Top 10 Best Games to Speedrun

With AGDQ happening, which games are the best to speedrun, especially if you're just starting out?
Madeline running from Badeline in Celeste
Image via Maddy Makes Games Inc.

The annual Awesome Games Done Quick charity marathon is happening, which makes this the perfect time to get into speedrunning. But it can be intimidating to get started after watching a seasoned runner rush through a game. So, here are the top 10 best games to speedrun, especially for beginners.

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Most games have several speedrun categories that you can run, such as 100% runs, glitchless runs, or any % runs.

10. Hades

Zagreus speaking to Hades
Image via Supergiant Games

Hades is a fun and addictive game in general. And picking a game that’s short and fun helps when getting into speedrunning because you’ll be playing it a lot to practice. In short 30-minute runs, you’ll learn how to deal with RNG while running in an attempt to get favorable outcomes consistently. It’s also perfect for learning how speedrunning routes can be used to influence RNG.

9. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

Despite being decades old, there are still new tricks and paths being found for running The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It’s also a great example of how the way that games are developed and stored in memory can be used by speedrunners. This is shown a lot by runners when they use wrong warping, a technique where you set up a warp point to take you to an area that’s different from its intended destination.

One of the best parts of OoT for new speedrunners is that there are a ton of different paths that you can use to run it. That means that if you make a mistake, you can adjust your run and keep going, which is great while learning. Also, the speedrunning community for Zelda games is massive, and the runners are awesome at helping new players.

8. Outlast

Richard Trager holding a knife
Image via Red Barrels

It’s no secret that I love Outlast, but it didn’t end up on this list through personal bias. The primary feature that makes it a suitable game for beginning speedrunners is its lack of RNG. In fact, you can spot this aspect in quite a few horror games. Every event trigger and enemy placement is scripted. Meaning that if you run the game enough, you’ll be able to anticipate every threat.

Learning where event triggers are placed is a big part of speedrunning. Especially because that’s used to design strategies to avoid those triggers when possible. But that also means that these highly scripted games are perfect for beginners since you don’t need to be concerned with unexpected events. Also, Outlast is on the shorter side as a game, which helps when you start out by making it more approachable.

7. Superhot

The biggest benefit of using Superhot to get into speedrunning is that even an average run can be done in about two hours. Then, speedrunners get it under 20 — and even 10 — minutes pretty consistently. It’s also on the more linear side, but gives you enough freedom to find new, unique paths to take that could cut down time. Also, a speedrun of Superhot is trippy and fun, even if you’re just watching one.

6. Super Mario Odyssey

A lot of Nintendo games — old and new — are incredible for getting into speedruns. And they’re generally fun to watch speedruns of, if you aren’t up to running it yourself. Unlike many other games that I’ve listed, Super Mario Odyssey isn’t exactly a small or short game. However, the main section of the game can be done quickly, and that’s all you need to complete for an any % run.

Part of speedrunning is making full use of the mechanics included in the game. And the mechanics of Super Mario Odyssey are unique to Mario games with the way his hat can be used, which led to countless glitches being found and used in speedruns.

5. Donkey Kong Country

Donkey Kong Country is a classic speedrunning game, and the mechanics used in it feel fitting for that. This run is all about utilizing the roll mechanic and the methods that increase its speed and duration. As such, this speedrun revolves around using the knowledge of how to make the most of rolls. And it also includes a fun glitch called jump-rolling that, when done correctly, sends you flying and can shave almost a minute off of your time depending on when it’s used.

4. Portal

Portal was the first game that I tried out as a beginning speedrunner. Much like Outlast, there’s little to no RNG here. And since it’s a puzzle game, the solutions are always the same. Even without trying the glitches in my first runs, I cut down time by using other tricks that revolved around using portals and momentum. The hard part is that the momentum when you go through portals isn’t the most consistent. Still, this game is short and approachable, giving you running options beyond glitches that are easy to learn.

3. Minecraft

Steve on a Mountain with Animal
Image via Microsoft

It might be weird to see a sandbox game listed, but Minecraft does have a vibrant speedrunning community and a set ending that they use. The run ends when you land the final hit on the Ender Dragon. And to help fight RNG, you can run a category called Set Seed Glitchless. This is where you use the same Seed every time. Which means you have an idea of the layout of your world.

While it might seem like going from loading to killing the Ender Dragon would take a long time, seasoned speedrunners can complete the run in under 10 minutes. However, if you decide to try a Glitched speedrun, you can get those numbers down to under five minutes. In that category, you make use of duplicating items and even teleport yourself into the Nether with a glitch. There are many options that you can use to tailor the run to suit you as you learn the basics of it.

2. Celeste

Celeste is a highly popular speedrunning game, and not just because it’s cute and has flying strawberries in it. There are a few techniques that can be exploited to a great extent when you run it. Namely, you can build up infinite momentum that doesn’t reset when you move to the next screen. As such, the run revolves around mechanics that boost speed and prevent portions that would normally slow you down.

1. Super Mario 64

Super Mario 64 has a bunch of categories for speedrunning. They usually change based on the number of stars you need to collect to complete the run. However, it also has a version that doesn’t have a certain number of stars needed, which is great if you’re starting out. 

The fastest category involves using a glitch right at the beginning of the game. It’s a jump that launches you into Bowser’s first stage, which lets you skip a huge portion of content. And since Mario games tend to be fun in general, learning a speedrun is far less tedious than it could be with other games.

And those are the top 10 games to speedrun, especially if you’re just beginning. If you have the time, definitely check out Awesome Games Done Quick this week as speedrunners gather to raise money for a good cause. Otherwise, you can also check out more content here like 10 most anticipated games coming out in 2024.

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Character standing in front of a fleet of ships.
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Empty hallways with dim lighting
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A tree draped in shadowy shrouds at the center of the Land of Shadow
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Dim hallway of doors in a hotel
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The Tarnished hitting an enemy with a final blow
Author
Melissa Sarnowski
Melissa Sarnowski turned her hobbies of gaming and writing into a job through freelancing with the help of an English degree. If she isn't playing games and writing guides for them, she's spending time with her family or her dog.