Games Done Quick's winter edition returns this weekend, where runners will be speeding through games and raising money for charity in the process. This year's installment has a crop of both new releases and old gems alike, but a few standouts are worth carving out time in your schedule for in the coming week.
If you're not familiar, Awesome Games Done Quick is the prime event for the Games Done Quick charity speedrunning organization. What started with the inaugural AGDQ expanded out to a biannual event with its summer sister event, and now includes a number of other charity streams throughout the year.
Throughout AGDQ 2020, speedrunners will be showcasing various runs of games, played as fast as possible, in a telethon-style format benefiting the Prevent Cancer Foundation. Much like track and field events, these are often sorted into categories that define the scope of the run: "Any%" means simply seeing the credits roll using the fastest route possible, while "100%" would mean collecting all the designated collectibles. Other runs like "All Bosses" are self-explanatory, while some might include interesting twists, like having two players handle a controller or blindfolding the runner.
When Does It Start?
Awesome Games Done Quick 2020 kicks off this coming Sunday, Jan. 5, 2020, at 11:30 a.m. ET / 8:30 a.m. PT. Once it starts, the event will run 24/7 on Games Done Quick's Twitch channel until the finale, roughly scheduled for around midnight ET / 9 p.m. PT. You can check out the full schedule here on the Games Done Quick site for times in your local area, as well as up-to-the-minute schedule changes and bonus game info.
What To Watch?
There are a lot of games and categories to be played in roughly the span of a week, and they're all generally worth watching. Games Done Quick often ends up being my background work noise for the week it airs, and I'll frequently go back to old favorite runs several times over. That said, there are some highlights each day, so we've broken down some interesting picks that are worth making some time for or catching up on later once the VODs are live.
Sunday, Jan. 5
A Hat in Time (Any5 Race): Show openers are usually pretty exciting, and speedrunning races always amp up the crowd reaction. 2017's A Hat in Time should be a pretty fun, engaging collectible race to kick off this year's festivities.
Star Wars - Escape from Yavin 4: The Lost Maps (Any% no VRGI): CovertMuffin is a fun runner, and this category should be fascinating to watch. Escape from Yavin 4 is a mod for Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, and it's essentially an entirely new game inside Jedi Academy. Love lightsabers and force tricks? This is your run.
Monday, Jan. 6
Fallout Anthology (Main Series, Any%): In case you were wondering, yes, this means the entire Fallout series. Fallout 1, 2, 3, New Vegas, and 4, all run back-to-back in one go. It's like seeing a little mini-history of the nuclear wasteland.
Doom (2016) (100% Nightmare): 2016's Doom being run at the highest difficulty, with the highest possible completion percentage, should be pretty fun to watch. Where Any% runs might skip some areas, the demand for collectibles means seeing a lot more of Mars and Hell this go-around.
Tuesday, Jan. 7
Manifold Garden (Any%): This M.C. Escher-style puzzle game only came out at the very end of 2019, but runner Gelly is scheduled to breeze through it in about 14 minutes. It'll warp your mind to see just how that's managed.
Final Fantasy 8 (Any% Co-op Relay): Runners Tojju, Muttski, and Luzbelheim will trade off for almost nine hours straight for a red-eye run of Final Fantasy 8, starting around midnight ET. This is bound to be one of the most fascinating runs of the week—marathon-length RPG categories are some of my favorite runs—and the sleep deprivation will almost entirely be worth it.
Wednesday, Jan. 8
Mushihimesama Futari 1.01 (Ultra): Cave and M2 are known for their incredibly tough bullet-hell shooters, and this one looks to deliver. Seriously, just jump ahead to any point in the above video from last year's showcase at Stunfest 2019. It's stressful, beautiful, and I am very excited to see how far the runner can get.
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time (100% No Source Requirement): Okay, you've probably seen a dozen Ocarina of Time runs already. But this particular category is a new and fascinating development: the No Source Requirement category states that any item can come from anywhere, not just its intended source. Using a recently discovered glitch in the game to acquire whatever items they want, runners have been working out this rapidly developing route through the game. If nothing else, it should be a fascinating insight into how a runner breaks down and routes out a game.
Thursday, Jan. 9
Super Hydlide (Any%): The traditional "Awful" Games Done Quick block kicks off with a real barnburner. Virtual Hydlide was a highlight of 2019's awful block, and Super Hydlide is set to deliver just as well.
Destiny 2 (Last Wish - All Encounters): In a Games Done Quick first, a team of six guardians will run a raid in Destiny 2. Last Wish is one of Destiny's most memorable raids, filled with fascinating puzzle mechanics and history, so this will be a great showcase for what the Destiny raiding community can uncover and perfect over the course of time.
Friday, Jan. 10
Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines (Any% Nosferatu): Playing through Bloodlines as Nosferatu, a disfigured clan forced to hide their visage to uphold the Masquerade, is tough under normal conditions. It'll be pretty cool to see how Valvinraim gets around those constraints and ends the story in under an hour.
Celeste (Farewell): Celeste is already a fantastic speedrunning game, and this category will cover last year's wonderfully brutal finale to the game. It's like a little goodbye to Celeste, though I hope it becomes as much a GDQ staple as other games have.
Super Mario World (One Mind 11 Exit Co-op): Winning the Who Even Thought Of This Award for 2020, the One Mind category for Super Mario World is essentially a relay race happening at lightspeed. Two players play through the same game on separate controllers, but the game swaps back and forth between which inputs it's receiving. Minor quirks and slightly missed timings can suddenly become huge hurdles. It's like the DDR episode of Evangelion, but with Mario.
Saturday, Jan. 11
Clone Hero (Guitar Hero Showcase): Talented Guitar Hero player will be showing off their plastic guitar shredding skills in an estimated 45-minute showcase. This should be entertaining to see how far the Clone Hero modding community has pushed the boundaries of rocking the plastic axe.
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past Randomizer (Open Mode, Crowd Control Difficulty): Randomizers have become a fun new way to re-experience classic games, and this setting adds a new twist: the crowd can add additional challenge with donations. Want to actively assist—or impede—the runner? With your donations, you finally can.
Untitled Goose Game (All Main Tasks): Honk.
Super Mario Maker 2 (4v4 Blind Relay Race): One of the last runs of the event is a crowd-pleaser. Mario Maker blind races are a way for Mario players and creators to flaunt their skills, speeding through custom-made obstacle and puzzle courses never before seen by the racers. With talented players like GrandPooBear and PangaeaPanga in attendance, it's sure to be a blast.