I love speedruns. Not that I want to ever to try speedrunning myself, but I love seeing people who are incredibly skilled at the games they play compete. Once you’ve played a game yourself, it’s fascinating to see how people deconstruct it. Speedrunners use skill and knowledge of the game to pull games apart. Then, they put them back together again in the fastest way possible. But this isn’t about speedruns, this is about relaxing speedruns.
What are Speedruns?
Speedrunning games is exactly what it says on the box. You’re taking the game and trying to finish it or get to a specific objective as fast as possible. In some games, it’s more common to speedrun levels specifically like Doom and Golden Eye. In others, like the Zelda games you’re trying to get the entire game played. Whether you finish it without completing all the objectives (any%), all the objectives (100%), without glitches (glitchless) or with specific constraints on you (like no hit runs for example), you’re competing against people who are following the same rules.
It’s fascinating to watch. When you think about going as fast as you can and trying to beat a ticking clock, you probably wouldn’t think about relaxing speedruns existing. There are speedruns where they just do everything so skillfully that you can just get caught up in them.
But a great place to find these relaxing speedruns is the speedrunning for charity event Games Done Quick. During GDQ, people aren’t speedrunning for the fastest time. It’s more picking established speedrunners in their field and having them showcase their skills. It’s a no reset run which means that runners can’t start over if they make a mistake, so that makes the speedruns flow better. On top of that, there’s usually commentary from the runner themselves or from a group of couch commentators who help fill the silence and explain what’s going on.
What Are My Favourite Relaxing Speedruns?
AeonFrodo plays Mario Kart 8 Deluxe
If I had to choose a relaxing speedrun, this would always be my first choice. AeonFrodo is a very chill speedrunner, her couch commentators are helpful and chill as well. Plus, Mario Kart has the same vibe as Tetris where you can get into a meditative state watching good players. Despite the chaos of some of the maps, AeonFrodo always feels in control of the situation and I must have watched this speedrun 15 times at least. Mario Kart marathon is also a speedrun with a low barrier to entry. While the tricks are difficult to pull off, a lot of it is just skillful driving. It means that even people like me who have zero idea of how to do glitches can enjoy watching a master at work.
TheMexicanRunner Plays Cuphead
TheMexicanRunner is actually someone who speedruns a lot of older games including being a master at BattleToads, so my interest was piqued when I saw that he was running a more modern game. This is one of my favourite relaxing speedruns. Not only is TheMexicanRunner charming as all get out, the couch commentary is good. You can tell they’re just having a great time being there. TMR went to GDQ twice to play Cuphead, and both are worth a watch. Despite this being a speedrun, TMR adds his own flair to the game. He even takes a moment to enjoy the little touches that the Cuphead devs put into the game.
FoxyJira Plays Final Fantasy X
Okay, I need to level with you. This might just be because I love Final Fantasy X. Not only do I have massive amounts of nostalgia for it, but it’s also my favourite Final Fantasy game. I love the music, I love the characters, I love the story, the visuals and the setting. So I’m willing to settle in for a longer speedrun if it means I get to see more of this game. Considering that it took me 30+ hours to even come close to beating the game, beating it in 4 is mind-blowing and well worth the watch.
heyZeusHeresToast Plays Bloodborne
Bloodborne isn’t a game where where you would think that it would be soothing. When people are on their game for it though, Bloodborne becomes this grotesque ballet. What was a frantic button-mashing game for me is transformed into a dance where the mutated bosses are just small obstacles for a god like protagonist. Add into that playing at GDQ plus a commentary couch and you’ve got yourself an interesting time. While it may not be the most relaxing speedrun, I thought it was important to include it.
TGH vs yoshipro in a Race to Beat Celeste
I love platformers. They don’t always love me back, but I love the crap out of them. Celeste is one of those platformers where if people are on their game, it looks like a completely different experience. A game that should take hours can be beat in less than 40 minutes with little to no mistakes. Because Celeste is fast paced and also has music that ties into the gameplay. While you would think a race would be tense, the skill of the runners takes the anxiety out of it. Plus, the beauty of Celeste makes it a natural choice for relaxing speedruns.
Kirby703 Plays TetrisEffect: Connected
Tetris Effect in general is just a mindblowingly zen game. Even when I was trying not to die, my blood pressure never seemed to spike. Seeing Kirby703 go through this game like it’s nothing is incredible. This was for a smaller GDQ event called Flame Fatales so the couch commentary is much more relaxed. Kirby703 even does showcases after beating her speedrun to show off other Tetris feats. I highly recommend playing this game yourself (and also watching this speedrun). You don’t need to be good at Tetris! I’m not good at Tetris, but it’s still so good.
Got any book recommendations?