HomeEditorialInside the Impossible - The Insane World of Speedrunning

Inside the Impossible – The Insane World of Speedrunning

If you're wondering how the heck they did it - well, probably wasn't their first attempt...

Speedrunning is striving for perfection. Gamers are pushing the boundaries of the possible and putting a lot of time into something to achieve as little time as possible. What irony! Let’s delve into some of the unique glitches and ingenious strategies that have redefined the art of speedruns.


It all started in 1994 with Doom when the Internet was still in its infancy and multiplayer an alien concept.

Players around the globe found a way to compete against each other – or rather against time. They shared their recorded Doom runs via files with others from the scene and tried to outdo each other’s attempts. Pandora’s box was open.

A speedrunning gamer and a stopwatch can be seen blurred in the background. In front of them, we see a stopwatch in focus.
Speedrunning collage (Source: Games Done Quick)


Speedrunning is the never-ending attempt to outperform

Today, countless players take on the challenge of completing games as quickly as humanly possible, often with astounding precision. But what sets the extraordinary speedrunners apart are the glitches and strategies that enable them to shatter records.

They can glitch through walls, speed along them, boost themselves, or enter unintended areas to progress faster. Usually, superhuman reflexes and a perfect sequence of actions are crucial for success.

Speedrunners spend countless hours analyzing every frame of a game to determine the most efficient route. Every move counts. When executed flawlessly, this sequence of actions can lead to record-breaking runs that leave you wondering how it’s even possible. Let’s take a look at some of the best speedruns that have made real history.


The “Weathertenko” in Mario Kart 64

An excellent example is the famous trick “Weathertenko” in Mario Kart 64. In this maneuver, you need to perform a precise collision with a specific wall at the start of the track “Choco Mountain,” making the game think you’ve completed a lap when you actually haven’t.

This exploit was initially found by Mario Kart 64 Tool-Assisted Speedrunner “Weatherton” in February 2014. TAS is a way to precisely record inputs using an emulator rather than play naturally. Kudos to the people who invest so much time to find such ways. But could a human even do a “Weathertenko”?


Beck Abney did the impossible

Countless top Mario Kart 64 speedrunners attempted but couldn’t execute this trick for several months after discovery. Then, Beck Abney finally nailed it and scored a 5.89-second lap alongside a new world record.

Awesome! But is it possible for someone to successfully perform three “Weathertenko’s” in a single run? The likelihood of achieving this glitch on a single attempt was approximately 1 in 40. To hit three consecutively, the odds were a staggering 1 in 64,000.

After countless attempts broadcasted live on Twitch, Abney finally broke that barrier on October 29th, 2017, and set another new world record with 16.38 seconds total – after a whopping 26,461 attempts!


Skyrim’s “Horse tilt” is often used during speedruns

Of course, some glitches require significantly fewer tries and provide incredible shortcuts, like the “Horse tilt” in Skyrim.

Instead of shredding your way through the first cave and walking halfway across the world to reach Whiterun after three hours of exhaustion, you can simply jump off a horse at the right moment. And yeah, Horses in this game are built a bit… let’s say… differently.

In Skyrim, the player sits on his horse and stands at an angle on a rock to perform the Horse Tilt as a speedrunning glitch.
The “Horse Tilt” in Skyrim (Source: Jules1)


Don’t skip the “Dino Skip”

Then there is the famous “Dino Skip” in Super Mario Odyssey. It was one of the earliest speedrun skips ever discovered. To perform it, you must capture the Dino and guide it to a specific set of rocks. Underneath this is a trampoline, and the goal is to make the Dino’s left foot interact with it precisely.

This requires some practice to master, but if you manage to have it connect correctly, you’ll be launched into the air. At the apex of your jump, if you release the Dino capture and execute a Cappy dive, you can reach the arena and activate the Madame Broode boss fight. This glitch is a significant time-saving technique, bypassing the entire 2D section.


Is speedrunning the art of not playing?

If you find the “Dino Skip” incredible, prepare for the next one. A speedrunning glitch in Outlast allows you to skip 90% of the game with a simple trick by just jumping over a bush into the abyss at the right place.


Then there are the so-called “credits warps.” The speedrunner manipulates the game through several glitches, so they end up directly at the credits.


Super Mario & Pokémon Credits Warps

In Super Mario, for example, all you need to do is basically shoot a fireball and then jump from Yoshi onto a coin, and the game is done. In Pokémon, you just have to glitch your way through the invisible inventory, select the item “J,” and the whole game is finished… You can literally call it “The art of not playing.”

Credits warps are often found in the best speedruns, such as here in Super Mario Bros, where Mario must jump on a coin.
Screenshot of Super Mario Bros. (Source: Nintendo)


The best speedruns are hard-learned maneuvers

But let’s face it. Most speedruns are hard-learned sequences of moves and actions, not just glitch-using. The runners use the game’s mechanics to its full potential. Prime examples of this can be found in runs of the game Celeste. Here, Speedrunners use spike jumps, extended hyper dashes, and infinite wall climbs to build up high speeds and almost fly through the levels.

In 2018, a user named DemoJameson found a small gap between all the mud hitboxes, allowing him to bypass this gap with a pixel-perfect dash while crouched. This exploit and the proven speedrun techniques enabled significantly higher records.

We see a screenshot of the 2D sidescroller Celeste, where the player is glitching through a slime wall to save time.
Glitching trough slimewalls in Celeste (Source: Extremely OK Games/Maddy Makes Games)


Glitch through the air in Zelda

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom is also known for its many glitches. One often used method during speed runs is the “Wacko Boingo” glitch.

To perform this exploit, head to Riverside Stable. Place a glider or an object in front of the NPCs. Stand on the glider and talk to these two characters. This triggers a side quest and a strange cutscene, temporarily removing your glider.


After the cutscene, your glider reappears with unusual properties, making it slippery. This is the “Wacko” state. To add more to it, like, for instance, the battery, you enter the “Boingo” state, where the glider becomes controllable. You can now direct it. Note that you can only do this once per save file, and it’s unique to Riverside Stable. You can then fly up to Zelda and interact with her or whatever you want.


The “Super Swim” is one of the most brutal speedrunning techniques

Enough with the speedrun comfort! The famous “Super Swim” glitch in The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker shows that speedruns not only push your mental limits but also your physical ones.

To execute this trick at the start of the game without items, Link must rapidly change directions within a single frame, building speed by performing around 20 stick movements per second. Learning this trick is physically exhausting, and gameplay-wise, navigating Link to prevent him from drowning adds an extra layer of complexity.


A true classic in speedrunning history

Still, one of the most popular games to speedrun is Super Mario 64. Of course, we don’t want to withhold the absolute glitch classic from you, the “Backwards Long Jumps.”

The critical aspect of this glitch is achieving extremely high speed. Mario initially gains momentum during a long jump and gradually slows down while airborne. However, specific situations, like navigating stairs, enable continuous long jumps without leaving the ground, resulting in extraordinary velocity.


Tricking the game

Our favorite plumber does have a cap to limit excessive movement, but an oversight by the developers allows for negative values when he moves backward. Mario can reach incredible speeds while moving in reverse, making “Backwards Long Jumps” a vital technique for Speedrunners.

To understand why Mario can pass through solid doors at high speeds, it’s essential to consider how the game handles collisions. When Mario moves at breakneck speeds, he covers a significant distance in a single frame, allowing him to bypass the door’s collision detection, effectively teleporting past it.


The world of speedrunning is an ever-evolving landscape, and these gamers’ dedication, creativity, and unyielding spirit keep us coming back for more.


More jaw-dropping experiences at your disposal

Are you still looking for real nightmares before Christmas? Then, get an overview of creepy gems in our scary Co-op Horror Games ranking. And, if you always wanted to know how many titles there really are, jump into the complete History of Resident Evil now.

If you’re more the survival type of guy, discover why the Rust Is Addictive.


What’s your take on this mind-blowing topic and do you have a favorite speedrunning technique? Let us know in the comments below.

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