AGDQ 2019: Favorite Runs

AGDQ 2019 is now over, but each run continues to be watchable through VODs that are recorded each year.

This reddit thread shows all of the up to date VODs with time stamps, and the GDQ YouTube page will be uploading each run individually as we progress over these next few days. I had a chance to watch a large chunk of the runs that I wanted to, but boring things like responsibility, work and sleep schedules kept me from watching everything.

Throughout the next few weeks, I’ll be slowly chipping away at the runs I missed, as is customary at this point. Every year, there’s always at least one or two games that I discover through these runs that I end up checking out and diving into. If that’s not your thing, there’s always tons of great commentary, glitch exhibition’s, fun incentive’s and game play for you to enjoy.

The following are some of my favorite runs of what I was able to catch this year;

As a side note, I’ll be updating the following section of the article as soon as the GDQ YouTube channel uploads videos for each of the runs.

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Diablo II: Lord of Destruction, Amazon Normal Any %, PC

Runner: MrLlamaSC

I’ve been a frequent watcher of Mr Llama and the other big name runners in the Diablo II community for a few years now. I’m drawn to Diablo II because, one, I have a long history with the game along with great memories. The second reason, Llama actually brings up during his run. There’s a large degree of randomness to Diablo II speed running that keeps things fresh every run.

In a game like Mario 64, many of the enemies and coins are in fixed positions, but there can be some randomness to how coins bounce around once enemies are defeated, causing the player to adjust. There’s some random nature to the game, but I would argue that skill makes up much more of the composition of a Mario 64 speed run than randomness.

I feel that Diablo II flips that ratio. Skill is incredibly important and you need to log in hundreds, if not thousands of hours to get to a high level, just like any other competitively speed ran game, but the feel is different and Llama experienced that at GDQ this year.

The current Normal Any % Amazon route requires the ‘Stealth’ rune word to progress through with any chance of attaining a World Record. The best way to find Tal and Eth, the runes required to create Stealth, are dropped from the Countess in Act I. There’s a chance to find both runes in one Countess run, or you may be unlucky enough to not find them for over a dozen. This happens to Llama here at his GDQ run, but he adjusts, moves on and it eventually all works out later with a random Eth rune drop.

At any point, you can find boots that give you % increased run/walk, cutting away two minutes overall from your run. You can find a piece of armor that gives % chance to cast frost nova, which may save you from that one death you might have suffered. You can find half a dozen experience shrines, or none at all. This is what makes Diablo II speed running exciting. Any run can be incredible, others just unlucky.

Mr Llama’s run has a little bit of everything and if you’re interested in Diablo II in any way, it’s worth checking out.

 

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The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Low% 1-Hit KO, SNES

Runner: Xelna

I don’t even know where to start with this run. It’s a one hit/KO run which means that any damage you take in the entire run will result in your death, and Xelna does it in less than two hours. I can’t even get out of the castle basement without getting hit by a rat or two, let alone get through a congested over world map multiple times or any of the dungeons throughout the game.

I’ve seen a ton of A Link to the Past speed runs over the years, but running through without taking any damage makes this run a lot more interesting. In typical ALttP speed runs, you use items like bombs to skip sections of dungeons in order to complete dungeons faster. Here, you can’t do that because bombs damage the player, which results in death. Because of this, we get to see more of some dungeons than we are accustomed too.

You’re definitely going to be clenching during different sections of the run for sure; pause buffering Kholdstare, Mothula and Blind come to mind right away.

Death’s do happen, including a visit with everyone’s least favorite boss Moldorm, but the run is incredibly impressive, even more so if you’re familiar with the game.

 

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Bloodborne, Any %, PS4

Runner: heyZeusHeresToast

The last incentive run of the marathon came in the form of From Software’s Bloodborne, run by the charismatic, completer of the world’s first no hit Bloodborne run, heyZeusHeresToast.

Being a successful streamer can mean a few different things. When you talk about Zeus as a streamer, you need to bring up the positive vibes, large personality and self depreciating fun that he brings with him every day.  Some people just have it, and Zeus most definitely has ‘it’.

This Bloodborne run starts off with a bang with Zeus’ commentary, sometimes feeling like you’re watching a wrestling match or sports game. These Souls-borne games are incredibly tough and unpredictable at times though. At one time, certain categories of these runs were just deemed as not marathon safe enough to enter into events such as GDQ. We’ve progressed a lot since then, but the unforgiving nature of Souls-borne games definitely came out in full force against Zeus in the form of The One Reborn, which is really turning into one of those rivalries for the ages as Zeus had trouble with him as well during last year’s Bloodborne all bosses run.

Nevertheless, you can’t keep Zeus down. He makes fun of the situation, blames game creator Hidetaka Miyazaki, reneges on that blame and reveals a secret friendship shared between the two and persists on to complete his run.

If your goal is to be thoroughly entertained for the duration of a speed run, Zeus is your guy and you should absolutely check him out.

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Divinity: Original Sin 2, Any % Old Patch, PC

Runner: Semanari

Speed running is tough. Many games have very intricate and difficult tricks involved with them. Sometimes, if you mess up one trick, you just need to reset and try again. Resetting is the nature of speed running and completely normal. There’s a real risk at these GDQ events that at times, you won’t be able to complete a run just because of how risky a run can be. A lot of times, runners come equipped with backup saves and other methods of being able to finish as much of a run as possible for the audience.

Couple that risk with commentating difficult tricks on your own and not being used to performing in front of over 100,000 people, and things can go awry. Semanari was displaying an impressive run of Divinity: Original Sin 2. He was commentating alone and describing glitches, all while executing those tricks and playing the game well.

About halfway through, Semanari messed up one of the glitches, and I believe due to how nervous he was, saved more often that he normally does running the game, and saved over his backups that would allow him to continue the run. He didn’t handle it well, and the run abruptly stopped.

We need to remember that not everyone is used to this audience and increased production scale. Most runners have a low key setup in their bedrooms with their own familiar surroundings, rigs, controllers and more.

I want Semanari to know that the speed running community supports him and understands the difficulty he may be going through. Keep your head up and keep speed running. We’d love to see you back at one of these events.

If you want to show your own support for Semanari and give him a follow, you can find him here…

https://www.twitch.tv/semanari

There are many more runs that I can go into detail regarding, and likely will in future weeks. Until then, special mentions go out to TheMexicanRunner’s Cuphead run, Puncayshun’s Bomberman 64 run and RawDerps playing Resident Evil.

Let me know in the comments if there are any runs in particular you want me to check out sooner than later.

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