of the Speedruns in this guide that are rather intense, this one is clean, light-hearted fun. If you’ve never witnessed this game’s legendary cutscenes, you owe it to yourself to watch.
Klonoa: Door to Phantomile by Trib – AGDQ2019
I’m a little biased towards this entry because this is a game I Speedrun! Klonoa is worthy of a spot on the list because it’s got everything I look for in a GDQ Speedrun. Trib and his hosts put on a great show with a solid, informative commentary. The gameplay contains a delightful mix of tight platforming, impressive tricks and a sprinkling of clever glitches that are all well explained.
Trib also pulls off some incredible boss battles in this Speedrun by purposely taking damage to line up his subsequent attacks faster. This technique is called Damage Boosting, and it’s so much harder than it looks! Klonoa has been run at multiple GDQ events since 2019, but I still think this is the best.
Resident Evil 7 Biohazard by Carcinogen – AGDQ2018
Time: 1:49:28 (the run starts 27mins in)
If you’re too chicken to play through a Resident Evil title and would like to see someone just demolish them instead, this is the run for you. Carcinogen and his hosts give an incredible, relaxed commentary, and it’s a joy to listen to them sharing their knowledge about the game. Many speedrun tricks and technical insights are explained in simple terms throughout, which is hard to do.
The best thing about this Speedrun is it’s played on ‘Madhouse’ difficulty, where a single mistake can result in a game over. This is one of the most intense runs I’ve ever watched, and you’ll lose count of how many times Carcinogen is a single hit away from death. A nail-biter from start to finish!
Bloodborne by Heyzeusherestoast – AGDQ2019
Even if you are not interested in Soulsborne games, this run is still worth watching. Heyzeusherestoast (Zeus) is incredibly charismatic and puts on a commentary master-class. Zeus makes a mockery of one of the most challenging games on the PS4 and does it whilst cracking jokes and getting the crowd involved. He does it without any supporting hosts too!
The level of gameplay on display in this run is so high that it makes Bloodborne look easy. The combat is stellar, and all of the decision-making in traversing Yharnam is incredible. This is the run I usually direct any Speedrunning newcomers to. It’s the complete package, and Zeus manages to comfortably wrap the whole game up in under an hour.
Sonic Mania by Argick – AGDQ2021 Online
What Speedrun guide would be complete without the Blue Bolt himself making an appearance? Argick is an incredibly energetic runner doing a solo commentary alongside one of the fastest platformers out there.
This is a masterful Speedrun of Sonic Mania from start to finish. Argick demonstrates how much skill and nuance goes into a Sonic Mania run and confidently shares his extensive knowledge of the game.
For me, Sonic runs encapsulate everything a Speedrunner could want in a game. Tight controls, skill-based gameplay, and speeds so insane that even the camera can’t keep up!
Alien: Isolation by Drayux – SGDQ 2020 Online
Alien: Isolation is a strong contender for one of the scariest games of the last decade. This run is impressive because Drayux makes the Alien look as threatening as a tiny puppy. He also does it on such an unfair difficulty; it wasn’t even in the game on release!
Drayux’s mood is infectious, and he remains in great spirits for the entire 2 and a half hours. There’s some incredibly high-level gameplay on display, and Drayux’s ability to navigate the Nostromo whilst avoiding the Xenomorph is mind-blowing.
The commentary is second to none in this run, Drayux does a great job explaining everything, and his hosts fill in any gaps.
Super Mario Maker Blind Race – AGDQ 2016
Time: 38:58 (run starts 27mins in)
If you want a break from the conventional Speedrun format, races at GDQ are a great way to shake up the formula. This Speedrun features a relay race between 2 teams of Mario Maker pros as they tackle a fiendish course they’ve never seen before. The skill level on display is staggering, and the speed the teams adapt to absurd obstacles is mindblowing.
The race in question does get a little one-sided towards the end, but it’s still an entertaining watch. If you have any interest in level design, some of the commentators are people that made the levels in the course. There are some great insights there.
This race demonstrates just how skilled Super Mario players have become through the years, and the live audience makes the competition feel electric!
Donkey Kong Country 2 by V0oid – AGDQ2016
The Donkey Kong games are infamous for their brutal, unforgiving difficulty. Games like this crushed so many kids’ hopes and dreams in the 90s; they should have come with a health warning! Maybe we can look at this Speedrun as therapy.
V0oid makes difficult tricks in this run look ‘easy’ with an awe-inspiring showcase of Donkey Kong prowess. The commentary is fantastic, and it’s evident that everyone talking has a deep knowledge of the game. This is a superb run to watch if you want to see some relentless retro platforming played at the highest level.
Celeste by TGH – AGDQ2019
One of the most common questions on Speedrun forums is ‘What game should I speedrun?’. The most common answer to that question is ‘Celeste’, and this run demonstrates why.
Celeste is one of the most technically demanding, precise platformers with a nearly limitless skill ceiling. The draw of Celeste is how the game relies entirely on the player’s skill, and few can soar through the game as TGH does in this Speedrun.
The commentary is great but takes a back seat to some of the most meticulous, pinpoint platforming you’ll ever see. You don’t have to play Celeste yourself to appreciate how tricky this Speedrun is, but your jaw will hit the floor if you do.
Zelda: Ocarina Of Time (Blindfolded) by Runnerguy2489 – AGDQ2015
I had to include at least one Zelda game on this list, as they are always a real treat to see at GDQ events. This run, in particular, is remarkable because Runnerguy2489 does the entire game blindfolded! He gives a superb commentary considering how vital sound cues are, and his mastery of the game is staggering.
Even if you’re not a Zelda fan, I urge you to give this one a watch. I’ve watched this Speedrun dozens of times, and I still can’t wrap my head around how Runnerguy2489 memorizes a whole game. I don’t think I could even do 5 mins of my favourite games without being able to see.
Just a side note, the audience’s faces are priceless in this run! Everyone looks stunned and impressed, and they stay that way for the entire Speedrun. I can’t blame them; that’s how I look every time I watch this!
Sonic 1 (2013 Android) by Flying Fox – AGDQ2021 Online
If you’ve let out an unimpressed sigh at the ‘Android’ in the title, hear me out! The Android version of Sonic 1 lets Speedrunners bring a host of upgrades from the later games into the original. Things like the iconic Spin Dash and Elemental Shields are a welcome addition to this timeless classic.
If you’ve ever wondered how Tails would fare in Sonic 1, this would be the result. Flying Fox puts in a phenomenal run from start to finish, and there’s a superb relaxed commentary by Keizaron (an absolute legend in the Speedrun community).
This Speedrun deserves a special place on the list because Flying Fox didn’t just put down an incredible run; she broke the world record! It is always an astonishing achievement to watch, and her reaction encapsulates how much work these Speedrunners put in to master their craft.
Final Fantasy VII by Ajneb174 – SGDQ2017
Final Fantasy VII is easily the longest Speedrun on this list, but it’s such a beloved title and an extraordinary run that it wouldn’t be right not to include it.
Ajneb174 puts on a master class and beats a game that took most of us over 70 hours in under 8! So many donations come in during this Speedrun explaining how important Final Fantasy VII was to them growing up. If you have a connection like that to this title, this is a special Speedrun.
The commentators deserve credit for intricately detailed explanations and a wonderful trip down memory lane.
Hades by Vorime – AGDQ2021 Online
If Glitches aren’t your thing, you’ll find a lot to love in this Hades Speedrun. This run boasts a chilled commentary, and Vorime is running an exciting category called ‘Three Weapons’, which requires 3 full game clears.
There’s some absolutely incredible gameplay on display throughout, and the Category allows Vorime to show off 3 wildly different ways to conquer the Underworld. The commentary is relaxed and detailed. If you’ve played Hades, there are many interesting insights, although I’d argue it may be tough to follow otherwise.
Super Mario 64 by Cheese05 – GDQX2018
One of the most coveted titles to get a record in is undoubtedly Super Mario 64. Speedrunners have torn this game to shreds over the years, and it remains a prominent run in every GDQ event. The hardest thing about including a Super Mario 64 Speedrun in this guide is picking one!
Every Super Mario 64 Speedrun is worth a watch, but my pick is the 120 Star route by Cheese05. Whilst this run doesn’t have every famous trick out there, it showcases a skilful route that takes the viewer on a journey through the entire game. You can see the refinement from years of research in this Speedrun, and the commentary is superb. Everything is explained simply, and the light-hearted banter makes this a wonderful Speedrun to watch.
Bioshock by Bloodthunder AGDQ2020
Bioshock was a genuinely incredible shooter when it came out back in 2007. The Speedrun proves it’s aged like a fine (if a little buggy) wine. Bloodthunder and his hosts give a great, informative commentary and do an exemplary job of explaining the glitches and tricks.
Bloodthunder has the route around Rapture down to a science, and he shows off so many clever little time skips and weird broken interactions the devs never intended. Most of the tricks revolve around using the Telekinesis Plasmid and the myriad of ways a runner can break the game with it.
F-Zero GX by GCN AGDQ2014
Racing games aren’t nearly as popular as you might think in Speedrunning. I’m not sure why this is, but it may simply be that since the goal is to go fast anyway, what would speedrunning add to that? On the rare occasion, a racing game does feature at GDQ, we’re blessed with incredible runs like this from GCN.
This is a Speedrun from a time when GDQ was a much more niche affair. The sound quality is lower, the venue looks like a college hall, and most of the event structure you may be used to seeing is non-existent. There’s a charming ‘raw-ness’ to this Speedrun, and anyone can appreciate CGN’s skills as he flies through F-Zero GX (a brutally challenging game, I may add) on the hardest difficulty.
This Speedrun is fast and frenetic, and there are so many close calls!. Worth the watch, even if you don’t care about racing games.
Punch-Out!! Wii (Blindfolded) by Zallard1 SGDQ2019
Bringing this guide to a close, I’ve gone with Blindfolded Punch-Out by the legendary Zallard1.
There’s a ton of history behind blindfolded Punch-Out at GDQ events, and this Speedrun continues that legacy.
The difficulty of this run ramps up after a few short fights, and watching Zallard1 beat down opponent after opponent without being able to see is incredible. Even the menus become challenging as they require the Wiimote to be pointed at the right parts of the screen! The crowd are with Zallard1 for the entire run, and every fight feels like a battle against all odds.
Zallard1 is a veteran Speedrunner and commentator at this point, and insights from him and his hosts are excellent.
If these Speedruns have inspired you to give it a go, you’ll find a lot to love at the official Speedrun.com website.
If you want to chat with like-minded Speedrunning fans on social media, check out the Speedrun subreddit!
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Is There an Archive of GDQ Speedruns?
Answer: Yes, there is! You can find every recorded run in existence over at https://gdqvods.com/.
Question: Has a World Record Ever Been set at a GDQ Event?
Answer: Yes, but they are uncommon. Playing at the highest level with the stress of commentating and having an audience is enough to make even veteran runners make mistakes.
Question: Where can I Read More About GDQ’s Fundraising Efforts?
Answer: GDQ’s official page can be accessed here: https://gamesdonequick.com/. All live events are streamed on this page as well.
GDQ events do an incredible job raising money for charity, and they remain one of the best places to watch the highest level speed runs.
There are more runs deserving of praise than I could ever cover in this guide. If you like what you see, check out the archives and give it a try yourself if you get hooked!