This year's Summer Games Done Quick recently wrapped up so allow me to count down the best speedruns and races from the event.
10 roncli: Sublevel Zero Redux
I'm starting this list off with Sublevel Zero Redux, a game that plays very much like Everspace which I'm a huge fan of. This is possibly the only procedurally generated game in the entire marathon and it's interesting to hear how roncli deals with the random map generation while he expects to find keys and chooses what weapons to craft depending on the random resources. I hope to see more randomly generated games at future events because I think it's an unexplored genre in speedrunning.
9 SNeaky: High Hell
High Hell is a neon-coloured shooter with 21 stages. Speedrunning High Hell relies a lot on memorising the location of enemies and developing muscle memory so you can dispatch them effectively. The $1500 donation incentive for this game was that viewers could switch the character's face with SNeaky's but since it's a first-person game, you only see his face for around one second when he finds a mirror; money well spent! I enjoyed High Hell not so much because of SNeaky's execution (which was very good) but because High Hell looks like an awesome indie game and I like watching interesting new indies.
8 GVirus: Axiom Verge
Axiom Verge is a 2015 game that's a love letter to Metroidvanias. To be honest, I've never seen Axiom Verge before this marathon but it seems like a fun and interesting game that I'll keep my eye on. Throughout the game, you collect a lot of sweet items like the teleporter which teleports you through walls and the address disruptor which lets you edit certain blocks in the world so you can stand on them. Axiom Verge is full of very dangerous enemies and at times, health is scarce but GVirus did a great job of not dying.
7 Boyks: Pepsiman
Pepsiman isn't that great of a game. Actually, it's pretty bad. However, it's on this list because of the great commentary on Boyks' speedrun. Shout-outs to the couch guys who had to explain the absurd plot and to Pepsi Bot who donated while kindly reminding the broadcasters that they should consume 96 ounces of Pepsi to maintain optimum hydration. If you're not aware, you play as Pepsiman who goes around restocking vending machines and giving Pepsi to people stuck in a burning building and plane crash survivors in a desert in Texas. How did this ever reach store shelves? I thought product placement in video games was illegal or something.
6 Race: Metroid Zero Mission
I'm a fan of Metroid races and this year's Zero Mission race was fantastic. For the unfamiliar, Zero Mission is a 2004 remake of the original NES Metroid for Game Boy Advance. Overall, this race was a very close one and featured a strong performance from CScottyW who was just a minute off world record pace. Unfortunately, dragonfangs' run was cut short because of hardware issues. If a YouTube comment is to be believed, it was because his Gamecube's internal fan broke during the run.
5 The Mexican Runner: Cuphead
Cuphead is a 2017 action platformer with a beautiful hand-drawn art style. Everything is brimming with creativity, especially the numerous bosses. It makes sense that such a beautiful game makes for an excellent one to watch as a spectator as well. The difficulty in Cuphead is not to be underestimated but The Mexican Runner does a great job of dispatching each boss with ease.
4 Race: Monkeyed Ball
Monkeyed Ball is a ROM hack of Super Monkey Ball 2 created by Darkomni. The hack has 100 levels just like the regular Super Monkey Ball 2 but it's considerably more difficult, especially the final world which is deviously hard even for the two runners. Super Monkey Ball 2 is a harder game than it looks because moving the left stick causes the whole stage to move so it's very difficult to go where you need to. It's incredible to see both runners consistently reach the small goals. This run of Monkeyed Ball was incredibly close with just a few seconds separating them until around world 8 when Geoff took a clear lead. Nonetheless, it was a great race.
3 Rezephos: Super Mario World (no power-ups)
What does a mushroom do? Don't tell Rezephos because in this run of Super Mario World, he completed every castle and fort without a single power-up. Being small in Super Mario World makes the game a lot harder as you die in a single hit. For instance, Rezephos took a death in both Donut Plains Castle and Vanilla Dome 1 as well as taking six deaths trying to complete Chocolate Island 3 with a double shell jump! The crowd breathed a sigh of relief as Rezephos avoided the final mushroom of the game which Peach gives you during the last boss fight. Super Mario World is always an enjoyable game to watch and this speedrun was great.
2 Cameron Vengenz: Crash Bandicoot
Because you look at Crash from the back in his games, it can be hard to distinguish depth when you're quickly jumping from platform to platform. It's easy to go one tile too far or short which causes a swift death for an unfortunate speedrunner. Crash also runs slower than Mario which may make things easier but it also produces tension since the screen isn't literally flying past you. My favorite 2 levels of this run are the ones that take place on rope bridges. CameronVengenz uses a trick as he jumps on the rope support but it's risky because you must be super-precise. Anyway, Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy is a remake of the original three games and it looks stunning.
1 Race: Celeste
Celeste is one of the best games of 2018 and I'm glad to see it ran at SGDQ this year. This was another incredibly close race with under a minute difference between TGH and yoshipro. There were 43 deaths; not because the runners are bad but because Celeste is a tough game that you can't expect to finish without a few deaths here and there. If you haven't seen the Celeste race, I highly recommend it because it's such a fast-paced game and plenty of mistakes were made which ultimately made it an interesting speedrun race.