12 Best GDQ Speedrun Games to Watch

Games Done Quick (GDQ) is a charity event drawing together the many speedrunning communities of the world to celebrate their craft and raise money for a good cause. “Speedrunning,” for the layman, involves the practice of expertly racing through a game as fast as possible, sometimes using glitches or strange exploits. Such “skips” must be painstakingly discovered by communities of specialized gamers all working together to advance the run’s overall efficacy.

To this end, games are effectively attacked by committed professionals playing them over and over, experimenting and honing their craft to set their own “Personal Best” (PB) or even the world record for a given game’s run. GDQ brings such communities and players together at a semi-annual charity event in order to showcase their hard-won speedrunning capabilities to the world via Twitch. Often, the best part of watching these speedruns comes with the commentary and crowd dynamics; each player and their entourage speak while they play, explaining and laughing — all while the crowd reacts in real-time to strategies executed to perfection (or not).

Here are some of the best, most classic games (and series) to watch speedruns of — in the humble, subjective, and ever-expanding purview of this humble author. (pls don’t attack me for leaving off your favorite!)

1. Mario

Super Mario 64 120 Star by Cheese05 in 1:45:19 – GDQx2018

Mario must be considered one of the fathers of gaming. Nintendo’s signature Italian plumber and defender of the Mushroom Kingdom is featured in too many games to count. But if there was ever a “Starter Run” to watch to get into the art of speedrunning and its fun factor for player and viewer alike — it would be Super Mario 64.

The classic Nintendo 64 game makes for a worthy speedrun watch, with backward butt-bouncing up staircases and constant running, jumping, and dive-leaping for stars across the pixelated landscapes. More modern Mario games are also great, like Sunshine, Galaxy, and the chaotic “Super Mario Maker” — wherein custom 2D Super Mario maps are designed to maximize devilish traps that require insanely exacting timing to clear.

Super Mario Sunshine by Bounceyboy in 1:20:46 – SGDQ2016 – Part 2
Super Mario Galaxy by 360Chrism in 2:36:51 – AGDQ 2018 – Part 128
Super Mario Maker 2 by Various Runners in 1:15:00 – AGDQ2020

2. Halo

Halo: Combat Evolved by Chronos_R in 1:17:38 – AGDQ 2022 Online

Halo: Combat Evolved changed the world. The 2001 keystone of the Xbox’s launch introduced freeform gameplay — and a certain kind of majesty — to the first-person shooter genre. The Halo saga harbors speedruns that include lots of skips past all those battlefields you and your buddies had to labor over back in the day, on the couch, past midnight and beyond.

Halo Infinite, the recent 2021 entry into the series, introduces a reusable grappling hook. For the Halo speedrunner, that is the equivalent of giving Batman the power of a Kryptonian.

Halo 2 by cryphon in 1:42:53 – AGDQ 2017 – Part 97
Halo 3 by TheBlazeJp in 1:54:24 – Summer Games Done Quick 2015 – Part 114
Halo Infinite by WaifuRuns in 1:26:12 – Summer Games Done Quick 2022

3. Zelda

Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time Speed Run 100% in 5:44:10 by RunnerGuy2489 (AGDQ 2013) N64

The Legend of Zelda is probably the best video game series of all time. You could argue all day over that statement, but many in their hearts know it to be true. And there are a bevy of great Zelda speedrun experiences — namely, the 3D iterations, with Ocarina of Time being a flagship speedrun at the event (including a blindfolded run!)

You could search the GDQ archives for hours finding and enjoying Zelda speedruns from across the spectrum of the saga’s long history, from the 1980s to the 2010s. Here are some of the best:

The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask by MajinPhil in 5:11:12 SGDQ2019
AGDQ 2020 – Zelda: The Wind Waker Any% Speedrun in 1:13:36 by Linkus7
Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess :: SPEED RUN (4:28:17) (All Dungeons) [GCN] by Pheenoh #AGDQ 2014
[AGDQ 2020] Skyward Sword Any% Speedrun in 2:25:36
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild by Wolhaiksong in 33:51 SGDQ2019

4. Metal Gear Solid

Metal Gear Solid by plywood in 42:15 – AGDQ 2018 – Part 33

Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear series is hilarious to watch speedruns of — because they are supposed to be like movies! Imagine speedrunning through the Godfather on 2x, or skipping the “boring parts” of Lord of the Rings or First Blood. And yet the already tongue-in-cheek melodrama and hyper-detailed gameplay mechanics of Metal Gear Solid end up fitting the speedrunning ethos perfectly.

From rushing through dialogue to clipping through walls and speed-sneaking by rooms of guards with ease, the Metal Gear saga has plenty of great runs to catch.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance by ApacheSmash in 10:26 – AGDQ 2022 Online
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater by RaichuMGS in 1:14:00 – AGDQ2020
Metal Gear Solid 4 by Jaguar King in 1:59:44 – Awesome Games Done Quick 2021 Online

5. Banjo-Kazooie

Banjo-Kazooie race by Hagginater and duck in 2:04:04 SGDQ2019

Banjo-Kazooie is just one of those games, satisfying to watch and play, timeless in its mechanics and art design. The action-adventure platformer from Rare gifted the world with the bear and his backpack bird, able to combine abilities in all kinds of delightful ways.

Banjo-Kazooie offers a similar kind of viewing experience as 3D Mario titles, except with different powers, collectibles, and musicality to the beat-by-beat gameplay. The game requires a level of grace from the bird & bear duo, whether you are sprinting on all fours across desert pyramids to collect feathers or flying over glacial fortresses dodging snowballs from nefarious snowmen.

Banjo Kazooie :: SPEED RUN (1:34:54) by Stivitybobo [N64] #AGDQ 2014

6. Resident Evil

Resident Evil 4 by MikeWave in 1:33:40 – AGDQ2020

Resident Evil speedruns are another jarring — and humorous — experience compared to your own first playthrough. These are tense horror games, with terrifying zombie enemies and scores of jumpscares meant to keep you on edge. However, in the hands of a pro speedrunner, Resident Evil becomes a pure power fantasy.

Resident Evil 4 and 7 are the two games I highlight here, having watched these speedruns before. In fact, Resident Evil 4 was one of the first speedruns I ever watched and helped get me into GDQ. I recall watching my brother play the original game on Gamecube circa 2005 and being constantly scared of what lay around the corner of Leon Kennedy’s journey. Watching the speed run years later is like night and day, a refreshing return to that weird cult village in Spain.

Resident Evil 7 Biohazard by Carcinogen in 1:49:28 – AGDQ 2018 – Part 56


DOOM Eternal (2020) by BloodShot9001 in 1:30:55 – Summer Games Done Quick 2020 Online

Ah, yes the new DOOMs. These games are a rush to experience and I highly recommend everyone get around to playing them both. Hard-hitting, blast-beating, glory-killing — the 2016 and 2020 DOOM titles are already wonderful for speedy, gorgeous violence.

DOOM speedruns are all about the flow and momentum of combat, timing the use of melee finishers and super weapons wisely to take down every level’s many, many threats as efficiently as possible. Just like the original Wolfenstein and DOOM that started the first-person shooter genre, these games are meant to be replayed again and again, reveling in the bloodletting of demonkind from the G.O.A.T. gamer himself: The Doom Slayer.

DOOM (2016) by ByteMe in 2:40:51 – AGDQ2020
Ultimate Doom (1995) by KingDime in 27:55 – AGDQ2019

8. Metroid

Super Metroid :: SPEED RUN (4-Way Race) (0:45:51) #AGDQ 2014

Metroid stands side-by-side with Mario and Zelda as Nintendo legends. The 2D and 3D Samus games are unforgettable classics, with all kinds of great speedruns to showcase. Everyone’s favorite blond bombshell in a powersuit steadily grows in power as you progress, gaining satisfying boosts in firepower.

These games are both hardcore and easy to enjoy the mechanical mastery of. As a sidescroller with a limited field of view, you can see the skilful tricks of every player, moment-by-moment. Metroid speedrunners make it all look effortless. Lol. It is not! Related: Megaman and Castlevania speedruns are also great for all the same reasons.

Super Metroid by oatsngoats in 1:24:16 – SGDQ2018
Metroid Prime by JustinDM in 1:16:40 – SGDQ2019

9. Soulsborne

Dark Souls by Regole in 36:22 – AGDQ2020

The Soulsborne mythos was definitely made to be boss rushed. And there are perhaps no better games to showcase the growth and progression of a player against fiends and dungeons that initially chill the blood. If you are afraid of getting into the Dark Souls series, watch a few speedruns and realize the immense power of the human spirit in battling back against the darkness.

Naturally, Souls speedrunners are built differently. These are people that have devoted themselves to playing games meticuously designed to punish you — with the endgame of punishing them right back. And they do. Too many great runs to list off here, but take a look at the BLINDFOLDED Sekiro speedrun from 2022 to get a taste of the caliber of player you are dealing with here. Absolute sickos! (endearing)

Bloodborne by heyZeusHeresToast in 47:59 – AGDQ2019
Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Blindfolded by Mitchriz in 2:00:35 – AGDQ 2022 Online
Elden Ring by HYP3RSOMNIAC in 33:58 – Summer Games Done Quick 2022

10. Pokemon

Pokemon Blue (151 Pokemon) by Shenanagans in 1:58:56 – Summer Games Done Quick 2015 – Part 141

For a more relaxed, but just as impressive, speedrun viewing experience — you have Pokemon. The concept of “menu’ing” {important to many speedruns} is put front and center with the pocket monster battler series, given much of the gameplay itself takes place inside of menus. Interestingly, the all-ages, fun-loving Pokemon series is considered one of the most grueling and soul-crushing forms of speedrunning!

Glitches and RNG make every Pokemon player at least a little superstitious (did anyone else hold ↓ + B button while the pokeball jiggled?) And pro speedrunners are not that different. (they too name their Pokemon “John Cena!”) These are games that are necessarily non-linear, with many ways to catch ’em all. Sit next to the spirit of your childhood and enjoy the show.

11. Ninja Gaiden

Ninja Gaiden Black by MikeKanis in 1:55:06 – SGDQ 2018

Ninja Gaiden is not a game I’ve ever played. But I’ll be damned if the SGDQ 2018 speedrun of Ninja Gaiden Black by MikeKanis didn’t make me a fan of 1) him, 2) the series, and 3) the entire concept of speedrunning. Ninja Gaiden Black alongside RE4 are responsible for my speedrunning introduction, and this is still maybe my favorite run.

Ninja Gaiden is similar to Dark Souls in that these games’ first principle is to challenge the player. You are a ninja fighting other superpowered ninja and impossible monsters that are even faster than you. The above run showcases simply god-like gameplay — with minimal skips or glitches to speak of. That’s the full game, full speed, maximum effort. Again: God-like.

12. Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim by DrTChops in 46:20 – SGDQ 2016 – Part 124

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is one of those generational games. It is so, as much for its expansive world filled with incredible details and side questing glory — as it is for its ability to be utterly broken by glitches. Skyrim is a feast for the speedrunner’s heart, mind, and soul.

Dialogue-rushing, fast-traveling, and wall-phasing are all here, as you’d expect. But there’s also weird environmental manipulations using mundane objects like platters and buckets to get to places no Dragonborn should ever be able to venture. There are quicksave exploits and NPC “bumping” and mass wine-drinking to activate infinite stamina for sprinting. Ragdoll exploits and backward “wind-walking” can also be unlocked by the speedrun mastermind.

It’s almost like Bethesda makes games to be destroyed by speedrunners. But in reality, every Elder Scrolls player knows that these games are as much comedies as they are adventurous RPGs. The speedrunner is just fully tapping into the ridiculousness that Todd Howard placed there with the care of a gaming god.