There's no better way to wow your gamer friends than by blasting through one of their favorite games at a record pace. Be it a complex RPG, frame-perfect platformer, or RNG-reliant rouge-lite, just about every game has at least one recorded speed run attempt.
But which are the easiest to get into for starters? Professional speedrunners often say that you should start out with a game that you already love, but running through anything hundreds of times will doubtlessly get old. These ten titles, however, should serve as good starting points for those either looking to get into the speedrunning scene or simply hoping to impress a few of their buddies.
10 Super Mario World
Retro gaming and speedrunning seem to go hand in hand, and what better way to introduce yourself to these concepts than by playing Super Mario World? Released in 1991, this platformer helped to introduce the world to the wonders of the SNES, and, nearly three decades later, it's super tight controls and adrenaline-pumping platform challenges serve as something of a hub for speedrunners.
Beatable in a mere twelve levels and wrapped in a few minutes shy of an hour and a half according to Speedrun.com's leaderboards, Super Mario World is easily accessible via emulation, relatively short, and an undeniably fun time, even on the thousandth run through.
An indie darling from way back in 2010, Limbo is a trippy, dark indie game that will test a player's puzzle-solving skills as much as their platforming prowess. It only takes two or three hours to get through on a first run, and even amateur speedrunners can tackle this one in less than an hour.
Available on Steam for just a few dollars and capable of being run on even the potato-est of PCs, Limbo is easy to get into and fairly straightforward for those looking to optimize their runs. It shouldn't take long to get the hang of this and post a respectable time.
8 Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!
This may seem like an odd inclusion, but the NES classic Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!! usually makes for an oddly compelling speedrun experience. A fighter in a distinctly non-traditional sense, Punch-Out speedrunning almost feels more akin to DDR than something like Mortal Kombat or Street Fighter, and some pros have become so familiar with the button combinations that they can quite literally jet through the game while blindfolded.
Unlike most speedrunning tactics, Punch-Out isn't reliant on frame-perfect inputs or unreasonably-specific exploits. Instead, it's all about a player's knowledge of timing, and a seasoned pro can get through this title in less than twenty minutes.
2007's legendary puzzler Portal isn't a very long game, to begin with—new players can probably get through it in an hour or two—but speedrunners have managed to shave that down to less than ten minutes. Rife with exploits and out-of-bounds glitches, Portal serves as a great introduction to those looking to get into Any% speedrunning.
Portal's level select makes it easy for speedrunners to practice any part of their run without slogging through the entire game, and it's an easily accessible game with a great community surrounding it. Even a slower speedrun will impress those unfamiliar with the game, and it's a great way to look like a pro without investing a whole lot of effort.
6 Super Metroid
Super Metroid is another game commonly discussed in the speedrunning community. A nostalgic gem from the SNES era which inspired an entire genre and helped to birth the speedrunning niche as we know it today, it's a great entry point for the hobby.
The unique thing about Super Metroid is that, unlike most games, there are a ton of different strategies to try out, and no two speedruns will look the same. Though it'll take a newbie something like eight hours to complete on a first run, the variety offered by this game should be attractive to those worried about burning out on a single game.
5 Mirror's Edge
Mirror's Edge was one of the most experimental games DICE ever developed, and, though its 2016 followup wasn't all that well-received, the original remains a speedrunning spectacle sure to wow fans for years to come.
Though the tactics aren't particularly easy to pick up, Mirror's Edge speedruns are truly something to behold; they just look so freakin' cool. Much like Portal, it's possible to access every level via a stage select, and the game segments its levels with checkpoints and records a player's total time. A game essentially built for speedrunning, Mirror's Edge is definitely one to check out for those interested in getting into speedrunning.
4 The Binding Of Isaac: Rebirth
The iconic rouge-lite The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth is both the best and worst game to speedrun. The game can be beaten in something like four minutes, but it's also highly dependent on random number generation, meaning that some runs can be totally ruined for a player through no fault of their own.
Rebirth allows for seeded runs, however, meaning that speedrunners can look up optimized seeds and develop their own strategies from there. While getting knocked out of world-record contention by something out of your control may be a total pain, the extremely quick runs and restart-friendly nature of the game makes it perfect for a newcomer.
3 Super Mario Odyssey
Super Mario Odyssey is kind of a tough entry point for new speedrunners; though it's easily accessible and a wildly good time, it's also a fairly long game that requires quite a bit of know-how to get through quickly.
Much like the ever-popular speedrunning title Super Mario 64, however, Mario Odyssey allows for a high level of experimentation and freedom of movement unparalleled by contemporary games. Odyssey's go-anywhere-do-anything approach to design makes it possible for prospective speedrunners to tailor their runs to their specific skillsets and create runs that, though not world-record breaking, are impressive enough to wow their friends (and perhaps a small portion of the Internet).
2 GoldenEye 007
One of the most famous—or infamous—games to speedrun, GoldenEye 007 is attractive for its sheer popularity. There are plenty of tutorials available online showcasing proper speedrunning tactics, and it shouldn't be hard for newcomers to at least get an idea of what the ideal run should look like.
Though newbies will be blown out of the water by the inhuman world record times set by pro gamers, there's a huge community surrounding this game despite its age, and it's perhaps one of the most important titles out there in regards to the hobby.
In terms of games that'll awe friends and family, look no further than SUPERHOT. Optimized speedruns of this Matrix-esque first-person shooter are jaw-dropping and doubtlessly have the runner feeling like a time-freezing badass.
Akin to the frame-perfect madness of Mirror's Edge, there's really no feeling like stringing together the perfect set of kills and defying the game's logic in an incredible display of skill. Though it takes quite a bit of time to get everything down, the game's stage select and endless modes make it easy for new players to hone their skills. What's more, the truly adventurous may want to try their hand at speedrunning the game's VR spinoff.