In the gaming world, a speed run is any attempt to get from the start of a videogame/level/area to the end as quickly as possible. Doing so may require the use of many different strategies, tricks, and/or glitches. In racing games, speed runs are more usually refered to as time trials.
The nature of a speed run can vary massively. Speed runs may be timed using an in-game timer or using a real clock; they may be segmented or single-segment; they may involve 100% completion of all in-game objectives, or minimal percentage completion, or disregard this percentage entirely; they may allow or disallow certain tricks that can be used in the game to save time. Speed runs are usually also separated by difficulty setting, and, when it makes a difference, by system region (PAL or NTSC).
Extremes of speed running
The best known time for the completion of a Melee under any settings in Super Smash Bros. Melee for the Nintendo GameCube is 0.00 seconds. This can be done using the following settings, devised by Sam Hughes:
- Select a Stock Match and set the stock to 1 life each.
- Turn on the game timer for 1 minute (this is so you can see how long the melee lasts, that's all).
- Set the Damage Multiplier to x2.0.
- Select Super Sudden Death mode, so both players start on 300% damage.
- Pick to play as Kirby against a large character such as Mewtwo, as players three and four respectively.
- Select the Mute City stage, so the characters start off right next to each other.
Have Kirby immediately do a horizontal smash attack at his enemy. It is relatively straightforward to time this so that the blow connects and knocks Mewtwo off the side of the screen before the game timer starts counting, resulting in the game ending with the timer still at 1:00.00. This is, therefore, a zero-time run (plus or minus 1/200th of a second).
The shortest speed run on record for a challenge without massively customisable settings as in SSB:M is 0.17 seconds, for completing the Silver K7 Avenger challenge in the Firing Range of Perfect Dark, and was set by Chris Rayola.
Speed Demos Archive sets a soft upper limit of 7 hours on acceptable runs, and the longest run it lists is 7 hours 55 minutes 8 seconds for a run through Chrono Cross made by Wesley 'Molotov' Corron. This time is based off the "bad" ending. An alternate ending file was included to show the "good" ending on Chrono Cross, which has a time of 7:59:15.
The longest known "speed" run is a 101% run through Donkey Kong 64 made by Wouter Jansen which was unplanned, has very little emphasis on speed and acts mostly as a walkthrough. His time was roughly 13 hours 20 minutes.
Theoretically, there is no upper limit to the length of a speed run performed by a sufficiently incompetent player. Even assuming an active, capable player, an optimised route and a game with a definite ending (not a never-ending game such as Tetris), speed runs can have essentially unlimited length: for example, an exhaustive 100% completion of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker would, optimistically, take more than 100 hours of play. Of course, such a run would be stretching the limits of "speedy".