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The Late Movies: 11 Video Game Speedruns

A speedrun is the act of playing a video game (usually the entire thing from start to finish) as fast as possible. In some cases a speedrun may use glitches in the game or other shortcuts to get through it quickly -- an example of a shortcut that people of a Certain Age may remember is the warp tubes in Super Mario Brothers. On the other hand, Glitching is actually a whole gaming subculture, in which gamers do stuff like run through walls in order to reach unexpected parts of the map. Who knew?

So tonight, I present eleven epic speedruns through popular (and not so popular) video games. SPOILER ALERT: if you haven't played through the entire game, these videos are by definition total spoilers!

Super Mario Brothers in 5 Minutes

This brings back memories! If you're curious about the methodology, check out this YouTube page and read the author's description. He posts a FAQ including this gem: "Q11: So where did you mess up? A11: I didn't mess up in level 8-3 where I ran into the bottom of the flagpole, this was actually completely intentional so that I avoid the fireworks which wastes time. I really only messed up in level 8-4 (right after the walljump I wasted about half a second.)"

Note: this does use mild glitches (some enemies don't hit Mario properly, even when it looks like they do), and of course the warp tubes.

Super Mario Brothers on Top of a Building

This surfaced in July, but deserves a second look.

Super Mario Bros. from Andreas Heikaus on Vimeo.

Portal Done Pro

I actually haven't watched this whole video because I'm stuck halfway through Portal and want to figure it out myself. But in this video, a very talented player uses glitches to get through the whole game in about fifteen minutes. If/when you're confused as to what the heck is going on, check out his 15-part commentary. I listened to part of the commentary, and it's actually pretty amazing -- the sheer effort involved in this speedrun is just shocking.

Oh, and if you want to watch this video in various flavors of HD, go to YouTube. (There are also links in the video description to download an "insane quality" version via BitTorrent.)

Contra in Under 14 Minutes

Oh, Contra, my old NES friend. There's also a notable video of someone playing the Xbox Live version and unlocking all the achievements.

Super Mario Brothers 3 in 11 Minutes

Not much to say about this one. It makes me a little dizzy, I guess that's something to say about it.

Super Mario 64 in Under 16 Minutes

This is a "tool-assisted" speedrun.

Left 4 Dead "Leeroy Jenkins" Expert Speedrun

So if you don't know who or what Leeroy Jenkins is, ask your friend Google. But the gist of this video is, this player decided to use Mr. Jenkins's strategy to get through Left for Dead in Expert mode in just under 7 minutes. Zombiemania ensues. (Note: I'm not an L4D player so can't judge this myself, but some commenters on YouTube claim this is not Expert Mode. In any case, it's intense.)

Half-Life in Half an Hour

I still haven't played Half-Life (I know, I know), so I haven't watched much of this. But I enjoyed the author's notes: "This is my segmented Half-Life speedrun, done by me, Blake "Spider-Waffle" Piepho. I had the idea for this in year 2000, started working on it in 2003, and completed it in October 2006. This run was done through many small segments in aim of achieving a high level of perfection. The final time from start to the death blow on Nihilanth is 29:41."

Super Metroid (SNES) in 30 Minutes

Although no longer the fastest speedrun of this game, this is pretty crazy. I'm also confused by why the YouTube video is an hour long if the speedrun is 30 minutes (perhaps they don't count loading time?), and how exactly they managed to post an hour-long YouTube video in one piece. Anyway, check it out:

Morrowind in 7:30

I'm not super sure what Morrowind even is, but zipping through this video it seems way trippy.

Dragon's Lair (NES) in Under 5 Minutes

Dragon's Lair in its arcade form was famously hard, and thus super-expensive. Remember that game with the amazing animation that cost 50 cents and you died in 30 seconds? Yeah, that's the one. This NES version seems equally maddening (the speedrun's author claims it's "the hardest game in history"). I can't imagine how painful it would have been to play this and pay for it.

If you're not familiar with Dragon's Lair, check out its Wikipedia page, especially the "Technical" section which includes some remarkable information about the Laserdisc system used to power the game. I had an opportunity to play the original Laserdisc system for free in 2000, and I can tell you, it was still insanely challenging and annoying. But the graphics remained awesome.

The Source of All Speedruns

If you're into this kind of thing, check out the Speed Demos Archive, which currently includes official speedrun times for 623 games, with links to videos for each and often detailed commentary by the speedrunner.

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Nintendo Is Releasing a Special Gold Famicom Mini, Which Will Come Pre-Loaded With 20 Games

Nintendo’s renewed focus on retro gaming continues as the company is slated to release a manga-focused edition of the Famicom Mini in Japan on July 7. The Famicom—short for Nintendo Family Computer—is the Japanese version of the original Nintendo Entertainment System, and this new device will come with 20 games pre-loaded onto it.

Back when the NES Classic hit U.S. stores in 2016, Japan got its own Famicom Mini, which featured a slightly different selection of games from its Western counterpart, including Mario Open Golf and Downtown Nekketsu Kōshinkyoku: Soreyuke Daiundōkai. This new edition of the Mini will be gold-plated and is being released to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the manga magazine Weekly Jump, according to Kotaku.

To go with the theme, the games on the system will be ones based on the popular manga at the time like Dragon Ball, Saint Seiya, and Fist of the North Star, as The Verge reports. These are games that most Western audiences would have never experienced for themselves in the late '80s and early '90s as the manga/anime culture had not yet spilled over into the States much, and companies would rarely waste the time and money on localizing them for an unfamiliar fanbase.

In the rare instances that these games did come stateside, they were usually altered to appeal to a different culture—the most famous example is Dragon Ball on the Famicom arriving in America as Dragon Power in 1988 with box art looking more like something from The Karate Kid than a manga series.

Now that American audiences have embraced manga, there might actually be a market for this tiny package of retro gaming in the States. Unfortunately, there's no word on a U.S. release, meaning you’ll likely have to head to eBay or your local boutique video game store in order to have a shot at landing one. If you want a consolation prize, the original NES Classic will be heading back to stores on June 29—though if history is any guide, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get your hands on that, either.

[h/t: The Verge]

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Ice Water Games, YouTube
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5 Smartphone Games That Let You Tend Plants and Chill Out
Ice Water Games, YouTube
Ice Water Games, YouTube

Being in nature is naturally relaxing, but city-dwellers don’t always have an opportunity to get outside. Gardening can be therapeutic for mental health, but you may not have access to a garden—or even the space to tend a houseplant. You can still have a few moments of horticultural meditation every day. It will just have to be digital.

Over the last few years, video game developers have released a number of mobile games that revolve around the simple act of tending to plants. These games are, for the most part, slow-moving, meditative experiences that focus on beautiful graphics, calming soundtracks, and low-key challenges. They’re a great way to de-stress and pursue your gardening dreams, no watering can required.

Here are five relaxing, plant-centric phone games you can download now.

1. VIRIDI; FREE

Viridi is like Neopets for plants. The game is dedicated to nurturing a pot of succulents that grow almost in real time. You can plant a variety of succulent species in your virtual pot. Spritz your plants with water when they’re thirsty and wait for them to grow. Each week, a new seedling will be available for you to plant. The game moves slowly by design. You can let it run in the background, and your plants will do their thing, just like a real plant would. These ones are even harder to kill than real succulents, though.

Find it: iOS, Android

2. TOCA NATURE; $2.99

Toca Boca makes games for kids, but honestly, Toca Nature is pretty fun no matter what your age. You can create your own natural landscapes, adding trees, water features, and mountains. Different natural features attract different animals, and the type of landscape you make shapes whether you’ll get bears, beavers, or birds living there. You can collect berries, feed the animals, or just enjoy planting trees.

Find it: iOS, Android

3. BREATH OF LIGHT: RELAXING PUZZLER; $1.99

In Breath of Light, your job is to bring a garden to life by manipulating a stream of light. Move rocks and mirrors around your zen garden to harness and direct the life-giving light emanating from a single flower. When the light hits another flower, it causes that plant to grow. The very simple puzzles are designed to help you chill out, and the award-winning soundtrack by the audio designer Winterpark features binaural tones that are naturally relaxing. “As a unique, gamified version of guided meditation, Breath of Light helps you enter a state of calm serenity without you even noticing,” according to Killscreen. Sorry, Android users—the app seems to have disappeared from Google Play, but it’s still available for iPhone.

Find it: iOS

4. PRUNE; $3.99

Prune is a puzzle game with a horticultural twist. The object is to plant a tree, then as it grows up, guide it with careful pruning, helping the branches reach the light while staying away from the cold shadows or hot sun, both of which will kill the tree. As the levels rise, you’ll need to contort your trees into ever more complex shapes.

Find it: iOS, Android

5. EUFLORIA; $4.99

If you like your gardening to be a little more high-stakes, Eufloria is out of this world. Seriously, it’s about colonizing asteroids. Your mission is to grow trees on far-off asteroids, sending your seedlings out to turn gray space rocks into thriving landscapes. Your seeds hop from asteroid to asteroid at your behest, creating a chain of fertile life. Sometimes, alien enemies will attack your flourishing asteroid colonies, but don’t worry; you can beat them back with the power of more seeds. The game can be fast-paced and competitive, but there’s a “relaxed” play option that’s more meditative.

Find it: iOS, Android

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