This past Saturday was the second SGDQ Get Yourself Speedrunning race. The game was Super Meat Boy, and this was only the second GYS race I’ve entered overall (The first was the post-AGDQ Link to the Past Master Sword race, which was also the largest Speed Runs Live race ever).
I finished pretty solidly in the middle of the pack in this race, which was actually an improvement, percentage-wise, over my ALttP finish. This was probably due to the fact that I actually practiced Super Meat Boy before the race, as opposed to the ALttP race, where I opted to play Streets of Rage instead. I even ended up on the featured stream for a time!
After I finished, I headed over to the featured stream, where SpikeVegeta mentioned that some people had questioned the wisdom of having Super Meat Boy as a GYS game.
I would just like to say that I loved Super Meat Boy as a choice.
First off, I just really like Super Meat Boy in general. It’s incredibly difficult, but it never feels unfair or cheap in the way that, say, I Wanna Be the Guy and its ilk are. You can see everything that’s going to kill you before it does so, and you’ll die a bunch anyway (In my first 106% [The maximum percentage in the game] playthrough, I died over 9000 times according to the Statistics screen). The levels are punishing, especially later on, but they’re also short, which is a perfect combination for addictive, “just gotta beat one more level” type marathon sessions.
That isn’t the reason I loved the game as a GYS choice, though. I love it because speedrunning can seem intimidating to the outside world. Indeed, it’s essentially an entirely different way of playing a lot of games (I’ve mentioned that I don’t think I could ever speedrun Earthbound, because in doing so, I’d skip right over a lot of the charm and thought the developers obviously put into it). The purpose of Get Yourself Speedrunning is to remove this intimidation factor as much as possible, and to show people that you’re invited to speedrun/race regardless of your skill level (Part of the fun of GYS races is, as Spike said sometime during the featured stream, that it humanizes some well-known speedrunners and shows that they didn’t just instantly acquire world-record level skill). Indeed, in the race results, you can see the progression from the absolute top-tier runners, to the people who clearly ran the game, down to the people who obviously had previous experience with it even if they had never done “speedruns” of it before (I did a couple runs the night before the race, and had beaten the game 106%, though not quickly, before that), and finally to the people who were playing the game for the first time. Of the 85 racers, 79 completed the game.
And that, to me, is why Super Meat Boy was an excellent GYS choice. Super Meat Boy has a reputation as being incredibly difficult (One that is earned, I’d say). But including it as part of a series designed to get more people into speedrunning is a genius move precisely because of it’s reputation. Effectively, what’s being said with the choice is “Look! Speedrunning is fun! Even games you would think would be way too hard to speedrun are totally doable!” The game has been featured at numerous Games Done Quick events, and the fact that the PC version (The faster version) is incredibly finicky to get working is a part of why it hasn’t been featured even more. But there was a time when people would have laughed if you had suggested it for an GDQ, because it was thought to be too marathon unsafe. Only six forfeits in this race shows that even difficult games are very runable.