Every January, I eagerly anticipate the return of Awesome Games Done Quick (AGDQ). This week-long charity speedrunning marathon is truly a spectacle of not only all the hard work those selected to run put into their games, but also all the work that those communities put in to making such runs possible to begin with. With AGDQ 2022 wrapping up earlier this week, I wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the best Nintendo speedruns we saw during the marathon.
Overall, the AGDQ 2022 Nintendo speedrun lineup was pretty stacked, with a number of great runs of all types. Notably, there were a few major titles missing from the lineup though. Fan-favorite Super Metroid took a break from appearing this marathon, which did leave a small hole in my heart during its usual Saturday lineup. Our 2021 game of the year, Metroid Dread, was also absent because, despite its popularity, (As of writing, it’s the 8th most active game on speedrun.com.) it simply came out too close to the end of submissions. I am absolutely expecting to see its magnificent GDQ premiere this summer though.
With that out of the way, let’s dive in to some of the best Nintendo speedruns that we did see at AGDQ 2022.
The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons by TGH
We’ll start with one of AGDQ 2022’s earliest Nintendo speedruns. World-record holder TGH took on the All Essences run of The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons. During this run, TGH displayed awesome knowledge about the game’s RNG (“random number generation,” referring to randomness coded into a game) and, more importantly, how to manipulate it, in addition to pulling off some extremely difficult tricks first try. The commentary here was great as well, providing a balance between being informative and joking around about Undertale. Unfortunately, the Oracle games tend to be a bit more overlooked, so I think it’s always great to see one in a major marathon!
The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past by hotarubi_ta
Though The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is no stranger to the GDQ stage, this event’s runner, hotarubi_ta, is. That’s really a shame because hotarubi is a legendary speedrunner, having been around since 2006! This event, the category was All Bosses – No Exploration Glitch, which hotarubi has held the record in since last September.
Admittedly, if you want to understand what’s going on here, you’ll really need to pay attention to some of the explanations. Watching this live, I missed a small bit of explanation at the beginning and was rather lost for the rest of the run. Normally when that happens, I lose interest and decide to catch the VOD later on. But here, I was still thoroughly entertained even in the end stages of the run. This category has some really ridiculous tricks, and hotarubi uses them masterfully to beat the game in under an hour. As a bonus too, there’s an extra Any% run tacked on at the end!
The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask 3D by gymnast86
When it comes to speedruns, there’s generally something for everyone, regardless of if you prefer less glitchy, more skill-based runs or more broken, “what the heck just happened”-type runs. The Majora’s Mask 3D run by gymnast86 this event definitely falls into the latter category, clocking in at only 38 minutes and 50 seconds. If you’re wondering how this is even possible, the commentary on the run does a great job at explaining the more technical details, but essentially, gymnast tricks the game into warping Link straight to the moon! Whether you love Majora’s Mask 3D and want to see some incredibly skilled play or hate it and want to see it get demolished, this speedrun has you covered.
Zelda’s Adventure by Douggernaught
One of the most anticipated “blocks” of any mainline GDQ event is the Awful Block, which showcases speedruns of games generally considered to be pretty bad. In recent events, we’ve been treated to the legendarily bad The Legend of Zelda CD-i games, and this event saw the conclusion of the trilogy. Douggernaught put on an incredible showing of Zelda’s Adventure, the “black sheep of the CD-i games,” filled with great commentary and even a totally radical Easter egg. If you’ve never seen Zelda’s Adventure before, and we’re willing to bet you haven’t, there’s hardly a better time to change that.
Pokémon Crystal by Keizaron, 360Chrism, and Shenanagans
Moving away from The Legend of Zelda and onto another quintessential Nintendo franchise, the three-way Pokémon Crystal Key Item Randomizer race by Keizaron, 360Chrism, and Shenanagans is sure to entertain. For those unfamiliar with Key Item Randomizer runs, the objective is to beat Red on top of Mt. Silver after getting the 16 Gym Badges. The twist though is that both Pokémon locations and Key Items (including HMs and Gym Badges) are randomized, such that the entire game becomes a big scavenger hunt. Having such a randomizer in a race format is always interesting too, as the runners are free to chart their own paths through the game, every decision they make potentially becoming a game-changer.
I’ve previously talked about one of my favorite moments in this race, in which Shenanagans spoke ill of Bulbasaur, challenged chat to raise enough money to make him apologize, and subsequently fulfilled his obligation (which some eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed at the end of AGDQ 2022’s credits). There’s so much more to love about this race though. For one thing, I always find randomizers to be entertaining to watch, since they take a familiar game and make it fresh again. The real highlight though is the commentary. The runners, along with host Skybilz, have a fantastic chemistry and are able to riff on each other effortlessly. Couple that with the runners imitating Pokémon cries per donation requests, and the whole commentary comes off as just a bunch of friends having a good time, which ultimately feels like the perfect fit for this race.
Diddy Kong Racing by tridenttail, Sweenerdog, and Obiyo
Racing games make for natural speedruns, since the entire point is to finish the laps faster than everyone else. This task is made especially difficult with bumpy tracks and a suite of out-of-bounds racing lines to take for maximum speed. But that’s exactly what tridenttail, Sweenerdog, and Obiyo had to contend with during their three-way race of Diddy Kong Racing on Nintendo 64. All three of these runners proved their mettle, finishing within just seconds of each other, making this a close, exciting race all the way through.
Mega Man 2 by coolkid
Lastly, I would be remiss if I neglected to discuss coolkid’s Any% Difficult run of Mega Man 2. A master of the classic Mega Man games, coolkid demonstrated complete dominance over Dr. Wily and his robot masters. While there’s not really anything here to distinguish it from other Mega Man 2 speedruns we’ve seen in the past, this still deserves a shout-out for being a tried and true Nintendo speedrun classic that never fails to disappoint.
These runs compose just a small handful of the suite of amazing Nintendo speedruns we saw throughout AGDQ 2022 last week. So many of these performances, including all the rhythm game showcases, the Kingdom Hearts 2 Randomizer co-op race, and even a blindfolded Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice run, to name just a few, deserve love and attention despite not fitting into the confines of this list. So I implore you to check out the Games Done Quick YouTube channel and see what catches your eye. There’s truly a great variety of runs from this event and others out there (including one by a writer at our sister site, PC Invasion), and I can think of few better ways to spend a lazy afternoon than catching up on them.