Speedrunning video games is something I’ve done for quite some time now–even before I was aware of a speedrunning “culture” so to speak, and indeed, it could be argued, before such a culture really even existed, at least in the form we know it today–I have memories of trying to beat games like Super Metroid and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night as quickly as I could (Efforts that were absolutely pathetic compared to the top times of today, of course). So it was that in late 2002 or early 2003, I came upon a video, probably linked via the then-still-somewhat-worthwhile GameFAQs boards, titled “Contra in 15 Minutes” (The video can apparently still be found online, though I admit I don’t remember the audio getting as badly offsync as it apparently does, which is why I haven’t linked it here), which I thought was pretty insane at the time.
Well, yesterday on SDA came the news that one Freddy “Frezy_man” Andersson had plowed through the game in a completely insane 10 minutes and 24 seconds (In contrast, my best time is 14:38. Respectable, to be sure, but far slower than even the original SDA run of 11 minutes and change). In watching it, all I could say was “wow”. Understand that there are certain speedruns that are in a class by themselves–that top tier of runs in which even fellow speedrunners watch one and go “holy crap”. Some excellent examples are Andrew Gardikis’s Super Mario Bros in 5 minutes flat, Satoru ‘Hotarubi’ Suzuki’s Super Metroid in 32 minutes, and Jacob ‘LeCoureur103’ Cannon’s Super Mario 64 (70 Stars) in 1:01:32. On the endurance side of things, there’s Kari ‘Essentia’ Johnson’s 4 hour 48 minute magnum opus that is her Final Fantasy III (US) run…which she did in a single sitting. Yes, really.
All this exposition to say that this new Contra run is most certainly good enough to join that unofficial elite group of runs. And the best part about it, to me, is that, while Contra is certainly a famous game (And thus most who watch it will be familiar with the game), the run can be enjoyed with no Contra experience whatsoever–while it’s an unwinnable debate as to which is truly the “best” run on SDA, most of the other runs I’ve linked include some sort of trick that will have the uninitiated calling “WTF Hax” or else wondering in general how certain tricks were performed. Not so with the Contra run–it’s just 10 minutes and 24 seconds of Andersson mercilessly kicking the game in its genitalia until it crumples to the ground, unable to do anything except kind of squeak out a plea for it to be over already. The run really is that good.