A lot of people that know of speedrunning often question what game to run and how they decided to start running. I learned quite a while ago that the most common answer was simple: if you have a game you’ve loved to play for a long time, and love to play it over and over again, that’s the game you should try to run. For some people, it’s just another way to enjoy the game. Maybe in a new way, maybe just their favourite way.

I’m not a speedrunner at this moment, but for myself I have had a few games like that through my life. Crash Team Racing, Spyro the Dragon, Ocarina of Time, and Brave Fencer Musashi to name a few. I often don’t revist games, but these are titles I’ve played a few times over (or in the case of Ocarina of Time, had multiple editions to play).

I’ve peeked at all of these speed games, even looked at niche games like Crystar, just to see what the “top level” skills look like and if I could do a few attempts to submit a “decent” time. This can often be daunting, because even though that’s not the way YOU need to play the game to enjoy the speedrun, it’s what the most competitive players strive for. Certainly for games like Spyro, Zelda, and Musashi this has put me off considering them because the strategies and skills required are just so far removed from where I am. I don’t want to run it fast and be done, I want to attempt some of what the world record runners execute and enjoy the process, too.

This all brings me to something that finally and truly inspired me to consider speedrunning a game. To the point I whipped out my PS2, snagged my grandparents old small CRT (which funnily, was meant for camper usage) and booted up the game a few times to ensure it all worked and to see how the game felt. The game, and the inspiration? Look no further.

Hypnoshark’s “Journalist%”

This video was exactly what I needed to see to get my interest churning. A game where it normally takes the world record holder less than 50 minutes to beat (not too long, not too glitchy), a game with controls engrained in my memory, and a restrictive joke run that only took 20 more minutes to complete. If it was that easy to get a time that close just to casually run the game as fast possible from start to finish..why should I not?

This all gave me the scope of what I wanted to do. There were unintended skips that with learning and timing could be done well and consistently and make some tracks feels SUPER fun and clean. The time to beat was between 45 to 65 minutes. It gave me a new reason to play the game. The real key here, though, was the time to beat. That was the spark that lit the flame.

I’m no casual at CTR/NF but I’m also not a “pro”. It’s that type of game where you’re better than everyone you know but not good enough to beat the real pros online, not good enough to enter a major tournament. I’ve been in a similar boat with Mario Kart (and more specifically 8/DX), where I’m way better than my friends but barely good enough to play against communities I join every once in a while.

So maybe someday soon I’ll finally play CTR on my PS2 and submit a time. Maybe getting sub 1 hour will be enough, or I’ll enjoy the new strats I learn so much that I keep going. Similarly, Hypnoshark joined in on some Mario Kart 8 DX community races and I entered one and got a decent time. 200cc 96 Track, which takes under 3.5 hours to do. If I had warmed up in the time leading up to it, and if RNG played nicer, I could have easily gotten a sub 3:20 time which would have been amazing. So that, too, could be a fun “long” run to attempt. Even better that it’s more or less just based on RNG and execution. No over the top skips or strategies. Just playing Mario Kart well. Well, and the fact 200cc in and of itself is basically a cause for some skips.